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When did it become acceptable in discussions of pop culture and art to take the stance that “Well, I don’t like it, therefore it’s crap.” How does one acquire such a mentality?

I only ask because I actually managed to hear an intelligent discussion between two people about a band they disagreed on. I rarely hear these anymore, and it was kind of refreshing. There was an actual attempt to exchange ideas and change minds, or at least open up new perspectives.

That’s how these discussions should go down.

If you’ve read me regularly, you probably know where my long-running animus towards stupid, pointless arguing that solves nothing comes from. My likable but insane roommate Diddy, who while a fairly intelligent fellow, takes a horrible approach to trying to engage in discussion about topics where there is disagreement. In observing his behavior, however I have learned a few things about communication. Mostly, why it breaks down.

In any case his model of discussion is this: “This is my opinion, it coes on high from the Mount Olympus, and you are wrong. Justify yourself to me.”

He might be the most intractably upfront about it, but a lot more people take this approach, even if it’s in a far more covert fashion. This especially manifests itself for people who cannot and will not separate their personal opinions from a critical opinion. Especially when they think they are one and the same.

And then, when they claim they are engaging  you in discussion, they’re just saying, “Prove me wrong. Which I am not.” I’m beginning to learn that once I recognize this mode of thought, I’m walking away. It’s not a discussion. Anyone who takes that attitude tends to also not listen to the nuances of the conversation, I’ve noticed. So if you’re actually making a complex point  that partially agrees with their point while partly disagreeing, they’ll hear the disagreement part and focus on that. Because they must stand firm in their beliefs…instead of processing a complex thought and maybe looking at it from another perspective.

And it is pretty complex to separate the fact that you don’t like something from intellectually understanding its merits. Plus, let’s face it, it seems bolder and more stand-up to say, “This music is crap! What is wrong with you jackals!” than to say, “You know what, enjoy it, but it isn’t my cup of tea.” My insistence on doing this has probably held back my blogging popularity considerably. That and posting three times a month, of course.

Would discourse of all things cultutral be less exciting if people said “It sucks” less often and said “It’s not for me” more often? Which would make “it sucks” far more valuable and taken seriously again? I mean, I hope when I say things suck, I tend to think they really suck. I do make fun of things that people enjoy, but I understand that they are some source of enjoyment. I think that’s fair. And complex.

And of course, because you know better and it sucks, you’ve probably stopped reading this. Back to your personal Mount Olympus, where all you own and care about rules, and all others are peons stealing your air.

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