Please disagree with me

I started out as a skeptical blogger many years ago, and when I started identifying as ace I moved into ace blogging. Thus, I’ve had many occasions to notice cultural differences in the respective blogging communities. One observation is that atheists/skeptics tend to give voice only to disagreement, while aces give voice only to agreement.

This does not mean that atheists/skeptics only ever disagree with each other, while aces only ever agree with each other. Rather, both agreement and disagreement are present, but the two groups have different ideas about what is worth expressing.

From the ace point of view, agreement amounts to encouragement and praise. Overall, there is a culture of friendship. There isn’t enough content so we want to support content creators. Criticism leads to discouragement and burnout, and tends to be employed only when necessary.

From the atheist/skeptic point of view, which is the one I tend to agree with, it’s not about feelings. It’s about ideas. If I simply agree with someone, I have no new ideas worth contributing. If I disagree with someone, I can say something that they did not think of.

As a blogger, I like when people disagree with me, and say things I did not. In fact, sometimes the disagreement is only nominal, with commenters saying things that I wanted to say, but could not. When I set out to write about a topic, there are ideas I leave out because it needs to flow, it needs to connect, it needs to be manageable. And I make bold generalizations with known exceptions–I want readers to point out the exceptions.

Of course, there’s something to be said about the difference between blogging that presents ideas, and blogging that presents experiences. I have never been very good at responding to people’s experiences, so I will refrain from giving advice on that subject.


  1. Vicki says

    There’s also the “Yes, and…” approach: “that’s a cool point, and did you know about this related thing?” or “yes, and that implies thus-and-such.” It doesn’t happen as often as I might like, because it requires me to have the other thoughts, but it’s neither simple support nor disagreement.

  2. Elizabeth Leuw says

    It’s interesting to read this post and then Jo’s new post immediately after. Kind of a case in point? I think it at least makes some of the reasons for the cultural differences more apparent. When so much of the content is about sharing personal experiences, more so than just exchanging ideas, it’s harder to share points of disagreement. There is already a lot of hostility about certain narratives, so sometimes voicing any disagreement at all, no matter how genial, can come across as that sort of hostile personal attack, meant to silence instead of just discuss differences.

    Personally, I tend to like disagreements as well, provided they are respectful and well-considered. I find it more productive to share points of disagreement and discuss them than to only talk about what I agree with. Sometimes, I think that gets me in trouble in the ace community. (Like, I worry that exchange I had with Laura several months ago, for example, may have been perceived with a lot more hostility than I meant it.) I typically keep a level of separation between my ace community persona and what else I do online, so I elide the cultural differences most of the time, but I would say I’m maybe a bit more suited to Internet Communities with a culture of disagreement overall. It can be kinda hard to switch back to the ace community after spending more time elsewhere. It’s a lot more holding my tongue.

    (Also, unrelated: the “connect with” WordPress button right above the comment field didn’t work for me, for some reason. I clicked it and nothing happened. I made sure pop-ups and ads were allowed, still nothing. It wouldn’t let me post a comment, until I figured out I had to log in first by clicking “Log in to comment” directly below the post—and THEN it worked. I thought I’d share in case anyone else is having trouble with that.)


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