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Should I just say nothing?

(12 Posts)
Thistledew Thu 13-Feb-14 16:07:08

OK, I know I am being a bit unreasonable in this situation, but would appreciate some perspectives so that I can handle things a bit better.

I have an issue with a relative of mine. I am very fond of her and her DC's and in some ways we are very similar, yet there are other ways in which we are very different, and I find these differences very irksome (not annoying, or something I'm angry about, but it gets under my skin).

We don't see each other very often (maybe once or twice a year) as we live in different countries, but we keep in contact mainly via Facebook and texts.

One of our similarities is that we both have (different) causes that we are very passionate about, and we both enjoy debating and promoting these causes. Mine are mainly to do with social and gender inequality and justice, and hers are to do with physical and spiritual health.

What I need help with is that sometimes she will post something on her Facebook wall that I really disagree with, or sometimes she will comment on something I have posted saying that she disagrees.

I don't have a problem with disagreement per se - everyone is entitled to their own. But what does get my goat is that some of the things she posts just don't seem to be thought through or grounded in any sort of logic. She attends a charismatic church, which seems to be pushing a very American conservative message, and it seems to me that she has a tendency to swallow these messages wholesale rather than think about what she is hearing. The thing is, when I challenge her on these things, she does quite often, if not quite change her mind, accept that there may be arguments which undermine what these messages say. I also challenge some of the alternative health theories she promotes, as many of them seem to be pretty much unfounded in any scientific principle, and potentially quite dangerous (e.g., that you can prevent and even cure cancer through nutrition, exercise and a positive frame of mind).

The reasons I do challenge her (in no particular order)-

1. I can't stand lack of logic and rational thought! It drives me nuts wherever I encounter it.
2. I enjoy debating things that are important to me.
3. She works as a fitness/nutritionist/life coach, and I do sometimes think that being a little more broad minded, and seeing things from different perspectives would help her with this. She often complains about conflict that has arisen in her work, and it seems to me that this often comes about because she is so dogmatic in her views.
4. I do worry for her if her life stops being quite as wonderful if as it is now, how she would cope. She seems to have such a strong view that everything is great because she is going exactly the right thing all the time, that I worry that if she was to be faced with a real adversity, begin confronted with the lack of control she has over the situation would be devastating to her.

So what should I do? Do I just let whatever she says go unchallenged? Even if she posts something on my Facebook wall (as opposed to posting something on her own wall)? As I said at the beginning, I am genuinely fond of her, and I also realise that I might not be behaving in the best way myself, so would appreciate any perspectives.

- NB - I do know that some people will say "Just don't be friends with her on Facebook", but I do value it as a means of keeping up with her and her DC, so would not want to go with that option.

rookiemater Thu 13-Feb-14 16:19:54

I'm not sure what your issue is exactly.

If I had to distill in a nutshell what you have said above, it is that you wish your relative would think and behave more like you.

You can reduce the drama instantly by not engaging, or just post something like "We'll have agree to disagree on that one" if you feel you have to write something.

Or you could keep going as you are - you enjoy debating, so provided your responses are polite, then keep going with them.

You won't fundamentally change how she thinks though and tbh it's not your job to do that . When I met SIL and BIL they were involved in a quite devout group of christians and believed that homosexuality was wrong and were quite keen on airing that view all the time. SIL has now changed just down to life experience and is embarrassed about her views at that time.

Thistledew Thu 13-Feb-14 16:28:33

Good question, rookie. I don't expect her to think and behave more like me in all respects, but I do think that she should think things through a little more.

I suppose what is worrying me is that if she posts something saying "My opinion is X" and I post back, "Well, what about A,B and C. Surely Y makes more sense?" then I worry that I am being unkind in showing her up for not having thought things through properly. I would have no problem in engaging in a debate where the other person is able to defend and rationalise their view, but it does make me uncomfortable when I can show her that she can't - coupled with the fact that this is happening in a public forum on Facebook. I suppose I am worried about whether I am 'showing her up' in public, and being unkind in doing so.

