vs: stop playing devil's advocate

near the beginning of the episode of vs with fatimah asghar, there’s a little conversational moment that felt light in the moment, but actually was pretty significant to me.

somehow, the topic of people using the phrase “playing devil’s advocate” came up. i can’t remember who said what (though i feel like danez said the line that really hit home for me) but the gist of the segment was this: wayyyyy too many people use the line “well, to play devil’s advocate…” to cover up their own shitty opinions. someone said “why doesn’t the devil need sooooo many advocates? i think the devil can do his own dirty work. in fact, all that dirty work seems to be going just fine if you look around the planet.

for some reason, that just resonated so hard with me. mostly because it was funny but i definitely am gonna call this out in the future because it feels super useful. it seems to me, especially in liberal progressive spaces that we’re really keen on agreeing. this is definitely a tendency of mine so i’m not pointing fingers so much as stating what i see as reality. the problem that creates is that when someone disagrees, it has to be couched in all this soft language or hidden behind many layers of non-aggression.

i think (inspired by ceasar mcdowell) that in order to have a functional democracy, we actually have to know how to disagree with each other and keep making forward progress anyways. and, in diversity/resilience parlance, difference (even of opinion) can be an asset, not a detractor.

sure, sometimes people’s opinions are actually shitty and that’s real and must needs be dealt with. but generally, disagreeing is fine and, in some ways, i think the more we increase our capacity to disagree with each other and still love each other, the more we’ll have the world we want (because eventually we’ll have to learn how to hold difference and hopefully hold it as valuable and generative and eye-opening, not destructive).

so if you disagree, just say you disagree and pose the counterpoint. but don’t play devil’s advocate unless you’re tryna get me to believe that you’re actually advocating for evil. cause if that’s the case… byeeeeee.

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