Friday, July 04, 2014

Anger, Insults and Mockery

I have yet to see an argument or discussion conceded by someone whose adversary approaches them with anger, insults and mockery. So why is it used? And often. I am fairly new to Twitter. Despite having had an account since April 2009, I never really got it. I have recently really started enjoying it. It is a treasure trove of interesting people and ideas. It has real potential to break down barriers and expose inconsistencies. I particular enjoy a list I have that puts the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Haidt, Peter Singer, Justin Welby, Louis Farrakhan and a few personal additions together (it would be difficult to actually get them in a room together!). Seeing their different approaches to discussing the why and how of life in one stream is fascinating. But others... particularly when it comes to the big ticket items - Religion, Politics, Economics - get nasty. Jonathan Haidt has written a wonderful book on why good people are divided. The gist of it is that our conversations start from the wrong point. We don't pay enough attention to emotional reasons. Our rational arguments aren't the basis of our beliefs. I think reading the book is a good way to start the process of making progress... but when people defer to anger, insults and mockery - I don't think they are actually interested in solving anything. I think they are just playing to their Tribe and smirking at funny tweet insults. It is all more self-congratulatory than constructive. Fortunately there are far more constructive conversations going on... and the world is moving forward.
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