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There is truly something poisonous in the one-upmanship of our… - CERisE's Testing for L

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August 22nd, 2011

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08:33 am
There is truly something poisonous in the one-upmanship of our society.

Some examples:

lishd had an amazing portrait of a hawk carved into her side over the course of five hours.
A friend of mine responded by saying that some of her friends get brands done.

I mentioned on facebook that I was in Titusville (the nearest town to Kennedy Space Center) for the final space shuttle launch.
A friend of mine responded with "Wow -- why are you hanging out in Hicktown?"
Another friend responded with "Why did you go out for it? There's only a 30% chance of it launching."

(I was able to have the last laugh in this case -- the probability was downgraded farther and the launch proceeded -- but if you've been reading my journal, you knew that.)

Whenever my video game console collection is discussed, inevitably someone puts forth the question: "Oh yeah? Do you have console X?" where X is a meaningless console like a Dendy or a Game & Watch watch. This usually leads to the rather thrilling continuing thread of conversation of "Oh."

On the occasions where I do happen to have X, they continue their inquisition until one is named that I don't have without any apparent recognition that their attempt at a trump is invalid. I once endured someone asking this question eight times before they gave up and they did not give me opportunity to elucidate at any point. Their response was "Huh."

The art of conversation is not a matter of flapping your lips at one another for an extended period of time. It is about listening, understanding, and responding thoughtfully. In our age of instant gratification, it is most unfortunate that people see a period of time for reflection in the midst of an argument or conversation as an imperfection.

Groucho Marx was quoted as saying "Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication."

(It seems to me that at some point, I have likely been a hypocrite with respect to this statement, nevertheless I hold that it does not diminish the truth of my sentiment.)

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[User Picture]
Date:August 22nd, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
Heck, that's nothing. I already recognized my own asshole tendency to one-up people, apologized publicly for it, and reformed my evil ways in kindergarten.

Speaking seriously, though, kudos for recognizing that "hypocrisy" does not in any way lessen the import of your words. There's some kind of strange rationale people seem to cherish that if you've ever done something in the past, that automatically disqualifies you from speaking against it because OH NO YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE HOW CAN YOU BE SO RIGHTEOUS WHEN YOU HAVE DONE THIS YOURSELF? People change. There's something inside us that always makes us want to be better than other people. Eventually, if we're self-aware enough, we recognize this tendency and correct for it, and life goes on. That's simply part of growing up and becoming a mature person.
[User Picture]
Date:August 22nd, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)
Speaking seriously, though, kudos for recognizing that "hypocrisy" does not in any way lessen the import of your words.

That wasn't really the thrust of this, but thanks, I guess?

Anyway, I'm not sure that I actually am a hypocrite. I can't think of any particular case in which I acted contrary to my sentiment here. However, I recognize the possibility that I may have acted hypocritically in writing this post.

That dispensed with, I am often fond of pointing out that arguing someone is wrong by reason of hypocrisy is a form of the ad hominem fallacy.

To be honest though, people never actually seem to understand the concept of an ad hominem fallacy when I point it out as a criticism of their argument.

A great example that comes to mind -- and one you often hear from pro-choice folks -- a friend of mine said that it was wrong for men (read: male humans) to write laws which would make abortion illegal.

In spite of the fact that she's generally a sharp person, several rounds of Facebook comments did not succeed in getting my point across to her.

People change.

And here, I suspect that you might have hit on the reason why. People seem to really believe that changing your mind is a sign of intellectual weakness rather than a sign of good character.

As a first approximation of a sociological (or perhaps, semiotic) explanation, I'd guess that it's because of our interest in determining trends. Thus, we perceive that admitting that you're incorrect now is a sign of being incorrect in the future.

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