Get Over Yourself

October 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm (By Donna B.)

This rant is not aimed at anyone who posts or comments on Ambiance. This is the place where I feel comfortable ranting about those who read my site, but probably don’t click links on my blogroll.

Everything is NOT about YOU. Your “sensitivity” is driving me nuts. There are so many topics where “comments are off. This isn’t up for discussion” with you that I’m almost afraid to discuss laundry soap preferences.

(scented v. unscented can get ugly.)

What has happened is that someone I love dearly has become over the last ten years a moonbat leftist unwilling to listen to any idea not already incorporated in her worldview. This worldview has become more and more restricted over the years.

While the comment that set off this rant is rather mild, it is just the latest among many that I have felt I must “swallow” while trying to explain myself in an unoffensive way to someone who finds almost everything offensive.

What can I do? And don’t worry about offending me, because most of the time that fairly hard to do. I’m open to hearing all advice even if I don’t take it.


  1. Theo Boehm said,

    How about stating your case in plain, simple, persuasive terms?

    A pertinent complaint against this age is that we have lost both the art of persuasion and the foundation of morality. Thus, we have become stern moralists of the inconsequential and a delighted audience of the decadent. The question of the scent of soap becomes then a struggle between the forces of Reason and a dark, Satanic demiurge.

    When everything takes on these Manichaean qualities, it becomes impossible to debate ideas or explore subtleties.

    It is also hard, but not impossible, to be the one to lead others out of this morass. It requires patience and tact. But if your friend has fallen into this latter day sinkhole of thoughtlessness, who better to show her the way out?

    I confess my own lack in this area, but if you think about amba’s ability to draw the best from people, you have at least something of a model to consider and imitate.

  2. Charlie (Colorado) said,

    Sometimes you just have to say “is this worth the admission charge?”

  3. amba12 said,

    Yeah . . . it’s kind of like trying to be friends with someone who’s put herself in jail. Through the bars.

  4. Maxwell said,

    I see two issues here:

    1) Political differences – while hard to bridge, it’s certainly possible. The key is to choose an entry-level topic – i.e., something not too inflammatory, probably a little obscure, so she’s forced to think about it without immediately consulting a checklist. Have an appropriately moderate response ready, so you can turn it into a peaceable dialogue. From there, it’s just a short bound to “see, conservatives aren’t all bad.”

    2) Humor differences – completely unbridgeable, don’t even bother to try.

  5. wj said,

    I suspect that it’s not unlike a conversation in person in one respect. For example, I have a couple of friends who are moonbat conspiracy theory enthusiasts. In person, the only options are a) don’t bring up the topics (fortunately, it’s not totally universal) which set them off, and b) if they do go off, don’t even try to discuss, let alone argue, the subject. Just ignore the comments and go on to something else. (Yes, I do give fervent thanks that they have not met each other! With them together in the same room, any sensible conversation would be a lost cause.)

    The only other alternatives, at least in my case, would seem to be either abandoning the friendships or adopting the crazy views. Neither of which seems all that attractive.

    I suspect that the problem, in most cases, is the Internet. Before that, people with whacko views were spread thinly enough that they rarely met someone with the same insanity. So, from getting all negative feedback, they learned to keep quiet about their views on those subjects. Or, at the very least, to approach them gently, so as not to drive away everybody that they knew. But now, they can find others who agree with them — and so the no longer have the same recognition that their views are less than universal.

  6. karen said,

    #1- i wish i could think like Theo– or be Theo. That was an amazing answer- even if i hardly understood it.
    … and b) Talk about the weather. We’ve had one or two great sunny(albeit chilly) days in about two weeks– it’s depressing. But, it changes the focus from ~her~ to me in a quick way:0).

    ps– i buy soap for how it feels, how it looks and probably how it smells. And sounds. Caress sounds stupidly sensual, but i like it. St Ives whipped Silk is pretty amazing- i never buy the liquidy stuff because it’s expensive and comes outta the bottle so freaking fast, i think of the waste. But it smells like – nostalgia– and i like that, too.

    Do you feel any better, Donna? When she speaks, think *soap!!* and smile.

