What ever happened to civil debate and discussion?

It has finally happened.  I have joined the ranks of those unfriended on Facebook because of a political post that I shared.

This particular post that I shared was from Huffingtonpost.  It can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-nix/an-open-letter-to-my-frie_2_b_9293694.html

The post starts out “I’m cool with you removing me from your friends list if you don’t like this post.”   Now that is from the post itself.  When I shared it, I said “If you are a Trump supporter, you don’t have to remove me from your friend’s list. But I hope you read this and think about it.”

My former Facebook friend replied “That post was full of misquotes flat out lies and hate full speak. It is too bad people have to be so jealous of successful people. And I will remove you.”

I asked, both in response and by private message – which probably went to his “other” box, since he did, in fact, unfriend me, what were the misquotes and lies in the post.  I never got a response.

I am the kind of person who, in general, likes to fact check.  I have posted things that I found out later were wrong, and I posted the corrections.  I didn’t fact check this particular article – mainly because I had seen enough video clips of Trump saying these things that I figured it was fairly accurate in what it attributed to Trump.  So I asked my former friend for corrections.  He hasn’t given me any yet.

I try to maintain an open mind, and if I’m wrong about something in a factual sense, I truly want to know.  And if you want to try to change my opinion, which may or may not be a correct opinion to have, you have to do it with facts, with good arguments and civil debate.  Name calling, unsupported accusations of lies, and misquotes will not change my mind – in fact, it tends towards the opposite.  My former friend lost his chance to show me a different side of the story.  He chose to make accusations of “misquotes” and “flat out lies” without showing the proof of those lies and misquotes.  He chose to unfriend me in a bout of emotional anger – which is actually one of the things the article says – that Trump supporters are angry – rather than to use logic, reason, and fact to show me where the article was wrong.

Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend.  People in general seem to have forgotten that differences of opinion are OK to have.  You can still be friends and not agree on certain things.  Debate and discussion about those disagreements is great – as long as it stays civil.  Far too often today, disagreements means degenerating into name calling, personalities, misinformation, lies, misquotes, quotes taken out of context, and “hate full speak.”

Too many people read something, or see something, that is taken out of context or simply a down right lie.  But if it agrees with what they want or how they feel, they will not bother checking it out, not bother putting it into context – and woe betide anyone who disagrees with what they have decided is the truth.  It is far far easier to unfriend someone than it is to truly seek the truth.  It is far easier to simply spread a half-lie than it is to fact check.  It is far easier to believe something that you want to believe anyway, even if a simple google search will bring up all the information showing both the lies and the truths of the matter.

And I have found, to my personal sadness, that some friends, even when you can show them the true facts – both pro and con – about something, will persist in believing the lies that they have chosen.  Too often, these are also the people whose debate or conversation degenerates into name-calling, personalities, angry responses,  and “hate full speak.”

So, what has happened to civil conversation?  What has happened to proper debate, with facts, not misinformation? What has happened to the idea that disagreements, done properly, can actually be healthy instead of toxic?

Simply because someone disagrees does not make them an enemy, nor does it make them not a friend.

I wish my former Facebook friend understood that.

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One thought on “What ever happened to civil debate and discussion?

  1. 13 of Me

    From my perspective, the world has become more polarized and more indifferent. Somewhere we went from “we’re in this together” to “what’s in it for me”. If you don’t agree with someone, they treat you as “wrong”, no matter what the truth is.
    Sadly, I think this political season has highlighted that issue more than ever. We are learning to fear & hate each other rather than working to resolve our differences. Politicians are exploiting fear rather than suggesting real solutions…and the media plays along.

    Reply

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