The titillation of conflict

Black and white

Black and white

I am still amazed at our human propensity to be titillated about conflict.

Something in the human mind loves drama.

We so often rush to read about negativity, challenges, despair, suffering.

We’re often intrigued to learn more about the day’s sorrows than the day’s blessings.

In this Thanksgiving season, perhaps we might ponder this.

Why does part of us seem eager to read about, say, rapes and killings, slaps and death, arguments and fiscal crisis?  Our minds seem less interested in blessings and gratitude, joys and Thanksgiving.

We might disagree.  We might insist we want those blessings, that we appreciate our many gifts.  Yet how often do we humans often scurry to get down in the dirt of gossip, pain and anguish?



I’ve witnessed this yet again recently.

Discuss your response to a blog reader’s angry comments and hundreds of readers leap over to discover what’s happening.  What DID the angry blog reader say?  How DID the blog writer respond?

Write a blog about blessings and, ho hum, la de da, it simply doesn’t pack the same titillating punch.

Why might this be so?

I’m pondering, and would like your opinions as well.

I think we live in a world of seeming opposites and we love the drama.  In the same way we adore a good book or movie, we want the plot.  We want tension.  We want to see if and how the tension resolves itself.



We witness tension in our own lives as we struggle to reconcile our lives.  We look to others to mirror how they handle some of the same situations.  Do they lash out, turn their backs, attempt to heal?

Yet, in our utter fascination with conflict, we often get pulled into the fray.  We identify so strongly with one side or the other that we miss the Golden Goose–how to allow negativity to exist without allowing it to rule us, without getting stuck in its bloody wars of unresolved love.

The energy of conflict can be very seductive, indeed.

Catching blessings in the spiderweb of life

Catching blessings in the spiderweb of life

What is a blessing of conflict?  When we allow it to lead us into healing our own personal struggles.  When we use its energy to find new ways of healing.

What is a challenge of conflict?  When it blinds us to Thanksgiving, to gratitude, to the many gifts which fill our world daily.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers, and may any conflicts be swiftly resolved.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in November 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The titillation of conflict

  1. Reggie says:

    How true and insightful, Kathy. May you have a Happy Thanksgiving – today, and every day. Hugs!

  2. I hate conflict and could live happily without it–I do not need the tension or the excitement–as I have grown older I have grown more appreciative — this was a great post–have a wonderful Thanksgiving Kathy

  3. Another wonderful and important post, Kathy. I think we thrive on conflict because it makes our lives either seem better, or because we live vicariously through other people’s exciting lives–ignoring the fact that with conflict often comes pain, sadness, anger, negativity, etc. I wish we could focus on being thankful for just being, rather than thankful for what we aren’t. I mean, too many of us can say i am grateful for having a home when we pass a homeless person on the street. Wouldn’t we be better off if we could appreciate what we have without the comparison? Sigh.

  4. Excellent post, Kathy. I have no idea why human beings love conflict and drama. It is a bit disconcerting. We see this even in our 24/7 news cycle these days. However, that post your wrote about the negative comment was SO well done. it’s hard not to love it–not the conflict as much as your brilliant response.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  5. A Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Kathy!

  6. When I flip through all the TV channels, I see more and more reality shows that seem to be about a lot of people screaming at each other. I switch them off. I have no patience for conflict for conflict’s sake. It’s all so contrived that I can’t be bothered wasting my time on such drivel.

    When I read about conflict in other countries, I am saddened to think how many people are losing their lives over something of which even they can’t remember the cause or their leaders are fueling the fire of hatred because they covet what their neighbors have.

    Personally, I avoid conflict whenever I can. I just don’t have the energy for it, unless I see a child or animal being abused or read about our corrupt politicians spoiling our resources. Then the hackles rise! Give me a serene spot overlooking a sparkling lake or a small cabin in the woods with a cup of coffee (or tea) and a good friend. Now THAT’s something for which I’d be thankful! 🙂

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Kathy! 🙂

  7. Brenda Hardie says:

    Kathy, If I never have to deal with conflict or worry again it would be too soon. So much of my life has been filled with those things and I beg for relief. My focus these days tends to be towards the positive and away from any conflict or controversy. Some cannot be avoided, however. But my goal is to make my life more serene and positive.
    Your post was very timely considering the Thanksgiving holiday and I appreciate that you brought this to mind for so many of us.
    Happy Thanksgiving dear friend ♥

  8. Bonnie says:

    “Catching blessings in the spider web of life.” Beautiful! Thanksgiving blessings to you Kathy.

  9. Kathy – Like people who watch sporting events on television who provide advice from the sidelines: “If I were in the game…” Maybe humanity thrives on conflict because from the sidelines we secretly wish we had a red Superman “S” underneath our otherwise “normal” garb and in our hearts we hope that we could come to the rescue.

