, 21 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Here's something I've been studying on here for a bit. A lot of men, seem to have been conditioned to think that telling someone that you disagree is the same as asking them a question. Like the way they learn to engage is by *creating a conflict*.
I don't think this is a small thing. In fact, I think it is the source of a lot of the unintentional frustration that men cause on here. (I'm only talking about those who actually "mean well".)
I have had this exchange numerous times. It goes something like this.
Them: I disagree. | I've had a different experience.
Me: I don't care. | What's your point?
Them: Geez, I was just trying to learn. Why are you attacking me?!
It has been helpful for me to see this as unintentional conditioning separate from intent. At least for some men (including myself). Ever since this occurred to me, I've noticed how even when men intend to ask "sincere" questions, it often comes in the form of a challenge.
This has a bunch of negative effects. It's easily misunderstood as a bad faith challenge rather than an attempt to engage. There are a lot of bad faith challenges out there and they sound exactly the same. In fact those bad actors always hide behind "good intent".
Engaging in the form of a challenge also puts all of the burden on the receiver to unpack what you mean to ask and what kind of response would be appropriate. You are implicitly asking for a tremendous amount of grace when you ask someone to navigate this unexpectedly.
I wanna be clear that even though we can give the benefit of the doubt in seeing this as a an unintentional learned behavior, that doesn't the people who do this are off the hook. We still need to do better. We can learn to do better.
I'm glad this thread is resonating with so many people. I wanna spend a little time on this question, which I've gotten a number of times today. Essentially what's "the right way" to disagree? Be warned that a lot of this is gonna feel unsatisfying.
The first question a lot of us need to ask is "why does this person need to hear that I disagree?" Twitter is still largely a uni-directional medium. People post a tweet because they want to express themselves. Not because they're asking each individual if they agree or disagree.
I've talked about this a lot in the past. This is hard because there's this subculture of men that have decided Twitter is some kinda Thunderdome of ideas and direct debate. "Why post something if you didn't want a response?" PLEASE stop doing this.
Instead, ask yourself what it is that you actually want out of this exchange. Start by framing the conversation you want to have. Do you want them to help you understand their comments? Try saying that first. "I'm not sure I understand, would you be willing to expand on this?"
Taking the time to set context and frame conversations before diving in is a huge part of effective communication. More so, it gives the other person the opportunity to reframe the conversation or tell you they're not interested.
You can skip a lot of this setup in settings where there is already a lot of situational context. If you're at a dinner party, active engagement is expected. If you're hanging with friends, you can get away with being a little more gruff because they'll understand.
But if there's one thing to take away from this, it's accepting that the internet is not your living room. You're talking to people who don't know you and didn't ask for your opinion. So it helps to approach engagement as you *inviting* them to a conversation. They may decline.
Notice that all of this happens before you get to the part where you talk about what you wanna talk about. If more people did just a little more setup, many exchanges on the internet would go better.
So let's say you still want to engage and they seem up for it. You still want to remember that "I disagree" is not a conversation. It's a challenge. If that's what you mean to do, you can choose to soften it so they can decide if you're being a jerk or not.
Here's an example.

"I hope it's okay if I push back on this a little. I'm not sure if it makes sense because of X. Am I misunderstanding something?"

Most of the language here is about giving people the opportunity to tell you that you're missing part of the story.
Cause that's really key. We know Twitter is not good for expressing the full context of people's thoughts. We KNOW this. So why not go in assuming that's true and leaving the conversation open for them to tell you more about what they meant?
When you start off with "I disagree. Here's my perspective", it has the exact opposite effect. People are likely to be more closed and defensive. But also, you've taken over the conversation and challenged THEM to talk about YOUR opinion. That's rude and presumptuous.
There's a lot more here, but I wanna drive this one point home. If you've done all of this thinking and you realize your only goal is to tell other people your opinions because you disagree, you could also choose to just not do that. Just sit with that feeling and move on.
If your goal is actually to gain some new perspective, you would do way better by asking questions and listening to the answers. Creating conflict is not a great environment for learning. In fact it's not a great environment for listening at all.
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