I believe there is a continuum of how much disagreement each person can handle.
I grew up in a high-conflict household. I was yelled at, berated and argued with from 10 to 16. I was told I was wrong and stupid, always. I work very hard not to let that idea win. Every day, I work at that.
So when I say,
“This is cool.”
And someone says,
“That is certainly NOT COOL and here are five reasons why and you are WRONG WRONG WRONG,”
it doesn’t feel to me like just friendly debate, it feels like trolling. It feels like hatred. It triggers all my old feelings of defense and teeth grinding.
This is not to say that the differing opinion is hatred.
And hell no, it is not trolling.
Disagreement just happens to be a high-sensitivity trigger for me.
Back a few years ago, before we had access to everyone we ever knew and all of their ideas, disagreement had a different place. Yes, there were still the same people who thrived on debate. Those people who relished sparring and matching wits. But for the most part, we kept our opinions private. Especially opinions concerning religion, politics, child-rearing and lifestyle.
Disagreements with these big topics were handled privately, rarely.
But now, in this digital age, we share our thrill about an election on Facebook and people come out of every nook and corner of your past to tell you how wrong you are and make you defend it.
Sure, there’s something to be said about the broadening of ideas and input being a good thing, but emotionally? I’m not prepared for this. We haven’t been properly trained in critical thinking in a way that allows us to separate disagreement with an idea from rejection of us.
When people we like or respect disagree with us, it still feels crappy.
So ow! Disagreement!
If you’re a tender or damaged heart like me, how do you heal?
Draw the line.
Do you delete disagreeable comments?
Do you leave comments up and respond via email?
Does your site encourage dissenting opinions?
Just decide where you are on the public argument and draw a line.
Consider posting that line in your comment policy or on your About page.
Having a “policy” in place can leave your heart less open for bruising.
Take it offline.
Disagreements handled in public rarely turn out well.
If you have an even lower disagreement threshold than I do, consider taking comments off your site.
(I won’t judge.)
Agree, a little.
Find a point. Find any point that you can concede.
Yep, I get it,
I don’t want to pay more taxes either,
I want to know that by behaving well, there is an eternal reward,
I love my children too.
By finding a nugget in each piece of disagreement that we can agree with, we can move through the semantics to a better understanding of our shared worldspace.
This one is tough for me. But by acknowledging it privately, with the people it concerns so that I can move through, I am able to tolerate a little more dissent in my life.
Any tips for how you handled disagreement on your site are appreciated!