Thursday, May 3, 2012

WIRED DIFFERENTLY?

I belong to a couple of political groups on Facebook. One is conservative, one is liberal. I just left the liberal one. It was really dragging me down. And I'm actually kinda sad about leaving the group. Not sad as in I wish I hadn't left it, but sad as in I wish I didn't HAVE to leave it in order to maintain higher ground.

My experiences with both these groups have been polar opposite.  I am a debater by nature, and I love the taboo topics of Religion and Politics. They fascinate me. One of the other things in life that fascinates me is people. I love, love, love to talk and/or debate with people. I love to learn their language, I love to learn their culture, I love to dig into their heads and find out what makes them "them."  Hence I love to figure out what people opine politically and why.

I joined the Conservative group first.  It's not as "far right" as other Conservative groups, and it is open to any person holding liberal, independent, conservative, or "other" political opinions, though most on there would describe themselves as conservatives.  One of the members later joined the liberal group and invited me to join as well.  Which I did.  I joined it knowing that it was open to all political persuasions, and looked forward to getting to know the members.

In the conservative group people to hold to various opinions, and everyone discusses the issues, and shares their opinions and any information they come across in the news/etc..  There is a spirit of sharing, learning, and debate within that group.  In the liberal group from day one I noticed all the sarcastic comments, the innuendos, the jabs, and the "making fun" of others.  Without exaggeration I'd say that 98% of the comments had a rude jab in them.  By "jab" I mean little "cut-downs" such as "all you right-wing-nut jobs", or in speaking of the supposed womanizer that Benjamin Franklin was saying things like "yeah, he likes his women saucy" or "he is rather wonky"..... and a million other "jabs" taken toward anyone who disagreed with them. It wasn't until i began posting, that I started to understand that all but 2 or 3 of the folks on this group were hard-lined "left" leaning socialists.  I do not use that word lightly.  They very literally are FOR socialism and actually believe it's a good thing.  And while that is something I can handle, their continued harsh criticism and contentious spirit really wore down the spirit in the group.  I couldn't help but compare the entire scenario to a group of pigs wallowing in the mud, rolling over and over, happy as a lark to be covered in the mud and be slinging that mud at the other pigs in the pen. I actually got sad, besides just insulted.  Sad because I had hoped to actually debate some people who more strongly disagree with me on issues and historical facts.

Instead, what I got was a whole bunch of contention, rudeness, and pride.  Any person who disagreed with them, they would chide and try to humiliate.  Then there was a group of about 6 folks who tried to belittle and corner me. They began asking questions, seeking answers only to refute them and twist my words.  So I refused to answer those kinds of questions.  Of course, they twisted even that to make it look like I was the one who was trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

But the thing that stood out the most was how this experience seemed to reconfirm to me how the liberals are all about anger, "winning", contention, meanness, and all the other things that they are stereotypically accused of.  While the folks on the conservative group were well behaved, respectful, and would actually engage in debate with a person.   The other thing I noticed is how the liberals love to turn things around, or twist the person's words in order to make whatever argument you offer "fit" their opinion.  I couldn't help but feel like this was kindergarten politics.

The spirit in the liberal group was one of contention.  The spirit in the conservative group was one of comparing opinions and learning from each other.

Now - we've all probably heard of these stereotypes before.  They are spoken of everywhere.  You know, the Tea Party folks who abide the law, had zero arrests during their protests, etc.  Then the Occupy Wall Street folks who defecate on private and public property, rape women, kill people, call others names, and twist things around to suit their own ends.  Well, I actually LIVED that experience.  I actually saw it happen right before my own eyes.  And it made me sad.

Now, I'm not trying to say that ALL conservatives are well mannered and self-controlled, nor that ALL liberals are rude and contentious people.  I readily admit there good and bad in both groups and even in the "other" groups (libertarians, Constitutionalists, Communists, Greens, etc.)  But I am saying that these generalities are not just made up.  They really do exist, and I just saw that happen with my own eyes.

I left the liberal group, and not because I couldn't handle people who disagree with me. I left because I expect the people that disagree with me to be civil about it and to back up their claims with references and sources.  I am staying in the conservative group because they actually are civil and can disagree without being disagreeable, and because I feel I learn something each time I go there, and because I don't come away from the experience with a feeling of stress and contention.

I heard some years ago that liberals and conservatives are just wired differently.  After this experience, I think I'd have to agree for the most part.  When I'd try to explain ANYthing to the liberals, they would simply say "no" and not accept it.  They didn't research it, read it, nothing.  They simply would try to ensnare the conservative view point and ridicule it.  They were there to argue, not debate.  And that made me sad.  (The difference between arguing and debating is the INTENT behind the comments. In debating you wish to civilly discuss/defend opposing views.  In arguing you wish to insult or anger the other person and prove that you are right.)

What have been your experiences in dealing with conservatives and liberals?