Rational Online Debate - A Foreign Concept?

2013-11-29 12:52

Some of us have a strong online presence, and if you're a blogger like me, it is inevitable that you will often find yourself in the midst of various online debates. I have been lucky enough to join certain forums which keep the trollers at bay, but unfortunately many platforms are open for all, including those who are absolutely useless when it comes to presenting relevant arguments in a civilized manner.

I myself have also been guilty of occasionally conducting my arguments in an irrational manner during an online debate. My biggest weakness would probably be my tendency to present the way I process situations and emotions whilst making the assumption that others should follow my lead. This of course is silly because each individual is different, and thus handles their own experiences differently.

Below I shall list a few pointers I believe us debaters should follow in order to create a fair and objective battle-ground for discussion. I'm sure there are many more suggestions and tips to add to this list, so from here on out the floor is yours for discussion.

1) Stop nit-picking: I have noticed how certain people like to draw away from the discussion by making personal attacks. These criticisms range from taking a jab at someone's personal appearance, to their nationality, and (a personal favourite) their grammar. I have even been criticized for using big words, and I cannot count how many times I've been affectionately called a "crazy bitch" on the internet.

2) Stop taking shit so personally: Yes there will always be an argument which goes against your own, but instead of taking it to heart, why not keep an open mind and consider alternative perspectives? You may not end up agreeing with the counter argument, but at least you can respect that it is coming from a good place. An example of this would be how I do not agree with the notion that women should stop drinking to prevent being raped, however I realize that those who are in favour of such a notion are merely trying to be helpful.

3) Try not to let your emotions cloud your perspective: Although personal experiences may enlighten certain individuals, they should not be used  to dictate how everyone should process their own circumstances. It's important to be objective and consider various mindsets rather then become worked up over something which may have impacted your emotions in a strong manner. I've noticed how some people will even discard statistical evidence simply because it goes against what they feel to be correct. This is stupid.

4) Stop speaking loudly before comprehension: This happens all too often, where an argument is misunderstood or taken out of context. Unfortunately, instead of requesting a further explanation, most people will dive right into hurling insults and threats, simply because they did they did not understand the statement in the first place. Slow down, count to ten, and politely request an explanation. Trust me, asking questions shows wisdom rather then ignorance.

5) Stop basing your arguments on the multitudes which share your beliefs: I do not see this tactic as a means to appear credible in a debate. Just because the majority of the world's population believes in a cosmic entity, it doesn't mean that such a belief should be accepted as a fact. It is merely a personal belief with no concrete evidence, and numbers will not save you.

So there you have it. As I said before, I am sure there are many other pointers which should be added to this list, but to delve into everything would take me the time-span of to-infinity-and-beyond. Unfortunately I do not have that kind of time.

However I am very curious to see the discussion which will inevitably spring from this article.

Happy debating folks!

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