If we are friends, whether it is a personal acquaintance or on social media, you probably know enough about me to know I am opinionated.

I respect opinion. I like it when one agrees with me. I especially like it when ones opinion is in contrast to my own.  “Pffft!” some of you just thought.

Although my body language is angry when someone disagrees with me, I still enjoy it. Yes, I like when people rebut my ideas. When one stands up to make a counterpoint to my ideas (or rants for that matter) it forces me to pause, on many levels.

Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.*

First, I like the rebuttal because I am a self-centered human being. It must be my narcissistic tendencies kicking in. “Someone heard my opinion,” I bestow upon myself. I pat myself on the back for the recognition simply because someone actually listened to me or read what I wrote.

I believe in conversation or social media we all crave recognition. We want to be heard in one form or another. As twisted as it may sound it gives us self worth, a temporary purpose for our existence.

As a somewhat extroverted person (ha), I live my life craving attention. For those of you who are introverts this may be a difficult concept to grasp. In contrast I envy the introvert who lives with satisfaction in themselves, as I have difficulty understanding that concept. Pretty shallow, huh?

My need for attention, to be recognized, to be heard has been both a blessing and a nuisance in my life. There have been many, many times when I have crossed the line and or annoyed others just for the sake of being noticed. I constantly say things on a whim that is meant for the laugh, but I know for a fact has hurt people. When it happens there is instantly regret, but also simultaneously a disdain for the recipient in not having a thick enough skin.

Am I a bad person for thinking this way? Perhaps. Should I beat myself up over it? No. Hopefully I learn from it, and curb myself from repeating it in the future… (like that ever happens)

Second, I like a rebuttal because someone acknowledged my thought, and is expounding on it. Be it the troll in me, I get excited when people take the bait. At this point some of you may be thinking, “This guy is a real jackass.” Bear with me please…

I love to fish. Having grown up in Michigan I always had a nearby fishing hole to visit. There is something just as exciting about doing all the pre-work in getting ready to fish as much as the act of fishing itself. Maybe it’s that anticipation of landing the big one. Once on the water or standing along the edge, that first cast is so satisfying. The ‘whizzzzz’ of the line from your pole and the gentle ‘plop’ of your bait against the water’s surface… there’s nothing like it.

So much of sharing my opinion or posting online is just like fishing. I have this thought in my head and want to get it out.  “I have had an epiphany”, I proudly say to myself. I anxiously wait for the moment I can throw my line in a lake of ideas. After the comment has been cast, I patiently wait for the response… a nibble, a like, a tug on the line, a smile, setting the hook, the counterpoint!

It’s not like I am going to fry my catch for dinner. If anything that’s when it gets real ugly on social media. It’s more of finding out who replied, why they replied, and listening to what they have to say. I evaluate it as a decent size catch, then release.

God knows no single person’s opinions have ever been changed on social media.

Third, I like rebuttal because it reveals who my friend is. I must step outside of my world view and try to see things from their world view. The two-way dialog is how I learn. My ideas get challenged; I am forced to find reasoning and sources for my thoughts and comments. I am required to challenge myself.

I am convinced that I have stronger relationships with those who have challenged me than those who agree with me on everything.

Fourth, I hate losing arguments… but I seem to have mastered that, simply because it happens all the time.

The song below was written by friend Terry Scott Taylor. It best describes how I feel after the fact…

– Bill Peterson


*Inigo Montoya – The Princess Bride


2 thoughts on “Debate

  1. I being of Michigan also like to fish but I really like control. My fishing is done through the ice, that way I can usually see whats going to take my bait and pull it away if I don’t like what i’m going to catch. Now when ever I get into a debate with someone and it starts to go in a direction I don’t like, I have learned that due to my age I can look away and pretent to have not heard tjheir comment. My wife will see me and tell them it’s because I didn’t hear them as my hearing is getting bad. So I can smile and walk off to start another debate without finishing the first one….getting older has some great advantages…..and people around take up the debates I leave unfinished.

  2. Also from Michigan and also from your family Bill. It’s me, your big sis, and I am struck that while we were brought up by the same parents, while we shared many of the same life events in that family, regarding debates, I ended up at the other end of the spectrum. It intrigues me that we have divergent paths regarding this. But then, too, I was at the old end of the spectrum and you at the young, little brother. For me, nearly all debates are to be avoided, bypassed, escaped, evaded, sidestepped, dodged, skirted-well you get the idea. I will manage to avoid most debates with ease, but sometimes need cunning…I have skills. I am not proud of this, but I do know now how to keep my own personal peace and what’s just going to end up giving me an upset stomach, lol.

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