TanTan follows up his uber-controversial NBK post with a guide to online debating (and also invents the word "deuceface," which we may or may not be obsessed with).—Sparkitors
First off, I would just like to clarify that my last article was in no way, shape, or form meant to attack or insult anyone. My only intention was to help NBKs embrace their status, or at least cease to be embarrassed by it. Obviously, I need to proofread my articles, or maybe just not write them at 2 in the morning (ironically, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now), so as to realize that there are potentially offensive things in them. So I’m sorry to anyone whose feelings I hurt. I didn’t mean it. BFFs?
Happily, there's a silver lining to all the controversy my last post caused: this article was inspired by the heated debate that went on in the comments! After seeing what can happen when opinions collide, I'd like to put in my two cents about how to engage in a debate without coming across as a complete and total deuceface—or, in other words, how to have a civil argument.
*Note: Let me just clarify that I am not writing this article because I felt as if someone was a deuceface to me in the comments—I want to make that loud and clear. This is just a guideline to help you be respectful and civilized in future arguments, and it got its start in the comments section of my last post. Alas, without further ado (wow, I just used “alas” and “without further ado” in one sentence, I’m freakin’ awesome!), let the etiquette lessons begin. Right. Now. Okay, now.
1. Kindness beats coercion. If your ultimate goal is to convince someone else that your viewpoint is right (which isn’t always the end destination; sometimes it’s okay just to have a healthy debate), you’re more likely to convince them by being kind and respectful than by telling them they’re an idiot and their opinion is stupid. Remember: coercion creates contention. (Not only did I make it up, but it also has alliteration, which makes it even cooler.)
I define contention as the discord that results when you try to force your ideas upon someone who is unwilling to receive them. A great mind once said, “When others disagree with our stand we should not argue, retaliate in kind, or contend with them...Contention builds walls and puts up barriers. Love opens doors...Contention never was and never will be an ally of progress.” If you want a rockin’ parable about this theory, look no further than Aesop’s The North Wind and the Sun. It be bomb.
2. An eye for an eye puts a lot of people out of a job. Think about it: if the whole world was blind, there would be no need for optometrists, the film industry, models, makeup, or even memes! And the internet would be useless because no one would be able to see it, so say good-bye to SparkLife (NOOOOO). Where's this analogy going? Well, just like it’s inevitable that you’ll run into someone with different beliefs, it’s also inevitable that one of these people will be a complete and utter deuceface who has no respect for your opinion. And when that happens, no matter how loudly the rage-a-holic inside of you is screaming (and no matter how much the other person seems to deserve it), an unkind remark, rude statement, or even muttered insult is never the right way to go about solving problems and settling differences. Your opposition may seem relentless, and you may have the best comeback ever, but it’s not worth it—if you stoop to their level, you'll just find yourself in a 2-sided yelling match with no foreseeable end. So muster up some self-control, bite your tongue, and watch as the outspoken deuceface talks himself into an “I’m an Idiot and I Just Proved It” hole.
3. (Almost) Every opinion is legitimate. Whether you’re arguing about politics, religion, science, who’s the most attractive mom at soccer practice, or if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, you need to realize that almost every opinion has a legitimate foundation. Even if it’s different from yours, the other person probably has a set of logical reasons to support their beliefs. Taking a step back and humbly acknowledging the rationale behind a different perspective can stop you from seeing someone as just an uneducated buffoon who has no idea what they’re talking about.
*Note: I use the word “almost” because there are a few opinions that are flat-out wrong no matter how you look at them (like the reasoning behind the Holocaust, or anything else that harms humanity).
4. We’re all part of the human family. Regardless of whether or not you believe in some greater force that connects us all, or merely that we all share the same DNA pattern thingy, step back from your argument and realize that we’re all part of the human race. Every person, no matter their beliefs, has a mother, a father, maybe some kids or siblings, and most likely a few friends (unless you’re my brother...) What it boils down to is that we all want the same thing: peace, love, stability, security, and six-pack abs. Our similarities, not our differences, are what should define our relationships with others.
5. Don’t be afraid to apologize. You’re most likely going to slip up in one of these areas at some point in your life, so don’t be afraid to apologize. An apology can end unnecessary arguments, repair relationships, and show that you're mature enough to acknowledge your own imperfections.
So, to come full circle, I apologize to those whom I offended with my previous article or any other articles I have written. No harm was intended, but harm was obviously inflicted. Please forgive me for that, and I look forward to being able to have more civilized arguments with all of you in the future—because it’s doubtless that I’m going to say something controversial and probably a little stupid.
Before we ask any questions, we just want to say that we're really proud of you guys for being one of the most intelligent, kind, accepting communities on the web! We totally support good, clean debates, and we think they're a great way to expose everyone to new perspectives. But we'll admit that things can get a little heated sometimes—what rules of internets etiquette would you suggest in order to ensure that everyone's opinion is heard and respected?
Related post: NBK and PROUD: A New Mankler Point of View!