Sometimes I forget there are real people on the other side of the discussion, or listening in on the conversation.
I remember way back in my university days an acquaintance expressed concern about the nuclear arms race. Sensing a chance for some fun, I immediately argued that the best solution to end the nuclear arms race was a first strike attack on the Russians. I didn’t believe that. But I thought it would be fun to argue it. I only realized I had gone too far when his face went beet red and he started twisting his glasses in his lap.
I think I am/was built that way. Taking contrarian points of view and seeing what kind of argument I can build. I wrote a paper around that time arguing that Botswana was a major African power. This couldn’t have been further from the truth as this was in the early eighties, when their second largest city had only two paved streets, and diamonds hadn’t yet been discovered in the country. I got an A.
Of course the advent of social media has only increased the opportunities. I have only been unfriended by a few people on social media (that I am aware of), but in most of the cases it was because my desire for a debate overrode my concern for the other people involved.
The same can be said of my writing on Internet Monk. I know of a number of commentators who have stopped contributing because of either direct or off hand comments that I have made.
Maybe I was right in my assertions. Maybe I wasn’t. That is not the point. There was a post earlier this week talking about the difference between “facts” and the “truth”. Whatever the facts may be in an in-person discussion, a Facebook thread, or an Internet Monk interchange, the truth is that there is a real person at the other end. A person with real feelings, a person who may feel more strongly about a particular topic than you do. A person whose experiences may have been different to yours.
I was going to write a different post tonight. A earlier hurtful conversation that I fully found out about today, made me realize that my intended topic might have been hurtful to someone I know. I have left it until I can word it while keeping the other person in mind.
I have appreciated the Internet Monk site because of the respectful discourse that generally occurs. I, for one, am going to try to do my best to make sure that my tone, if not my intent, is respectful of others’ comments. That doesn’t mean that I won’t censure or put my foot down over some conversations. I did find though in a previous series that encouraging respectful debate did actually result in respectful debate. Perhaps we can all keep this in mind as we continue to dialogue with each other here at Internet Monk.
As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.