When people disagree about painful things

Hi! I really like your post ‘don’t tell me my pain is beautiful.’ However I have a slight problem with ‘I think you’re wrong.’ Because oppression is so personally triggering it’s problematic for people to ‘disagree’ and follow with ‘devils advocate.’
realsocialskills answered:
I’m not talking about “devil’s advocate” or any of that kind of thing. I agree that devil’s advocate is a horrible thing to do. Or otherwise treating it as a game or an opportunity for debate practice.
It’s not ok to treat things as a rhetoric context unless everyone involved consents to that. But substantive disagreement is a different thing.
I’m talking about when people actually disagree, for actual reasons. When they’re listening, taking the content seriously, and finding a significant point of disagreement that they think is worth mentioning.
(It’s important to be careful about this, and something being “just your opinion” doesn’t mean that others are bound to respect it. And there are times when you will rightfully be slammed for condescending to people on a topic you’re not informed about. Substantive disagreement is a different thing).
Someone being in pain doesn’t necessarily mean they are right, especially when they are advocating something specific. Finding disagreement triggering also doesn’t mean that the person getting triggered is right.
There are people I block because their comments to some of my entries are triggering for me in ways I can’t handle constructively. That doesn’t mean that I’m right, or that they should stop saying what they think. (I think they’re wrong and that they should change their views, but that’s a separate issue.)
Some things that are really important to talk about are also excruciating. That doesn’t mean that no one can or should disagree with anyone who is suffering.

Don’t tell me my pain is beautiful

I’ve seen this happen a lot:

  • Something awful happens to someone
  • Or they see something awful happen to someone else
  • Or they notice a thing that’s awful in the world
  • And then they write something about it
  • And they put a lot of effort into writing it, so it is really polished

And then a lot of people comment along these lines:

  • What a beautiful piece
  • That was so eloquent and moving
  • You’re such a good writer
  • I wish I could write like that

And often, those are the only or the primary comments a post like that gets, especially if it is written in highly personal terms.

I think there is something really wrong with that. Because when someone wrote something like that, the point was to communicate something important. And often, people completely ignore the content and focus on some sort of beauty unrelated to what the writer was actually saying.

When someone’s trying to tell you about violence, the right response isn’t “you’re so awesome at describing this violence in an asthetically pleasing manner!”; it’s “That shouldn’t happen,” or “What can I do to stop this?” or even “I think you’re wrong,” because sometimes you will disagree and sometimes you will be right. In any case, it’s important to take the content seriously.