Friday, November 2, 2012

Extreme Comparisons

Most of us are familiar with unfair comparisons, when a person says something like, "I'd rather [something really traumatic and horrible] than [something much less bad]!" I came across a website with lots of of posts like this, and the common response is, "That's a really horrible thing to say to anyone who has actually been through that traumatic experience!"  I agree, but I also think I understand what's behind them.

People don't always listen or accept what we have to say. You might tell someone that you had a really horrible experience and they tell you that it couldn't have been that bad. Making a comparison is actually a good way of communicating with someone who won't accept what you say about your situation. Ex: "I hate college as much as you hated middle school," or "How would you feel if you couldn't [most important thing to the person]? That's how I feel now because I can't [most important thing to you]." This isn't completely accurate because you can't really know who has stronger feelings about things, but it gets people's attention. It gets people to stop and realize, "Wow, that would really suck."

I understand that people can go too far with these comparisons, but we never know how far they've been pushed already, how many times they've tried to express themselves in another way. Not to mention that we also use unfair comparisons to invalidate people, like telling someone that what they're going through isn't that bad because something else is worse. With responses like this, I'm surprised that more people don't use extreme comparisons to get their point across. I understand why people are upset by extreme comparisons - I would be really upset if I had been through something traumatic and someone used it as a comparison point. But I also think that this wouldn't even be an issue if people would just acknowledge that yes, if your friend says it was that bad, it was that bad. If you argue about someone's own convictions, don't expect them not to fight back.

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