post #21 of 34
4/15/10 at 9:49pm
Tigerchild really got me thinking with her comments about Alpha behavior. It lead to me having a really long conversation with my husband about this topic.
It's kind of interesting to me that this thread is devolving into an examination of social mores. Many groups seem to find any conflict at all to be problematic and to be avoided at all costs--even misinformation. I have grown up around computer geeks and geek culture. Arguing is not only ok, it is demanded. Someone spreading misinformation is nearly a sin. Opinions are argued hotly and constantly--at least among the geek crowds I have always known. The women I know who spend their time primarily in geek crowds (which are primarily male) tend to say frequently, "I just don't get along with women." This thread is illustrating that to me in interesting ways.
I have Alpha tendencies, but I am completely uninterested in being the Alpha of a group. I'm bossy and pushy and I will ensure that things get done--until someone a bit more bossy/pushy/knowledgeable shows up and then I move to the back of the bus with a smile on my face. I have no investment in being right all the time. However, when I'm right I'm right and I'm not going to back down on this. The way this thread has focused on "I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable..." is really showing me why I suck so much at being around mommy groups and why I am giving up almost entirely on real-time interactions with groups focused on parenting. I'm not interested in avoiding conflict in the name of group building. If the group needs me to shut up and listen to stupid crap to be part of the group then I don't want to be part of the group. I am thrilled if someone can argue a point of data with me--using research, of course. I am not interested in, "Well my cousin says" because unless your cousin is the lead researcher on some project I probably don't care.
This thread has lead me to some really interesting conversations with folks in my life about social hierarchy and conflict and that's really awesome for me.
To be clear, I don't "play dumb". I just choose the most effective method of getting my point about IF I care about the misinformation (and to be honest, most of the time, I do not. If someone is so weak that they can't decide for themselves and are going to be swayed by the loudest voice in the room, at least for that moment, then frankly they're going to be just as swayed at the next loud voice.). Most of the time, when my inclination is to debate without invitation, it's because I'm spoiling for a fight. And let's face it, someone spouting off ignorant, unsolicited advice is an EASY fight. Junk food.
I am unapologetic for both my alpha tendancies and my love of verbal fencing. That's who I am. However, because I have a strong personality, I feel a sense of...well, I don't know if "honor" is the best word for it but it's the closest thing I can come up with, anyway...I feel honor-bound to be compassionate to those around me, even though it's annoying as hell. I may be very bullheaded, but even I can tell that in general at most acquaintance mommy groups, people really don't want to turn them in to Fight Club. I have no reason to impose my love of a good argument on them because I have other alpha or debate fiend friends who love to wrestle with me and we can get down and dirty without fear. If I choose to go to this sort of event, where I know that debate is not socially appropriate, then I am CHOOSING to obey the social cues so that I can be a gracious guest. It's etiquette, not intelligence. Just because people feel uncomfortable with parenting conflict in a group that's just there to have a playdate or whatever doesn't mean that they're stupid.
IME people respond best when you approach them in a sensitive manner. For most people, that's not going to be arguing with some other person in order to win their soul. The target is going to think you're both asshats, and it's likely that s/he is right.
So why look at it as dumbing down? I see it as choosing the most effective way to get your point across, with minimal asshattery. Let the ignorant person wear that label, while you get to be the discreet and correct one. ;>
If it's something that I think people might believe, then I speak up. If I can tell that everyone else is thinking "really? You believe that?" then I don't bother.