When did extremes become acceptable and moderation disappear off the menu? Do we need to either walk on egg shells or fight to death?
There are two type of social media debates/disagreements (this could translate to real life as well). One is knives out, abusive language and you deserve to die kind. The other one is when a superior, sanctimonious approach is taken to the debate. You are clearly the inferior being, you have no idea what you’re talking about, so I will tell you what is what and thereafter shun you. The third kind should exist but doesn’t, which means you don’t debate or rather disagree at all. You agree to everything, are diplomatic, do not voice your real opinion, don’t respond and leave the space as fast as possible. You normally adopt the third stance, because you are a nice guy or gal, you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings, and why bother anyway, what’s the big deal, is this debate worth getting your fingers sticky or your hands dirty?
But is healthy, educated debate necessary? Should contrary opinions be voiced at all?
Yes, because that’s how change and innovations come about, fresh ideas flourish and the creative process unfolds. We might see the world one way, another person may question our understanding of it, and by the assertion of their belief, we may gain some worthwhile insight.
What spurs such a debate though?
Is it an echo chamber where the same thoughts bounce off different walls to come back untouched and untampered with?
Is it a place where you cannot voice your opinion if it’s in disharmony and conflicts with someone else’s or the popular opinion?
Or is it where conflicting thoughts are exchanged regularly leading to reflection that perhaps there are different viewpoints in the world and two sides to a coin?
Should we police people’s thoughts and views? Yes, you could, but what fun would that be? Wouldn’t that make for a very boring world where we decide exactly what is to be said?
Of course, I like people who love me for and regardless of what I do or write, but I should also like people who disagree with me because they teach me something from their view point. I might not understand it at the time, but I could come back with a calmer head and learn for the future. I could take it as a chance to improve and look at my understanding of an issue in a different way. On the other hand, if I have serious doubts about the merit of their opinion and would rather ignore it, I still don’t have a right to hush them.
I stress the mode of disagreement MUST be polite. No personal attacks. If you can maintain that, then disagreeing isn’t a wholly shocking idea. I can disagree with you and you can do the same. However, we should remember one thing as civilised, educated beings; we are disagreeing on an idea, theory, piece of work and opinion. I am not objecting to your right to live or your right to continue doing whatever it is I have an opinion about. By all means, carry on, not that my opinion will stop you, but please don’t take offence to my voice. I am just using it, maybe because I have one?
Furthermore, if I disagree with your ideas and actions or am unimpressed by your work and dare to voice it, you haven’t become my mortal enemy, I haven’t taken to hating you, I haven’t declared open war on you or dishonoured you – so please step back with that pistol. No need to fire it just yet or demand satisfaction at dawn. Contrary to what you may assume, I do still respect and love you as a delightful human being.
There is an idea that friends ‘support’ each other, which is great – I’m all for it. But our friends should not be expected to be mere yes-men or sycophants. In fact, if our friends disagree with us, it’s not an insult to our person no matter what inflated opinion we have of ourselves. It may actually benefit us to be surrounded with opinions that clash with our own.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but being a nice and good person doesn’t mean nodding your head vigorously at everything around you, smiling and hearting everything, conforming to a set, established pattern or agreeing with whatever the experts or pundits have applauded. Sometimes, going against the grain or tide, questioning, objecting, may lead to a new discovery, some small change, some revolution, who knows?
And hey, you can disagree with this opinion piece, because I’m not an expert, am I? But even if I was -if I was a certified, award winning, opinion giver on the subject, stamped by some supreme body of knowledge in the field, guess what, you’re still allowed to disagree with me. Shocking, isn’t it?