  7. Icepick said,

    This situation described is a kind of iterated prisoner’s dilemma. Consider it this way: Every conversation is (in this hare-brained analogy) like a crime. If neither person even thinks about bringing up a hot-button topic, you both get away from the crime without paying a price. But if such a topic does come up, then it’s a question of who gets punished, and the police are offering you options:
    (1) Sneak Attack: One of you can betray the other by launching full-bore into the topic. The aggressor (defector, in the classic dilemma) wins – by launching into the topic the aggressor basically forces the other party to sit there and take it. This is the optimal result for whoever “launches” first. (In the classic prisoner’s dilemma this corresponds to one prisoner defecting and getting no sentence while the other gets the full 10 year penalty.)
    (2) Counterstrike: One can launch into the topic but the other has enough warning to mount a counterstrike, i.e. they can take an opposing view and defend it. Here both parties lose, as the conversation is likely to end badly for both parties. The one advantage over (1) is that the conversation will likely end sooner. Both parties will end up damaged, but the overall damage (hurt feelings) will be roughly the same as in the first example, just spr3ead out over two psyches. (This corresponds to both prisoners defecting: Each gets a five year sentence.)
    (3) Ceasefire: If a hot-button topic comes up, both parties can simply let it pass without further remark. This can lead to a few awkward moments, but can avoid the greater levels of destruction in (1) and (2). (This corresponds to the situation in the prisoner’s dilemma when both prisoners cooperate with each other, i.e. neither defect. They each get a minor sentence (6 mo.), which is more than one of them would have gotten if they had defected, but the overall result is best.)
    In an infinitely iterated version of the game, tit-for-tat becomes the optimal strategy. Quoting the pretty good Wikipedia entry on the topic:

    Thus each player has an opportunity to punish the other player for previous non-cooperative play. If the number of steps is known by both players in advance, economic theory says that the two players should defect again and again, no matter how many times the game is played. Only when the players play an indefinite or random number of times can cooperation be an equilibrium. In this case, the incentive to defect can be overcome by the threat of punishment. When the game is infinitely repeated, cooperation may be a subgame perfect equilibrium, although both players defecting always remains an equilibrium and there are many other equilibrium outcomes.
    In casual usage, the label “prisoner’s dilemma” may be applied to situations not strictly matching the formal criteria of the classic or iterative games, for instance, those in which two entities could gain important benefits from cooperating or suffer from the failure to do so, but find it merely difficult or expensive, not necessarily impossible, to coordinate their activities to achieve cooperation.

    So the question is this: If you feel the friendship will continue indefinitely, you might want to consider tit-for-tat: If in your last conversation the friend went batshit crazy, then in the next conversation you should go batshit crazy first. Wait for a hot-button topic to come up and then give it the old college John Birch Society try! If the friend behaved reasonably before, behave reasonably in the next conversation.

    The only real problem with this is that the other person may not realize what is happening, i.e. they may not realize they have a choice that affects future outcomes. You might need a third party to explain it in that case: “Listen, Donna has become tired of your political rants and I guess it got to her. Try staying away from those topics in the future.” *

    * Obviously the third party should use more tact than that, but tact isn’t my strong suite. In fact it’s not even in my deck of cards.

  8. Icepick said,

    Talk about the weather.

    For the love of all that is good and decent don’t bring up the weather! That will only start a Global Warming Climate Change rant!

  9. karen said,

    And to add as an afterthought- i’d wanted to comment on a comment you’d left on the ~Creative Destruction~ thread: i once asked a very Conservative fella(Wave Maker) if i was a RHINO because i felt some control and towing the mark in the free market was necessary to even things out or balance things– and his comment was that unfettered capitalism was not in the best interest of our Country.

    So, hammer to nail on the unfettered capitalism comment, Donna B!!

  10. Donna B. said,

    Whoa… excellent ideas and thoughts on my situation. I’m going to be reading this thread over and over again.

    Charlie – this one is worth the price of admission. We’re family.

    Maxwell – humor is a huge part of it. She’s completely lost her perspective on the humor of politics and politicians. I think sometimes that the entire “left” has.

    Icepick – NO… not the weather! You are so right. And I’m going to have to give the possibilities within the prisoner’s dilemma some serious thought.

    wj – you are no doubt correct about the internet. I have to wonder if it hasn’t done the same to me. Darn you, making me think introspectively!

    Theo – you too are right. But sometimes I don’t see these things coming. The comment that set off her recently was something I considered entirely free of anything to disagree about.

    Amba – again you have perceived the situation and illustrated it in one short sentence. Theo’s right that I should use you for a model. Or, maybe I could just get you to talk to her? :-)

    Karen – thanks for the compliment and for the “soap” idea. That will stick with me, I know.

    You have all made me feel better and I appreciate so much having this place to come to. Thank you, Amba.

  11. wj said,

    The far left and the far right both lack a sense of humor about politics and politicians. But I don’t think that it’s really a matter of having lost it, so much as a matter of having never had it. At least, the far left and far right in the 60’s certainly lacked the ability to see the possible humor in their own stances! And, from my point of view, both could be vastly amusing on occasion.

    I suspect a little bit of moderation is necessary to laugh at yourself. But then, maybe it is the ability to laugh at yourself which induces moderation. Hmmm….

  12. William O'blivion. said,

    Just followed a series of links and wound up here, so I don’t know if I’ll stick around, or if this is a drive by.

