Friday, July 27, 2007

Why can't we have a nice, civil conversation about what a jerk you are?

Imagine I write a post about my experience with my car, which is breaking down, and how this illustrates how this make of car is unreliable.

In the course of my description I let out that I'm not particular about what gas I put in it, don't change the oil, don't keep up with maintenance, drive it hard, ride the brakes, ignore warning lights, etc.

To my shock and dismay, the comments revolve around my poor treatment of the car rather than the unreliability of that particular brand.

Undeterred, I note that most of these comments seem to be coming from "car guys," and try to turn the conversation to how difficult it is for people who don't know about cars to deal with "car guys."

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This seems to be going on in reference to the SAHD post I posted about earlier.

Not suprisingly, the male reaction to that post was mostly negative. One reader launched a series of posts on the matter, and seemed surprised that the episode didn't launch some interesting discussions, blamed it on the fact that it was men who were commenting, whom she discounted has not being able to deal with assertive women, and then was again dismayed that this did not bring about a fruitful discussion.

Here's some tips:

  • When something bad happens to you due to some actions under your control, and you blame a larger problem, people are going to be more interested in pointing out what you could have done differently than discussing the larger problem.
  • Discounting someone viewpoint because of their gender or other intrinsic quality is rareley a precursor to productive discussion.