What say you?

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2010 by Travis Cody in

I'm struggling with something, so I'm going to throw this out there into the community and see what y'all think. It's not directed at anyone or anything in particular. I'm just trying to understand how people express themselves, which helps me interact without so much frustration.

Here's the question:

Why do so many people feel that their dislike of something means that the object of their dislike is only fit to be demeaned? Conversely, why would they expect me to like something they say is the greatest simply because they like it?

Now I've been guilty of this kind of thing in the past. I've said things like "I don't like it, it's bad". My dislike doesn't mean the thing is bad, it just means that I didn't like it. So I can tell people I don't like it, but I shouldn't be telling them they won't like it simply on that basis.

For example. I say peas are GACK! I detest the taste, texture, and smell. But some people like peas. Peas aren't bad. I simply don't like them. On the other hand, I love CAKE! But maybe there are some people who don't. I don't understand that, but I shouldn't say a person is weird because they don't like CAKE. I don't want them to belittle me because I think peas are GACK.

When someone asks me something, I try to tell them what I think or feel. Sometimes I trip up, especially if I feel strongly about something. But I try not to make a declarative statement about the topic unless I have an expert credential. I'm not an expert about very many things...maybe football. I can tell you the difference between good and bad based on my knowledge and my analysis of statistics, but I shouldn't be telling you that something about the sport is good or bad simply because I like it or don't.

I appreciate when people give me suggestions to check stuff out based on the things they like. One friend likes a piece of music. Another friend loves a TV show. My buddy over here doesn't like the latest big film. And my buddy over there can't stand the book he just read. I like to have discussions with all of them, but I don't want them to tell me it's good or bad because they liked or disliked it.

Tell me what you liked or didn't like, and I'll make my own decision...first whether to check it out, and then whether I like it or don't.

Yay or nay? What say you?

Does someone's negative opinion of something give them a license to demean it? Or does their positive opinion of something give them a license to demean you if you disagree?

All thoughts are welcome as long as they are respectfully shared.


  1. I know what you mean.... I suppose it could be contributed by the level of how opinionated someone is. There are some people who like/dislike something and then expect you to feel the same... I'm guessing they do that because they probably think you'll agree with them based on past experiences (sharing taste in similar music genres/artists, or authors, or movies etc)

  1. Jeni says:

    I know I do tend -frequently -to be a very opinionated person but I try to remember that we are all individuals with very different tastes, likes and dislikes. I do like to tease people I know at times about their likes/dislikes -but usually do that only with those I know really well and that I know how far I can push that envelope with them then too. And occasionally, I probably push that envelope a bit over the edge with posts -if I am doing a rant. (Okay, I know -when am I NOT doing a rant. Go ahead and say it!)

  1. barb says:

    I agree with your semantics, Trav. And when I hear someone who lumps something into the Good or Bad pile based on their perception, I take it with a grain of salt. They express themselves in the way they choose, and according to their perception. I know how to read between the lines.

    And I don't think you are a bad person or a bad judge of vegetables because you do not like peas, which I happen to love. They taste good to me, but that doesn't make them inherently good... or bad!

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Well I know what I like and dislike but that doesn't mean you have to like or dislike the same thing and vice versa. Each to their own I say. :)

  1. Good point. I think sometimes that we use our dislike of something to demean it as a way of going for a laugh. It's not funny if I dislike a particular movie. It's funny if I liken watching the movie to some horribly boring experience. but humor often occurrs at the "expense" of someone or something. Maybe that's part of it.

  1. JohnH985 says:

    I think it's easiest to say when you don't like something that it's bad. I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of such behavior. And usually I don't really mean it's bad, just it's bad for me, but of course that doesn't mean it's really bad, just that I didn't like it. I think the more heated the debate or the more you like or dislike something it gets labeled bad very easily. Start talking politics and it seems there are no overlapping ground anymore...if you dislike someone they're not just bad, they're evil. You're right, just because we dislike something doesn't mean it's bad, it just means we don't like it. But you know someone else is going to like it somewhere.