    I am a conservative with a rather extreme classical liberal bent. For some reason I’ve always been drawn to the military and repelled by big government. So much for consistency. I also have a great interest in philosophy–mostly on the “ideas” side and not so much on the cult of personality side. This means I’ve spent large chunks of my life arguing Religion, politics and political issues etc. with whomever came along, and because of my belief in my own rightness these were often contentious.

    My father was a much more classical conservative–he got upset with The Church over Vatican II etc.

    For my entire life he and I would have Talks. Sometimes these Talks were initiated due to some rule breaking or inadequacy on my part, sometimes we just started talking and it went On.

    During one of our talks towards the end of his life I was hammering on the Corruption Inherent In The System–the position I held at the time was that our government was inherently corrupt and immoral because of &&etc. etc.

    His response essentially boiled down to ‘I *can not* believe that. I have spent the last 45 years of my life supporting and defending…and I cannot accept that.’ Note. *cannot*. Not will not. He was saying that over his adult life he had created and developed this worldview, and at the point he was at in his life he was not going to abandon this point of view, it would leave him ideologically naked and without support at a time when he was already dealing with a lot of other changes that shook him deeply.

    That was a long time ago, and he’s dead now, but that was his second-to-last lesson to me.

    I thought a lot about his comment, and it changed the way I discuss things with people. I realize (and oddly enough one of hte posts around the one that linked me here was an Althouse Post on understanding psychological mechanisms) that there are LOTs of reasons people hold the views they do, and that is IS possible, if the other party is willing, to have serious, intellectual conversations without advocacy. I’m not a believer in God, but I can have serious historical and doctrinal conversations with anyone from rather militant atheists to fundamentalist evangelical baptists by being considerate of their positions and by being careful to couch my questions in terms that are nonthreatening.

    People believe what they believe for a reason. Some people see patterns where there probably aren’t any because of their need to organize the world, or because they have an odd twist in one gene that produces some neurochemical that makes patterns more obvious.

    Others believe, or have a need to believe, that Someone Is In Charge, and that if something happens it’s because that person (or those people) wanted it to. Aliens, the Tri-lateral commission, George-chimpy-mc-bush-hitler-the-diabolical-idiot-genius. Someone is in charge. They HAVE TO BE.

    You can’t have a well funded bunch of religious zealots highjack an airplane with the help of a billion dollar transnational organization. No, the USG HAD to be in on it.

    Because if the USG wasn’t in on it, then NO ONE IS IN CONTROL.

    Scary thought that.

    So your friend, if they are still your friend has a reason for the views they hold. If you’re that good a friend you know these reasons. If you don’t know these reasons, then just walk away.

    (By the way the last thing my father taught me is DO NOT DIE BEFORE YOU MAKE A WILL. But that is another story).

  13. Donna B. said,

    William, welcome to Ambiance. I find it a comfortable place and hope you do too. I also think of myself as a conservative with a classical liberal bent… but find even that too restricting at times.

    As for my friend, a relative I grew up with, who until 2003, I thought shared the same basic morals and political beliefs as I… well, it’s been like gut punch, the way she’s changed so much and did so quickly. Perhaps I just didn’t notice that it was more gradual.

    This is the woman who used to grind out cigarettes with bare feet who has now become so sensitive that a discussion of almost anything is now a reason to take offense. I cannot discern a reason for this change and that is probably what bothers me most.

    She will always be my friend, and I hope I will always be hers, because our ties together go back so far and our lives are so entwined.

    I posted this, in this safe place, out of frustration and bewilderment and… worry. Like you and your father, I think we love each other no matter what.

  14. trooper york said,

    Donna you have to remembet the words of the greatest philospher of modern Western thought. Popeye.

    I am what I am and that’s all that I am.

    Have some spinach and don’t sweat it too much.

    And when you are with your friend that you can’t find common ground on politics or any other subject, why talk a about food. That always works for me.

  15. Donna B. said,

    Dear Trooper…. have you never seen two southern women in the same kitchen arguing over whether lady cream peas should be seasoned with bacon grease or butter? Should sugar be added to sawmill gravy? Should chocolate gravy be made with milk or water? Should biscuits be made with baking soda or cream or tartar and soda? Should catfish breading ever have flour in it? Should rice be rinsed before cooking? What’s the best way to cook poke salad? Should homemade ice cream contain eggs?

    Food as a safe subject? hahahahaha!!!!

    Though you are generally right that food disagreements are not often taken personally, but don’t ever think they are not competitive! Let’s not even get started on which child or grandchild inherited the “official” version of grandma’s dinner rolls or chocolate pie.

    So, yeah I think we’ll just have a cook-off next time my relative visits. That will be good times for sure!

  16. Bobby said,

    Sometimes one simply gives up and just listens. That action alone generally elicits a negative response so I read everything and write privately. I must say that I thoroughly enjoy reading everything in this blog, I’m just the old guy sitting off to the side listening in fascination :)


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