It’s easy to see online arguments where no one is converging. It’s a spectacle. Humans are wired to be amused by the heated debate people keep going over.
And if you have been in a debate, you might remember how hard it is to have patience or keep your mind at peace.
There are many reasons why debates always get heated, and nothing fruitful comes out of it except entertainment.
Let’s dig in.
Proving Self Right
It’s tempting to prove yourself right when you are in an argument. And the other party does the same. So, in this approach, you have already decided you are right. And hence you are going into the debate with a result already in mind. So you won’t end up learning anything.
Instead, you will reaffirm what you already know and keep pushing the ideas on why you are right.
This often leads to you not listening to the other’s argument. You go blank when the other person speaks and then start blabbering your points. And even if you listen, you listen not to understand but to comment back.
This way, all you will achieve is a heated argument where you keep shouting about why you are right. And there will be no real exchange of information, ideas or perspective.
Let’s take this to an extreme example – say you are debating a flat earther – which is factually incorrect; you still owe her an ear for why she thinks that. This way, you can understand where she is coming from. You don’t have to be arrogant, loud and pushing even if you are right because the whole point of debates is to understand and see different views, even if you end up returning with the same viewpoint you had before.
Not Skilled Enough
No two debates are matched equally. Just because the person you are debating can’t articulate well enough doesn’t mean her point of view is flawed.
Debating a certain topic, viewpoint, or idea requires skills of explanation, reasoning and patience. Only some people might have that. So, even if you debate someone who doesn’t have the calibre, listen to them. But don’t dismiss them simply because they can’t reason well or articulate well. Take their ideas and ask someone more calibre to distil them for you. And then you might see why that particular idea.
And if you are on the other side – you are the less skilled person- communicate to your limits. But don’t push. Ask the other person to find a more suited person if they wish to learn more about that particular idea.
Arguments aim to help others and self see things more clearly. And it doesn’t have to end with an answer that day; it can be a continuous process.
If you or the other person has malicious intent and you happen to know them, then the debate is futile. It's no point going further when the intentions are clarified from the get-go.
But you see such debates on television because it makes you famous. And people might do anything to be famous. But you shouldn’t. Save yourself from the pain, trouble and aggression. Get yourself a nice, peaceful sleep knowing you don’t have to battle with someone knowing they don’t care or will bring you down.
Not Enough Time
Sometimes you might be tempted to jump in to speak about your perspectives. But that’s not enough. You might need to step up and give more than you ever thought. And if you think there isn’t enough time to speak about your perspective properly, then maybe don’t do it.
People with different viewpoints will exist; no matter how hard you try, someone changes when they want to.
Of course, you can guide them, but if you aren’t ready to put in the time, don’t come and be sarcastic, unempathetic or rude.
Identity Vs Truth
You expect the other person to change because you are right. But the other person will expect the same.
So, it’s hard to change thoughts based on a single debate. And it’s even harder because it’s tied to your identity.
Imagine you believe a rock is all-powerful and does everything for you. So, you carried the rock all your life – daily toiling and ensuring it’s safe. And after 20 years, someone tells you that the rock is a sham and gives you evidence.
And you can see the evidence, the truth behind it, but accepting it means you have to accept you were a fool for carrying the rock for 20 years. It’s so ingrained that you will reject the other notion. And maybe others feel the same way.
So, let’s keep changing the viewpoint as a personal endeavour; we can debate with empathy, truth, evidence and respect. No one person can change the world for good, but all of us together do push for a better place, so keep pushing.