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I have a friend, let's call him Jack, who likes to debate and who takes any chance to try and turn the topic of a conversation into the one he prefers.

Last time it happened, I had posted a news on Facebook about a new Trump measure against trans people (I am trans). Jack took this opportunity to bring up his favourite subject for the past years: the way feminism is mistreating men by making unfair laws or by supressing the presumption of innocence. While I agree with him in most of his views about this matter, it is getting increasingly annoying having him always redirect every topic to the same stuff. In this particular case, he not only found a way to link the news with feminism, but also stated that this trans discrimination wasn't as bad as the one he is suffering for being a man, which further irritated me.

My strategy on this occasion (I usually just let it be) was first agreeing with him on his complaints and then trying to redirect the debate again to the trans issues with the only outcome of him going on about how unfairly men are treated and that they are second class citizens, then about how this is much worse than what is happening to the trans community. I got mad at him at this point and ended up being more aggressive than I intended.

I would like to know if there is an efficient way to let him know that he is showing no regard to the current topic of conversation when this kind of situation happens.

I think I should add that he is not very skilled at social interactions - for example, he can go on a monologue for hours not allowing the other person to speak; he also doesn't seem to notice when his interlocutor gets bored of listening.

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    Are you asking how to deal with this specifically on social media like Facebook? Or is this something that happens in person as well? – scohe001 Oct 30 '18 at 14:26
  • It happens in person as well. – user22124 Oct 30 '18 at 14:27
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but also stated that this trans discrimination wasn't as bad as the one he is suffering for being a man

To put it as gently as I can... And I had to write and rewrite this a few times to be this gentle... It sounds like your friend needs a hard reality check. While men's rights activists do have a handful of somewhat legitimate gripes, stretching that into anti-feminism and having the gall to claim that he faces more discrimination than trans folks is just, well, blatantly untrue.

I understand the feeling of losing priviledge. One of the harder things about coming out, was reckoning with losing my own straight white male priviledge. And I strongly suspect that that's a driving force for your friend.

"How dare you think you can treat us like we've treated you for the previous hundreds of years!!!"

But he seem to be missing the fact that others gaining rights isn't really taking rights from him. The playing field is just slowly, painfully slowly, becoming a little more level and he's not used to that. So it may feel like oppression, but it certainly isn't as if he's being denied jobs, housing, healthcare, safe bathroom use, or being re-defined out of existence.

If no one in his life is challenging his warped perception, you can and probably should. It may make for a rough conversation, he may not want to hear it, but it's still the right thing to do.

Be your own advocate. Don't allow him to talk over you or redirect the conversation down the red pill rabbit hole.

When he starts in, be blunt.

Hey, I was talking about something that really impacts my life. I've shown your issues and causes respect and listened to you about them at great length, over and over again. It's my turn to speak.

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    I agree with you. Also, I like your phraising very much. I am not used to being blunt, but I see it is much better doing so than trying to be patient and then losing my temper. Thank you. – user22124 Nov 1 '18 at 15:17
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One of the people in my group of friends has some strong religious beliefs which has often led to us clashing on issues and led to some very explosive arguments in the past.

Nowadays when the topic of conversation starts leading into one of those arguments I go;

'Oh not this again'

And immediately change the subject to something else. If the issue is pressed I just say;

'We've been over this lets not go through it again'.

Generally I find the best method is just shutting down the topic completely, leading into it and giving them some concessions will just encourage them to talk about it more.

4

Is it fair to summarize a FB interaction by saying you post about a trans issue and he will comment on that post and start discussing his men's rights issues?

That's my understanding of what's going on. If so, then let's break that down:

  • You're posting on your page about a concern of yours. You have started a conversation.
  • He makes a comment that ignores your issue and the topic of the conversation you started.
  • His comment is about his own concerns and issues.

I would suggest you reply to his comment and say, "I understand you have this concern, and I'll be glad to either discuss it with you or let you discuss it with others, but on your timeline. This is my timeline and my post, and this is a serious concern for me. I posted this because I really want to discuss this particular issue. Please respect my concern and that I started a conversation on one topic and want to stay on this topic in this particular conversation. I'll give you the same respect when you start a conversation on your timeline about any subject you wish to discuss."

I'm kind of wordy, since I'm trying to cushion it, but the goal is to point out you started a discussion on a particular topic, invoke the concept of respect, and ask him to please show that respect by staying on topic.

With any kind of situation like this, what's happening is that you are starting a conversation by sticking up for yourself. When he sees this, he's trying to change the topic to make it all about him and his rights. Be aware that there may be no successful way to get him to stop doing this, since he seems obsessed with his issues. If his goal is to block you from claiming your rights and to assert his rights, no matter what you do, it will upset him.

This makes it a fine line. You have to decide how firm you want to be in drawing the line compared to how strongly he may react when you set that boundary. Be aware that he may simply not respect any boundary like that which you declare.

When you're talking to him in person, you can use a similar approach. "I understand that's a concern of yours, but can you please respect my concerns and that I was bringing up a topic by not changing the topic until we've finished discussing it? I'll be glad to show the same respect for you when you bring up a topic"

  • Thank you for your answer. I like your choice of words and also appreciate that you provide answer examples for both Facebook and in person interactions. – user22124 Nov 2 '18 at 7:12
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    @ErikEscriche: Thank you! – Tango Nov 2 '18 at 18:41
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Trying to share your point of view with a stubborn friend can be really hard and frustrating.

Firstly, I would aswell go for basic diversion :

Let's talk about something else please, I'm not in the mood for this kind of discussion

Tell me, have you heard about this X unrelated thing??

Then when his temper is cooler, give him strong hints about his current behaviour during debates.

I know this point of view is really important to you and you feel like you need to defend it.

But if you don't listen to people, how do you expect them to do the same?

Tell him this simple rule : People might not care about you if you don't have interest toward them!

This could lead to a long discussion about his social behaviour and you can help him get better tools to spot other people's reactions properly (make sure he doesnt make a digression and focus about his behaviour).

Also, Jack seem to be hurts or have a fixation on that particular subject. Trying to find out (with him) why he is so into this and helping him get over it would probably unlock his opinion on it and stop the focus.

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A good friend is the one who tells you when you have mustard stuck in your beard. I have a friend, let's call her Barbie - she really likes to talk about people that I have never personally met and there is 100% chance will never meet, so I have no interest at all what those people ate in dinner and so on. It annoyed me right away when I first met Barbie, then I realized, it was all Barbie knew. Those people were important to her, plus I could not at all for the life of me change the topic. She will come right back to telling me how so-and-so hates eating rice.

The point is you do try to listen what your friend is saying. After all, the things they talk about are important to them. Other times, you try to redirect the conversation to something that is common to both of you and that will require both of you to share your thoughts, instead of just one person. Remember, common grounds are interesting.

Now what you can do is not directly "tell" him (if you don't want to hurt his feelings), but try to point out some social interaction manners while mentioning other people or topics and things. Like casually say how two people can have better discussions when both of them are given the chance to express their views and perspectives and both can equally share. That is when it can be called a discussion. Otherwise, it's a lecture - and a boring and frustrating one, because you don't agree with it.

It will help him interacting with other people too. Be polite but firm, and do mention that even as a friend, sometimes how he directs the discussion to one specific matter just makes you want to shut up and just agree. But not everyone is a friend, and small disagreements can turn into big fights. If you are respectful and polite and convey your concerns in the best way humanly possible, not sounding like a person correcting his mistakes but as a friend trying to help or be there for him, it will surely get to him or at least make him rethink his approach. Best of luck.

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