So today, the following happened to me, kicking off a strange day: on Twitter, my article The Clinton Foundation was retweeted by a Trump support page.And then, following this on Twitter, a site dedicated to supporting Hillary Clinton retweeted Melania Trump may be the first First Lady to post in her birthday suit.

People in both camps have now used my writing to push their candidate, possibly not knowing who I’m actually voting for, or realizing I’ll support neither. Or maybe they do know and I’m assuming things (at least I can admit that). I stated my voting decision in my article Voting and more reasons you should never let go of your voice.Following this, I decided to talk about this with a friend.

Let me remind my readers that I love educational debating, as I’ve taught persuasion as a writing and speech professor for nearly two decades.

Conversations about the day

The conversation, after I revealed how the Twitter happenings struck me as odd, went a little something like this:

Friend: “It’s not surprising. You’re one of those undecided voters.”

Me: OK, what’s your definition of undecided?

Friend: You haven’t made your mind up.

Me: Now you are making no sense. You know very well I stated publicly exactly who I’m voting for. I know it sounds insane. I’m pretty sure I’m going insane. This election is completely insane, so I’m just going with the theme.

Friend: You’re an undecided voter if you haven’t picked one of the two major candidates.

Me: Are you changing your definition now?

After you knew what I’d say? Why does that undecided label work?

Friend: It’s common knowledge.

Me: It’s also common knowledge that somebody who has made a decision about something isn’t undecided.

Friend: All you do is poke apart every little thing I say.

Me: It’s call deconstruction. It’s how you win an argument when you know the other side is wrong, is jumping to conclusions without proof, and you have all the proof.

Friend: You are so impossible to argue with.

Me: That’s a phrase that shuts most people up and I used to teach it, in fact. Nice try. If I was impossible to argue with, we wouldn’t be having an argument in the first place, correct? That is not what’s actually happening in reality. I think what you meant is, it’s impossible for you to win an argument with me.

At this point, my friend hangs up on me. He follows it up with a text picture of a well-known body language gesture, the middle finger salute.

Reflecting on the conversation

Now, here’ the thing, and yet another factor I teach. Often when people try to shut you up, or disengage, they think, “Thank God, I got her to stop talking, score for me. I win.” It’s a false assumption and it’s very common, I suppose, to bolster one’s ego after getting persuasively skewered.

First, obviously, if I’m writing about this conversation, that hang up didn’t disengage me. Second, if a boxer left a match in the middle of a fight, would that make him win the fight? No, of course not. If so, not one boxer would ever throw a punch, they’d all just see who could run out of the ring faster and the sport wouldn’t be about fighting anymore.

What they call the abandonment of a match is forfeit and it’s losing.

So, what’s the lesson? Don’t ever let somebody tell you he or she is right because that opposition ran away from the argument. Don’t stop talking about it. Find a way to educationally prove you’re right with facts and examples. And keep bringing it up just for fun. By the way, don’t think that this is really going to change the other person’s mind. Some people are going to keep holding onto their incorrect assumptions, even if those assumptions are about you and you know isn’t true. Most people are awfully stubborn and won’t admit they are wrong. But know it’s a great way to irritate people (which is probably the best thing about it).

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