Touche! Let’s go have a beer

What this world needs is more people willing to disagree, have a debate and then simply agree to disagree with no hard feelings.

The Internet has made the world smaller and yet generational and social divides are expanding. Mainstream news has turned into a fear fest. And politics as usual is unusually nasty and divisive. It’s rare to find people anymore who are willing to have an honest, intelligent debate over an issue. It’s not a fight, it’s a debate. It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about the exercise of broadening your horizons and hearing what other people have to say. It’s about learning what other people’s perspectives bring to an issue.

I can be stubborn and opinionated, of that there is no doubt. But I like to think that I can debate with someone on an issue without it becoming a personal matter.

Whatever happened to civility in debating the points of an issue? Perhaps it’s the explosive growth of the Internet and social media, where we have a microphone available for us to shout at the world 24/7. Folks involved in social media talk about the importance of a conversation, and yet they often won’t have one online. They’ll post a comment on Twitter or Facebook, or even write a blog post, but then won’t accept a challenge to an open debate about what they said. That’s not being conversational, that’s screaming from your soapbox and then walking away without bothering to listen to what your audience might have to say about your comments.

One of my favorite people is Nathan Triplett. We have opposing political views, from both a fiscal and social sense, as far as I can tell. We are in different age groups. We don’t really have that much in common and we don’t hang out. Why does he deserve “favorite” status then? Because we have some great debates. We debate on Facebook. We debate on Twitter. And, hopefully, we’ll soon be debating on a political talk show that I’m a frequent guest commentator on. Nathan gets it. He has his opinions and believes in them strongly enough to stand up for them. But he also is willing to hear what you have to say. He will try to change your opinion, which is a fine goal for debating. But if he can’t, he just agrees to disagree with you. I hope he sees me in the same light, because I would gladly trade beers and barbs with him anytime.

In my community, there’s already a breakfast club, a happy hour club, a tweet-up group and many other organizations. But a lot of those gatherings revolve around small talk. They rarely get into personal opinions or rough-and-tumble debates where we may change someone’s mind or, perhaps, find our own enlightenment on an issue.

Maybe it’s time to change that. Maybe it’s time to start the Lansing Debate Club. Our motto can be, “Touche! Let’s go have a beer.”

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6 comments on “Touche! Let’s go have a beer

  1. Exactly! Isn’t that what a true debate is all about? Make your point, debate the finer points of that and don’t cram your ideology down someone’s else’s throat ad nauseam. Even if you don’t agree with the opposing viewpoint, you can’t help but respect someone who presents it well and with equal consideration of your viewpoint also.

    Perhaps this all stems from the basic lack of respect that is abundant everywhere these days.

    I would welcome hearing a debate between you and Nathan Triplett. I have a feeling it would be entertaining as well as informative.

    Like

    • Pam,

      I agree there is a basic lack of respect in so many parts of society these days. Hopefully, we’ll see the pendulum swing back and we can have more civil discussions again some day. I’ll put the word out when I get Nathan on the political talk show with me. I know I’m looking forward to it!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like

  2. Ari, I love a good debate if for no other reason than understanding a topic from fresh perspectives. But I have found that the Internet, or at least the written word, is not a good format/medium for intelligent civilized debate.

    As I pointed out on Twitter earlier today, “A lack of paralinguistic cues make written social interactions (Twitter, Facebook, etc) less valuable than good old fashioned conversation. That is to say paralanguage is the metadata of conversation. Oftentimes more valuable than the conversation itself.” and “Current social media tools force mostly written communication and sensorially anesthetize participants.”

    I would add that the tools intellectually and emotionally anesthetize them as well. Much of the value of a debate, or any conversation for that matter, is in the non-verbal information conveyed during the exchange…especially from the audience’s perspective. It’s all about context.

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    • Thanks Joseph. I agree that communication relies heavily on visual cues from the people trying to communicate, especially in a debate situation. Another big problem I see with all the online activity is anonymous postings that allow people to be much less civil than they would have to be if their true identities were known. Cheers!

      Like

  3. So very well put! My sentiments exactly. I love intelligent debate sans name calling and shouting. The growing trend to spew venom and walk away with fingers in the ears is maddening. It’s as if the win is claimed by the louder side with the better strategy of inserting red herrings and then turning tail and running. So much can be learned from debating when both sides respect and honor the process. It’s a dying art, considering our youth have few examples of thought provoking debate to learn from.

    Speaking of debates, if our gubernatorial candidates can’t agree on one, I’m considering writing you and Nathan in on my ballot. Haven’t decided who to give the top spot to yet.

    Like

    • Wow Lisa, I don’t know if Nathan and I are ready to be write-in candidates. Or should I say our would-be constituents aren’t ready for that? LOL

      Thanks for the nice comment.

      ~ Ari

      Like

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