Can You Ever Win An Argument?


Can You Ever Win An Argument? My husband reminds me often, “You can never win an argument.”

He’s not talking about arguments between the two of us. In our 12 years together we’ve found our rhythm of discussion and debate.

However, I went through a time, about a year ago, when I found myself arguing with other people A LOT.  Not coincidentally, this was about the same time when I started kicking around the idea of making my blog something more than a hobby. I was putting my thoughts, ideas and opinions out there for the whole world to see.

As a side-effect of writing about my views, I found myself commenting all over the internet, particularly on Huffington Post (a great place to pick a fight, if you are really looking to get in one. Somehow that particular site is especially argumentative), about all manner of things from our nation’s customs surrounding child-birth to homelessness to global climate change and, on one memorable occasion, cloth diapers.  Invariably someone would come back with a statement that began along the lines of, “Let me tell you something, Cupcake.”

And it was ON. Bring it!

Sometimes these people were total strangers, but often they were people who I knew and loved.  Usually my fights were online, but occasionally they would happen face-to-face.

I would get stressed out. I would cry.  I would be angry and hurt all day long.

“You can’t win an argument,” Handsome Hippie Hubby would say while I stood at the sink washing dishes with a fury that flung drops of water all over the kitchen.  “You need to drop it and walk away.”

Eventually I began to see two things.  1) Arguing with someone over the risks and benefits of GMOs on some random website was not in any way going to promote my blog or further my writing career. 2) Hubby was right. There was not a single thing in the world that I could say to make these people change their minds.

I still love a great discussion.  I admit that I am ignorant on thousands (millions?) of topics.  I have done a lot of reading about GMOs, vaccines, natural childbirth, climate change, recycling, homeschooling and more. Yet, for all that, there are people out there in the big wide world who know so much more than me on these topics it’s absurd.  If I take a stance… say… “I believe we need to allow more freedom of choice in the vaccination schedules of young children,” and you come back with, “I understand your concerns about overwhelming the immune system but, as a disease pathologist I believe your understanding of the life cycle of a virus could be flawed.” I am wide open to hear what you say.  Even if you’re not an expert but you respond with, “I once read that…” I’d like to hear. Let’s talk! How else will either of us ever learn or grow?

On the other hand if you come back with, “Let me tell you something, Cupcake.” I’m immediately out.  You are not interested in helping me learn and grow and you certainly don’t want to hear my thoughts!  If I don’t walk away we’re going to rumble and my kitchen window is going to end up all water-spotted.

OK… Maybe I’m not ALWAYS immediately out.  Sometimes I just can’t help myself.  Sometimes I can’t help but think, “what this person is saying/doing/promoting is just WRONG.” If I don’t say anything, that’s akin to agreeing.

And so I’d like to know what you think.

When is the right time to dig in your heels and fight?

Is there any point?

Can you ever win an argument?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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About Elizabeth in MI

I'm a married mama with 2 beautiful step children, 2 from my own belly, and the best husband in the universe! I work part time at my church as a secretary and youth director and I truly enjoy 3 hour naps and reading fiction beneath my education level. Write me a note, any time at I'd love to hear from you.

7 responses »

  1. Conversations with my hubby excluded (because we’re both super stubborn and will go to great lengths to protect our stubborness), I only dig in if it’s something I have conviction about. It’s normally a moral right or wrong. I’ll listen, but if it’s a conviction of mine, you aren’t changing my mind. It’s not going to happen, but thanks for playing. I’m not going to force my side on anyone, though…like you said, you can’t win, but even if you could, force isn’t the way to do it.

    Speak softly and carry a big stick.

    – Brooke –

  2. I hear you! Those conversations {arguments} on internet articles actually crack me up. I just wonder what people are doing that they have nothing better to do than argue with people they don’t know!! Seems pointless as no one every changes their option, like you mentioned ;o) Now, I’m all for a good face-to-face debate over the latest hot topic!

  3. I’m with you. I’m open to listen to the opposing views if they are presented to me respectfully and with some basis in fact. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still try to show you why I believe the way I do, but I hope to present the same way, letting you know what is my opinion, which are my hunches, and why I believe the things I do (based in fact and observation) I think that if you don’t you are limiting yourself, and your understanding of the world! Everyone isn’t going to think the way I do- and I don’t expect them to. Trying to see things through other’s eyes and perspectives makes it a lot easier to co-exist though.

  4. In online comment sections, the debates aren’t really for the other person involved in the debate – most of the time you know they’re stuck in their thoughts patterns – they are there for the random readers who might be reading the comment sections. At least, that’s how I approach the comment section to my local newspaper, which is where I most often visit. I don’t expect to change the opinion of the other regular commentors but I want to make sure that casual readers see a variety of opinions represented.

    When I do feel like debating individuals, I do it for the joy of trying to figure out exactly where the difference in opinions lies.

  5. I NEVER comment on those posts on FB with thousands of comments going. They are just a breeding ground for trolls. I have strong opinions and convictions about what’s right and wrong, but putting them out there for some random stranger to read will have NO effect whatsoever. I chose to live my life in a way that shows what I believe and will openly discuss things with people who are genuinely interested. Anything else is a waste of time and energy.

  6. I find on the internet, people have their opinions and most of them are not based on any type of fact. Regardless they love to fight and spout that opinion. I don’t know if they just think their way is the only way or they like the drama. But like you I have learned to “walk away.” It’s not that I let them win… I just let them live with their delusion because online, you’re not going to change them in a debate of words. One thing I learned very early in life about anger is that you don’t stop loving (or talking to) the other person, you stop loving the person they make you become. I don’t let anyone, especially a random, no face person have that kind of control over me by upsetting me!

  7. I generally don’t bother commenting on those articles as so many of the commenters are people hiding behind their computers saying controversial things on purpose to rile you up. So your hubby is right. You can’t win that argument because your being not out smarted but out crazied!

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