  10. lisaspiral says:

    I’m not sure I would equate a response to conflict as loving it. Resolution doesn’t need a response. Those blessing stories don’t demand a comment. Thanks, How wonderful for you, That’s lovely – not a lot to say. However conflict demands resolution and to achieve that we believe response is necessary. (wait it out is just not a part of our cultural make-up). I love the good stories. I go looking for them. I take time with them and take them into my heart. Conflict not so much. I avoid the news – especially when they’re playing the same story all week long. I don’t read bloggers who are continually on a platform of drama. But when I feel I have something to contribute that might ease the conflict, I respond.

    I hope you have a drama free, happy and loving Thanksgiving!

  11. Heather says:

    I wonder if it isn’t some primal urge. We don’t have any personal concerns in someone’s blessings – they aren’t going to damage us. But conflict could impact our own safety, so I guess we might be vested in knowing the outcome. I could see how we’d be hardwired that way.
    We stopped watching the news long ago because it was all negative and wasn’t teaching us anything. Even now, I am less into dramatic, negative shows than I ever was. I’m not sure if I’m getting sappy as I age or wiser 😉
    Happy no-conflict Thanksgiving to you!

  12. sandiwhite says:

    I think it’s just the adrenalin rush we get when something sets our alarm bells to ringing. Like those people who love to pick fights or start arguments. Me, I try to steer clear of conflict, it upsets my nature And st

  13. P.j. grath says:

    Maybe people want to reach out and reassure you when you’ve had angry comments, and when you’re already happy they just smile and go on their way, figuring you already have everything you need. Could be?

  14. Elisa says:

    I came to see it because I supposed you would find a way to be grateful about it. I wanted to see the trick and the play on thoughts that you’d hook by using conflict trigger words 😀

    • Elisa says:

      ps. I also wonder that the tingle of good energy that one can grab onto a spin into an entity far greater than the darker, lower, evil-if-you-will energy that just LOVES to slither and to slime, to poke and to prod into a vortex vacuum of black hole energy–sucking lust. I think while it might take a while for people to notice the energy coming off of things labeled gratitude if one sits in it and then wields it, one never looks back!

  15. shirley khodja says:

    Wow, Kathy, such a topic this morning! I agree with your observation that we humans seem to be wired for conflict – all kinds of it, minor & severe. It motivates, inspires and excites us; it brings us together and pushes us apart. How an individual reacts to conflict defines him (or her) as a person. I sense that you’re feeling somewhat surprised (and a bit disappointed) about the hornets’ nest you poked and the subsequent bashing that Dan received, especially since you weren’t really that put off by his comments. Personally, I was just happy to see you defend yourself so nicely, and jumped at the chance to tell you so. But, you’re right – I could also respond as readily to your many other blogs that I’ve also appreciated. I’m grateful for your insightful writings, which have been significant to me in many ways. I hope that you and your family have a warm, healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

  16. Stacy says:

    My only response as a reader is that we read books to see how the conflict is resolved. As for the “news,” reporters seem to thrive on the negative. I choose not to watch what I call “the what’s wrong” report. They never offer solutions, so what’s the point? I’d rather read a book! ❤

  17. debyemm says:

    Like many who have commented, I do not love conflict. I prefer quiet peace. And as someone pointed out, many of us know you well enough by now, not to have been disappointed. We didn’t come for the conflict but for the blessings we knew you were capable of pulling from it. For the upliftment of our optimism and hope that we expected, even before reading, that you could deliver. Happy Thanksgiving. I count my blessings continuously, including for the smallest most insignificant of things. I am grateful to be alive, to experience this interconnected world. Because it is and I am, you are a presence in my own life. For which I am ALWAYS grateful.

  18. Robin says:

    My opinion on this is… I don’t know. Conflict and tension have long been big draws. We might say we don’t like conflict, but I think there are many reasons we do, even if it’s just as entertainment. Wonderful wondering post with beautiful images to highlight your thoughts and questions.

  19. Dana says:

    I wish I knew the answer to this and other pressing issues, Kathy. Not knowing why we are drawn to conflict makes me feel so conflicted! 😉

  20. Susan D says:

    I don’t know. I didn’t read the angry man’s original post. In some ways, I think loyalty is involved when someone we care about is “attacked.” I know that’s true for me. Whether it has to do with birth order (being the oldest, and feeling protective), I don’t know. I didn’t have to read a lost man’s rant to fuel my protective urge when it concerns my best buddy. What I’ve learned is that most of the people I care about do just fine without my “protection” .. my ire, my wanting to step in and “fight.”
    I don’t invite conflict — okay, sometimes I do. I like to get people thinking. I like to see eyes and minds spark to life and come out of their complacent places — and there are some fine people who’ve learned to disagree and to civilly and even kindly debate. I also think many people rush to read about conflict or negative news items because it distracts from their own pain — or helps them think their situations aren’t so terrible after all … Sigh, I could go on and on re: this topic, and I have. Thanks for asking, thanks for doing what you do, and for being who you are!

