Fri Mar 31 18:55:02 CST 2000
This is not directed at anyone in particular since it applies as much to
myself as anyone.
Last summer after camp when I waded through the hundreds of e-debate
messages that had accumulated in my mailbox I grew very depressed. The
malevelonce occuring on e-debate at the time (including someone posting
fake messages under Bear's name) really depressed me.
My depression is occuring earlier this year. I wrote a paper at Alta a
couple of years ago in which I wrote of the potential for e-debate to be a
critical device for building a sense of community. The tenor of the wide
range of posts emanating from every angle of the topics under discussion
are leading me to question my optimism. I find it depressing when so many
people I respect repeatedly slam one another with demeaning argument
styles. Nancy Legge presented a convention paper several years ago
in which she played with Brockriede's notion of "arguers as lovers" with a
metaphor of "arguers as rapists". I'm not suggesting that that metaphor
is at all analagous to arguments on e-debate because I think it risks
trivializing the devastation of rape, something I would never do. Her
essentail argument was, however, that arguers frequently attempt to
bludgeon one another into submission with their style of argument. That
does seem to be the common style of argument in this forum.
I find it depressing that those of us who teach argument for a living
thrive on using styles of argument which are often overly aggressive and
demeaning of those we disagree with. While Tannen's book "The Argument
Culture" angers me, every time I spend a couple of hours on e-debate her
criticisms seem increasingly valid.
Now don't get me wrong. I often thrive on dissing and slamming. I lurk
on lots of sports discussion groups where "flaming" one another is the
preferred style. I simply find it a little overwhelming that it is so
prevalent in this forum. The vehemence with which people on both sides of
the drugs debate, for example, have chosen to slam on one anothers
arguments is in some sense appalling.
I'm sure I'll be attacked for trying to censor speech. That is far from
my intention. I simply wish that we were a little less glandular in our
reactions. I haven't yet figured out why so many of us feel free to
express ourselves on the internet in ways we never do in face to face
interactions. (For example, being a terminal introvert myself, I would
probably not say this much to anyone at a tournament. I know lots of
people mistake my introversion as aloof arrogance at tournaments). In
this forum all restraints seem to get lifted. I wish that when we argued
we at least thought of the person we are responding to as a person
deserving of more respect.
I'll get off my soap box. Proceed with the wars. It's not the first time
and it won't be the last time I get depressed.
#####LOCO IN LAWRENCE#####
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