Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: disagreeing

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In our regular spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few words on disagreeing without things getting toxic.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and things that may be affecting us. This is a weekly column, that’s been running for a few years now. Across that time, hopefully there’s an article or two that are of use to you, amongst the many that won’t be of any relevance. But hopefully we write something that may resonate. Maybe even this piece!

This week, a few words about disagreeing with people. You might not agree with these words – chortle – but I do wonder if it’s worth just having a chunter about them anyway.

It seems in particular over the last few years that debate has gone a lot more binary. Pick your side of an argument, the other side is the enemy, never the twain shall meet. Nothing new there, sure, and in fandom in particular this kind of malarky has been going on for as long as people have been able to talk from what I can see.

However, there’s a real hostility underlying debate now, it seems. Moreso than before. News programmes have to have two people of diametrically opposite views going at each other. Social media debate has to involve ranting and raving, and pile-ons. And woe betide anyone who brings up politics, and which way they’ve voted in the last ten years. Get the matches out and run for the hills.

But also, getting us all to rant at each other rather than just debate and shake hands has proven to be good business for a whole bunch of outlets and individuals with sizeable platforms. That doesn’t mean the rest of us have to play along.

We’re not supposed to be the same, are we? We’re not supposed to agree about everything. We’re supposed to have differing views. And in most cases, those views are – at worst – cause for no more than a bit of debate. Sure, the media ramps everything up, and social media does as well. But I’ve seen people going at each other over everything from what they eat, to the new Ant-Man film, to famous people off the telly. It’s exhausting.

What it overshadows is that most of the time, we just get on with disagreeing and it’s fine. But that it’s easy to forget that, given the state of a fair amount of the world. It’s coming to the point where it’s a point of note where people disagree cordially on a comments board (the lovely commenters at this site are excluded from this particular piece’s crosshairs, of course). Yet that should be the norm, and often is.

Ignore the big companies who profit off to division. There are, between you and me, people who like the new Avatar film a lot more than me. That’s grand. I like Plane more than them. We’re both getting sequels. Everyone’s a winner. And we got there without a punch up too. Result!

This column will, as usual, return next week.

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