Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And This Is My Opinion, BTW

I was reading the Vigil Idiot’s Raavan comic just a little a while ago (really funny, you should check it out here). And while I was at it I thought I’d read the previous post too, where Vigil Idiot turned one. And look what I found!

It was on the Avatar comic. You don’t have to read the comic (you could though, since that is really good too) but read the comments by this person called Bill The Butcher on this comic. For convenience, the link is here: Bill The Butcher's Comments

Now if you’re done reading it, the rest of this piece will make sense. The image that instantly came to my mind after reading all of Bill The Butcher’s comments was this: A rabid dog tied to a really short leash and snapping at anyone and everyone without any discretion. Many people surrounding the dog while the dog frantically snaps at someone or another, pretty much having lost sanity after a point.

He was done putting the Vigil Idiot and his comic down. But he kept going back and snapping at anybody and everybody who responded further to his comment. And he put them down too. If he had stopped with his first comment there would have been some dignity in doing what he did – he didn’t like it so he tore it apart, fair enough since the Vigil Idiot is in the business of tearing apart too (in a funny enjoyable way). The moment he starts making fun of everybody who supports the guy and directs his ire at them, there is nothing left to save. Fans exist and Bill The Butcher should come to terms with that fact.

Many times over now, I have thought about identity, opinion and how closely they are linked. Yes they are interlinked…heavily if I may. But my muse has been more on the lines of what happens when opinion becomes one’s sole identity. Don’t tell me you don’t know people like that. Take their opinions from them and there is nothing left…zilch.

Why am I thinking about this so much? Because time and again I have felt uncomfortable around people who have such strong opinions and who will bark back no matter how little they know. Many times I have known what they are saying is plain wrong and I have wanted to have a sane discussion to understand why they say what they say. But I have been barked at so many times that I don’t even attempt any more. But that’s ok because I hardly care about being right. In fact I am happy when I am wrong. Because that’s where I learn.

And fighting with someone you know can be considered to be a healthy debate. Fighting with someone you’ve just met and proving they know nothing while you’re right is downright rude. There is a way to disseminate knowledge, if that were the aim. Here they feel attacked when a counter-opinion is raised and start a fight with total strangers sometimes. Ok, you’re right! I get it! Now get over it and please listen to the other person. He has a point of view too.

It’s almost as if by acknowledging that someone else is right, a part of their identity will be lost. And I most of the time don’t understand their worry. I am in fact even scared of people with very strong opinions. They represent closed minds and fanaticism for me. I would love to be proved wrong but so far in my life I have always seen a one-to-one correlation between the phenomena.

Because frankly you can’t pick an argument with anyone and everyone just so you can believe for one more day that you, and only you, are right. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter. What matter is hearing each other’s stories.

I had heard in one of our Toastmasters debate contests that when we argue we exchange ignorance, when we debate we exchange knowledge. We don’t necessarily have to walk into our conversation as if our honour was on the line and success depended on saving our opinions and converting more people to them. It is in being graceful and hearing everyone out, plugging holes in our knowledge, acknowledging that a reverse philosophy could also exist and be a way of life and not being judgemental that we win. We could fight for our opinions and even win…but what would that win amount to?

Increasingly I am growing to believe opinions don’t matter at all. And it is a sign of learning if they keep changing. And we must know which battles to fight, which ones are worth fighting. I express my opinions lesser and lesser until one day I will stop saying anything at all, because frankly it doesn’t even matter and nobody cares that much. Yes maybe I’m wrong and maybe I have no identity. But at least I’m happy. I’d rather hear you out than believe I was heard and acknowledged. Like I said, I don’t care too much about being right and definitely not in the presence of people who are blind to their own vices.

But all of the above is just my opinion. One that I’m not going to fight for.

Closing with my favourite bit from Kari –

Because I had no politic. Means, I have no Burning Issue. Blurring genderlines? Bigotry? Cultural genocide? Dying planet? I can’t pick. My favourite form of movement is ‘float’. I stand for nothing. I espouse nothing but Ruth.

11 Thinkers Pondered:

Tigerstone said...


You referring to Rule#3? Your thoughts on Rule#7 would be much appreciated.

Wonder if they should hve added a Rule#9: No girls allowed in Fight Club.

Your thoughts Miss....

Anupama said...

Hey Tigerstone!

I'm referring to rule #0 - If it's not absolutely necessary, you DO NOT fight...

