Agreeing To Disagree

I don’t know about you, but most of the arguments I’ve had end with some variation of “Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” Now, I used to hate that line. I felt like it was a way of copping out of an argument without admitting someone came away the “victor.”  This was back when I hadn’t actually argued more than “No, dude, you’re totally screwing with me.”

"That was an enlightening discussion. Also, we should probably clean the blood off our faces."

"That was an enlightening discussion. Also, we should probably clean the blood off our faces."

But conversations like that, where we hold values very highly, can get very emotionally draining (remember when I told you not to get personal?) and so the conversation has to end sometime. Agreeing to disagree is really just the best way to do that. 

Generally, in the realm of good old conspiracy theories, there’s a lot being said. How high the melting point of steel is. How much carbon dioxide affects the atmosphere. The logistics of the moon landing. Pretty soon you’ll be getting into information overload. At some point you’ve got to go away and sit and chew on all the info you’re given. Is it actually evidence? What does it mean? There’s just no way to process all that information in an hour-long discussion– unless you and whoever you’re debating can both sit down and look up all the data yourselves. Personally, I’ve never watched someone look up things online and not wanted to slap them for looking like a Neanderthal.

Discussions between friends, relatives or acquaintances on these worldly topics are really just ways of getting people to investigate for themselves. We’re living in the information age; there’s enough information out there for anyone interested (probably too much). The point is that you or they weren’t interested, and now are. 

Agreeing to disagree also saves us face. I was a pretty stubborn child, even if I ended up being wrong. Well, that still happens to me now that I’m grown and wizened. We’re a competitive species, and it often keeps us from being able to admit defeat. But if someone goes away and really thinks, they’ll admit to themselves that they might have been wrong. But if you got into a shouting match with the person, they really don’t want to see your “I told you so” face.

So let the argument end. Don’t be in such a hurry to get the last word in. You’re both done talking… for the moment. For now we’re just debating with ourselves.

Martin Dash was born a rather urbane country boy. A chronic underachiever in his youth, he is now channeling his untapped brilliance in writing.

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