Why People Really Fight About Politics, Movies, and Music

I have a hypothesis: when people get mad about politics and defensive of their favorite bands and movies, it’s generally not about the politics, the music, or the movies. Typically, they fight to preserve their self-esteem.

The sub-conscience dialog goes something like this:

If you feel the same way I do, then I must be right.

If you don’t feel the same way, then I’m wrong or you are. If I can make you see what I see, then I was right all along. If I can’t, then maybe I really am wrong.

If I’m wrong, then I have a problem.

If I’m right about the internal dialog – and I may be wrong – then you can understand why people fight so hard to be right.

I have another hypothesis: The intensity of the argument may be inversely proportional to the self esteem of the people engaged in discussion. That is, the harder they fight, the lower their self esteem.

Yes, there are people who genuinely care about the issues. There are people who are just passionate about what they believe. But, in my experience, most people don’t know enough about what they are arguing about for the conversation to be about that topic rather than about themselves.

Two questions: What do you think? What are the implications for dealing with friends, family, and coworkers?

2 Comment

  1. Interesting and thought-provoking. I think you are on to something.

    What are your pontifications for people such as myself who no longer feel the need to argue politics? I very recently posted about my frustrations with some of the blogs I read posting about politics. It just turns me off anymore.

  2. And when it comes down to it – when you know who you are and for what you stand, there is nothing but peace when discussing differences between yourself and others. Those differences become shining gems serving as a reminder that no two people are exactly alike, thus preserving variety equates to spice.

    Live for the moment
    Laugh through the hard times
    Love the world around
    Hope for the future

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