Express your opinion on the topic or…awkward!

Key and Peele nailed it again. Okay, it’s satire. It’s exaggerated beyond what you’d see in real life.

But oh, this real-world behavior is so ripe for satire.

You’ve seen it. Someone knows they don’t have any share-able insights or information. They are not confident they can defend their opinions. But they still want to establish themselves as an independent thinker. They don’t want to be sidelined in the conversation.

So they ridicule. They roll their eyes. Make snide comments. Label other people’s contributions–awkward, loony, naive. Anything to avoid engaging in peer-to-peer debate.

In real life, of course, good conversationalists don’t behave like either character in this clip. But oh, dear lord, I certainly have been tempted at times to react like Keegan-Michael Key, the person willing to express an opinion.

Snide comments and eye-rolling are not the only ploys people use to keep themselves in the conversation when they don’t have anything to contribute. You’ve seen (or done!) these, I’m sure:

  • Raising questions that everyone knows are accusations, but refusing to discuss them as accusations.  An example from my Facebook feed today:
    “Jill Stein attended a dinner in Moscow where Putin was present. How did she pay for that recount?”
    “Are you saying that you suspect the Russians funded the recount? Why would they do that? They had no reason to call Trump’s victory into question.”
    “I still question why Stein was in Russia.”
  • Relentlessly changing the subject. One common tactic is the “Your guy, too!” distraction. I can imagine pre-Civil War debates:
    “We must end slavery in the southern states!”
    “You cannot talk about slavery until you’ve resolved the Indian problem in the north and west. That’s much worse.”
  • Arguing against a point that no one is making.  I’m sure this exchange took place at many a dinner table in the late 1960s:
    “The United States has no business in Vietnam. It won’t hurt us a bit to allow the Vietnamese people to have whatever form of government they want.”
    “It’s ridiculous to think that communism is better than democracy!”

About Karen McKim

Retired from a 30-year career in public sector quality assurance and management auditing, I now spend my time freelance writing, largely on topics related to our right to self-government. I have two main focuses: how we can protect our election results from miscounts (whether deliberate or accidental), and skills for talking politics with our fellow citizens. I am based in Wisconsin.
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