09 January 2014

On Waffling

 via Wikimedia Commons

Mmmm.... waffles. Buttery, sweet, yummy... oh wait, sorry. Not those waffles. I meant waffle the verb. From Dictionary.com:
verb (used without object), waf·fled, waf·fling.
1.to speak or write equivocally: to waffle on an important issue.
I'll come back to waffling in just a sec.

Several months ago I updated the look and feel of the blog here, and I had some ideas about new directions I wanted to go. I encouraged anyone interested in the nitty gritty, technical writing stuff that I would post here now and then to follow me over at From the Write Angle because I wanted to branch out in this space. I wanted to turn it more into something that will let me connect with a lot of people besides my fellow writers. I envisioned posting a lot more stuff centered on some of my personal thoughts and beliefs about all sorts of stuff. I didn't want to shy away from hard, complex, personal, or controversial discussions. "They" say an author shouldn't get too political on social media or else they run the risk of alienating potential readers who don't share the same views. But I say screw it. We're all grown ups capable of intelligent debate and the occasional disagreement.

The truth is I like some good intellectual intercourse now and then.

But as you may have noticed, there has been a distinct lack of posting recently. I've held back from putting my more serious thoughts on paper. Or the screen, as it were. And not because of a fear of hurting my sales as an author. So why, then? Why, indeed.

Over on FTWA this week, Charlee Vale wrote about getting a "case of the whys" when she sat down to write. I could certainly relate on a broad level. Sometimes I feel like I have a perpetual case of the whys when it comes to social media. I'll think maybe I should blog about this, or post this on Facebook, or tweet this and almost immediately that little voice in the back of my head says why? And it's very often followed quickly by a who cares? Part of that is just self doubt that I need to get over. But there's something else, too.

After reading Charlee's post, I decided I needed to address this nasty case of the whys that has been keeping me from posting what I want on the blog. I answered the question of why. The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind waffling.

I'm an introvert. I spend a lot of time tucked away in the corner of my own mind, thinking about possibilities and consequences and maybes and what-ifs. That's part of why I write. That's also why I tend to look and observe and stay quiet a looooong time before speaking. I like to think things through before committing a thought to words out loud. Partially because I like doing things right the first time, but also because I've noticed that people don't like when you change your mind.

Sometimes I think I'm a little quirky in that I can be pretty comfortable with cognitive dissonance at times. I can entertain two conflicting ideas at the same time. (I love people and have an almost naive faith in humanity, and yet I can't stand people. That sort of thing, but sometimes it's on a much more complex scale.) This can be unnerving for people. I get that. And although I may be stubborn and feel like I'm right about something if I've taken the time to think about it and actually make a statement about it, I am more than happy to change my mind. I like adapting and evolving and changing every day. Usually all that stuff stays on the inside, though.

Listen to any political interview show or watch any attack ad during an election year and I'm sure you'll hear the word waffling. Look at the current political situation and pick a politician - any politician. They hold fast to things they've said even when it's painfully obvious to everyone they're wrong. They repeat themselves and don't dare to change an opinion on anything. Or if they DO amend their opinion based on factual evidence, suddenly that's a bad thing and their opponents accuse them of waffling. I don't know about you, but I would love my state and federal leaders to be a little more flexible and to be able to admit when they have adjusted their views and ideas based on new things they've learned and experienced. That's the logical thing to do, really. But it seems we've tossed logic out the window in favor of clinging to what we believe without questioning why we believe it and ridiculing those who would dare to change themselves for the better.

Show me a person who has never altered one tiny thing about the way they think or believe and I'll show you a person clinging to an illusion. And they're probably miserable to boot.

When I went to college, I had some great experiences in terms of thoughtful discussion and debate. There were a lot of people I could talk to and listen to and learn from. We didn't always agree, but we were always able to be respectful and learn from each other. Sometimes opinions were changed, sometimes not. Sometimes the most wonderful thing was the moment when someone said "I don't agree with that, but I see where you're coming from." One professor, Dr. Cashdollar, said some of the most important words I've ever heard during a unit that took a historical look at religion. He said that we didn't have to believe the religions we looked at, but we should strive to find a way that we could believe they were believable. I think the same thing holds true for any serious debate.

My hope is that I can kick this case of the whys and stop worrying about being accused of waffling. I'd love to share my thoughts about social issues with you and to hear yours in return. Discussion is good. Learning is good. I won't hesitate to admit when I'm wrong or when something I previously believed no longer makes sense in light of new experiences. That's not waffling. That's growth. I can't promise you'll change my mind, and yours probably won't change just based on what I say. But in order to foster sincere discussion, maintain respect, find common ground, and lay the foundation for growth, all I ask is that you try to look at anything I say and see how it might be believable. I'll do the same. And maybe we'll both change for the better.

Believe that it's believable.


  1. I admit that for the big things, I often don't find myself changing my mind, but that's probably because I am have spent much of my life thinking about the possibilities already. In any given scenario, I can almost instantly conceive of every potential scenario and approach, though, which means I often take forever to decide that the right position is. (For me.) But I've got no problem letting people know I've changed my mind, in person or on the blog.

    1. I'm the same way with a lot of stuff. I've already considered the multitude of possibilities before I even open my mouth to commit to an opinion. But if I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I'll say it.


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