I’ve been thinking about the contrarian view lately. Not a particular contrarian view, I feel the need to point out, but the idea of the contrarian view in and of itself.
I used to be a proud contrarian; I didn’t intend to be, or at least, that’s not how I found myself setting out on any specific intellectual or critical journey. But there were points — especially when I was first starting out to write online inside the comics internet, as it was then known — where I found myself entirely at odds with the general consensus, and as such feeling at once ostracized from and at odds with the majority of my peers.
It was a lonely place to be, and one that I initially struggled with before I became more convinced by my personal opinions and became, instead, a contrarian. Oh, I became so happy in that role, smacking down the mass thinking more from self-righteous zeal than anything else; looking back, I’m embarrassed about how convinced in the value of contrarianism for its own sake I became, how utterly sure I was that simply disagreeing with people for the sake of disagreement had an inherent value.
That embarrassment shouldn’t be taken as the sign of any kind of revelation about the value of going along with the crowd, mind you; despite an upbringing that seemed quietly centered around the idea of never really drawing attention to yourself and keeping out of trouble, I never really bought into the idea of group think, so I’m far from making any kind of argument against disagreeing with people, even if I blush at the memory of half of the fights I got into online for no reason beyond arguing.
In other words, I’ve finally — after too many years, let’s be honest — come around to the simple and straightforward idea of simply having the courage of your convictions and sticking to your guns on the things that matter, no matter who else agrees. Think of it as targeted contrarianism, perhaps, or using old skills and muscles for something a little more worthwhile.
After all, sometimes, it’s still a little fun to argue about things, if you pick your battles.