… but it’s wrong.

I’m very prone to Someone Is Wrong On The Internet (SIWOTI) syndrome. It’s that urge to correct something that’s wrong. It’s tied in with my tendency to infodump.

If I see something that I know is wrong – I’m talking factual wrong things, trivial or not – I feel the urge to correct it.

Actually, perhaps “urge” is too mild a word. It’s almost like a compulsion for me. It’s there, and it’s wrong. And that bugs me. And I want to put it right because it’s wrong. But if I’m going to put it right, I can’t just say, “actually, [correction],” because I know from experience that all that comes of that is an argument wherein the person keeps resurrecting the wrong thing after I’ve righted it. So I have to thoroughly disprove it. And I know that I’ll come off as an insufferable know-it-all for doing it, but I do it anyway, because it’s wrong and that bothers me.

I’m told often to “let it go.” As in, the following scenario:

Person: *says a thing that’s wrong*Me: Actually, *correction*
P: *repeats wrong thing*
Me: *Lengthier rebuttal*
P: *repetition of wrong thing again*
Second Person: Drop it, [my name].
Me: But it’s wrong.
SP: Just let it go. It’s not worth it.
Me:… but it’s wrong.
SP: You’re not going to get through to hir. You’re wasting your time. Let it go.
Me: … but it’s wrong.
SP: I’m aware that P’s wrong, but you’re fighting a losing battle. You’re not going to convince hir – xe’s bought into it.
Me: But it’s wrong!

… see, other people think I’m correcting the misinformed person out of a desire to convince them. I’m not. It’s got nothing to do with convincing others. If that happens as a side-effect, cool. But that’s not why I do it.

I do it because a wrong thing is wrong and that bugs me. I can’t really articulate it better than that. To try an analogy, someone uttering something obviously wrong is like looking at your own limb after it’s been broken. That sense of abject “This shouldn’t be this way but it is.” It bugs me. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I have to make it right. Not making it right isn’t possible because it will still be there and be wrong and I really can’t articulate it better than that. I have to put the wrong thing right. I have to.

So, please understand, when I get into a “but it’s wrong!” loop, my motivation for it is wholly selfish and entirely driven by my desire to get the wrong thing to stop being wrong so it will quit bothering me. I’m not doing it for your own good, to make sure you have right information. I’m not doing it for my own ego, to make myself feel superior in my knowledge of the world. I’m not doing it for warm-fuzzies from educating others. I’m not doing it for social standing, to get the other person to submit to my authority. Nor am I doing it for the benefit of spectators who might otherwise believe the wrong thing and spread the wrongness through the world (though I fully admit that is a welcome side-effect for me).

I’m doing it because the wrong thing bugs me simply because it exists while wrong. So, if I’m in the mental “but it’s wrong!” loop, the answer isn’t to try to convince me that arguing is pointless. That misses the point of my corrections. I’m not doing it to win the argument. I’m doing it to put right what’s wrong. Take me away from the wrong thing, or convince me to go do something else, or change the conversation subject, and the wrong thing will go away, and my “but it’s wrong!” loop will be broken.

Someone once got aggravated with me about this and exclaimed, “God, you always have to be right!”

Now that I know myself better, I would reply, “Yes – but not for the reason you think.”

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9 thoughts on “… but it’s wrong.

  1. Mados says:

    I definitely have that syndrome too! Especially a hardwired reaction in relation to topics that interest me. This xkcd cartoon illlustrates well the SIWOTI syndrome’s tendency to interfer with sleep:-)

  2. autisticook says:

    I can’t choose between falling over laughing or nodding my head in recognition at ALL of this! Because you’ve described it perfectly but it’s also really really funny because… I don’t know why. It just makes me smile. Because it’s right. šŸ˜€

  3. I feel compelled to warn you that this is contagious. My daughter has it too. The other day we practiced what she should say if she felt the compulsion coming on because she was going to be around someone who refuses to back down even an inch when someone says they’re wrong and she didn’t want to be driven to tears like last time. The really funny part is that when it happened, I completely derailed the conversation by randomly shouting out “wow, look at that bird” and pointing out the window which confused everyone momentarily and ended up changing the subject. šŸ™‚ Why yes, I did only sleep three hours last night. Can you tell?

    • ischemgeek says:

      Hey, if it works, it works. A classmate in school once stopped an argument between me and another classmate by yelling, “Look, it’s a distraction!” because she couldn’t think of any other way to defuse things. XD

  4. notesoncrazy says:

    Yes! Wow, so well put. I think I tend to do this more IRL than on the internet (because the internet is just so mean), but so few people understand that it’s really my own selfish motivations and that I’m fine with that. I’m not waiting to convince someone before I drop it. I’m waiting for it to stop being wrong. For me.

  5. Alana says:

    Things are wrong and this is the real answer! (Or why you shouldn’t tell me California will drop into the ocean unless you want me to tell you that the fault lines do not line up perfectly with the state, so actually a large portion of the state would still be there in the highly unlikely event that the Earth just broke at them which I think is what you are suggesting—oh–wait—you were actually commenting on liberalism and how you want it all to disappear because apparently that is a metaphor…. or a brief discussion I had Thanksgiving weekend with an intoxicated uncle of boyfriend’s).

    Yes! This is a thing! Things are wrong! They need to be explained right! (I don’t try to fix the internet though, because it is so BIG and I would get started and not be able to get finished and then that would be BAD so I try to have rules against that.) When I say something that is wrong, it is embarrassing, but I also want people to tell me so that I never have to say something wrong again.

    Also, it took me a long, long, long time (and being explicitly told) to figure out when and when not to correct teachers in class (when powerpoints starting being more popular than writing on the board, that also helped, admittedly).

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