“The need to be right is a sign of a vulgar mind.” – Albert Camus
I’ve always sought to be correct. I needed to be correct. Present in non-competitive arguments, light-hearted discussions, and even in the quotidian, day-to-day small talk. This seems to be a problem that has been plaguing the way my friends perceive my intentions.
It’s not as if I’m the best in every topic of discussion, or that I’ve got a wide array of knowledge and wisdom to shoot down their arguments. It’s just, sometimes I can’t help it. It is pretty much a psychological complex.. I guess?
If anything, the most relevant, and the closest psychological complex is that I’m feeling superior. It is said that when “their knowledge, accuracy, superiority or etc. is challenged, the individual will not stop in their attempts to prove such things until the dissenting party accepts their opinion.” Unrelenting and many a times, uncompromising, the description above suits me perfectly. Of course, by uncompromising, I do not mean that I am blinded by my own opinions. I simply do not take arguments that are weak, surprising lack of factual evidence and references, and vague disputable points to discuss about.
Being the consistent challenger that perpetually seeks to oppose and crush every available discussion that blooms once in awhile, whether is it significant or minute in nature, I’ve come to the understanding that this is not a healthy lifestyle or personality to adopt. It is toxic to my friendships, and pretty much obnoxious to everyone around me. Who wants to be friends and to be seen around a snob like myself right? I may exaggerate my social standings and how my “argumentative quirks” affect my relationships, but the effects of a more serious superiority complex is so much worse.
First of all, the perpetual need to be correct is a streamline to a more harmful behaviour in the long run. We may not see it right now, we may not see it tomorrow. But years down, as we grow older from our teenage years to being young adults and subsequently working adults, we face life in its most unblemished state, the reality of society.
Should our behaviour persists, it is hard to 1) find close friends and meaning in our jobs, and 2) look for help and assistance when you really need them. As mentioned above, and most likely agreeable by most, I believe nobody would like to make friends with a snobbish, Mr. Know It All, am I right? If no one talks to you at work and spur you on, motivating you to keep the fight against the mundane and cyclical lifestyle, it’ll be really hard to find any significant meaning in the things we do. Furthermore, who wants to interact and associate themselves with a prick who thinks he’s the top debater in the world? Unless, of course, you are a professional debater or a renowned lawyer that knows his way around the circle of truth. As humans, we seek a complementary relationship with other humans. We collaborate and gain synergy with those who are amiable and have proper work ethics. By shunning away those who are constantly moody, grumpy and uncouth, we generally wouldn’t want to help them in the workplace as well, do we?
Next, the perpetual need to be correct has a heavy cost that you probably wouldn’t want to pay. As mentioned above, while we lose our likability in our workplace, we merely just lost their friendship. By being correct all the time, we might inadvertently impose our own beliefs and perspectives unto others, pushing our opinions into the discussions and stirring it into our favour. Many a times, this sort of scenario happens when the conversation is about something that we feel passionate about. It could be in the form of religion, political opinions, or maybe even about the The 50 Best TV Shows On Netflix Right Now. Sometimes, we hold on to our deep-rooted beliefs and self-righteous ideologies and identities that prevents others from having a proper, serious conversation with us. It’s true! When we get too carried away with bombarding our views and regurgitating our pent-up arguments, we find that instead of drawing people closer to our opinions, we repel them further away from ourselves.
Thirdly, the perpetual need to be correct disregards and simplify the other party’s individuality. While we continue to babble on about how “x happened because y” and, we shove aside other people’s feelings and instead, justify our assertive and aggressive actions by the need to prevail. By subverting other’s views and opinions, we are also, in one way or another, repressing their human nature to speak up. As such, these individuals who has their individuality stripped are likened to those in oppressive regimes. It is by unspoken mutual respect that we initiate conversations with another party, understanding their angle and how they look at certain matters. Who would want to allow themselves to be subjected to such torture?
Lastly, I feel that the perpetual need to be correct limits ourselves the opportunity to obtain and understand different possibilities. As we persists in arguing for our own cause and actions, we forget to understand that we do not live in silos. Being part of the cosmopolitan world, our thoughts and actions are part of the social world that we live in. While we continue to spread our strong hard-headed ideologies, we are slowly extracting ourselves from the endless possibilities the world’s perspectives could offer us. Believing that the red apples in your neighbourhood are the best, without actually trying those of other districts, much less the international marketplace, is quite superficial and dense of an individual. One has to be open-minded and carefree with his or her viewpoints, but at the same time remain steadfast and loyal in your opinions.
If there is something that you were to disagree with, point it out, provide facts and explain why. Should the opposing party provide a valid counter-argument to yours, acknowledge it. It is your choice, whether or not you would want to adopt their perspectives and integrate it into your life, or pass on it. If you’re still adamant about your own views, thank them and appreciate their honesty, and hope that they’re having the mutual feelings. Pointing out truths is an imperative and pivotal part of being the mortal man. Some truths are meant to be spoken out loud, in terms of wrongdoings, repression and especially in times of trouble. Orwell said that “in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” But in modern day, it is essential that we understand that we are but part of this larger society. In the greater scheme of things, we do not just offend the other party with our insensitive, and uncalculated arguments. We have let down the cosmopolitan state that seeks to integrate and assimilate the wider audience into an open and accepting society, even with dichotomous perspectives. What’s the worse that could happen?