Precariously verbal 1

Related to this post and this post.

Arguments– or not even arguments but debates, disagreements, conversations in which people are asserting contradictory things– are like rooms full of obstacles, in my mind. Stuff piled on the floor, stuff hanging from the ceiling. Pathways of logic, or argumentative positions I could take, are gaps between the obstacles that are big enough to fit through.

Deciding what to say– because it’s not just saying what I think, there’s a difference between what I believe is true, and what’s provable, and what’s relevant to the other person’s position– is like solving a maze, the slow way. I work my way down each likely-looking path until I argue myself into a corner, and then I backtrack to the last branch and try again, rinse, repeat, until I have something that I believe is true, and that fits into what the other people have been saying.

That’s important to me: what I say should be an actual response, it should lead from the other person’s position to mine instead of just being a tour of my position. Maybe most people don’t see that as a problem; for me, the difference between a statement and a response or conversation is very important, and “conversations” or “arguments” that are actually a bunch of not-really-related statements are very confusing for me. I’ve seen people spend so much time arguing and getting nowhere because they don’t realize that they’re defining words in different ways. That dissonance really bothers me, and I don’t want to contribute to it.

So, anyway, to make an argument I feel my way through this maze of ideas. It takes time. It’s a pretty complex thing to hold in my mind, and writing out every idea I try and discard would take even more time. Add the work of trying to create a specific tone and wondering how I sound on top of that, add assorted stress if it’s an emotional topic for me– both those things mean it takes even longer.

Then I refresh the page, and there are ten more comments, and this is why I don’t normally discuss serious topics on Facebook.


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