  1. Bond says:

    Ah...the inevitable subject becomes fodder for a meaningful discussion.

    I do think it is an easy reaction to say "I do not like cauliflower, it is bad" without thinking that you are making a statement and a judgment at the same time.

    Of course I have heard the "peas gack" comment for over 4 years now..and I find it part of the qualities I have come to like about you.

    You are consistent. You know what you like and do not like. You do not waver in your opinions. because they are gack for you, does not mean you think differently of me because I save the peas to last when eating a beef stew and sopping they and the gravy up with a nice piece of bread.

    There are certainly things you and I see differently on...yet I can not remember one time when our relationship has been affected by those differences..whether it is music, food, a person or a trend in our world.

    Then again, there are many people I have known over the years who find it impossible to continue a sane, respectful relationship because they feel my fandom is over the top, or my like of a certain musical genre is against what they believe.

    Excellent post today Sir. Thought provoking indeed

  1. That's a very interesting question. It's understandable that people don't like things (I don't like peas either), but it's entirely different when people go out of their way to demean, ridicule and belittle whatever they do not like.

  1. I am of the opinion that opinions are just our stories. They are simply the stories of what I think I know. And, if I've learned anything over the last few years, it's that I don't know very much.

    I have been, for most of my life, the kind of person that would avoid expressing my opinion for the fear of the conflict that might come of the expression. (not so much with peas... peas are a fairly safe opinion either way, but with more volatile issues such as parenting, gun control, gay marriage, abortion... etc) I have my opinions and they stem largely from my background... my upbringing, my parents' opinions, and my own moral bearing.

    As I said, for the majority of my life I have just kept opinions to myself because it felt "safer" to do so. In the last few years I had a person come into my life who was like iron sharpening iron. We developed a close friendship and she, who is of very strong opinions and is NOT afraid to share them, taught me many things about myself and about opinions.

    She helped me to 1)form my own opinions and be less of a fence sitter and 2) realize that I can express my opinions and discuss them with someone who disagrees and LEARN something from their differing opinions. Even if my own opinion is unchanged after our conversation, I always learn more from hearing their viewpoint, including learning more about why I believe the way I do.

    Maybe that's all a little deeper than you were intending. Maybe you're only talking about peas, sports and music, but I think not. I think this world would be a better place if people would cease attacking when someone expresses their opinion, and start listening for what it is they could learn from hearing the opinion. And, even when the opinions differ... even after a two-way discussion has occurred... both parties could walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the other person and feel more respect because of the differences found.

    We are not a cookie-cutter, monochromatic society. That's what Hilter was after, right?

    (And I'm certainly not perfect at this either. I still jump down someone's throat now and then... especially with the people the closest to me! But we are all just works-in-progress, right?)


  1. You've written another thought-provoking post, Travis - and you can tell that your readers are all big fans of this type of post. Something meaty to chew on!

    Like Clancy Pants, I find the desire to ensure others' opinions match mine is rather Nazi-like. People without a strong identity seem to me to be the most vociferous in wanting others to think like them. If they meet an opposing view, they feel threatened - even if it's about peas, or cake.

    The more at ease a person is with their place in the universe, the more he or she is able to tolerate dissent.

    So I feel safe in telling you that I quite enjoy peas, and I'm not a fan of cake. I usually pass on cake unless I really have to eat some, for ceremony's sake.

  1. Anonymous says:

    We humans cleave to what is known, familiar and liked. I think that dislikes and differences will bring out the worst. I admit that I get a bit opinionated... but you know what? There are folks who disagree with me... (perish the thought! LOL!).

    I just need to be reminded that while we are human, we are very diverse... different tastes, likes/dislikes...

    Like I used to say in diversity training classes I taught, There's a reason there are so many flavors of ice cream and so many pizza toppings... and so many styles of clothing...