As for rule #7, that's exactly why I am against a fight that's not worth it in the first place...potentially a fight will not go on as long as it has to...it will go on forever or until either party says stop, goes limp or taps out (and THAT'S why they put rule #3 where it is...before rule #7 lest people don't know when to stop :D )


Tigerstone said...

Tyler Durden said, "Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who have ever lived. I see all this potential -- God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas and waiting tables; they're slaves with white collars. Advertisements have them chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit they don't need. We are the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised by television to believe that one day we'll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars -- but we won't. And we're learning slowly that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

Now that you know this, I hope you sleep better at night.

Anupama said...

You bet I will...because I have known this all along...it pisses me off too but I think I've got used to it...the colossal wastage of talent that our society indulges in just because they are sold dreams that are not even their own. Tell me something new...

Sathej said...

That was a thought provoking read. Something like this often drives me into thinking..hmm. Can correlate it a bit with the gut feeling post reply to my comment :)

Hmm..opinions often don't matter at all. Well, let me stop here, have to reflect a bit before commenting on this,maybe shall write something myself sometime (intend to write on so many things, end up doing nothing:-()
Anyway, was a satisfying post, Anupama!


eye-in-sty-in said...

First of all, thank you for leading me to the "quite entertaining" blog and an even more entertaining comments section.

I do agree with you that a debate is better than an argument, not to mention more sane and civil too.

I agree with your point but not with the comment you have choosen to make an example of. From what I read, this Bill guy was commenting on what he didnt like about the post, and he did it in a somewhat insulting manner. The blogger took his comments in the right spirit and countered them equally well and made light of the moment. It was the others who then started attacking Bill just bcoz his view was different from most of the folks who commented. And then they resorted to name calling and in a show of might "look, i can me more rude than you are"... and all went down hill from there.

The good thing i'm going to take away from this is, I got to read a nice analysis from you and was able to draw an analogy from it.

eye-in-sty-in said...

The analogy:
I am an F1 fan. If you are not familiar with F1, here is a background. There are 2 cars in each team. It is an expensive sport where it costs a team Millions of dollars to prepare the cars for each race. Teammates are allowed to race against each other, but once the race is nearing towards the end, the aim is to finish unless they are challenged by opponents. Two races ago, the team of Red Bull was leading the race with both cars in one-two positions followed by the team of McLaren in 3-4 who were reasonably far behind, but catching upto the lead cars.

The Red Bull drivers are known to not get along very well with each other and are both aggressive drivers. They broke the golden rule of F1 and tangled with each other - (Arguers). The 2nd place car was out of the race and the 1st place car was thrown to 3rd place. A few laps later, the 2nd place McLaren decided to go after the 1st place McLaren, but they gave each other enough room without getting in a tangle - (debators). They retained the 1-2 positions and managed to get ahead of the Red Bull team in the overall championship. Everyone was happy except the Red Bulls.

But, the Red Bull incident generated more press. If you look on youtube, you will find the Red Bull tangle easily, but the McLaren incident is hard to find... Some ppl just want the publicity and it doesnt matter to them how they get it. Good press or bad press, its still publicity!

Priya Iyer said...

you have been tagged!!

Eveline said...

Now, I don't care how strongly someone believes in something, as long as it's not abusing animals, kids or sacrificing people for the glory of their hallowed demon freak god. Do and think what you want. What bugs me, rather, is the idea that these people think their own views are so important they must share and convince others. I refuse to use my blog or other's spaces to trumpet my beliefs (Okay, yes, I realize that I'm the person with the pro-meat campaign but, come on, that's just funny.)

I really do respect people who don't agree with me. It's not the world's job to agree with me. It would be great, although it wouldn't be as much fun. But dont make it your life's mission to fundamentally disagree with a blogger and his readers!

Mohsin said...

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Rahul said...

nice one again.. an very relevant to almost everybody. I especially liked the penultimate para.
Increasingly I have found it too that I have always regretted putting my opinion too strongly in a debate. one of the reasons is that it makes it harder for you to change it later on and that is the death of your intellect.
but then dont you think not expressing your opinion at all is also equally dangerous? and if I may say so.. doing that just to be happy is kind of selfish.
If I think that nobody cares for my arguments, then I may extend this argument to say that nobody cares for my vote in the elections too, and I may never go out to vote again. and that will be the death of democracy!
There can be two ways to avoid this clash of opinions, one is to know that nobodies opinion count, the other is to know that every opinion counts. I would rather go with the later option and I guess except for the last part, you have intended the same thing all along :)