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In which I vent and offer a mea culpa

February 15, 2022

I have come, once again, to the realization that the vast and overwhelming majority of people on social media have no real interest in a discourse in which each seeks to understand the other. They are, rather, very interested in “winning” arguments. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that I tend to ask a lot of questions that deal with other people’s motivations. It might be that those sorts of question make people pretty uncomfortable.* One of the hazards of years spent as a psych nurse, preacher and life coach, perhaps.

The point of the above observation is this: First, unless the disputants in a discussion can agree on, and commit to, some basic ground rules for that discussion, it is far too easy for it to fall apart. Second, it’s important to recognize that all of us tend to have so much of ourselves invested in our opinions that it’s very difficult to no consider an attack on our opinions as an attack on ourselves. Subconsciously, what is being called into question is not the validity of our opinions, but rather our value as people. That’s a pretty serious psychological threat. No big surprise, then, that we respond with fear-based aggression.

*Okay. There’s no “might be” to it. It’s just so difficult to approach those questions more appropriately once I smell blood in the water. I should probably work on that.

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One Comment
  1. Richard Fernandez has a column up today that talks about the same sort of thing.

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