Arguing for Argument’s Sake

For the record, I am terrible at arguing because I am extremely non-confrontational. If I start talking to someone about a specific subject and it’s obvious to me that they are never going to change their mind, or if they at all start to get aggressive, I will immediately give in. This is true even when I know I’m correct. I think a lot of this comes from having terribly stubborn older brothers. As the younger sibling, it was either agree with them or be beaten up, or as we got older, verbally abused. It’s safe to say that I’m scarred.

My objective opinion aside, I definitely think there are instances where an argument is absolutely necessary. For starters, an argument is necessary it’s for a constructive purpose. Take environmental laws, for example. When a group of lawmakers approve a project that will cause great environmental damage, those who fight to protect the Earth will intervene and argue, whether this be via protest or an opposition to the legislature. Humans tend to argue when they feel passionately about something, and arguments are absolutely necessary when that something could have detrimental affects. Even on a small, personal level, if you don’t argue about something you feel passionately about and then the outcome is something that you’re uncomfortable with, it’s affecting you. Arguing is important when they can have a greater impact.

On the other hand, arguing can be a complete waste of time and it can be a mistake if you don’t know who you’re dealing with. Audience really matters with an argument. As I  mentioned above, arguing with my brothers was always a mistake because I could never win and would always end up feeling embarrassed and defeated. It’s wearing on the self-esteem. Attempting to make your point can be a mistake when the audience is not correct. Imagine attempting to argue with your boss, demanding that you deserve five day weekends. Additionally, if the cause you’re working for is not a just or respectable one, your argument is a mistake. It’s pointless, and it’s simply unnecessarily disrupting the lives of others. It’s also a mistake when you don’t have the means to back up your argument. If you’re just yelling at someone to yell at them, they’re not going to take you seriously and it could get you into a lot of trouble.

Finally, I do think there are times when arguments can be both necessary and a mistake. To use the example I used in the above paragraph, if you choose to argue with your boss because he is consistently late, lazy, and unproductive, it may be a mistake. That being said, it’s also something that needed to be argued. If your boss is unmotivated and just all-around terrible, someone should really say something to him. So I guess an argument can be necessary and also a problem when there are morals involved. You think you should be fighting for something, but you know it will get you into serious trouble. It’s the class heart-head battle. That being said, I don’t think that you would argue if you didn’t feel strongly enough about a topic, so then maybe you were prepared for the consequences. In any case, some may view your choice in argument as a mistake, but it’s really more about what you personally believe. Do you think what you’re arguing for is just? Do you think it’s a mistake? Is the mistake worth making for the greater good of society (hello, boiler plate language)?

Man, arguing is stressful.

Technically, you can escape a burning house

In class last week, we discussed Rebecca Solnit’s piece entitled “By the Way, Your Home Is On Fire.” In her piece, Solnit compares global climate change to an individual’s home being on fire, aiming to illustrate that we are destroying our home. She continues by presenting a solution that would mean divestment from oil companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BP; getting out as quickly as possible to prevent any further damage. There are, however, a few errors with this analogy. During class we primarily discussed a few of the key problems, and these are the two that stuck with me:

1) I’m not saying it would be easy, but you technically can escape a burning house. You cannot really “escape” the Earth – unless we all move into outer space (Zenon, anyone?)

2) You would have had to light your own house on fire, as humans and their impacts are the believed cause of this drastic climate change being described in the article.

Given these issues with the burning house metaphor, we were asked to create a different metaphor that we felt better suited the situation global climate change has put us in and the divestment solution. My group discussed a number of interesting propositions that went from quick sand, to acid rain, to submarines with holes everywhere that needed to be patched. Personally, I’m not sure that there is a “perfect” metaphor for an issue as large as climate change, but I’m going to do my best. What I got it boiled down to was getting lost anywhere, more specifically in a foreign city or maybe in the woods. You’re with a group of friends, you get separated, and you have no idea where you are. Eventually, maybe, you’d be able to get out of the woods, but not immediately. It’s not as easy as simply finding the closest exit in a burning house. You have to take a moment, figure out the best plan of action, and act on it as quickly as possible to lessen the possible consequences.

Additionally, being lost is a somewhat-working metaphor because you did it to yourself: you got lost all on your own. In this scenario you’ve been wandering by yourself for hours and to no avail. It can maybe be blamed partially on your friends for leaving you, but more than likely it’s your own fault and you have to take responsibility for your error and figure out how to fix it. While I’m sure there are problems with this metaphor, it’s the best I could come up with upon further pondering after class. I’m excited to read what everyone else came up with, and I hope there’s one that’s better than what I just gave!


Everyday People and Everyday Things

In all the craziness I’ve experienced in these first few weeks of the semester, I just now realized that I missed the boat on the introductory/why I write/why I read blog posts that everyone else has seemingly begun already. I guess better late than never, right? My name is Kelly, I’m a junior Communications major from Northville, Michigan.  I’m always dancing and I’m obsessed with dogs, and I guess those would be the two most important things to know about me.

Something I’ve recently noticed about myself in the last few weeks is how nosey I am. I seriously have to know everything about everyone. When I meet someone new who piques my interest, I stalk them on every social media site possible to get a feel of what they love, what makes them tick: “Is that his golden retriever?” “What sports did she play in high school?” “Oh he’s a twin!” (Really – no one is safe). This gets pretty awkward when someone thinks they’re telling me something for the first time and I respond with “I know!” The look of confusion and slight terror on their face is almost enough to make me stop being so creepy.

My junior year of high school, my friend introduced me to Post Secret, which is an online project in which people send in anonymous secrets on postcards and the creator of the site posts select secrets every Sunday. Reading these is addictive for me. While most functional adults can’t wait for the Sunday paper, I can’t wait for new secrets to be posted. Similarly, I can’t get enough of Humans of New York. Just those snippets of each individual’s struggles and triumphs and daily life leaves me wanting more every time: “I wonder if he’s still clean?” “Will her mother ever forgive her?” “I wonder if he ever turned himself in.”

I love people. I love meeting new people, smiling at strangers; I want to know everything about people because they are just so fascinating. There are so many stories out there in the world, and I feel so inspired when I’m reading and learning so many new things about complete strangers. I think this is why I like to write creatively about characters that I’ve completely made up in my mind. Each of my characters is inspired by someone or something I’ve seen in my time on this earth in some way, even if it’s just a description of the character’s hair or voice. Everyone has a story, and I want to know and share them all.