by Linda Holmes
Don't do it. You may want to do it, but don't do it. You may think you are among friends, but you only think that because you have not brought up any of these topics yet. Tempers will flare. Nothing good will come of it.
1. Home schooling. This one combines the explosive issue of child-rearing with religion and stay-at-home versus work-outside-the-home parents. Always a delicious stew of vitriol. Wait for the moment when someone brings up that girl who spelled "euonym" to win the National Spelling Bee.
2. Bikes versus cars versus pedestrians. In this discussion, every car is that one that opened its door and almost clobbered you while you were ferrying a basket of native prairie grasses for replanting in an urban greenway, and every bike-rider is that one that swerved in front of you while giving you the finger and wearing a T-shirt that says "Anarchy." Eventually, someone will wish broken bones upon someone else, and it's all downhill from there.
3. Chiropractors. People with bad backs can be extremely cranky. Alternative medicine in general is a dangerous area, but for some reason, clashes between people who consider chiropractors to be miracle workers and people who consider them the equivalent of head-bump readers always sets off the fire alarms.
4. Declawing cats. I am seriously not even going to describe this debate, because I am that afraid of it.
The last six, including an HBO cliffhanger, the clash of the titans, and that one band you hate, after the jump...
5. Music piracy/copying/sharing/theft/freedom. Go ahead and try. You're better off trying to get people to reach consensus about Star Trek and Star Wars.
6. Breastfeeding. All the emotional complexity of motherhood, all the economic complexity of work arrangements, and all the idiot-attracting power of anything that has anything to do with breasts. Avoid at all costs.
7. Coldplay. Coldplay has been through so many layers of backlash and backlash-lash ("I know some people think it's cool to say other people only think it's cool to say you don't think it's cool to think it's cool to like Coldplay, but I actually think 'Viva La Vida' is a good song") that you can't even keep track anymore. There is absolutely no cachet at this point, I promise you, in either liking or disliking Coldplay. So stop it.
8. Twitter. One important thing about this list is that it is a living thing. If this were 2000, it would include Elian Gonzalez. The most recent addition is Twitter, which is a good example of something you should never attempt to debate, because it generally morphs into a heated argument about the merits of something between people who use and people who don't -- it's like arguing about a movie with people who haven't seen it. They know they haven't seen it, they don't want to see it, and the more you say "But you haven't seen it!", the more they will say, "THAT'S RIGHT, AND I NEVER WILL." And thus do you go round and round and round in the circle game.
9. The ending of The Sopranos. Unable to acknowledge the validity of "we will never know" as a response, the Sharks who believe a certain thing obviously happened and the Jets who believe that certain thing obviously did not happen always come to the rumble armed only with plastic forks, so they poke each other ineffectually rather than admit that they don't know who is right and who is wrong.
10. Macs and PCs. One day, when the Earth has crashed into the sun and been reduced to a ball of cinders, there will be two piles of cinders with legs who will be walking around on the surface of the great big ball of cinders. And they will be having a discussion about whether the smaller, sleeker wad of cinders that runs on OS X Leopard is better for managing your photos of the apocalypse than the bulkier but more commonly used wad of cinders that runs Windows SuperUltimateVista. And then a third pile of cinders with legs will interrupt to point out that Linux is free.