Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Do you recall that board game, I think it was called the Dating Game? It was the one where you had to open that stupid little door, and got to see your “date”, all men of course, and if you got the “loser”, well, you lost.
God, I played that game a lot.
Not that I wanted to. Growing up it was my sister’s favorite game. It was too immature for me, and she was two years my elder. Frequently she would come into my room and demand that I play the dating game with her. And I would play, not because I wanted to, but because I had no choice. That’s the way it was when I was growing up. Even when I stood my ground, my sister would go and tell on me, and my mother would force me to play. Again. And again. And…again. Is it any wonder I preferred to stay in my room alone reading science encyclopedias?
But I was cleverer than my sister realized. Even as adults she would chide me about my “bad luck”, because every time I opened that door, I ended up with the loser. Well, of course I did. When the little plastic doorknob was cast, it had a “runner” in the middle, and a little extension of the runner from one side. When that extension pointed to, roughly, 7 o’clock, the loser would appear. So, every time we played, I pointed that pointer where the loser would appear. Once again, I would lose, my sister would laugh and make fun of me, and…the game was over.
So, did I lose, really? The torture ended, the game was over, and I could go back to reading my encyclopedias. My ex-wife used to enjoy picking fights with me. She would start yelling at me for matters so trivial that I can’t even remember the point, probably because there honestly was no point at all. But the lesson of my youth was not forgotten. So, I would just apologize. As soon as she stated her complaint, I would respond with, “you’re right. I’m a jerk. I’m wrong. I’m sorry.” And where could she go from there? She won, I lost, the fight was done. Eventually she figured out what I was doing, but even then, I still did it. Then she would start arguing about how it’s not going to work, and I’m a heel for trying to end the argument, so, I would apologize for that, too. And that would be the end of even that follow-up argument.
Walking away from a fight is often the best possible way to win an argument. Just lose. It’s okay. What’s really the point of winning the argument anyway? Besides, there’s an additional benefit. When you just walk away, it often leaves your opponent with unresolved anger. Somehow, the arguments lined up were never spoken (or rather shouted), so instead of letting that anger out, it just stays there, seething, in their subconscious. Now that I’m divorced, perhaps it’s bad to admit that I truly enjoy recalling how angry my wife would get, and how she just couldn’t release that anger onto me.
More and more, I try to use this same philosophy on social media arguments. Sometimes I would try to make some point on something I read on social media, or argue with people who respond to mine, but I’m doing so less and less as time goes by. One way to do this is to stop following, or even “unfriend”, those who disagree, a practice that is expanding. I must admit, I have unfollowed many people not because they see things differently than me, but usually because they post so frequently that it’s really not worth my time. But I must admit, there are times that one of my social media friends post memes that seem so harmful and dangerous that I just can’t continue following them. Yes, people are allowed to believe what they feel is right, but sometimes these beliefs can be dangerous, as demonstrated by new cases of polio. I have friends who will be angry as I read this, but my concern is for the health of others rather than to win an argument. No, I won’t sway any opinions saying things like this, and I know this. But I also have to be true to myself. So maybe I won’t win this argument, but on the other hand, I’m trying to do what I feel is best for the safety of others. But when somebody posts continuously about it, well, what can I do but decide that I’ve lost and walk away from the argument triumphantly?