A Perspective on “Perspective”

I’ll admit I’m guilty of using the word myself, specifically when I am trying to get people to see other points of view or integrate new info into their existing view of something.

But until yesterday/today, when I had it used against me, I never realized how patronizing it can sound.  As in,

“This link provides a really awesome perspective,” 

sounds a lot like it should conclude… “because you obviously lack the information to make the correct choice on your own.”  

And when a person says, “I just want to give you a different perspective on [the topic]”  which is something I have been guilty of uttering myself, it sounds a bit condescending, as in “I just want to give you the correct perspective on the subject.”

See, “perspective” is a tricky word.  It means one thing, but there seems to be an underlying implicit meaning depending on the context in which it’s used.

The thing is, I’m not 100% sure how to word it so that it doesn’t sound patronizing and self-important.  Sometimes, I feel like when defending a position on a given topic, people get to the point where they don’t want to entertain any facts (facts, I say…even statistical data) that don’t support their point of view.  The recent explosive discussions about gun rights is a perfect example.  The extremes of both sides simply refuse to entertain even concrete facts from the “other side.”

The same can be said for arguments on religion vs. atheism.  I would like to stress that on either side of the argument, the point at which you feel like you have to beat someone over the head with your opinions and feelings to “make them see” is the point where you have crossed over from merely expressing your own opinion, to being a zealot.  And lets face it, the only people that like zealots are other zealots.  The irony is that once you reach that point, it is usually impossible to objectively see.

That said, I am a little sad today, and a little angry, that the stupid Facebook argument I had yesterday with someone who, basically, is not that important, has turned into a big disagreement with someone who is important.  Today, the subtle rift I’ve felt between me and a friend I have known for almost 20 years was ripped open into a giant, oozing gash.

Sounds dramatic, right?  I guess it feels a little that way.  How strange that our friendship is in danger of being over ending,  neither with a bang or a whimperbut with a constant and rapid tapping of computer keys.  We didn’t pick up the phone…we instant messaged.

And the argument was about, of all things, feminism.  I maintain that both my friend and I are strong, intelligent women.  Yet, there seems to be a great divide caused by how we choose, individually, to express that…namely how we attack or do not attack the issues women face today.  Apparently we are also stubborn.

Without getting into too many specifics, it seems as if we’ve reached an impasse.  For my part, I feel as if I’ve done all I can for right now, and that anything else would be akin to me chasing her around and nipping at her ankles.  She does not want to talk anymore.  Although angry, I feel as if I conducted myself reasonably well (at least by not saying something I might later regret, or resorting to mud-slinging.)

My hope is that that time will eventually lead to a resolution.  Even if we can “agree to disagree,” it seems as if there may always be that undercurrent of judgment and bitterness.

Well, at least we haven’t “de-friended” each other yet.