Fly on the Wall—Fallout and Fallings-Out

A Brief Inquiry Into Disagreements

An Aussie had been adrift at sea because he’d lost his wifi and his boat’s electrical capacities; he survived with a dog for months before some helpful Mexican fishers spotted him (Stavely, 2023).  Then, before returning home to the land down under, he said goodbye to the dog in Mexico where they’d found each other!   Despite all they’d been through, like we with our cherished beliefs and ideas, the guy was able to say goodbye, like an argument with a friend on a hot Saturday night, and leave the past in the past.  So instead of clinging to an idea, let’s remember the Aussie with his dog and return to pleasantness from the isolation of strident certainty!  If he can let go of his dog, we can let go of our pet beliefs.

Being left adrift due to a blackout from social media, or even the mortifying temporary state of having one’s smartphone battery run dry, can stir us, shaken to the core, to reevaluate the value of our ongoing internet debates.  Why does it seem that we as a species seek stress and strain, conflict and anguish, as part of our essential humanity?  We’d have to be exercising some self deception or have our tongue in our cheek to assume conflict to be the baseline of humanity; our whole planet’s currently in harness to suit what those in power define as our collective needs, often at the expense of nature, and usually at the expense of free play.  It’s a planned planet, not one where no one works together (even if the outcomes can be toxic.)  Sometimes collective labours actually include conflict; it takes two to tango, after all.  Hereby, instead of private projects, art studios in a basement or AU course material diligently occupying our leisure time, many of us find our excess unclocked moments spent in assorted activism and disputation.  To conclude that humans seem organically incapable of getting along belies the collective success of our species; the question so becomes, why do we get so emotionally involved in disputes?

Just as in marriage, where two adults are said to become one, an equal and opposite fracturing seems to abide in culture whereby assorted topics push people apart.  Far from aspiring to change the world, or ourselves, it comes to seem that egos seek only to change minds other than their own.  Conveniently, this process allows us to combine and invest all of our negative energy onto an external person or concept, thereby preserving our heightened sense of self-worth.  Maybe this is why some folks seem perpetually to be on the outs with persons or people who’d previously been their best friends.  To avoid self-analysis it’s easy to just fire all of our guns at a nearby, but to us sufficiently emotionally distant, target.

Gunfire is after all, conversation by other means.  And real war, not wars of words, provide a blistering perspective on our social disagreements: conflict hurts all parties, in the end.  Illustrating this raw fact is that in 1961 the US nearly nuked itself.  In January 1961 a B52 bomber plane broke apart mid-air and literally released two nuclear bombs.  While falling headlong to Earth, one of them went through 6 of its 7 arming sequences and was about to, like an enraged babysitter, go off.  Fortunately, as Defence Secretary Robert McNamara explained, a mere loose wire prevented that seventh sequential step from engaging – and by that miracle a farmer’s field, not to mention countless lives, were saved.  “By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted” (Usborne, 2019).

That sort of calamity is not so far fetched as it may seem.  So next time we tell ourselves that someone who disagrees with us on one or more culture war topics of the day seems oblivious to the facts at hand while we inhabit an omniscient bird’s eye view, let’s remember that we all have a few screws and wires loose.  If we don’t realize that here in 2023, we do indeed face the real possibility of a nuclear bomb going off so long as countries with nukes are having a dispute.  To go nuclear means so much more than to throw a tantrum, a hissy fit, or a man spat.  So next time we feel ourselves drawn into an argument let’s remember to keep our eyes on a higher personal prize – an AU diploma!


Staveley, P.  (2023).  ‘Aussie Sailor Parts Ways With His Dog Bella’.  SKY News.  Retrieved from

Usborne, D.  (2014).  ‘Revealed: The Night America Very Nearly Nuked Itself’.  The Independent.  Retrieved from

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