An argument vs. a disagreeable person
Argument is not evil. Some bloggers and readers would have you think that it is. Saying that you disagree with someone for solid reasons does the group a favor. Academic scholarship and science are founded on this principle.
In fact, disagreement fuels innovation and forces creation, and the secret art gives you courage to be different and rile people up.
Do you want to fight me on this first point?
Good. You should. Your disagreement might provoke me to see new insights. Along with other things, disagreement engages critical thinking skills.
I am not upset when someone disagrees with me, but I am worried when people take in everything I say without questioning. As bloggers, discontent and disagreement are an essential part of of our purpose and a useful writing tool.
To be healthy, disagreement must:
Being a disagreeable person annoys people and causes them to dismiss you, but you don't have to be a disagreeable person to disagree. Generally a person is viewed as annoying when he is incapable of doubting his own opinion.
Your disagreement gains more power if you use it sparingly, only when needed. Disagreeable people are always in disagreement, refusing to collaborate or negotiate. They determine that their point of view is the only correct one.
The skeptical blogger who disagrees with the norm or consensus can push towards innovation and change, forcing others to see the flaws in collective reasoning.
At this time of year, I think of Dicken's Scrooge as the essence of a disagreeable person, one who is selfish and self-serving all the time, rather than arguing on occasions when people need to be forced to see another side of the problem. Scrooge lives to be in opposition of others, but later is forced to see the common good.
Disagreement is a powerful American tradition
Writers must wear the burden of disagreement because it is part of their job description, and for Americans it is a way of life. Donald L. Carcieri, former governor of Rhode Island, correctly stated that "Healthy disagreement, debate, leading to compromise has always been the American way." Just think back to the origins of the United States to see this.
Thomas Paine, the pamphleteer who helped to rally discontent in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War, is a great example of healthy disagreement. His rationale was forward thinking.
Looking to the future, Paine said "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace." This is healthy disagreement that works through difficulties today rather than putting it off and create further damage in the future.
However, when a humble person disagrees among his friends and colleagues, he or she can be recognized as the force of reason and change. The difference is in the frequency and purpose of the disagreement.
If one is always engaging in battle, he is at risk of being seen as a disagreeable person. Disagreeable people are eventually dismissed and seen as foolish.
If a person uses judgement in deciding when to disagree, she can pull the tribe back from the brink of a bad decision. Disagreement provokes anger and hatred, but sometimes it spawns thought. Eric Hoffer, an American social philosopher, adds:
The beginning of thought is in disagreement - not only with others but also with ourselves.
Begin your disagreement by questioning yourself before you extend your discontent to others.
Disagreement can be productive whether you consider a patriot in a nation or an individual blogger in a society. But, as you have seen, not all disagreement is alike. You can be a successful oppositional blogger by:
I do not suggest here that you must be always oppositional, but when the right moment arises you must have the courage to take a stand on the side of reason and skepticism, fighting for what you see to be valid. In doing so, you can be a force for change, and as Mahatma Gandhi said, "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress." Have the courage to be a part of progress and innovation.
You might enjoy these examples of when I have taken on the opposition:
By Darin L. Hammond
Darin works for BlogCatalog, owns and writes at ZipMinis.com, and freelances as a writer and designer. Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Demand Media Studios, SteamFeed, LifeHack, and Social Media Today. Find Darin on Google+.