Saturday, September 5, 2015

Logically Speaking

We have lost our ability to debate. The fine art of debate was once a sign of creative, intellectual thought. One would spend hours researching facts, and constructing the framework of a provocative debate. The formality of the setting alone set the tone for civility and decorum.

Our platform is now the pseudo anonymous world of social media. Our carefully crafted words are replaced with stinging nasty barbs formerly reserved for the likes of Maury Povich or Jerry Springer or Jeremy Kyle. We try to defend and justify our nastiness with one-liners ripped out of context with zero regard for the validity or accuracy of the statement. We don't check or cross-check our facts. We just launch our projectile word vomit wantonly towards our target.

I was involved with a small Internet skirmish myself recently. I saw a salacious post from a friend and figured out rather quickly there was no way in the world the contents of said post were accurate. I checked on Snopes and sure enough, it was a quote from a satirical site. The person exalted with saying some pretty toxic statements didn't actually say those things. As the on-line scuffle escalated, I decided to chime in with a friendly "check your facts, mates" and referred them to Snopes.

I had no idea this was an invitation to verbally assault me. Snopes is no longer credible because it is owned by a liberal. Who knew? I guess the Bible is no longer quotable if that logic is allowed to stand.

Logic. See what I did there? In one fell swoop, I took a rapid, ridiculous leap based on my own prejudices and opinions and made a sweeping generalisation. I am not alone. I watch this happen time and time again. In the end, neither Snopes being owned by a liberal nor my sincere belief that Jesus was indeed the first liberal have anything to do with whether or not Ben Carson was misquoted.

If Snopes is so offensive to you, then I have some suggestions.  Snopes does give the origins of the original sources when they can verify them. Check those original sources. Look at the dates of posts. Make sure that the post comes from a reliable news source, understanding my definition of reliable is probably not going to match yours. In that vein, check more than one news source. There are hundreds of satirical sites on line. Be careful. You may fall victim to a completely fabricated bit of "news". It happens.

Remember when we used to argue and banter on the playground? After all of their limited defences and come-backs are exhausted, children often resort to spewing such intellectual gems as "well, your mother dresses you funny". Social media is rife with such cerebral pearls. We are headline readers and zinger flingers to the point that we lose the very crux of the argument we are ourselves trying to make.

We have lost the art of debate. We are so convinced that our oft re-tweeted and shared post reducing our particular opponent to tatters will sway our most intractable rival to come over from the dark side and join us, that we ignore Robert's or anyone else's Rules of Order and go straight to the attack. We bypass conventional munitions  for the wordsmith's version of chemical weaponry and sit back and watch the carnage.

Black lives matter; as do red, yellow, white, green and purple. Espousing one colour without mentioning all does not eschew logic. The Kentucky Clerk of Court's  personal divorce record should  not be  in question in regards to her not issuing marriage licenses to others within the bounds of the law. To use her marriage record as a logical debate is to bypass the real issues. It is neither logical or real debate. I love my black brother in law. I love my daughter's partner who happens to be a man in blue. Logic does not enter in to the equation.

All of us collectively need to take a breath. Love the person, even if their beliefs and opinions make us cringe. My parents taught me long ago, well before the Internet was a mere twinkle in Al Gore's eye, that one should avoid talking about religion and politics with friends.  Can you imagine Facebook without a political or religious rant? I can't either. And I must go so I can post this to my wall....

1 comment:

Lisa Murphy said...

I'm looking for the "like" button!!! ;-)