  1. Anonymous says:

    btw, I like cake AND peas!

  1. Travis, I don't know if you're talking about political subjects but what you just said, I think, applies to political discussions today in our country. We can no longer talk about something, have a point of view, or take a stand on a political subject without being jumped on by those who don't agree or see things the same way I do. We are terribly polarized in this country and that's a bad thing because then there no discussion, no compromise. And then there nothing done, no action no change, nada! Demeaning a point of view for some people is the only way they can argue, mostly because they don't know anything about the subject. We're in a lot of trouble in this country because we can't come to any kind of bipartisan agreement or compromise... I hope I didn't get off the topic, Travis, I hope I've said something to expand on your post. :)

  1. Jamie says:

    Go with honesty. You have the right to express an opinion and give reasons for it, but save the value judgements for major questions of good/evil where actual harm might be done.

    As far as peas and cake. Love peas and prefer pie to cake. I promise never ever to make you clean the peas off your plate.

  1. Travis says:

    First I want to say thanks to everyone who chimed in for this topic. I'm going to answer everyone individually, so feel free to respond to my comments and to each other if you choose.

  1. Travis says:

    Terra: I can see how agreeing in the past might make us think we'll agree about other things in the future. That can also contribute to a bit of shock when we find out that we don't always agree. I guess that can be so unexpected that reactions to the disagreement could become heated.

  1. Travis says:

    Jeni: I think it's ok to be opinionated. In fact, I think it's more interesting when people speak up and tell me what and how they think. Then I think the trouble comes when the opinion becomes "my way is right and your way is stupid". People who react that way are so completely closed off that I don't think they can learn anymore.

  1. Travis says:

    Barb: I guess I need to learn how to read between those lines. But it's hard, especially in a written medium like this or like with other social networking sites. A person writes something, and we're missing so many visual keys...body language, tone of voice, facial expressions. So we become very limited in how we interpret what we read.

  1. Travis says:

    Akelamalu: That's the philosophy I like to follow. I think I manage it most of the time, but I also let my feelings get hurt sometimes when I see people behaving as though they are right and everyone who disagrees is an idiot.

  1. Travis says:

    Charles: I used to wonder if I was losing my sense of humor because I wasn't finding anything funny in that kind of comedy...at someone else's expense. I don't wonder that so much anymore, because I just accept that everybody is different. And what's more, it's great that everybody is different.

  1. Travis says:

    John: That's a good point about expediency. I actually hadn't thought of that. I never have political discussions anymore for the simple reason that most of the time these days, people aren't listening. They are just trying to get their point across and what's more, they are trying to convert you rather than to learn from you.

  1. Travis says:

    V: I think we enjoy our differences as much as our similarities. We have enough things in common that discovering what we don't have in common is interesting and fun. And we're open minded enough to give something a try that we might otherwise not, or to respectfully say thanks for the tip but I'll pass.

  1. Travis says:

    Southern: Succinctly summarized Sir. That's exactly my point. It's difficult to make someone understand what they are doing when you can't even say something as simple as I don't like peas to them.

  1. Travis says:

    Clancy: Excellent remarks. And I agree that we stop learning when we stop listening. I like your work in progress description too. That's a great phrase.

    It's a modern cliche, but this societal split we're trying to make our way through would be resolved much more quickly if we could all truly learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.

  1. Travis says:

    Julia: I tend not to like confrontation, and I don't like to traffic often in controversy. But I think I belong to an intelligent community that understands how to express itself, and to accept how others express themselves.

    I've been called a fence-sitter because I try to allow data to influence my opinions and the way I progress from one idea to the next. I don't consider that to be waffling. I consider it to be an important way to add information to either confirm or deny.

    Good point about people's insecurities often fueling how strongly they attack differences.

  1. Travis says:

    Lois: I respect strongly held opinions that are based on the facts available. And I'll be honest...there are times when I simply cannot understand how someone can think in a certain way. I think sometimes that people let their fear of diversity get in the way of realizing that, despite seeming to agree on certain stuff, a person really isn't the same as any other person.

