I am seeing a pattern and I am concerned.
Social media is a hot bed of controversy. Some people jump at the opportunity to promote and/or defend their platform. Some people shy away and avoid those conversations all together. Some people are skilled in trolling. Some people are lurkers who enjoy the discourse but are not active players.
And then there are the “2 cent-ers”.
The 2 cent-ers are the ones who pop in, express a well thought-out opinion in a respectful and civil tone, and then retreat back with the qualifier “that’s just my 2 cents, though.” Oh, and there’s usually a smiley face after that.
As far as I can remember, I’ve only ever seen women do this. Men either have an opinion or they don’t- but if they do, they seem to be more willing to defend its legitimacy as one that should be seriously considered and even adopted by others.
But with the women, it’s often a different story. They make good points about a serious issue, but seem to discount themselves in the very next breath by saying that it’s “just how I feel” or that “I don’t want to fight about it.” They will also sometimes initiate conversations about hot issues with pleas for people to not argue or become too heated.
While I love controversy, I get very uncomfortable with contention, and therefore appreciate efforts to keep things civil. But there’s much more to it than that.
Backing away from your statement and saying that it is “just your 2 cents” implies, in my understanding, three false ideas that I take major issue with.
1. Your opinion is less valuable than others’. Everybody realizes that what you say is your opinion or perspective, and that you hold no super-human authority to proclaim what is true or how people should feel. This is also true of everybody else. This is implied. The “2 cent caveat” implies that because statement is yours, it shouldn’t be taken as seriously as a statement by another person.
2. Having one’s ideas challenged is essentially confrontational. Here’s a fact: if I’ve never challenged the veracity of something you’ve said, we aren’t good friends. Likewise, if you’ve never challenged the veracity of something I’ve said, we aren’t good friends. This is one of the hallmarks of a strong relationship for me- our bond isn’t altered by whether or not we agree on an issue, and disagreeing openly is actually a sign of closeness rather than dislike or mistrust. Issues are complicated and require scrutiny. Receiving input from people with differing viewpoints helps us all to refine our own understanding and conclusions. This is why I dislike “2 cent caveats”- they seem to try to avoid contention even though, in my opinion, contention is not a natural result of comparing ideas.
3. It’s more important for a woman to be likable than to be anything else. When you end your statement with the 2-cent caveat (especially if followed by a smiley face), you are essentially saying, “if you don’t like what I said, please ignore it. I would rather be easy to tolerate than have my thoughts taken seriously.” Now, I know I’ve argued that discussions of ideas do not need to be contentious, but sometimes others will make them so. I believe that being kind and respectful to all people should always be our top priority. I also believe that many issues are worth upsetting people over in order to propagate correct ideals. Take, for instance, my stance on abortion, which doesn’t win me very many friends. But who would I be if I kept my mouth shut for the sake of being liked? Being principled is more important than being palatable.
What you have to say is just as important as what anyone else has to say.
Disagreements are not essentially contentious.
There are things that are more important than being nice.
But that’s just my 2 cents. 🙂