Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The cachet of being a dissenter

I'm fascinated with how people interact with each other. This certainly traces back to my work in outdoor education where a big portion of the experience was in participants becoming aware of such things...and an even bigger part of the facilitator's job was to notice the group dynamics and adjust the experiences based on what we saw. It was intriguing to see how completely different the approaches of two different groups might be to a given problem. And then to structure later challenges based on what we'd seen.

So sometimes I like to just observe things going on online and think of them in the same terms, the same frame of mind. And if you want especially childish behavior, check out sports articles that allow for comments, like those on Foxsports. There's plenty of other childishness around as well, of course, including in the spec fic communities. But it isn't really childishness I wanted to blog about today.

What I'm finding entertaining at the moment is how proudly some people single themselves out as having a different opinion. "Well, I guess I'll be the lone voice saying..." "Looks like I'm the dissenting voice..." "I suppose my preferences are different then..."

That's great--much better than sycophantism or taking pride in conforming. But what really had me laughing yesterday or the day before was a discussion where people were debating a certain aspect of writing. A number of people started speaking their preference for one side until someone came along and mentioned that they'd be a dissenting voice and argue the other way. A bunch of people then piled on in support of this person...to the point that a page or more of comments later, someone jumped in as the lone voice of dissension to argue on the side of the original preferences (apparently unaware of all those who'd already agreed...). Each of the two seemed to take almost a martyr's tone with their reply. And the dynamics that followed of what others had to say were great fun from an observer's seat.

Now with some things it does take genuine courage to speak a dissenting view, and I'm proud of those who do. But to claim the martyr's mantle in a topic like this was simply comical.

5 comments:

Lion said...

Guilty! Sometimes I get caught up in the drama-queenery of FW. I think that sort of thing happens in any thread about writing on there that beats three pages.

I also like when people go on about how they're being oh-so-alternative with their ideas. Sometimes reversing a cliché is just as bad as the cliché.

Your Brother John said...

Funny you mentioned Foxsports. I love to read Jason Whitlock, and it seems most of the comments are childish and silly. It's like people don't even read the article, they just want to be the first to say something mean and contradictory, no matter how dumb or pointless.

Daniel Ausema said...

For what it's worth, Lion, you weren't one of the two who proclaimed themselves the lone voice of dissent, though it was on FW. Sometimes it annoys me when it seems to get too self-righteous, but mostly I just laugh and watch to see how the responses will go.

John, yeah, Foxsports is especially bad--and sports in general seem to call up that childishness, maybe because fans so often have their identities so wrapped up in their favorite teams or athletes.

Lion said...

Oh no, I'm pretty sure I know which one you meant. I was speaking in general.

Sports forums are hilarious because 90+% of the people fighting for the validity of their opinion are not themselves athletes. That's not saying that fans don't have the right to criticize (the "well, you couldn't have done better, so get off the player's case" argument doesn't hold water because he's paid to be good at his position, I'm not), but they do work themselves into a lather about something they have little experience doing.

Daniel Ausema said...

Yeah, I love sports--though generally I'd much rather play than watch, and I don't have the interest to follow every team in a given league. I cheer away for the teams that are my favorites (generally the teams that were local when I was growing up). But sports fandom often leaves me simply shaking my head.