I have been known to get into the occasional online… well, let’s call them “discussions.” Not necessarily an “argument,” and not quite as civilized a “debate.” Is “brouhaha” the word? If it’s not, maybe it should be. Anyway, I am not above a good old fashioned frank exchange of ideas on Facebook. A lot of folks have given up. I’m not one of them. My mind has been changed by a Facebook discussion. And I still hold out hope that a well-reasoned argument can change us in some way… Can wake us up… Can open our eyes to a better understanding. Even if I get the sense that the person I am talking to has no hope of ever changing their mind, I am still aware of the people who are watching the argument/debate/brouhaha unfold.
Plus, if I’m being honest, I like it. I like the back and forth. I like looking for powerful metaphors and similes. I like the strategy and the logic and the competition of it. I always have. I am a fairly good arguer. And I am no stranger to being called an ass. It used to happen way more than it does now, but it still happens occasionally. I freely admit I can be an ass. And if you, dear reader, were ever on the receiving end of me being an ass, I’m sorry. But there’s one thing that’s been bothering me, and that’s the overuse of the word “condescending.” I’ve been seeing people throw around this word more and more (not just at me). And I think its growing usage comes from this deep-seated “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?!?” that is the beating heart of anti-intellectualism. It is the faulty thinking behind why so many in this country don’t find it strange that people use a word like “elite” as an insult. So here’s the word…
1. having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority.
(And yes, the irony of providing the definition of “condescending” is not lost on me)
There’s a difference between “patronizing” and “condescending.” Patronizing is more of a “Aww, you sweet ignorant thing… Keep working at it, and maybe you’ll get it someday.” Where Condescending has a sense of kind of looking down your nose at someone who you feel is your inferior. But here’s the thing: Sometimes people know more than me about things. Expertise exists. Sometimes we encounter better, stronger, more logical arguments. And this accusation of people being “condescending” has become a catch-all for people who don’t want to go through the difficult process of changing their mind.
Calling someone “condescending“ and is often the last desperate grasp at winning an argument by those who have been backed into a logical corner. And weirdly enough, the ones who toss this accusation around the most are, ironically, the same ones who like to call people “snowflakes.“ It usually comes out after someone doesn’t have a rational leg to stand on, and then the focus of their criticism is on the WAY another person presented their argument. Calling somebody else “condescending“ as the main beef you have with them is one of the most “snowflakey” things I can think of. It’s like saying, “Yeah, you’re right… But you didn’t have to be so MEAN about being right.” Seriously… Boo Effing Hoo.
Here’s the truth: Some arguments don’t DESERVE a response that validates them in enough of a way for you to avoid the discomfort of being wrong… You big fricking baby. And then people will throw out the “This is why Trump won” BS. 1) That’s not true. And 2) Imagine being the sort of person who — as a response to someone not being “nice” enough while letting them know they are wrong — decides to “get back at them” by voting for a man who is, easily and objectively, one of the worst human beings on the planet. There are these disturbing little acts of extortion, where people who are wrong demand that we put on kid gloves and we stroke their egos… Otherwise they are going to burn it all to the ground by electing the shittiest man they can find. It’s like mini acts of democratic terrorism.
So yeah, I admit it. I am often condescending. There are times when I feel superior to people… at least I feel like my reasoning and research is superior. Sometimes I literally can’t wrap my mind around how people can be so obtuse. I’m not smart enough to understand how people can call themselves “followers of Jesus” while supporting and objectively awful person like Donald Trump. I don’t have enough patience to endure some people’s willful ignorance. I’m sorry. If that’s you, I don’t know how to say it other than that I am beyond you with some things. There are many, MANY people who are beyond me… You get used to it. Just because you have this deep seated anti-intellectualism and resentment toward expertise, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t experts out there in the world that might know more than you about some stuff. But fine… I admit I can be a dick about some things. I ADMIT IT!!!
But here is the important part. If you don’t hear anything else I’ve said (because I haven’t been gentle enough saying it), PLEASE HEAR THIS: Just because you feel like someone was being a little too condescending, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change your mind about the things you were wrong about. When you are presented with a better argument, CHANGE YOUR MIND!! I apologize. I apologize for making you feel dumber than me. But what kind of person refuses to acknowledge a valid point because the person making it wasn’t gentle enough with your fragile wrongness? Feel free to call me an ass if I was being an ass. But then please, for the love of God… CHANGE. YOUR. MIND.
Thank you for reading these words. Thank you for the people who help support me and this blog. Thank you for being patient with me while my family goes through a difficult time. Thank you, thank you, thank you! If you value this place, and you want to help support it, you can BECOME A PATRON. It’s easy, and it’s makes you feel good. If you’d like to leave a TIP ON PAYPAL or boost a post, you totally can. Or, if you want to keep up with me on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER, click the links and like/follow. I hope you stay hopeful enough to believe that we can still change each other’s minds…