Friday, January 31, 2014
The lost art of conversation
Well, what's wrong with that? Healthy debate is how we learn stuff. And it doesn't even have to be actual debate -- just kicking different ideas around, different perspectives on a topic where you're basically in agreement but coming at it from slightly different angles can be good. Besides, if you're secure in your knowledge, happy with whatever it is you may have said, why should you feel defensive about it? Why assume that if someone is less than effusive in their praise of your opinion that you're being attacked? People used to be able to have discussions, debates, arguments, whatever, without participants reacting as though their interlocutors were attacking them personally. You could ask someone why they supported a particular position, whether it was a model of car they'd bought or a choice of a political candidate, without that person freaking out and accusing you of trying to start a fight or calling them stupid.
Should I blame the Internet? It can do a lot of damage. It's real easy to find yourself a bunch of cheerleaders when you're wandering around Facebook or the blogosphere. There are lots of what the S.O. refers to as "circle jerk echo chambers" available. Don't want to think too hard about anything? Just find groups where everyone agrees with you, whether it's which NASCAR drivers are total asshats or where Barack Obama was actually born. Have a weak ego? Start a blog and then chase away anyone who says stuff that isn't some variation on you're so wonderful and everything you say is a sparkling pearl of wisdom.