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Internet arguments and misunderstandings: Productive, or a waste of time?

When you read through conversations on this and other sites, you can't help but notice some individuals who always enter into disagreements with others time and again.

How important is debating, or arguing online?

How far should you go to get your point across?

Is it even worth it to try to convince a stranger that your way is correct?

Here is a cartoon I ran across:

http://www.shoeboxblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/arguing-internet.jpg

What do you think? Feel free to share any experiences you have had, and how you handled them.

I am not much of a debater, but I am very interested in understanding why people time and again get involved in arguments with others.

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Closing Statement from W T

Online debates......productive.....when everyone shows respect for the other's ideas, and conversation takes place in an orderly way...it's ok to disagree.

Online arguments......waste of time......proceed with caution.

I thought perhaps some kind of debate would break out about debates.....but nothing of the sort....everyone's contributions made this conversation a very enjoyable one.

Wonderful links, and book titles were provided.

Thank you to all who participated!!!!

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    May 21 2013: I currently live in a very small protestant city in the United States.
    Everyone knows about your life, everyone likes to judge you, and if you don't agree with you they get mad as a child, sometimes I feel like they are acting like the puritans that lived in Saleem hundreds of years ago.
    I like debates, actually I can say that I love it. But it's hard to express your opinion and listen to the others in a place like this, so I can almost tell that the "Internet haters" are actually the people from the city where I live. People that are small minded, and too conservative. Of course not everyone is like this, but I respect their way to think, because most of those people did not have the opportunity to expand their views of the world like most of us did. So, anyway, the internet is unbelievably awesome because you can have conversations with people from anywhere in this globe, people that don't have a single thing in common with you, but if both respects each other the exchange of information is going to be giant. The down part of forums like this is that when you type or read, you cannot transmit or feel the voice tone, or the emotion that the person on the other end of the line is trying to demonstrate.
    • W T 100+

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      May 21 2013: Hi Pablo, thanks for your comment.

      You know Pablo, even though we cannot hear the other person's voice, the intonation, or pitch, and we cannot see their facial expressions, there is something quite unique about writing.

      Take your entry above, for example, I could hear your voice. I felt your disappointment at the close minded people, and also the relief at having the priviledge of connecting with others on-line.

      This is called "author's voice". The longer the writing piece, the better you hear the voice of the writer.

      It is sad when people are closed minded, and do not want to hear something that is different from "their" own point of view. I just cannot imagine where you could possibly live.....I am in a big city....I don't even know what religion the people on my block practice.....I just enjoy talking about all kinds of subjects with my neighbors.........and we are always exchanging plates of food back and forth......yesterday it was barbecued pork....today it was rice pudding.......I find that food brings people together...........unless you are participating in Hell's Kitchen...........then it's a different story. (By the way, I dislike that show...too much profanity)

      Pablo, what topics do you enjoy discussing online?

      [edited spelling]
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        May 21 2013: Hahah, I've never stopped to think about what you just said, "the longer the writing piece, the better you hear the voice of the writer.". I am from a big city, too, I don't understand how they (people from my city) say that people from big city are not friendly, they say we just care about our lives. But I think the story is a little bit different when you actually have lived in a big city before, we are always busy, but that does not mean that we don't want to make friends, right?!

        I don't really have a specific group of topics that I like to discuss, I just like to have a good discussion, from philosophy to religion, from politics to sports, I think I care more about the person who I am discussing with, the discussion itself. However, my favorite topics on the moment are
        politics, economy and nutrition.
        • W T 100+

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          May 21 2013: Thanks for the reply Pablo.

          I, like you, also feel that I care more about the person who I am discussing with, than the discussion itself............however, at times, this is tested, when I am discussing something I am passionate about, like education or social issues.

          There is a site I visit that allows you to post pictures...jpg images inside the threads of conversations. I have found that sometimes, when a conversation gets really heated, someone will come in and post a silly picture, or a comic strip that will lighten up the conversation.

          Do you think that humor can diffuse misunderstandings, or arguments?

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