You’re so defensive

I have seen this tactic used a lot (not just or even primarily against me, but in Twitter or FB discussions where I am merely an anonymous lurking reader).  Person A has a very non-mainstream, minority preference (on some medical treatment, a religious POV, on education, or whatever).  Person B argues and quickly is outclassed and resorts to ‘Why so defensive, bro?’

Most of the time, mainstream choices are the default choices, the things you do because you assume that is the way to go.  Assume is really too strong a word, though.  They are givens.  You don’t even know they are assumptions.  I’ve made lots of those choices myself, everybody does, and nobody has time or energy to challenge and investigate every single single one of their culture’s practices over and over.  It’s just the way it is.

But… when somebody does something different, usually that means they very deliberately chose it on purpose, rather than falling back on it because they never even thought of doing things differently.  So there’s no logical reason to be taken aback because they are in favor of their non-default choice and have several reasons they can give you at the drop of a hat to defend those choices.


Now, I am not saying that person A is always going to be right.  Sometimes people challenge mainstream practices because they are just contrary iconoclasts.  I expect I’ve done that, too.  Probably being libertarian for a long time was more for that reason than for any other.

But… people who don’t take the default choice are more likely than not to have faced challenges on those choices frequently.  They are more likely than not to have done their homework and to stand  up for what they believe, know what they’re doing and why, and to be passionate  about it.  It leaves those who have taken the default choice without pausing to really investigate it and think about it a bit flatfooted, and that feels irritating.

It’s entirely possible that if somebody who took the default position took the time to investigate alternatives they would *still* choose the default position, only it wouldn’t be default any more.

But… there are a lot of people who take the default position without even realizing they took a position.  That’s okay.  Just be careful about being the kind of person who takes the default position *as* a default stance,  challenges those who didn’t, and resents it when they have an answer.  Explaining why you do what you do when challenged is not being defensive.

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One Comment

  1. HeatherHH
    Posted January 11, 2018 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Yes! On a Christian Facebook group recently, a mom was considering a more conservative approach to an issue for her family. She was very obviously not judging others, and seeking other’s thoughts and any Scriptures. Someone said that she thought the woman was flirting with legalism. I nicely replied and said legalism isn’t having a more conservative standard than others out of a sincere desire to please God when you’re not judging others or basing salvation on it. She replied back and said she was well aware of what legalism was and that from her experience the people most bothered by the term were usually guilty of it (i.e. me). As if no one could be bothered by false accusations….

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