Reading a friend's post and the replies this morning and wondering about style.
My friend is a vegan. As a vegan she posts vegan posts. I am not a vegan. I'm an omnivore and very rarely do we engage with each other on those posts. Because we do not agree. And I know it pains her heart that we don't agree because she believes I am a good person and cannot reconcile how a good person continues to eat meat. And it pains me because I don't agree that eating meat makes you a bad person and I don't like being thought of as morally inferior. So I tend to not engage on those posts. But I still read them. Because there is a lot of information that can be gleaned.
For instance over the past few decades I've become much more concerned about where the meat I eat comes from. Not the animals part, I spent summers on a farm, I'm well versed in that part. But in factory farming. In mass production. In growing chickens and egg farming. How is all of that done? What is the best way to do it to cause the least damage? Because raising beef is a huge water drain. Raising chickens can be really detrimental to the environment due to the high levels of ammonia. Health issues can be compounded by what we are feeding the livestock. As someone who does not feel it's unethical to eat meat, I still feel that I should be eating meat that is better sourced. And eating less meat over all.
Being friends with vegans and vegetarians tends to give me access to good recipes as well. I try to avoid processed foods, food like substances and added sugar so I avoid a lot of what they eat, but some of it? Pretty good stuff. Except the evil that is passing cauliflower off as anything other than cauliflower.
So anyway...over the years since my friend went from omnivore, to vegetarian, to vegan I've watched her progress. And more importantly I've watched her influence over others to make changes in their diets. Maybe not all the way to vegan, but sometimes all the way to vegan. Which is what she wants. She believes that veganism is the only ethical choice. Not just for her, but for everyone. And to accomplish that she needs others to see that is the correct choice. Now how do you do that?
Slowly. Patiently. And in my opinion gently.
See she posted about something that she feels is wrong. Someone who disagrees with her posted a response and then made a little joke. My friend deflected the joke lightly and gave a little more information. Then another friend of hers came in and WENT OFF and the friend who is not vegan defriended my friend. Which I've seen before. The times I have engaged with the vegan posts on my friend's statuses I have clashed with this other friend of hers as well.
Now she also wants everyone to be vegan. And she is working toward that goal. But how is it going? Because what I saw today was someone in my friend's sphere of influence leaving. Now I don't know if she has any other vegan friends or not, but if she doesn't she won't get exposed to those ideas anymore. Was the rant worth it? Was the righteous indignation good? Because you gave up an opportunity to actually change a mind. In fact, if she's anything like me, and studies show that most people are, by attacking her and her beliefs you actually just solidified them. Made it harder for anyone else to sway her. So....
It happens. This past weekend C and I had an argument that boiled down to styles. I watched a video a friend posted that I knew going in I would not agree with, but I wanted to see what it said. I wanted to understand where her mind was and why she thought it was a good point. C thought that as soon I finished it I should fight with the person who posted it. I told him that wasn't why I watched it. I don't need to go in and tell her it was bullshit, I even know what she would say. But for C it wasn't good enough. By not fighting with her I was weak. In my opinion by fighting with her I would be wasting my time and giving up an opportunity to influence her later. But here's the kicker, we were both fighting with each other at that point and not listening to each other anymore so we weren't changing minds at all. See how that works? And poor Brent walked in to it and told us to stop fighting which led me to turning on him. And he did what he does and left the room. Because fighting doesn't accomplish anything so he refuses to do it. Which made me embarrassed and quiet and stopped the fight anyway.
Later in the weekend he posted something on his Facebook and a friend of ours posted something lame in return and I did exactly what C did to me. Are you just going to let him say that nonsense? Brent reminded me that he was not going for the goal of proving someone wrong, he was trying to get to common ground to find an agreement, which he did. His goal wasn't to prove someone else wrong, it wasn't to be right, it was to move the needle.
Which made me think about what I do again.
What is your goal?
When you are posting things, when you are debating points, when you are voicing your opinion, what is your goal?
Usually mine is to make people think; to understand why you think what you think; to try to find a way to influence you. To get completely frustrated that people don't respect facts and science and...wait...that isn't my goal. That's just what happens.
And I say usually because sometimes my only goal is to say THIS IS WHAT I FEEL IS RIGHT AND I CANNOT BELIEVE IT ISN'T FUCKING OBVIOUSLY RIGHT TO EVERYONE WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?? Those posts are generally pretty obviously those types of posts. And sometimes one of the good intention posts devolves in to a response like that if I feel that someone isn't listening to reason. If you are looking for a fight, I often oblige. I should be more like Brent, and I do try, but C didn't get his fight response from the ether.
I wish it were as easy as just presenting the facts and having people agree. I wish it was as easy as saying, that is wrong and hard hearted and here is why and people would reach a consensus. But it's not.
But we all need to keep trying. So next time you post something, or respond to a post, or have a discussion in real life face to face (so weird), ask yourself, What is my goal? Then respond or walk away accordingly.