The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

There are some people who pine for the glory days of high school. They look back in fondness on the experiences they had, the friendships they made, the carefree life they had to leave behind for drudgery of adulthood.

I am not one of these people. High school sucked for me in a big way. I can look back on that time of my life and say honestly that I can not think of one unequivocally good thing that happened to me during that entire four years of my life. I made far more enemies than friends, I fumbled my way through social interaction, and generally hated every minute of it.

And it was mostly my own fault. I didn’t think so at the time of course. I thought it was all those other people who were just plain mean and didn’t understand me because I was so much smarter than they were. Yeah, see what I mean? I was kind of a jerk back then.

And I’m still kind of a jerk now. Well, maybe jerk isn’t the best word for it. The point is, I love to argue. I don’t mean for it to be offensive, I just like to debate things. I like to think it keeps my mind sharp.

The problem is that people don’t usually take disagreement well. For most people arguments are always personal, and always emotional. They assume that if I attack their opinion I’m attacking them in some way.

So I’ve had to adapt. Specifically I’ve had to learn a little self control; I’ve had to make conscious decisions not to jump into arguments simply for the sake of argument. And I have to tell you it hasn’t been easy.

You know that rule about not talking politics on the internet? That rule was invented for me. Because I love politics, and I love arguments. I could jump into all the political chatter and start a debate in no time. But I could also seriously tick off some people who I consider to be friends.

I’ve only been on Twitter for a couple of months and in that short amount of time I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to tell myself, “It’s okay, Albert. Just back off and don’t say anything. You’ll be fine.”

The problem is no one is dispassionate about their political opinion. People on both sides of the aisle have woven their political philosophy into very fabric of their being, and attacking that philosophy is only going to lead to anger and distrust.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that there is a vital place for political debate in our society. But it isn’t here.

Here is a place about writing and life. Here is where I’m trying to build your loyalty and trust. So that one day when I’m published you’ll say to yourself, “Hey, I know that Albert Berg. He’s the guy who wrote that one blog post about the cockroach in the spaghetti noodles. Maybe I’ll check his stuff out.”

If I’m trying to sell you my book I really don’t care whether you’re a Republican or Democrat.

So go ahead. Post your political ramblings on Facebook and Twitter if you must. You won’t be getting a response from me. But if you like, you can imagine me clenching my teeth and quietly screaming to myself, begging my fingers not to type out a snarky reply. And if I die of a stress related heart attack at the tender age of thirty four, you’ll know the reason why.

3 responses to “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

  1. I would argue with you but I really don’t care either way.

    I too have realized that not only was I jerk five years ago, I’m a jerk now. If everyone could take half a step back and realize that as well, most os the political arguments would go away – since most of them are based not on facts or policy or history but on level of jerkiness.

    Unless you disagree with me. In which case you’re a nincompoop. Probably. Either way.

  2. Normally I could argue politics without stepping into people’s toes but I would be in your face if I know that you’re just being hurtful to others. I could argue with you without you feeling bad about your opinion. We could take different sides but I won’t take what you say personally unless you’re being mean. I’m learning how to step back and analyze what makes people think that. Talk less and listen more.

  3. I live in a small town (think 800 people), and in the 11 years I’ve lived here I’ve had to learn to keep my mouth shut when it comes to politics. And religion. People are very sensitive to their beliefs, and it is such a part of their life, they Do think of it as a personal attack. I myself understand that to some degree, hence another reason I don’t discuss politics. I don’t want to be attacked.

    I think it’s really nice that you are considerate of peoples opinion, and aren’t out to attack… A healthy debate is good, and well, healthy. Just finding the person to debate without them getting their knickers in a twist is tricky at times.

    But I hear you.

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