You know that feeling when you’re having a conversation with someone and you’ve suddenly hit the edges of their understanding?
When you discover that part in someone’s brain where they believe there’s a direct correlation between skin color /sexual orientation / favorite sports team and how much someone deserves to be kicked in the face. Or think not having the required form or paper makes it physically impossible to do something.
A 5-year-old could understand what they don’t. But somehow there is nothing you can do to break down their hard shell of ignorance about the subject.
When you are in that position, how does it make you feel?
If it frustrates the hell out of you, read on…
Arguing with Idiots
When you encounter these people, do you feel the need to convince them to change their mind?
Does it become your personal mission for the next 10 minutes to show that Muslim extremist that perhaps somewhere, deep down, it might not be a very nice thing to do to tell women they can’t show themselves publicly?
Or that Nickelback/Bieber hater that he must admit they have written at least one decent hit song and that not particularly enjoying someone’s music is a very irrational reason to hate someone with passion?
It’s easy to get upset with the irrationality of people. I’m guilty of this 100% myself. When I encounter ignorance I immediately start to think ‘’How can I change this!! How can I put an end to this stupidity??’’
And as a result, we start an argument about it. As if no one has ever tried doing that before. Just think about it. How many times do you think a sexist is on the receiving end of well thought out, valid arguments against sexism? I bet that never happens 😉
How many times do you think bureaucrats and government officials get confronted with people who try to make them see the sheer irrationality of their systems? Probably multiple times on a daily basis.
In fact, ignorant people have so many years of hardcore argument-training behind them, that in theory they must be some kind of argument black belt by now. Outperforming you with solid prepared arguments that lead to your checkmate in a few seconds.
At least that’s what you’d expect. But that’s not what happens in real life, right?
Instead, they keep feeding you irrational and stupid answers without listening to your reason.
So what does that tell you?
That your knowledge and reason are futile against someone who’s in ‘’stupid mode’’.
(Side note: I’m calling it stupid mode here because even though it may not seem like it, I do realize the people I mention in this article are not ‘’stupid’’ on an overall level. They may have formed some irrational opinions during their life, but we all have 😉 And they may very well be smarter than you or me in other areas.)
Comedian George Carlin who once said: ’’Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.’’
He has a point. First of all, if the other person is in ‘’stupid-mode’’: How stupid are we to think we’ll fix it with a logical conversation about the topic?
Even the very act of starting the discussion means sinking to their level.
And once you engage in a discussion with them, you become overly attached to winning it. So if they continue the ignorant comments long enough, you’ll lose your temper and start to become less rational in arguing yourself.
But why are we so attached to proving them wrong? Why is it so important for us to be the first person to talk some sense into them when we could just move on and stop the interaction in favor of more important things?
A Different Approach
Okay, so if we can’t talk some sense into these people, what can we do to make the best of the situation?
Let them talk some non-sense into us. I’m serious.
If you’re a subscribed reader of this blog, you might remember a recent post called ‘’What You Can Learn from the People You Hate”. That post explained how the way you relate to other people is nothing but a reflection of the way we relate to different parts of yourself.
For starters: Do you notice you find it important to prove ignorant people are wrong when in conversation with them?
Then perhaps that means you have a hard time accepting the fact that you are also wrong about hundreds of things you believe are true. And we all are. Sure, as we learn and grow we become a little less wrong about some things. But it’s an illusion that one day we’ll know enough to ever be completely right in our opinions about stuff. And things. And other business of that nature. And that is why a fool who knows he’s a fool is more wise than a wise man who doesn’t realize he’s also a fool (because we all are). Trying to prove other people wrong almost certainly signals the fact that you don’t like to admit to yourself you still have a shitload of things to learn. I know because I’ve been there more than enough times 😉
But a much more important question is this: Do you actively try to talk sense and reason into people because you don’t like the side of you that does not have it?
What if the fact that people frustrate you when they behave irrationally is a reflection of the fact that you are not at peace with your own irrationality?
Or to say it in my best copywriter-who-thinks-they’re-being-clever language:
Are you non-zen about your non-sense?
I find that when people behaving in a stupid manner tend to annoy me, most of the time it means I’ve been taking life too serious. It means my own stupid side feels neglected and is in desperate need of some expression.
Accepting that we’re all a bunch of stupid monkeys doing irrational stuff. Hoping it will lead to us humping another stupid monkey every night. Then putting on a nice suit to walk the streets pretending we’re civilized and have a clue what fuck we’re doing. While in reality none of the weird ignorant apes on this planet has even the slightest idea what they’re doing. Let alone what they’re doing it for. Including you. …actually helps a great deal when it comes to forgiving or accepting other’s quirky thoughts 🙂
Respect My Stupiditah!!!!
Have you ever noticed, that when you respect people’s point of view, suddenly they will listen to you?
I can tell this difference very clearly. When I’m in a mode where I'm annoyed by stupidity, I always run into walls and limitations. But when I’m in a very flowy, understanding and empathic mood, those same people don't seem so ignorant anymore. I don’t get into arguments, and many people who are supposed to follow irrational rules even give me special treatment.
When we don’t respect our own stupidity enough, it reflects in the way we talk to other people. When we forget to be humble when sharing knowledge. When we subconsciously enter into a discussion as if the other person is a stupid monkey and we are civilized gentle(wo)men, they can feel that lack of respect and they will not relate to you at all.
But when you regularly enjoy and appreciate a good bout of nonsense and are willing to laugh at your own mistakes, you can create a vibe that’s a little more like “Here we are: 2 stupid monkeys, neither of us knowing what the fuck we are doing. Living in a society full of irrational rules. Trying to make the most out of our lives in our own weird irrational ways. We’re in this together. Why not see how we can make a little more pleasant for each other?’’
A lot of people who read blogs like mine or write blogs like mine (including me at times) are prone to taking life too srsly.
If you just felt slightly annoyed by the way I spelled seriouslee in that last sentence, that means you have it too.
So if you find the irrationality, stupidity or ignorance of other people has been annoying you lately, here’s a quick fix protocol to get back in touch with your own inner fool:
Step 1: Cancel your entire plan for the day. Watch the movie “Airplane!’’ (with or without herbal supplementation).
Step 2: Flip through the yellow pages and do at least 5 prank calls. One must be to the oval office. Yes, I'm being too ignorant to realize the number is probably not in there.
Step 3: Get outside wearing a ridiculous sign like ‘’Unfree Hugs’’, “Nudist on strike’’, or ‘’Stop the Protests now! Enough is enough!’’ (Alternatively, you also could write down the URL of this website.)
It may not be the answer you hoped for, but you know what Abraham Lincoln once famously said:
''I am so terribly sorry dear, it appears I suffered from a brief bout of flatulence back there. I desire this unexpected aromatic decompression didn't shake thy nostrils too much? Concluded, be it, taketh Pepijn's new articles by email.''
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