    Thinking alike or agreeing on something doesn't make us alike. It just means that we found a common ground. But I think that can get boring after awhile when all you do is say yup you're right to each other all day long.

  1. Travis says:

    Mary: I think it applies to all kinds of subject, but particularly to politics. That's really why I rarely make political posts. It's a stable individual who can state his/her own position without "taking a tone".

    The blogs I steer clear of are the ones that are completely intolerant to any other point of view, and react with ridicule to any different idea.

    And you did add to the discussion.

  1. Travis says:

    Jamie: Honesty is always good advice. Those value judgments are the things that trip us up. Some of us think that our version of right is right for everyone. And then we get so caught up in shouting everyone else down, that we refuse to accept that there are varying degrees about what's the right thing.

    Or maybe there is no right thing. There's only action and reaction, point and counter point. We can't get anywhere as a group unless we realize that our biggest strength lies in our diversity.

    At least, that's what I think.

  1. Gene Bach says:

    I would MUCH rather have someone give me an honest opinion than beat around the bush. I HATE political correctness. Everybody is entitled to their oping regardless of whether or not I agree with it.

  1. Travis says:

    Gene: Agreed. My objection is to being demeaned or belittled or marginalized when my opinion differs from someone else. That's the thing I'm trying to understand how best to deal with.

  1. Debra says:

    Well now Trav, this is very interesting and thought provoking.

    I think we (humanity) should never be demeaning to our fellow humans.It grieves me to see so much unkindness in the world.

    I've always been one to celebrate our differences. How wonderful it is that we are not all alike. And how boring it would be if we all liked the same things?

  1. People should respect the differences of others. Agree to disagree. Speak out. Stand up for what you believe in but be kind. And civil. Yes you can have your cake (or peas) and eat it too!
    Great post T!
    and btw-I dont eat raw onions ;)

  1. Travis says:

    Debra: How do we get people to understand that demeaning each other is harmful and not funny?

  1. Travis says:

    NNG: People should, but so many don't. And I would also put raw onions in the GACK category.

  1. Linda says:

    What an interesting post and the comments certainly add to it.

    I think the problem is that people have forgotten how to agree to disagree about things anymore. There's too many "my way or the highway" mentalities and a lot of people seem to think that if you don't agree with their opinion then you're wrong and that's just not the case.

    Seeing eye-to-eye when you honestly do is great but disagreeing is part of diversity and we shouldn't all WANT or NEED to like or dislike the same things. For example, I think peas are great but not a single one of my children will touch them with a ten-foot fork! I respected that as they were growing up and still do as I can remember trying to gag down the liver and onions that my mom used to make for my dad because he loved it. I still resent all that time sitting at the dinner table until I cleared my plate and there was no way I wanted to put my kids through that.

    Sometimes a person just doesn't like what another person likes and we should all be mature enough to accept that and respect that. I'm afraid though that 'debate' has turned more to 'argument' these days and that's just sad.

    By the by, raw onions are BIG time in the GACK category in my book but my dispatch partner loves 'em so if I inadvertently get some when we order out, I happily hand them over to her!

  1. I think a lot of it has to do with WHAT you are talking about. Peas? Who much cares if some says they are the food equivalent of say toe jam. Someone's favorite book or music or something they say really speaks to who they are? Might be best to hold your tongue. Nazi? Flame on. I don't think it can be answered in black and white but like most things in shades of gray.

  1. Dana says:

    People do that all the time to me too...I dunno why.

    I drink a Coke a day and people also feel the need to lecture me about that! Argh!

  1. It's a sign of immaturity, I think. I've also noticed that people have a tendency to try to lump as many people as they can into the "not us" circle. For example, I was born in Florida, but spent 19 years in Canada. I'm a legal citizen of both countries, yet, to Canadians I'm American & vice versa. Whichever country I go to, I'm not one of "them."