Social media has killed the all-important art of conversation and debate. If we hold different views, we no longer can have an actual conversation. It immediately becomes defensive and deeply personal. We assume the worst about the other often just by reading the headline. If we challenge someone’s views, or actions, we are labeled as smug, as “Scrooges,” or much worse. Our integrity is challenged instead of a robust discussion of our actual point.
We’ve become so self absorbed with identifying ourselves with what we believe that we have stopped caring about finding the truth and instead just argue about why we are right. To be clear I am including myself in this “we” context.
Ashley gives us the informal rules that I believe we have completely lost:
1) Try to come to an agreement. There is NO use discussing a problem if there is no possibility of agreement. This is hard. I often struggle wanting to post more comments in Facebook flame wars to prove I’m right but when there is no possibility of agreement it’s a total waste of time.
2) Listen to the other side. You do not know if you agree or disagree with another until you know what the other actually thinks. WE never do this anymore. WE are always thinking about what WE are going to say next rather then listening. Interrupting conversations has become so ridiculously prevalent (especially for those of us under 40) that it annoys me almost on a daily basis. WE do this all the time online. We don’t actually read or try to understand before diving in and attacking.
3) Give your reasons for what you think. While this is arguably the one we still sometimes do, we too often just regurgitate our talking points over and over again without listening to the other side to help explain our reasons.
I’m done. I pledge to do my best to fix my errors, both on and offline, and to apply these principles. I want you to call me out on it if I fail, as long as you are willing to join me in the struggle.
I desperately want a world where we can have different opinions and work together to find the best solution through lively debate. I want to directly challenge you without fear that I am going to hurt your feelings and vice versa. I want to have a discussion with you about why you think my views (not me as a person) are wrong and see if you can win me over. I want the Truth! We won’t get there by not having direct conversations and following these basic rules. Will you join me?