I am always amused when people try to change the subject when they disagree with you. Sometimes people have ADD tendencies when it comes to a disagreement. They try to divert your attention and take you off topic as a way to try to persuade you. I have had some particularly amusing instances, one several years ago and one just recently.
Several years ago, I was sitting around chatting with some friends, when some of the group landed on the topic of true love. One girl in my group of friends liked one of our guy friends, and was trying to convince him that everyone has one true love. I guess she figured if she could convince him of this then she would have an easier time convincing him that they were each others true love? As they debated this, and drew everyone else into the conversation, her best friend turned to me for my opinion. She was trying to help her friend in her endeavor and evidently expected me to comply with the one true love theory. I messed up the plan though because I stated my belief that people can love more than once in a lifetime.
This could have been a pleasant discussion about our differing beliefs, but instead became a break in friendship. I allowed this to happen because I allowed her to change the subject. Somehow she changed the subject from true love over to Brittney Spear’s responsibility to her fans (I’m still not sure how that one happened). We disagreed here because I felt parents were more responsible than Ms. Spears. My second disagreement angered this one girl so much, that rather than continuing the discussion she began a personal attack on me.
Somewhere in the midst of all this we had gone from true love to me supposedly having been taken care of all my life and not having to worry about taking care of myself. Unfortunately, I took the bait once again. She had a more stable childhood than I ever had, so rather than either dropping the subject or bringing us back on topic, I followed her tangent and explained this fact. My explanation resulted in her flinging the insult that I was a waste of breath and life, and thus ending the friendship.
I now know my mistake was letting her divert my attention to something else, but perhaps we shouldn’t have been friends anyway so I can’t be too upset about the break. Knowing the art of diversion better now, I have learned to not let it work on me anymore (usually). This leads to my more recent run in with differing opinions.
There is a debate going on in our community right now regarding noise ordinances. A business opened up in our downtown area, which is a mixed zone area, and has been disturbing their neighbors with loud music late at night. An ordinance was suggested by the Chief of Police for a fairly reasonable noise level which would be acceptable to the residents in that area, but the new business is trying, with the help of some on the planning and zoning committee, to have the level raised to a level that is disturbing to people trying to live in that area.
In my opinion, this is an ordinance that affects our whole community because there are several areas that are mixed zones. I posted on Facebook about my concern. An acquaintance, who likes the new business and for that reason disagrees with me, responded. The problem is not that she disagrees, but that her response had nothing to do with what I said. Her response was that rather than worrying about this we should be worried about people who are missing in our area. The City Council, while being able to deal with the noise ordinance, doesn’t really have a part in missing persons, so the argument was nothing more than smoke in the mirrors. As I said though, I have learned my lesson about diversions, so I responded thus, “You are welcome to your two cents as much as I am. I don’t know who is missing, and while I hope whoever it may be is found, I don’t think all other city business should shut down because of that. My concern is how the situation affects our town as a whole, not just downtown. Being concerned does not take away from my compassion for anyone who may have a missing loved one.”
I have received no response from this person, and you know why? I did not let her divert the conversation. The secret here is that people who try to change the subject usually do so because they don’t really have any reasoning to back up their argument. If they change the subject on you they can convince themselves they got the upper hand, and when you let them do so, they’re right.