Why Can't Some People Handle Opposing Viewpoints?
Do you respect other people's right to oppose your views?
Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
I try to be a good person, but that doesn't mean I'll blindly agree with people just to get along with them. I feel that each of us has a unique perspective on things, and it's possible to both disagree with someone and remain respectful and friendly at the same time.
Recently I took the time to read two of someone's articles, to form my thoughts, find links, and comment on both articles. My comments were respectful but dissenting. If anything I write seems not to be respectful, it's a mistake in communication. However, I know for a fact that this was not, and could not, be considered disrespectful; no matter how I've looked at it, I've come to the same conclusion.
Yet he blocked both of my comments. What amazed me was that I left him fanmail as well, which he approved! That really got me thinking, basically, "What the hell is going on with this person?" I spent probably half an hour of my time reading his articles, forming my own thoughts on them, etc. Yet within minutes of posting the comments, he had marked them unapproved.
This got me thinking: What is it that makes someone act like this? Why can't some people handle dissenting viewpoints? And how can I handle this type of snubbery? It was a real letdown and made me feel irritated and offended. So I went on a quest to find these answers.
(Addendum: Thanks to the guy who denied my comments; it got me thinking!)
What I Found
Well, after various tiring Google searches, lots of them, I found out that it's hard to get any definitive answer as to the psychology behind this phenomenon. That means this will be based on conjecture until someone more knowledgeable comments on this article. Until then I'll do my best to reason out what the motivation must be to silence people who have differing opinions.
Something has gone terribly wrong, and this person needs a constant ego boost. Somehow, even though they know people disagree with them, there is a boost in knowing they can get rid of differing viewpoints whenever they pop up.
Maybe they think people will view them as stupid, dumb, or uneducated if they allow dissenting viewpoints on their articles. If you need the acceptance of complete strangers to every thought you have, something deeper is at issue.
The only view that matters is their view, right or wrong, substantiated or not, documented or not. There is no argument but their own, and anyone who tries quickly learns who's the center of the universe!
They don't want any. They have an agenda for their articles or other works, and anybody who might get in the way of their goal will be thrown by the wayside.
Quite frankly, anyone who opposes their viewpoint must be a freaking idiot, and not worthy of being put on their page. But you'd think this would make them look smarter, so perhaps they really are feeling quite inferior.
This also has to do with ego, and needing a boost. Whatever they do, they feel it's not good enough. If I voice a differing viewpoint to theirs, they take it as a personal attack.
Lack of Knowledge
They suddenly realize they're totally clueless about the topic they've been spouting on about for 20 paragraphs. They don't want to appear like an idiot, so they delete whatever might make them appear to be anything less than godly. This of course makes them look like an idiot, unwilling to learn something new.
Lack of Sources
They have nothing to back up their statements, and they aren't going to start trying to prove their points anytime soon. There is nothing substantiated about their claims, and they don't want people to know this.
Inability to Admit Defeat
They're outgunned on their own point, and they happen to be sore losers. There's nothing quite like being a party pooper, I always say!
The thoughts in our heads and the things we believe form our understanding of the world, and reality itself. If I have a differing viewpoint, maybe the mere idea throws this person's "reality" into question. Perhaps they're unwilling to admit to themselves that they're living in a false reality.
After all, they just want to rant and rave and have their say with nobody questioning, for once. This is their space, and they get to live in their own world here.
They have it and you don't. It makes them feel powerful and bigger than they really are. It makes you feel powerless and smaller than you are. There's obviously something wrong when mere opinions cannot be tolerated.
How We Can Deal With Differing Viewpoints
1. Take a Deep Breath
hat's right; relax! Collect your thoughts, calm down, and take a step back for some perspective. Cool down before you reply or react. It's human nature to react instantly, and defensively. Give yourself time to distance yourself and reflect.
2. Try to Understand
Whatever this person is saying, it represents an intent to interact with you. They're trying to tell you something, and if you listen, you might learn something new. All knowledge is beneficial.
3. Don't Assume
Anything, least of all that because they disagree, they're out to get you, ruin your sense of reality, and trample your ego. It's probably not the case since most people have good intentions. Even if they don't, you will learn something of humility.
Actually consider the feedback or comment from a disconnected perspective, using facts and logic rather than letting emotions take over. Understanding the other person's point of view can help you interact with others and form more inclusive views of the world.
That the person exists, and though they have differing opinions and viewpoints, every bit of information helps you form a whole opinion yourself. If you can't handle negative feedback there will be a lot of missed opportunities to learn something!
Differences Are Good
If we were all the same, we'd all have the same point of view, and sadly, this site and this article wouldn't exist because it wouldn't be needed. Everyone would know what everyone else thought, and gosh wouldn't the world be a boring place!
Let's create an environment that embraces opposing viewpoints, that asks the tough questions, that answers the tough answers. Be real, be empathetic, and understand that you, they, we, are all part of a great network of consciousness.
There is no right or wrong opinion in the big scheme of things; each is representative of a unique perspective--a unique individual--a unique being. Try to embrace what you don't understand and you'll quickly learn this is a fast-track to gaining new insights and ultimately, liberation.
© 2011 Kate P