Stop

Sometimes, it takes a moment of contention to highlight a point.

Once upon a time, it took weeks for news of disasters to reach a wider audience than those affected at ground zero. Now, with Twitter and Facebook I can know that Oklahoma City suffered a 5.8 magnitude earthquake this morning, as it unfolded ‘live’ on my social media feed. This is long before any major network reports the story, and probably several hours before it even hits the UK news providers. Mostly because (one hopes) it was just a lot of shaking, and no casualties, there will be a bit of WTF, seismologists will look for explanations, and hopefully that will be that. Except, some stories keep on going and going, and when I went and mentioned one such contentious topic this morning, I paid the price. I forgot that golden rule: don’t want a fight, don’t start one. Except at this point, I’m coming to a crossroads in how I look and deal with other people, and sometimes I’d just like to expand and consider contentious opinions without being made to feel either bad or wrong for doing so.

In every relationship, at some point there’s a decision to be made over belief.

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Once upon a time you couldn’t live with someone if they didn’t hold the same beliefs as you. Everybody had to tow the line and if you didn’t? Spanish Inquisition. Okay, that’s an extreme example but it proves the point quite successfully: if you wanted to NOT be Catholic, for a long time your faith choices were somewhat limited. Also, calling into question the possibility that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe was a dangerous call to make, and only now with science being able to categorically prove that LOOK SPACE OUT THERE still isn’t enough for those who see the World as a place where rules are subjective and opinions only matter if you can support them yourself. Free thinking has never been easy, and knowing you’ll get shunned/poked with soft cushions is often enough to stop most people at the door.

Except without free thinking, kids never dream. If you tie them to a set of ideals that mean that there’s only one way to study, or listen to music, or wear their trousers? At the age where they are at their most flexible there’s a greater than average chance they’ll simply just go the other way and rebel… except inevitably, ultimately everyone comes back to normality, right? Well, no. Having spent quite a long time being scared to actually be what I know I am, I’m making great strides in coming forward and proclaiming my beliefs, and whenever I do there’s always going to be resistance. When it happens, I have a choice. I can learn to communicate better. I can stop trying to make a point and move on. Or, as is now the case, I can stop and work out what the root cause is of my problem, and today that’s exactly what I did. I don’t really care about what other people define as ‘fun’ (their choice, nothing to do with me) and how they decide an MMO is enjoyable or not (flight/no flight.)

My bigger issue is how some people see discussion as the bigger problem, especially if you’re capable of suggesting their point of view might in the end possess less merit to you.

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You’re never going to agree with everything and with everybody. Suggesting that this is not just your fault can go a number of different ways, and if you’re lucky the person you’re talking to will be decent about it and you’ll get civility. However, the very nature of disagreement implies that there will be a point, somewhere down the line, where one or either of you just has to shut up and move on, unless you can amicably agree to differ. If this were religion or politics as the subject matter, you might matter a lot more. When it’s a video game or a TV show or a sports team? Not really as significant or earth shattering, and yet these get argued about perhaps more vociferously. The reason, it occurs to me, is that people prioritise differently depending on how emotionally invested they are in the subject to begin with. If you know it’s ‘just a game’ you’ll be far more capable of separating the issues than those who see the game as more than just a collection of pixels, and here’s the kicker.

Now I’ve pushed myself away from obsessing over gaming, I can’t allow a measure of immersion that I suspect others will. I’m far more engrossed with details as to how the game’s actually made, what the design briefs are and where the game is being projected, as a means to rationalise my thoughts and not get sucked in my the obviously addictive qualities. The step back, the forced move to objectivity, means I’m looking at situations in a far more reserved and almost emotionless manner. I forget other people don’t do this. More significantly, other people won’t take that objectivity on board, and will simply consider it as an attack on their position. However hard I attempt to justify my reasoning? Some will be just looking for a fight.

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What this means going forward, of course, is growing thicker skin, understanding that however hard you try you can’t get everyone to like you and to stop worrying. Having written the process out I’m of the opinion that if people really want to matter to me they’ll make the effort, which is what happened this lunchtime with everyone I spoke to. At no point did any of my thought processes directly attack or negate the individuals I spoke to. They may have considered my general comments as personal attacks, but that’s what happens on the Internet. People decide black is white because mostly, you assume it’s personal when 99/100 times it isn’t. Having been in that situation before I know that eventually, it goes one of two ways too. You either just get on, or there’s an explosion, and when the dust settles?

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That’s the Ball Game. If the person’s important enough, settle your differences and move on. Put away the comfy cushions, stop typing and get your arse to the Gym. You can be as clear as you like, as precise as your intellectual ability will allow but if someone decides to challenge you online over a fundamental difference of opinion?

There ain’t a fucking thing you can do about it if you started the discussion.