Wednesday, September 18

Closer but further apart- The footy fan phenomenon

Have you noticed that the closer two opinions are the greater the disagreements between the people who hold these opinions. I've been wondering why this is so.
And frankly I can’t come up with a satisfying answer.
Perhaps it’s got to do with ego…perhaps it’s to do with wanting to fit in with like minded people; I think it’s got a bit to do with labels.

The footy fan phenomenon

Firstly let me explain my football fan metaphor.

I start with sport.
There are those of us who LOVE sport and there are those of us who couldn't give a toss about sport. While that is a huge gulf of difference of opinion there is not much contention about the issue. Those of us who find sport boring simply shrug and think “I don’t know what you see in it.” And vice versa.

Then there are those who prefer to watch tennis and golf and those who prefer Football.
Again a difference of opinion and I’m sure there have been discussions about it but it’s not as if footy fans stand outside Wimbledon ready to start a riot and punch on about which sport is better.

Take it one step closer and you have Football fans who prefer Rugby, League, AFL, American football, Soccer…and you bet there have been plenty of pub brawls about which is the best code.

Then you go one step deeper again…to the fans who love the same code of Football…getting very close to the same opinion here…AND these are the ones most likely to commit violent acts over who is right.

Sure people disagree about things when they have very big differences of opinion but as you get into the minutiae of opinions, and the details of definitions there seems to be more contention, more frequent and more passionate arguments.

I’m thinking in particular at the moment about some on line homeschooling communities.

Instead of these communities being united by a common belief in home education there seems to be much in-fighting, disagreement about definitions, judgmental commentary about which type of homeschooling is better and down right bitchy, nastiness.

There are Homeschooling groups, Unschooling groups, Radical Unschooling groups all knocking each other.
There are sub groups within the Radical Unschooling groups who support one theory or another, one definition or adhere to one particular guru or another. And the shit that goes on in some of these groups would blow your mind! Or perhaps this phenomenon seems to be widespread.

So much so that many people new to home education are turned off the concept by the tone of these forums before they even get a chance to learn about it. And experienced home educators are leaving the forums in droves because they just want to be able to share their knowledge and not engage in petty name calling.

But it’s not just in homeschooling forums.

It seems to be everywhere.
The closer two religions are the greater the Wars.
It is usually the Vegans criticizing the vegetarians, the far right wing political party criticizing the not-so-far-right political party... saying they are not doing it right, they are not committed enough.

Is it Fanaticism then?

Wikki says “…the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance for contrary ideas or opinions”
Is this why as the definitions get stricter, when the differences get smaller the Fanatic must become ever more vigilant at keeping their boundaries of belief protected?

Is it because people get so attached to their beliefs, or so attached to belonging to the group which hold these beliefs in common that they can no longer think individually.

In essence I don’t think there is anything wrong with using labels to define groups of people…it makes life simpler.

It’s a lot simpler to say “I’m a vegetarian.” than it is to say’ “I don’t eat pork, or chicken, or bacon, or beef, or turkey, or ham, or veal etc…”

Labels can be divisive, labels can be limiting but they can also help us finding common ground with others.
Labels help us identify groups of people we want to interact with.
They help us find friends with things in common, experts to learn from.

But instead of using labels as a guide maybe we get too attached to them; instead of using them to identify they become our identity???

There are many Labels I have used in the past or use now. Some have reached their used by date, some I still use to help explain who I am or what I believe in but there is no one label that could ever define me.
I am an individual.
Each and every decision is checked by how I feel not what the guidelines of the group are.

Radical beliefs and freedom of thought.

I think the danger of using the word Radical is that it is associated with fanaticism. But by radical I mean very different to the mainstream.

Many of my beliefs are seen as pretty radical by some people. Yet they are my beliefs and I am neither attached nor fanatical about them. I don’t go out of my way to convince others to come to my opinion, I usually only speak of my beliefs here on my personal blog or if someone specifically asks me about something they are curious about.
I often change my mind as I learn and grow and hope I keep changing my mind until the day I die.
I do not have a problem with differences of opinion. I have a problem with my freedom of thought being taken away.
And it is not just angry people on forums who make us feel unable to express our opinions and live how we choose. But our governments trying to regulate our behaviour to concur with the common denominator. I should be free to vaccinate or not, to home educate or not, to homebirth or not...but the government seems set on taking our right to make informed choice away.

They are saying the same thing as the fanatics on the forums...unless you agree with us you are out! If you don' agree with the general opinion then we will force you to behave as if you do anyway.

And it is this Freedom of thought I like to afford others.Believe what you will.
And if you like we can have a nice intelligent debate about it or not...
But know that while I may not agree I am not going to call you names, or hurt you, or as government legislation has been seen to do, forcibly take away your rights so you have to change your mind.

Anyhow, as an example of how two people with differing opinions can keep it real and not get nasty, I loved this debate between an Atheist and a Christian.

1 comment:

Yeshe said...

I hear you Sally, all too often these philosophical debates get too personal. I also can't abide being told what I do in my family isn't right because it doesn't fit someone's ideology. We should all know things are different in practice. I liked your football analogy and you are right about vegans! Thankyou for explaining it so eloquently.

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