I realized today that I have an associated pet peeve that stands above most others, and it's a pet peeve that I have not been immune to engaging, myself. I've heard it said that the things we dislike the most in other people are things we recognize in ourselves and I think there is probably some truth in that and, because I think there is some truth in that, I am usually fairly cautious about denouncing the actions of people when I, myself, might engage in the same practice or might have engaged in it in the past. This peeve of mine, however, does more harm than its initial exercise, which might even be well founded.
I'll just focus it on myself and how I've used it in the past because it's a very common action, we all assume things. I work under the assumption that, as I gather facts, I gather more understanding about an issue. As I gather more understanding, based on facts, I tend to form opinions about things, whether that's right or wrong is a whole 'nuther issue, in itself, but it seems to be the nature of humanity. The facts will either point me to a conclusion in one direction or another direction. Until I have all the facts and feel I have an understanding about an issue I do my best not to form opinions about things I don't understand.
This translates, in my own life, as a writer, into the passionate exploration of issues or topics that I intend to write about and, at times, has the ability to slow me down because I'm waiting for other people to provide facts that I cannot move forward without. Without those facts I can't have understanding, without understanding, I, personally, don't feel I have any business forming an opinion or writing about something in the first place (I actually think I have a thing or two in common with Mayor Carlson, in that regard).
Often times, this attitude costs me money, and has the potential to frustrate editors, though mine is fairly easy going as long as I keep him updated.
The next issue of CFP will only have my standard City Council column in it because the article(s) I'm working on have hit numerous small snags in my ability to receive all the facts in time to turn it in on a deadline for the next issue. So, while I work harder on the next thing than I usually am required to do, in actuality, I'll be paid less and later for the hard work than if I'd chosen some uncomplicated subject to write about. Since I'm not a wealthy person to start with, I often find myself wondering why I do what I do - the answer is, because I think it's important and no, no one else has to agree with that opinion, by the way. I respect other people's rights to think my work sucks. :)
The pet peeve, therefore, might not necessarily be people who write things based on their assumed understanding of fact (because it might be very credible, depending on the amount of fact gathering in which the writer has engaged) but, sometimes, writers don't stop there, instead assuming what other people's reactions will be to their original assumptive opinion. This, generally, necessitates the writer casting a broad net and labeling a group of people into a large category. Once labeled, the writer will then assume (based on his/her assumption of understanding) the reaction he or she will receive regarding the original (potentially credible) opinion from this large, faceless group of people, and that brings me to the real pet peeve, alluded to above, when I wrote, "This peeve of mine, however, does more harm than its initial exercise, which might even be well founded."
The second peeve, linked to the first pet peeve of "understanding assumption," is the associated baiting of argument that arises out of this individual's labeling of a category of people. By assuming the reaction of that large, faceless group of people, the writer has baited an argument he or she assumes exists which might not have existed otherwise.
People who identify themselves as members of that large, faceless group of people, whether rightly or wrongly, feel they must defend themselves against what they perceive as an erroneous attack against what the member of the large, faceless group actually believes, and the defensive argument is all unnecessary without that original harbinger of assumption.
The best way I have found to deal with it is not to deal with it at all. Let the writer of assumptions languish in non-responsiveness to the crafty worm he or she has baited on their crafty little hook. That applies to whoever the writer happens to be, including myself. As I wrote above, I haven't been immune to labeling and categorizing individuals into a large, faceless group, myself, but hopefully, as I've thought about the fact that we're all individuals, each and every one, and gained a greater understanding of that fact, I won't do it in the future.
I don't like to be labeled and categorized into a large, faceless group and believe much of the "polarization" in America that some people concern themselves about stems from that action.
I'll continue to make every effort to treat individuals as the individuals they are, recognizing that every large, faceless group of people is made up of individuals, each with a separate and varying opinion on any given topic.
People are fascinating, aren't they? I'm not sure if this one made any sense or not.