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Young Geoffrey

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Memories of Friendships Past [May. 4th, 2007|10:57 pm]
Young Geoffrey
[mood |drunkdrunk]

I am someone you'd want at your back in a fight; someone whose shoulder is lined deep with tissues when you're heart is breaking. I am also someone who will call you on your bullshit when you ask my opinion. The latter trait has lost me more than a few friends, when Mr. Curious-Understanding was unmasked as Mr. Opinionated Bastard.

Some people listen to the Opinionated Bastard, consider his or her words, then make their own decision about whatever the question is, without bitterness or rancour (yes, Gentle Readers, I refer to myself, most of the time). Others hear the Opinionated Bastard and take his or her words as a personal assault. At best, the friendship is strained but heals in time; at worst, the friendship shatters into jagged shards of bitterness and resentment.

It happened again today. Against the better judgement of my Inner Diplomat, I decided to answer with what I thought to a question implicitly posed. In return, I was told I didn't know what I was talking about (though my actual points were not addressed), told my "male priviledge" made me anyway unqualified to discuss the matter and then found I was barred from the discussion and, indeed, from the filter (yes, it was on livejournal).

The details don't matter. Whether I was right or wrong doesn't matter. What matters (to me) is how far too many people (not me, I hope I don't flatter myself) take contradiction as a personal attack, rather than a respectful disagreement.

Which thought takes me back not too far off 10 years, not long before the turn of the century.

Erin was an old friend, whom I had met in high school. She was multi-talented - skilled with images and words - quick to laugh, eccentrically well-read, passionately political and courageous. Though we were never lovers (she was gay) we shared a bed more than once, took a road-trip to visit my mum in Sudbury and stayed in touch despite the vagaries of time and space.

Erin is why I am not still a secretary today. In 1999, I was growing to hate my work situation and said as much while sharing a pint on Bloor street with Erin. "There's an opening where I'm working," she said. "Why don't you apply?"

"What do I know about computers or the internet?"

"We'll train you," she said. And so I applied and was hired (and she *wasn't* on the hiring committee!) and thus found myself her coworker.

Flash forward a bit more than a year and watch I and a number of my co-workers head out for pints after the working day is done.

All went as such evenings should until the, er, "definition of science" came up.

I know longer recall the context, but in essence, Erin said something to the effect that Science makes no claim toward object truth, that Science "sees" itself as merely one world-view among many.

"No!" I said, "that's not true. The basic, the fundamental assumption of Science is that the universe operates according to rules - to laws - that are, at least in principal, open to investigation and subsequent understanding through the scientific method. If in fact, it turns out that gravity works in one way on earth and in an entirely different way on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, then the scientific method is wrong, because its basic assumption is wrong."

At this point, I don't remember what Erin thought the scientific method was, but I know I was right. And I was unable to shut up and let her talk bullshit about something that could easily be looked up. (We weren't arguing about how the universe works; we were arguing about how Science assumed the universe works.)

To make a long story short, Erin shouted at me to "Shut up!" and, when I wouldn't, she said, "Fuck you!" and stormed out of the bar. Though we continued to work in the same (small) office for a few months, we didn't speak again until a couple of years ago, when we ran into each other on the street and exchanged pleasantries - and even lj usernames, but the friendship ended that night.

I was sad about that end. I had considered Erin one of my best friends up to that point (and I think she thought the same of me), but I was not willing to apologize for standing up for what I believed was "the truth" - and I suppose, neither was she.

Point being, I didn't end the friendship because I thought she was wrong about something; I ended it because she took personally my belief that she was wrong.

I suspect this entry is of little or no interest to anyone but myself. But fuck it.

It's my journal
And I'll bore if I want to,
Bore if I want to ...

[User Picture]From: sooguy
2007-05-06 02:20 am (UTC)
Hey I read the whole thing.

I can see your point, but I guess its always a fine line on how someone is going to take it.
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From: kimchalister
2007-05-15 04:46 am (UTC)
Were you respectful in how you spoke? Sometimes it's the tone rather than the content.
But, yes, some people take the darnedest things as criticism. I have met many people who take the existence of Mensa as criticism. Some people take university degrees as criticism. I once offended someone highly by saying that school came easy for me. (I meant it in the sense that I can't take credit for it because it's not difficult.) So you don't have to even disagree with some people to offend them.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-05-25 10:17 pm (UTC)


As I recall, I started out respectful, but I ended up being somewhat aggressive (not as aggressive as "Shut up!" or "Fuck you!", mind you). We were talking about a definition, after all, not about the nature of reality itself.

I have met many people who take the existence of Mensa as criticism.

Really? I haven't. Personally, I find MENSA kind of pointless, but not offensive.

But yes, insecure people (or people who on some level realize they are being intellectually dishonest) can take offence over just about anything.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: kimchalister
2007-05-25 10:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Respectful?

When you say you find Mensa pointless, what do you mean? Have you attended meetings? Is it the meetings that are pointless, or the existence of the organization?
In my experience, people who find Mensa offensive or pointless have not attended any meetings or parties they have. It is, after all, just a social group, like any other, though for this social group the thing people have in common is a high IQ. It's much like a cooking club, a book club, a baseball team, a quilting group, or a garden club -- just an excuse for a bunch of people to get together.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-06-14 08:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Respectful?

I haven't attended any Mensa meetings. My objection (such as it is) to the idea of Mensa is based largely on my belief that the mere fact that a group of people scored over a certain mark on an IQ test is unlikely to mean they have much (else) in common. Granted that a certain level of intelligence is important to me, so are such factors as social and political values &ct.

Long story short, I've yet to find a social group or club that I've wanted to join. The closest was probably a bunch of guys I used to play hockey with on Monday mornings.
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