Friday, February 18, 2011

Misplaced Hate and Pointless Arguments

Two of my friends recently (independently) wrote blogs on conceptually similar subjects. And not liking to be left out, I thought I'd throw in my own opinion.

The subject in question is excessive hatred in inconsequential matters; in Aerliss's case tech-snobs, and in Andrew's case Gaga-intolerance.

[I'm simplifying. Read their blogs for the full stories.]

But I'm going to go with a slightly different approach. One of my better qualities is my willingness to admit when I'm wrong. And the truth is, I've been guilty of both those things, and I was wrong to.

So because I like to try and explain things - and like the sound of my own blog voice - that's what I'm going to do.

Rotten Apple

Time was, I had - at least what seemed like - legitimate reasons for disliking Apple, and iPods, and so on; their extortionate prices, the more obnoxious of the fanboys/girls, Steve Jobs' dickishness, and the fact that Apple products are treated as if they're some form of perfection that we should all be aspiring to... But that's beside the point.

Eventually it came to be that I was well known for my general dislike, to the point where people would (and still do) say thing like "if you get an iPhone, Chris will disown you". And was at one point mocked when I said,

"Today sees the release of the iPhone in American, and despite the arguments we had over at Andrews blog, I really would like one. It's just so smooth and shiney [sic]."

Of course, back then, there really weren't any other smart phones quite on the same level.

Strong followings create strong oppositions. The more devoted the fans, the more pissed off and irrational the 'haters'.

The sobering moment for me came when I was sneering at an iPhone advert, and was called-out for being just as obnoxious as the Apple-snobs I so despised.

Don't get me wrong, when fanboys get all Apple-snobbish around me, I still feel an overwhelming urge to slap some sense and humility into them. But otherwise, I've mostly just stopped caring.

And it does makes me feel a little uneasy, and guilty, when people expect me to automatically hate everything Apple-related. Also, Blackberry.

Attention-seeking, Talentless...

In fact, I have nothing against Lady Gaga. So I'm going to talk about Justin Bieber instead.

I didn't really care about his existence for a long time. And when I first heard his music, I found it not to my taste. Whatever. But when I started using Twitter more, his existence became somewhat unavoidable [until].

As Andrew points out, like it or not, everyone's entitled to their opinion.

So when I'm listening to, say, T-Rex and the little sister tells me to "turn off that crap music", while blasting some crappy dance music from her phone like a chav on a bus; while I may feel morally obliged to slap her for having such a disastrously wrong opinion, she is still (technically) entitled to that opinion.

Even if she is wrong.

Fact is, when it comes to celebrities, 'hatred' and disputes of opinion are seldom reasonable. You don't like their music? So what. Don't listen to it. But it's never that simple.

Justin Bieber is one of those particular divisive individuals - you either love him or hate him. Well, actually, there are people who occupy the 'couldn't care less' middle ground, but they can't be heard over the sound of squealing 14 year old girls, and the loud mockery of people who by all rights shouldn't give a damn and should know better.

And what goes for the Biebs, goes for the Gaga.

In these instances, there's a lot of herd mentality involved - you'll typically align your opinion of a divisive artist with that of your friends; even if you secretly have a few of their track on your 'guilty pleasures' playlist.

The other thing is, these artists tend to be very easy targets. If you're vocal about disliking someone like Beiber, and you make jokes about them, your friends will laugh and agree with you, and you get a sort of encouragement and reinforcement from it.

Unreasonable Reasoning

People often aren't as in control of their actions and their thoughts as they'd perhaps like to believe. Whether we like it or not, we're quite easily influenced, and manipulated.

First of all, otherwise reasonable opinions can become exaggerated over time. This might be the result of reinforcement from peers. Or your opinion can just plain be influenced by your peers.

Whether or not we like to admit it, there's sometimes a certain amount of jealousy and/or envy at the root of pointless hate as well. Similarly, other times, we dislike things because other people like them and/or they're popular. It doesn't make sense, but we do it anyway. Because we're all beautiful, unique snowflakes... *cough*. Or sometimes because a certain person or people that we don't like, likes them.

When these matters develop into arguments, another thing you get is escalation - even an argument that starts based in logic and reason can develop over time into a meaningless shouting match. And this usually reinforces and magnifies now empty opinions, as well as encouraging stubbornness.

And when that happens, your only hope is to call it quits and get out with your dignity in tact. Because when that happens, no-one ever 'wins'.

That's why I try not to get into arguments regarding Mac vs PC, religion vs atheism, conservative vs liberal, etc. It's a exercise in futility, and I have better things to do with my time.

Really, the best response to all this, and the people who insist on bothering you with this nonsense, is to say "So fucking what. Go bother someone who gives a damn".

And if you're really dead set on having pointless arguments, you'll find the Pointless Internet Argument Forums here. Otherwise, for the love of God, keep it to yourself.


[Learned the error of my ways. Mostly.]

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