Why Are Some Topics Landmines?

RIDDLE ME THIS Image source.

RIDDLE ME THIS
Image source.

Yesterday I heard a news report on NPR which covered a young woman trying to explain climate change to her dad. The way the journalist reported it, her dad didn’t think climate change was real. When the woman sat down and talked to him for 17 minutes (the journalist pointed that out specifically), she visibly deflated when he said she explained it in a useful way. Although the journalist thought the situation slightly whimsical, I can understand why that young woman might feel pressure in that situation.

I live with people who joke about how fake climate change is, among other things.
Even when I talk with them about charged topics like climate change, politics, or crap they share on Facebook, it’s always a nerve-wracking experience. A lot of things set off my family (like “the gays” getting married), and so they get amped up quite easily. Since I have anxiety problems when they’re upset, all of this is an exercise in dealing with my own problems.

When I can get some perspective on it all, I actively wonder why all this stuff is worth all the hassle. So what if climate change is real? Who cares if Betsy and Cassie down the street get a marriage license? Why do people feel the need to get angry about it?

This is a problem, because it makes talking about these things difficult.
I can’t talk about ordinary facts sometimes because I will get interrupted, barked at, or ignored in quiet rage. Definitely I’m not the only one who has this problem. How can anyone talk about things that might affect them when one or both parties resorts to conniption fits as a conversation tactic?

Moreover, I think it’s done some permanent damage to people around my age (and younger). Living with people who get enraged at simple, ordinary facts takes its toll on the human psyche. I have to spend a lot of time avoiding or pretending some things don’t get said around me because just being assertive requires fighting World War III. Sadly, I know too many people my age who have a primary gripe that one or two family members will get pissed off at reality.

That frustration sometimes turns me into one of those people too. The few times I do get to set any record straight, I have to treat it like I’m handling a hostile witness. At times, I just want to tell people they’re being stupid. This doesn’t help, because I’m being just as dismissive as they are. They’ll be more than happy to point that out. From there, they’ll be happy to continue as they’ve been doing.

What’s causing this problem?
I’m sure a lot of people have heard about alternative facts recently. I feel somewhat indebted to Kellyanne Conway for putting in a succinct term the bullshit getting sold as fact by news outlets. Both ends of the political spectrum do it, and they’ve crept their way into mainstream media. People who research what they’re told get to lose faith in institutions that are supposed to inform the public, and people who just blindly trust what they’re fed wonder why nobody agrees with them.

Getting someone to recognize that they’re not dealing with actual facts is very hard. You’re having to overcome years of trust built with an institution, a lack of immediate contradiction to whatever they’re told, and time spent cultivating a series of misinformation. Since people willingly go to get misinformed on topics, one might even have to do this arduous task many times about the same subject.

Right now, I still have no good way of dealing with this problem. All I can do is yell at my blog.

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15 thoughts on “Why Are Some Topics Landmines?

  1. I don’t know how old you are SB but I feel your pain and I’m 62. I am the youngest of 6 and all of my siblings are in their 70’s. We were raised in a fundamentally religious family . I can’t discuss my feelings about religion with them because of their strong religious feelings. Many of my friends are the same way so I tend to appear “neutral” on religious and political issues.

    Having said this , I also have many liberal friends who I can’t have the same discussions with either. Both sides IMHO believe they are right and everyone else is stupid. They tend to listen to and read sources they agree with. Few tend to fact check their sources.

    I am a fiscal conservative and a social moderate . Pro-choice and Gay rights are issues I support . I also support a balanced budget . I vote for the person and NOT the party. I believe most religions are largely folk stories.

    I feel like an orphan at times because I can’t have a civil conversation with very many people of either side.

    Good luck !

    Liked by 5 people

    • ‘Both sides IMHO believe they are right and everyone else is stupid. They tend to listen to and read sources they agree with. Few tend to fact check their sources.’

      Yes, well observed.

      I liken the discussion on some internet sites to akin to road rage, where the person with the contrary view is sort of depersonalised.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Landmines:

    1) Women’s rights/feminism

    2) Specifically abortion. Have you ever seen a post on this where all the world doesn’t weigh in?

    3) qv above, In America. Less so in Europe

    4) Gay rights? Again in Europe I think that’s the norm because it’s accepted. We have an amazing gay beach near us, although partner did cycle through the paths rather quickly

    5) Guns. Those lovely sexy guns. So good to be able to shoot the shit out of people, I mean defend myself

    6) Black people. Well, white people matter too. (I hope you recognise the slight snark there.) Let’s forget the odd few centuries of oppression – as with women

    7) I forgot religion. Probably because I don’t live in America

    Liked by 4 people

    • Of all the issues I have come across, abortion is the one that I have found most explosive, indeed I stopped commenting on the subject because I became tired of demonised for daring to express reservations on the subject. I sensed the people criticizing me were highly emotional, with the gist of the responses I received were, how dare I as a man have an opinion on the matter.

      Like

      • I can understand those responses. For my part, you can have an opinion, but don’t expect it to carry any weight or influence anyone. Only women know the reality of periods, late/missed periods – despite having used contraception (which isn’t 100%) and the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. Every woman’s circumstances are different. Their choice what to do. YMMV but as is often said, if men got pregnant there would be no debate over abortion.

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  3. There’s a whole physiological side to anger. Chemical releases that play a role on psychology. Suddenly issues aren’t the issues themselves, but merely triggers to a chemical release and absorption cycle. A person whose anger can easily flow from a private contract being signed between two adult citizens to whether or not a man they never met sits, kneels or sleeps through the national anthem is trapped in the chemical cycle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Seems to be the way people are.

      I like to read the letters page of the local newspaper and have noticed that invariably the letter writers are polarized. I long to see letters that acknowledge there are two sides to all issues, but it is rare indeed to come across such a letter. This experience has made me wonder that this polarization seems to be something to do with our make up as a species – why it is the case, I really don’t know.

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  4. I’m a fan of your writing and always have been. My personal opinion on religion and politics are somewhere in the middle, but I don’t disagree entirely with the Republican party or President Trump or KellyAnne Conway…or Fox News…or who ever you want to name other than NBC or CNN or whoever?

    I know that is shocking and people will likely want to suddenly start another stupid strike because I said this. But, seriously, most of the strikes (from women or whoever) I feel are kind of dumb.

    Personally, I don’t disagree completely with President Trump. Go ahead and throw your drinks at me for saying that, but it’s true. Okay? At the same time, I’m not going to jump on the “band wagon” of “protesting everything” for the sake of it. I’m not going to some “march” if I don’t have a person conviction to do so.

    Honestly, I think most people protesting don’t have a clue. Okay, that’s what I think, it’s just my opinion.

    Does that make me a horrible person? I don’t know? But, I agree with some things and disagree with other components…and while I ought to be specific here, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty.

    The Bottom Line: I can be a fan of your blog. I might not have voted for who you voted for or we might not agree on religion or politics or anything. But, at the end of the day…we can agree to disagree. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Disagreement really is fine. I agree with stuff on both sides of the political spectrum, and I’m sure many of my beliefs would run afoul of some extreme position. That might be part of the problem: being moderate and reflective almost is a new extremism in itself.

      But disagreement in itself doesn’t make anyone a horrible person. If anything, it means they’re being honest. What does it say about the world we live in where honesty can induce such hostility? I don’t know, but I really don’t want to be part of it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hostility seems to be the new way people express themselves and it’s a sad thing. You make a good point, it seems everyone wants to claim “moderate.” I followed politics very closely for a while and used to be a big passion of mine. All I did was watch the news but lately, I would rather watch the Cartoon Network.

        Liked by 1 person

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