Joysmum Thu 13-Feb-14 16:36:48

Private message your debates.

rookiemater Thu 13-Feb-14 16:37:26

Gosh - I don't post such in depth stuff on FB. Ok in a way you are showing her up and if you post "Surely Y makes more sense?" that could be viewed as being somewhat condescending. I'd post "Well because of x, y & z, I think..." in preference which is owning your own views but not putting her down.

HappyGirlNow Thu 13-Feb-14 16:38:20

You sound very arrogant and overly sure that you're the 'logical one'. Of course that's what you believe if you always think you're right..

Maybe she has a different opinion on that...

Thistledew Thu 13-Feb-14 16:43:22

Perfect solution from Joysmum grin.

I suppose it is not just about the public thing - it is also about respecting other people's views generally.

Truthfully, I don't respect many of her views. I respect her right to hold them but I find many of them to be illogical and narrow minded. The question is, how much is it permissible to point that out to someone (politely of course) and to try and change their mind, and how much should I just roll my eyes and ignore it?

It is my view that she would be a more thoughtful and considerate person if she broadened her views somewhat, but what she has now apparently makes her very happy - so should I just leave her to it?

Should I just leave her to it even though I feel there is a potential for her to make other people less happy as a result of her views?

SolidGoldBrass Thu 13-Feb-14 16:45:27

Well, she's clearly a nut, however nice she might be, and TBH if she is peddling woobollocks to clients then she might be heading for a lot of trouble. I think you're quite right to point out her idiocies whenever she posts them.

Oh, and to those silly bastards going 'waah, how dare you think you're always right?' would you let someone you know state opinions that are not just stupid but potentially harmful, without correcting them?

Thistledew Thu 13-Feb-14 16:45:43

HappyGirlNow, yes, I do think I am more logical, but I don't think that is an arrogant view.

A couple of examples:

In response to something I had posted about men wearing makeup, she said that sexuality and gender lines were just too 'confusing' nowadays and that young people would be much happier if they didn't 'push the boundaries' of gender norms. After I posted my reply, she did say that she could see that really there was no more logical reason for men not to wear makeup than e.g. for women of different ethnicities not to wear it.

She said that she believes that the root of society's problems is people having sex outside marriage, divorce, and children from broken homes. When I pointed out that she and her husband are both from divorced parents, and that she was herself a single parent, and they are all thoroughly decent people, she did concede that maybe not all divorces or single parenthood result in disruptive children, and obnoxious adults.

I couldn't get her to budge on the idea of social privilege - apparently everyone has a complete equality of choice, and that as an adult you are solely a product of the choices you have made, with no influence from your background or childhood hmm.

YoBitch Thu 13-Feb-14 16:51:37

it's great you have such increased awareness of societal issues etc and I understand your desire to challenge her opinions and put forward your view. however in my experience the most powerful message to send to someone is to lead by example and just accept they may not be where you are now, but may get there eventually when they are ready. in the two examples you have given she sounds quite open to other opinions and altering her view as a result of discussion which I would see as a good thing, so I don't see why you can't just continue discussing things be it on FB or wherever. discussion is always god as long as you are able to accept that she is allowed to have a differing opinion to you

YoBitch Thu 13-Feb-14 16:52:14

good. not god!

LoonvanBoon Thu 13-Feb-14 17:07:43

Thistleview, I often used to feel the need to debate issues when people were spouting shite. Like you, I feel incensed by arguments that display a total lack of logic, & have no time for the relativistic idea that all opinions are equal. As you say, you can respect someone's right to hold a belief, but not the belief itself.

But I have learned as I've got older that people rarely, if ever, change their beliefs through discussion with someone else, no matter how many well-reasoned arguments or how much solid evidence you present them with. You're wasting your time, to be honest. If your friend's belief system crumbles when she's faced with adversity, then so be it. No doubt she will adapt her world view then, but she's not going to do it under persuasion from you, I suspect.

I'm not on FB so don't get all the stuff about statuses etc. But in real life, these days, I generally just go for the agree to disagree approach. I tell someone I don't agree, but will leave it at that unless they ask me to elaborate. If it's something I also have a strong emotional reaction to, as opposed to just intellectually disagreeing with - like the positive thinking cures cancer crap (have had close relatives die of cancer) - then I would ask someone if they wouldn't mind keeping those views to themselves. Can you hide other people's statues on FB? If so, I'd do that.

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