In my experience, people can get hung up on the little things. We love to be exposed to new controversies, even if they have little impact on the world around us. Cries of “but water is wet!” and “of course it was the chicken!” were ever present in elementary and middle school discussions, and have trickled into high school as well.
And why shouldn’t they? It’s fun to debate. These little practice runs for more divisive issues, be they political or otherwise, give us a chance to fight for what we believe in. We can enjoy arguing our side and find others who feel the same way. If they agree with me on this small issue, the logic goes, they must think similarly and therefore “correctly.” You could know nothing about a person but the fact that their pizza has pineapple on it and immediately want to either steer clear or go out of your way to introduce yourself, depending on your side.
Within that reasoning, however, lies a seed of division and hate. In deciding where you stand on something as trivial as whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich, you join a community of similar thought. Connections can be deepened between friends, and the starting points of future friendships can be created. It also gives permission to deepen dislike for a person who does not share your stance. The danger in dehumanization and us vs. them mentalities seen in politics and the real world is mirrored in these playground debates.
I am not above these thoughts, as I know exactly why water can’t be wet, and why the egg predates the chicken. I have my talking points covered. But recently, I’ve thought about how these topics can do more harm than good. I’ve seen them used in place of actually discussing problems between people. It sounds childish, but the real issues people avoid working through, from romantic relationships to teammate troubles, can spill leftover emotions into these irrelevant controversies.
In the end, and I cannot stress this enough, they do not matter. The world will continue on regardless of your opinion of it. One of the most important thing in life to remember is that people are not you. They will always have differing opinions, and that is okay. Pineapple on pizza may not be your thing, but let others enjoy it without ridicule.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, instead of arguing with Mom over whether or not Die Hard can be included in the holiday movie marathon, understand that what she really wants is time spent as a family. And in a climate so driven by an inability to cooperate, the last thing the world needs is another reason to argue.