When Opinions Leave The Internet

The other week I wrote about how important it is to be a good listener. This past week I found myself in a few conversations where I was forced to take my own advice. These were conversations with strangers or friends whom I’d never really talked comics before. I learned a lot about myself and some of the frustrations that arise when someone used to writing uninterrupted is forced to dialog.

1) Writing breeds opinions

I couldn't find the actual panel from the comic I mentioned. Not everyone can be Jeff Reid.

I spent a few hours every week thinking up a topic to write about for iFanboy. I try to keep things varied and fresh, meaning that I’ve not written about a wide assortment of topics. Thus, I’ve put some thought into having an opinion on a great many things, which can make me very stalwart in my stance on a great variety of issues. I’m reminded of an issue of The Flash, when Wally West wore the cowl and Geoff Johns penned the book, where Wally ponders why the rest of the Justice League thinks he’s stubborn. They don’t understand that when he’s at speed time still moves relatively slow for him, so even though he seems quick to jump to conclusions he’s actually thought through every single alternative before making up his mind. That struck a chord with me that I’ve carried ever since. I too like to believe that my opinions come from a place of informed logic and reason, and that by the process of writing I codify things in a way that is relatively unassailable. I’m often proven wrong by the iFanbase in the comments, but the simple act of putting thoughts on digital paper helps me come up with some pretty concrete ideas for how things ought to be.

As an example, I was drinking champagne and eating strawberries in the courtyard one afternoon, for which I will offer no further explanation, and the topic of what Wolverine might drink came up. As best I can remember I was not the one to bring this up, but then again there was champagne. Some guy with a perfunctory knowledge of Logan declared that he, as a Canadian, would prefer Canadian whiskey. Because as we all know, we each only eat and drink what comes from our own geographic province, no matter how many years we may have lived in Japan. Seeing as I’d written an entire column on the topic of Wolverine’s taste buds, I quickly retorted, with perhaps a bit too much gusto. And by perhaps, I mean definitely. I think people were honestly a bit stunned by my quick reaction and harsh shutdown of a frankly asinine opinion. Fortunately I was able to break the tension by performing this awesome trick where I drink out of two champagne classes at once by drinking from the 1st while simultaneously pouring the 2nd into the first all with one hand. It’s a pretty great trick, but my point is I think at a certain point even us nerds who have thought through all the variables might need to step back and let the conversation wind its way along a bit more before barging in with a torrent of informed and righteous opinion.

2) Opinions can be long-winded

I’ve spent most of the past week and half working with one other person in a lab all day every day. Conversations have been very far-ranging, at one point she asked me if I had a favorite superhero. If you weren’t aware, these are the types of polite questions people ask each other about topics they know the other person to be interested in. It’s along the lines of, “What sports team do you root for?” or “What is your favorite beer?” I’m not sure these are great questions because if the other person isn’t genuinely interested in your answer they may have a hard time as jumping off points for discussions, but it’s a nice question to ask as an acknowledgement.

The problem is that there is no simple answer. Maybe this question is a bad example for you, because you have a favorite superhero and it’s just that simple, but imagine if you were asked for a favorite issue, or a favorite moment. Likely you have many that you like for different reasons, variety being the spice of life and all that, so picking just one for the purposes of conversation is a nigh impossible task. However, the person asking you doesn’t really want to hear a long winded answer going through your top half dozen heroes with pros and cons for each. Yet that urge to go into detail is so very strong. Even in the above instance I prattled on for probably too long about the intellectual merits of Superman (which serves reemphasize my first point as that was also the topic of a previous column) and the person, who really only had themselves to blame, was polite up to a point, then clearly lost interest. We were working so I can hardly blame her for focusing more on the task at hand, but I was still kicking myself for not reigning my answer in just a bit better.

3) Other people should stop being wrong so often

So after my slight embarrassment in the lab I went to a nearby watering hole for a pint. I was feeling antsy so I challenged a local to darts and the conversation eventually led to the classic “Who wins: Batman vs. Superman?” Even though the obvious answer is Superman because he has super-speed and can fire heat vision from orbit, this dude was not having any of it. Which brings me to my final point: we could all get along a lot better if everyone else would just quit being wrong so often!

Kidding!

(Sort of.)

 


Ryan Haupt has strong opinions but he makes up for them with cool drinking tricks. Hear him opine and quaff on the weekly podcast Science… sort of.

Comments

  1. Here’s how I live – stop thinking so much and just enjoy it.

  2. Enjoyed reading this Ryan, but I could not focus on the rest of the piece after you mentioned that champagne trick. I kept trying to picture it in my head and still can’t quite get it. We need a video. Also, I like how you made up for an awkward situation by straight up downing two flutes of champagne at once.

  3. Along with the idea that writing breeds opinions, I think content does as well. I know the second I’m done watching a movie or show or reading anything, my first thought is, Did I enjoy that? Sometimes its instantaneous and sometimes not but an opinion is formed.

    I just watched Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with my wife a couple of weeks ago and when it was done she asked me what I thought of it. I replied that I wanted to think about it because I wasn’t sure. After a night’s sleep, I realized I didn’t like it very much. But my opinion was formed after weighing the pros and cons. I certainly don’t hold my experience as a template but I do find it useful to think before forming my opinions.

  4. superman always saves the day. batman beats anyone in a straight fight but he doesn’t always save the day.

  5. I can definitely relate to the “Long-winded answer” part. i’m really good at not knowing how much detail is too much regarding questions like “How many Avengers are there?” or “Do you like Marvel or DC?” and yes “Who’s your favorite superhero?” or “What’s your favorite comic?” Even now, I’m not entirely sure if this comment is getting too long…

  6. I think about the Batman vs. Superman one every so often. The answer is more complicated than Superman Wins or Batman Wins. Batman wins if Superman is holding back, we’ve seen it happen several times. If not, then Superman definitely wins the battle, but I would wager that Batman would had developed a plan to ultimately stop Superman even in the event of his death (or directly because of his death), thereby winning the war.

  7. Way to nerd bait on number three! Shame, shame! But it will bite you in the ass when that’s all people comment about. Anyone who knows me, can guess my answer. I won’t go into that.

    Instead I’ll say this: Debates are the one time that I like that I’m the only one who reads comics in my group of friends. The majority of my friends are nerdy, enjoy nerdy things and even like the idea of comics (I went with a group of them to The Avengers opening night for example), but their own proclivities lie within different realms: D&D, Arcade tournament fighting, etc. etc.

    So when it comes down to it I get to play the “Well this is what’s already happened in canon” card, when I just feel like being a superior douche bag. And it’s usually believed and accepted. Then I puff out my chest and laugh haughtily.

  8. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I’ll e-mail you the correct panels this evening.

  9. Batman. Always. Wins.

  10. Favorite Heroes: The Flash; cool superpower and fun stories, Deadpool; Violent and funny, Batman; detective millionare and crime fighter, Hellboy; Awesome mythology, great art, and almost always high quality stories.

    Superman vs Batman: One word, kyrptonite.

  11. It doesn’t matter who wins when Batman fights Superman, because very clearly we’ve all lost at that point.