Called my mother on my way to work this morning to catch up. Mostly spoke about my travel plans (and do I know people go missing in the countries I want to visit?), and the simple drudgeries of our lives. Then she brought up something I never expected. Gok Wan’s Style Secrets has made its way to Oz, and she’d seen the first episode with Zoe Burgess – the woman featured in this blog post.
In hindsight, I probably should have let her finish whatever she was saying. Would have given me time to formulate a well thought out response, but instead she got about halfway through the inevitable ‘girl who had the same habits/room/personality as you who was depressed and Gok made her see the light’ speech before I butted in with my own little behind the scenes knowledge of what really happened during filming. She was happy to counter, and a good few minutes in I was reminded of just why I didn’t argue with my mother – we’re equally opinionated but when it comes to family I will almost always back off rather than let something get too heated. It might seem cowardly, but I abhor the idea of getting into a screaming fight, and my parents have proved time and time again that they don’t. Not even in public.
Of course there’s another reason too. In a debate or classroom I will push and argue and counter until the cows come home. If someone wants to hear what I think I will tell them just that, and I’m more often than not ready to justify my opinions for it. However, when it comes to the parents (and to an extent my brother and very close friends when it comes to certain topics), the guilt factor comes into play.
I’m sure everyone knows the guilt factor. It’s that little equation that states that the level of guilt you feel for having an opinion different from your parents is directly proportional to how long and loud the discussion about said opinion lasts. Added to my history as a pushover when it comes to my mother’s desires, it’s culminated in an early warning system. Disagreeing isn’t enough – frankly if it was the two of us would never speak again since we both have strong conflicting feelings on just about everything you can argue about, but if we have different opinions and we’re clearly both ready to defend them I immediately try to switch the topic. Doesn’t matter if it’s face to face or over the phone, I shut the conversation with ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ or just find a not-particularly-seamless-change-in-conversation to have.
And after nearly 8 minutes battling out the pros and cons of the show and Zoe’s portrayal, I realised we were quickly heading into danger territory. She might have been at home on the other side of the world but I was getting pretty loud even for a phone call near heavy traffic. If we didn’t end it soon we were going to finish the call angry at each other. Sadly, mum didn’t come to this conclusion. Or she did and decided she had enough of a point to risk it anyway. To be fair, for the first time in the history of this particular debate, she finally had another human being to use as an example and a television show that proved her point. On my side, I actually had a conversation with the woman and the backlash from its original viewing that proved most of what was shown was bull.
It shouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did, especially considering most of her points were about the relationship aspect, which she knows is pointless territory for me, but a sure fire way to get my hackles raised is to start demeaning the people in the fandom world I live so happily in. When the usual attempts to get off the subject failed, it took a last ditch ‘sorry almost at work gotta go!’ to actually close the call.
If someone starts dropping heavy hints that a discussion/debate is over, you should accept them. I tried to finish that train of thought repeatedly and she kept twisting back to it, wanting me to agree with what she was saying. And I may be willing to back down but I’ve long since stopped agreeing to things just to get the other party to move on to other topics. It’s come over to my way of thing, convince me you’re right, or end in stalemate. Whether the topic is relationships, pinkification, travel, jobs, social life, hobbies, religion or any other factor under the sun, if someone tries to change the subject or goes for the classic ‘agree to disagree’, accept that this discussion is over, at least for the time being. Otherwise your debate buddy will be very reluctant to talk to you for the foreseeable future (hopefully a week will get this entire conversation out of her head and I’ll get some peace on that battleground again).
(I will give my mother this point in her corner though. A few days ago she sent me a link to a page listing various anime clubs in Perth just in case I want to get involved with the fandom world in Oz too – props to her for that).