This post was spurred on by a short post on a site called Ricochet, a community for conservative people and discussion. In the post, a gentleman questioned why the comment section was removed from another post. One moderator wrote: “We closed the comments, by the mutual agreement of all moderators, as we observed that the comment thread was veering close to derailing into personal attacks between members.”
I did not read all of the comments, but author’s statement got me to thinking about times when I have said something to others that got them to respond to me in a certain emotional manner. Their emotional response then caused me to shutdown the conversation altogether or change the topic and giving them the reason why.
For example (or 2 stories combined), I have had emotional responses on two different occasions with others who were adherents of other religions. I, a Christian, told them both on separate occasions (in as polite a manner as I could muster because that’s how I was raised) that I believed their religions to be false. I also said that we can still be friends, while disagreeing with each other on items such as faith. Regardless of my trying to be courteous in disagreement, they both still gave me an emotional response, which gave me ample reason to move on from this topic. I have learned (and I told both of them to their faces) that if a person gets emotional about something that they disagree with me on as opposed to giving rational reasons that they disagree with me, then it is time to discuss other things where we have no contention. I have made this a kind of rule for myself.
So, I wonder why it is that many will slip into personal attacks with one another when they disagree? Is it because, like so much disrespectful behavior on other social media sites, they do not know each other personally, so they tend to denigrate others that they disagree with? Or is it just easier to call someone a name and attack them because to attack their argument would be much more difficult and take more of a concerted effort by us?
Either way, it seems it would be better to stick with syllogisms in contrast to silly name-calling. Maybe we should remember the old adage, “If you cannot say anything nice, then do not say anything.” This seems like the panacea for all conversations that have the possibility to escalate into a quarrel.
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