Remember When You Were 16 and Knew It All: Attempting a Logical Argument with a Teenager Who Is Anything But

Face PalmIf my daughter is anything like I was when I was a teenager, then my mom will be getting her payback. I can remember being a teenager and thinking, nay, knowing that I knew it all. A recent thread of comments to a Facebook status reminded me that my daughter is a darling baby at the moment but that she will someday be a teenager. She will of course continue to be a dream child as she enters adolescence, but, in case she is not, I must just keep reminding myself that she will eventually grow out of the “I know it all” phase.

Do you remember when you were a teenager and knew it all? I was recently reminded by my 16-year-old cousin. I woke up one morning to a Facebook event invite asking me to support Chick-Fil-A after the “opposition to equal rights for gays” fiasco. Annoyed at the energy that some people put into spreading hate, I posted the following Facebook status:

I feel sorry for these so-called Christians who spend so much of their lives fighting gay marriage and equal rights. God said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” I can conclude only that these individuals are full of as much self-hatred as the hatred projected towards others.

After two of my friends posted their replies, my 16-year-old cousin responded with the following two posts:

I never said I had a problem with gays a have a few gay friends but I just don’t like it when people especially my cousin talks bad about my religion

Practice what you preach cause it seems like you’re not accepting me

One of my friends then responded:

I can understand why you’d feel that way, but I don’t think Heather is talking bad about your religion. She didn’t say “Christianity sucks” or anything about your religion. She said that some so-called Christians are full of hatred, and that’s true. No need to take any of it personally.

My young cousin replied:

It is true I will agree but life is too long to be miserable it’s not short so people should grow up

My friend again responded:

Life seems a lot shorter when you’ve lived more of it, Brandon. Part of growing up is learning to stand up for the rights of others, and to get along with people. IOW, to love one’s neighbor as oneself.

Clearly my cousin had misunderstood the intent of my initial status update. So I attempted a cleared explanation:

I am in no way talking bad about Christianity. I am commenting on the incongruity between Christianity, which is founded on Jesus who taught love, and the hatred spewed by those who claim to have the teachings of the Bible as the proof to their argument. Second, if you don’t like gay marriage, then don’t have a gay marriage. Nobody else’s marriage affects your own, and, if it does, then the problem is with your marriage, not theirs.

He responded:

Like I said no problem with gays and sorry for saying that lol

Two other friends then responded with posts about loving the sinner, not the sin. In response to those two posts, I wrote:

There are significant differences between (1) I personally don’t support gay marriage and equal rights but that is between you and God, (2) I don’t support gay marriage and am thrusting my beliefs upon you, and (3) God hates fags.

In response to the “God hates sin but loves sinners” post, my cousin responded:

That’s wrong to say god loves everybody equally he doesn’t hate people and neither should any other person in this world

And so I again tried to elaborate:

I support everyone’s right to fight for their beliefs so long as their beliefs do not infringe upon someone else’s rights. The so-called Christians to whom I refer are the “God hates fags” ones. “Christians” spreading hatred are the same as “Muslims” (or any other group, religious or otherwise) who spread hatred. Why waste your time with hate. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Otherwise, your life is between you and God. My life is between me and God. And, using a logical argument, if loving thy neighbor as thyself means spreading hatred, I can conclude only that these individuals are full of as much self-hatred as the hatred projected towards others.

I also pointed out:

Assuming what God thinks is threading on thin ice. But, yes, my problem is with the hatred. So much time wasted.

To which my cousin inexplicably wrote:

So you hate yourself?

I finally flat out told him that I was making a logical argument in my original status update:

I am using a logical argument. An if-then argument, if you will. If you are Christian, then you should be living your life as God says, which involves loving thy neighbor as yourself. If you treat your neighbor with love, then you love yourself. If you treat your neighbor with hatred, then you must hate yourself.

To which he replied:

I never said that you just put words in my mouth so you’re wrong and you were pretty much doing that not me and honestly I don’t think you believe in him but that’s just my opinion and I’m not questioning your faith in anyway shape or form like you said its between you two

Confused by his confusion, I wrote:

You have misunderstand the whole point of my status. Jesus taught love. There is something wrong with those who spread hatred in the name of Christianity or those who spread hatred by using the Bible as a source. As [my friend] also pointed out, the Bible also says things like do not eat shrimp, do not get tattoos, and do not wear anything but white. Do you see the problem?

Thinking that maybe he was getting caught up in my general use of the pronoun you, I also added:

Oh, and I am using the pronoun “you” as a general “you,” not you specifically.

My initial post was not religious, moral, ethical, political, or otherwise. I was making a logical argument.

Still not getting the point of my original post, my cousin replied:

Practice what you preach Heather cause honestly it’s visible you don’t and you can’t say you’re perfect you got what you wanted ever since you were little so don’t preach to me when you’ve got some learning to do yet idgaf if I’m only 16 Ik a lot for my age

All I could say was:


To which my 16-year-old cousin, in true teenaged fashion, wrote:

You’re boring me I’m leaving now

The moral of the story, do not attempt to engage a teenager in a logical argument. Teenagers, forsooth, are not logical creatures.

Image Credits

Face Palm © 2012 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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