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The “Well, actually”–nerd and world politics

I’ve always been bad at validating first, at stating the obvious, at being like “Yes! You’re completely right! But also, have you thought about…”, it’s instead so easy for me to come across as if I were saying “you’re absolutely wack if you think that…”

That would’ve been a skill that would have been kinda good to have when talking about important topics.

Instead, when people are crying their hearts out about stuff that really matter to them I’m biting my tongue to keep from saying “well, actually, your side also did this-or-that” like a complete 🐝.

But how can there be peace if we don’t see the good in the other and the bad in ourselves?

I was put on this God’s green Earth with the instinct to criticize my own team, my own side. That’s been a problem all my life. I eat plants? My brain immediately amplifies some of the issues with animal rights. I write FOSS code? I get hyperfocused on some of the problems in the community. Same goes for all kinds of political movements. I get called unloyal, not a team player, a trouble-maker. I see the bad in the side I’ve sided with because I want it to be better. I just want it to be better. It’s as if I’m thinking “Criticizing the other side? But everyone here already knows that those guys are bad! That should go without saying! But here are some ways that we are also kinda bad…”

I’ve never been able to buy into the “whatever our team does is de jure good”. I need us to actually be the good team, not just labeled the good team. I don’t wanna defeat part of the empire only to have to become the empire.

So when I find myself in a group where people have some un–thought-through takes on a political issue, my instinct isn’t to go “rah! rah! rah! yes!” but instead to go “well, actually, aren’t you missing something here…?” and then three seconds later when I’m in a group with the opposite view, you’d think I’d found my camp, but no, I do the same thing again. It’s tearing me apart so if you see half a human hopping down the street with one arm, one leg, one breast and half a brain that’s probably yours truly.

I learned this about myself pretty early on so I’ve learned to try to reign it in, to try to pick my times and place, and choose my battles, and sometimes hold my tongue entirely, but also to try to lean into it when I think I can use it for good and bring attention to actual problems. Keyword there is “try” because it sure isn’t easy.