The Most Bizarre Aspect of a Community

Posted on March 10, 2012 by richardgoulter
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I don’t tend to like arguments. They’re a bit of a waste. What’s the point? I have my view, you have yours, and how often, when people are imposing their own opinion on someone else, are views changed through this argument? If I argue with you, I’ll get annoyed (and think I’m right), you’ll get annoyed (and you’ll think you’re right), and neither one of us will be better off. It does seem a bit pointless.
(I do suppose opinions change somehow, but trying to change someone’s opinion by insulting their pride in an argument seems the worst way to go about trying to do this).
Discussion does have its proper time and place; as a student I know this: I can consider what the solutions to a problem may be, consider the advantages and disadvantages to each solution, and choose what would be best following such a discussion. But the kind of discussion that happens between two people arguing over something hardly follows such a framework. It’s just two people yelling at each other.

And so, when it comes to disagreements, sure, I’ll have my own opinion much of the time. But what’s the point in trying to convince the others of this opinion? Why should there be the need for me to be right, and everyone else to be as ‘right’ as I am? It does seem a bit pointless.

Last night I met someone I disagreed with. Such a shock, right?
And, as is so common when two people who disagree meet, and should come as no surprise, this person found something which we disagreed about, and tried to convince me I was wrong, and he was right.
Now, I live in the real world. I do think the opinions I hold now won’t be as good as the opinions I’ll hold later; I’ll be ‘more right’ about things, or ‘less wrong’, whichever of the two is better. It would be wrong, however, to ditch any opinion I hold for lack of certainty that it is ‘right’. (One ought to change opinions when they know they’re wrong. That sounds the human thing to do, now, doesn’t it?).
As a student, I heard this person out, and considered their idea, and shall continue to consider it. But, honestly, my opinion wasn’t changed from what it was.

The whole pointlessness of this kind of argument argument - and I avoided argument. Why should I counter his opinion if it would be so pointless? - wasn’t so much that neither I nor he would change opinion. The pointlessness of it is that the issue just doesn’t matter.
You see, this is the most bizarre aspect of any community: that members would seek to disagree with others in the community. Not over major things, but over the most insignificant things.

In Computer Science, we program on some software called Eclipse. It helps us program. There’s other software called NetBeans. It can also help with programming. When I mentioned that I programmed in NetBeans rather than Eclipse for a personal project of mine, a classmate pointed out to me that Eclipse could do anything NetBeans did.
- And right now you’re enthralled, aren’t you? Such an issue of such major importance.
But I bet you don’t care. Why not? It’s not that it’s a CS thing. But it’s just unimportant.

This disagreement I had with the man last night was about a religious topic. That word ‘religious’ stirs people up in certain ways. But don’t you see that this kind of argument is hardly a ‘religious’ one? It’s the same kind of arguing within a community as that silly Eclipse vs. NetBeans. It’s the same kind of silly arguing that occurs about PS3 vs. 360. It’s the same kind of silly arguing that occurs within a community, over insignificant things.
One CollegeHumor sketch mocks this exact point, proposing that ‘religious people are nerds’. (I should be surprised if the author of the video was not a nerd themself, and had never disagreed with a fellow member of their community over something minor). If the CH video intends to make this same point I hope to get across here, then I hope the point isn’t lost upon the viewers.

Just to spell out why I find these disagreements bizarre: For any community, there’ll be those in it, and those not in it. The in-group and the out-group. And how many fights have been caused because of that distinction! The in-group is what we like, it’s similar to us. The out-group is bad, because they’re different. The whole history of human interactions - just taking a punt here - is more complicated than that. But simplifying things, you like those in your community more than those not in your community.
The bizarre bit is that you’re making an outie of an innie. You’re disagreeing with someone who (for the most part) agrees with you.

And I just don’t see the point.

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