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.”