About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Picking your battles

There are a few Facebook friends that I have unsubscribed from. In most cases, the reasons are political. These people cannot shut up about it. The majority of them are conservative, one of them is actually a fellow progressive.

I'm aware that some people use 'pick your battles' as an excuse to remain stuck in the quicksand of slacktivism or use it only to pay some lip service to whatever cause they claim to support. But there is a truth to it. If you're going to rush into every single battle, rectify every single falsehood or take up all causes, you'll achieve nothing. You might even alienate people that support you.

But how can you accurately gauge what battle is worth fighting? There's no clear-cut flowchart I can offer on that one, sorry. But here's a few contextual elements that help me to decide if I'm going to say something, and how I'll say it:

  • The better I know the person who said something offensive or misinformed, the more likely I am to challenge their opinion, e.g. if a close friend would claim Zwarte Piet isn't racist.
  • The more distant I know someone is from my own convictions, the more inflammatory their opinion has to be to actually make me respond, e.g. a liberal moaning about taxes won't really get me to respond.
  • The more people are present and listening, the more likely it is that I'll say something. The tone will depend on what kind of audience it is.

Also, I do try to argue from a position of good faith, which I think can help any type of debate or discussion you're having. So:

  • Unless I get indications of the contrary, I'll assume my opponent is also arguing in good faith
  • I won't descend into personal attacks and hyperbole
  • I don't want to let others move the goalposts of the debate
  • I try to understand where the others are coming from, even if I think their opinion is horrible
  • I won't debate anyone who thinks the possibility that they're wrong doesn't exist

Lastly, the whole 'battle' thing isn't even really about winning. I know that back when I held a host of uninformed or stupid opinions (I probably still hold some), arguing with me until I admitted defeat wasn't really going to help a lot. It was a combination of a steady trickle of personal experience, reading and discussing that slowly turned my views. I'm already pleased if I can at least plant a seed of doubt.