  21. coastalcrone says:

    Thoughtful post. May you have a Thanksgiving filled with peace and love!

  22. Lori D says:

    Perhaps it’s not conflict so much, as challenges that humans are drawn to. I feel like we come here to experience duality and to discover our true potential. Perhaps if someone isn’t being challenged enough in their lives, they mistakenly get drawn to conflict, which is certainly challenging. Hmm, who knows. But, I do enjoy analyzing. Thanks for the opportunity. Happy Thanksgiving.

  23. bearyweather says:

    Titillation is a great word to describe the magnetic pull conflict seems to have on us. I avoid personal conflict if at all possible and all the “bad” news is the reason I stopped watching the news on tv many years ago. However, I too feel the pull to stories of others personal conflicts .. and titles to posts (like your last one) that presents a dilema of some kind. Not to revel in them or take sides … it is more like why I choose a mystery novel over a perfect love story. The mystery exercises my brain … it presents a puzzle to solve and I love solving puzzles. Thoughtfully presented conflicts make my brain work more … and that is the attraction for me .. it gives me something interesting to think about. Happy Thanksgiving Kathy.

  24. I so agree Kathy. And since we get the behavior we pay attention to it just encourages drama. Which then takes us away from solving real problems. Hmm, sounds like congress.

  25. Oops, forgot to wish you a happy (and peaceful) Thanksgiving!

  26. Love your spider web shot, Kathy! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  27. Joanne says:

    This is why I stopped watching the evening news Kathy, (I never was a big fan in the first place,) it simply put me off eating my dinner and gave me a troubled sleep. I avoid conflict, yet when I find myself in the middle off it, I have to see it through to the end and make sure that all involved are okay with the end result. When my kids have a falling out, which thankfully is very rare these days, I simply couldn’t turn my back on the conflict until I knew they were friends again.

    This may sound mean to some, but when I saw the title of your last blog, I glimpsed at it, realized that you weren’t too trouble by the unpleasant comment, then stopped reading. That was me, knowing my friend Kathy was okay, also knowing that many of your other friends needed to discuss this situation with you. Yet at another time when a commenter had said something cruel to you, I wanted to jump to your defense. But it wasn’t my ‘thing’ to be involved with this time, for that day, anyway. So there’s my conflict, I’m too inconsistent! I don’t like conflict, so if there is a lesson to learn, I learn fast, then walk away.

  28. Janet says:

    Happy belated Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  29. What an interesting post. I’ll have a ponder on this one for sure, but my first response is that we’ve been conditioned to accept and expect conflict, we’re used to it and ‘comfortable’ with it, in the sense of ‘better the devil you know’ etc. We know where we stand with conflict. It’s effects are at least predictable, even if they’re negative. Blessings, on the other hand, are quite the opposite! The consequences are utterly unpredictable, magical, mystical – magic and mystery are something our modern psyche is not very comfortable with – we can’t make a graph, or give it numbers and say what our pot of blessings with have grown into in 5 years time. Hmmmm…there’s a post or a poem in here somewhere:-) Thanks sooooo much Kathy and I see I’m very behind in reading your wonderful posts. I do apologise, it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just a busy busy time, inside and out:-) Oh, and have you ever come across Positive News?

    Love and gratitude for your thoughtful, insightful, humorous posts…

    Hugs, Harula xxxxx

  30. Every good story has conflict. EVERY good story has conflict. Every interesting life has conflict. When I meet people who are so enmeshed in their transcendental or Christian or Zen beliefs that they seem to have NO conflict, that they appear to let everything wash over them as “God’s will” or something, I am very bored indeed. I feel strongly that they are lying to themselves and others about how very peaceful they feel, or they are very much out of touch with reality. Neither could I sit through a movie or read an entire book that presented me with no conflict. It’s not a bad thing, but a feature of life. It’s not that we readers are gawkers, looking for the juicy stuff…but rather that we recognize the humanity in the conflict. Even your next entry, which presents a bit of your discussion with Barry, offers conflict and resolve…a good story!

  31. I think you have hit on the nose one of the reasons our political machine so often comes to a grinding halt — the news, the pundits, all feed into the frenzy of controversy, often losing sight of the reasons the conflict first began, and giving the controversy a life of its own. How much happier we would all be if blessings and problem-solving were given the same attention.

  32. Personally, I find your peaceful posts titillating.

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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