I don’t care about your opinions
If only students would stop foisting their self-satisfied and boring opinions down our throats, life might be a bit more interesting argues ELEANOR COSTELLO.
I am so sick of people asking me who I voted for.
You can usually take one look at the person’s face, and predict exactly where this conversation is headed. In my experience, the majority of people never ask which party you voted for because they are genuinely interested in your opinions or want to hear what you have to say. They generally just want to know if you agree with them, and if you don’t, they want to explain to you exactly why you are wrong.
What so many students fail to realise is that I don’t care about their opinions either. I’ve done my research, I’ve thought about which policies I agree with, and I feel happy with my decision. Call me out if I’m wrong, but I generally assume that everyone else has done the same. I also think it’s safe to assume that not everyone will have come to the same conclusion that I have come to. And that’s okay.
It’s certainly not my place to say who a friend should vote for, or why. I can explain why I have chosen to vote for a particular party, and discuss whether all of their policies are ideal, but at the end of the day I don’t expect to change anyone’s opinion. I have never seen an argument in which one party suddenly concedes “Actually yeah, you’re completely right. I have never heard Labour’s policies explained in that way before. Thank you for illuminating me on this matter.”
At this point I’d like to draw attention to the difference between an argument and a conversation. By all means, a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of various different political parties can be thought-provoking and enlightening. But going into such a discussion with the view that you must persuade everyone to agree with your correct view and prove that their views are wrong, makes you a complete bore. What makes your opinion superior to that of someone else? Isn’t the whole point of politics that there is no correct answer, that everyone will have different approaches and opinions?
That is why I am so shocked that, at Cambridge in particular, many students think it’s acceptable to openly attack the views of others. People I’m good friends with have seen dinner in the buttery as a good opportunity to educate those of us that are less enlightened on their superior opinions. The worst culprits tend to be those criticising UKIP. “They’re proposing keeping asylum seekers in safe-housing until it’s decided if they can stay. It’s just like concentration camps!” one friend asserted as I tucked into my lasagne.
“Well, except it’s not. They’re not being gassed to death are they?” I interjected.
“Concentration camps started like this. It’s only a matter of time. UKIP are basically Nazis.”
Ah, the classic labelling of a party one doesn’t agree with as ‘Nazis’. That one never gets old. Except it does, and we’ve all heard it before, and it’s not helpful, or thought-provoking, or insightful. It’s just boring. And it’s not really what I want from some small-talk over the dinner table.
The only thing worse than trying to field off impassioned political speeches is the aftermath. Once you’ve informed them that no, their arguments have not won you, and (horror of all horrors) you try to justify your opinion, they suddenly get mortally offended. Usually they flounce off with a sulky look on their face, and tell other people that you *insert radical opinion here that you never actually said*. And then you’re torn between weighing in with some points of your own, and just screaming “Look, I just don’t care! I don’t care what your political opinions are! As long as you are not an extremist, and you believe in equality etc, I just don’t give a monkeys.”
And that’s what’s really ironic about the whole situation. It’s funny how it’s the people who claim to be the most tolerant, the most caring for society, who are so intolerant of other people’s views. I’ve found the same with religion. I hate telling people that I am a Christian because so many arseholes think it’s acceptable to immediately start listing the faults of the church. The Crusades, child abuse, abortion, homosexuality – if I wanted your opinion, I’d ask for it. Sometimes it will crop up in conversation, but most of the time it won’t, because my friendships aren’t based on political or religious ideology. I value having friends with different views from me, who are from different backgrounds, and different cultures and different faiths. And if a friend can’t tolerate my views being different from theirs, well, then they’re not a friend at all.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned my personal political leanings in this article. You know why? Because I realise that I have nothing to say about politics that you haven’t heard before. You don’t care who I voted for, and I don’t care who you voted for. It just doesn’t matter.