Something that I find myself doing more and more is questioning people. It isn’t about questioning them on their facts. I want to question them on their motivations. The primary question for me is why they are doing something. Are they doing something with a purpose? What is that purpose?
Being too Forceful
Force is almost always counter productive in the end. The questions I ask myself are ones that others don’t consider. I know that I have started voicing these questions more due to Jordan Peterson. I went and read some Peirce, Dewey, and James and am more confident in some of the ideas they presented.
Questions about the purpose of something is important to me. I am fine with people having different purposes than I do, but I want to understand what that purpose is. If the thing that a person is doing has no meaning, no end goal, and makes them unhappy I become obsessed with why they are doing it.
A lesser form of this is people saying things that is meant to parrot what a group thinks. It is speaking within the terms of the group and assuming correctness that may not be justified. There is a clarity that is becoming more and more horrifying for me realizing groups use entirely different words to label concepts. It is even worse when the same label is applied to different concepts. The label meaning the same thing but having a group connotation that is negative may be more insidious and worse yet.
What I Do
I focus on finding these loaded terms. There is a lot to be said about being aware how other groups perceive you. There are some topics that I don’t know how to breach with people.
It is amazing that I can’t question the use of freaking out about Trump. The topic will either go onto slavery or Nazis within a few minutes almost invariably. It is frustrating for me that I can’t broach this subject. In reality, I have a selfish motivation here. I want people to stop talking about Trump.
With any verbiage, my goal is simple. I want there to be meaning. Forcing others to have meaning doesn’t make sense for them. The meaning they extract is that it inspires emotion. They find it funny or horrifying or both. They want pleasure and entertainment.
Pleasure and Horror
Combining entertainment with politics sucks. Politics should be boring. The same applies to philosophy. Philosophy or politics being approachable and fun means that something is being done wrong. The emotions will get in the way of logic.
I think this can be seen in the current obsession with facts. Politics and philosophy often times have no facts. Other times, their facts depend on assumptions being made. People assuming that they have the facts and there is nothing that contradicts them in either of these areas has scary repercussions.
I am very torn on this topic. Should I persuade people? I want to test my views, mainly. The secondary motivation is getting someone to see things my way. Being wrong is not a problem for me. Staying silent is not an option, even though I try to make it one.
How do you persuade someone who is enjoying themselves while destroying themselves? I guess the more basic question is if my assumptions are correct. Are they destroying themselves? Hell, are they even really enjoying themselves?
Persuading people is an entirely different task than defending your views. Persuasion takes a long time. There is no way to make someone change their mind after a single conversation. It can take years. The progress is slow.
Is it worth it? I assume I can persuade a total of 1 person on average a year, with multiple ongoing conversations with those people. That is a dismal result. What if that person convinces one other person? Even better, what if people are persuaded by me but unwilling to admit it? What if people are less sure of themselves being right and don’t assume a potentially destructive view is safe to air in public?
I can’t change who I am. There is no way I can be happy and let people say things without asking them to inspect their statements.
I have historically damaged a lot of relationships and friendships through these kinds of questions. It takes a strong personality to know me. Therefore, do I only spend time with strong personalities? Won’t that make me less persuasive in general? I can’t make someone like my actual personality.
Is there another personality for me? Is that personality fake? I don’t think so.
I can’t force you to talk to me. Bringing value to people is how I get around this. In casual conversations with people I don’t know, it is hard to bring that value. With friends, the risk of questioning them is they dislike me.
Life is hard but we have to try to make it better.