TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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:


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.


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!!!!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • May 21 2013: Hi Mary!
    I recognize what you're saying. It's the kind of thing that has turned me off on other social media sites, that shall remain nameless...
    I also think there are some people who get a real charge out of making waves, sparking an argument. And there are those who feel attacked or threatened at someone's opinion, perhaps not learning that respect is also 'agreeing to disagree'.
    I agree with Pablo's comment below, that a lot has to do with the fact that we have a lot to 'say', but we're not actually saying it. All sorts of things can be misconstrued because we are missing vital ingredients in a conversation; namely, body language, voice dynamic and pitch, facial expression. Our senses are handicapped, so our words are often misread or misinterpreted. Although a winking or smiley face can compensate, it's a far cry from the messages our entire bodies with all its senses intact can get across. ;-)
    • thumb
      May 21 2013: I am glad that you explained what I was trying to say in a "easier to digest" form.
      • May 21 2013: Well thanks, Pablo! I thought your explanation was equally digestible!!

        I realized, in my response, I forgot to answer some of your questions, Mary.
        - How far should you go to get your point across? and
        - Is it worth it, convincing a stranger that you're correct?

        Any personal attack or use of profanity or name-calling is just not done. But, that is, I'm sure you all agree, no longer a debate. That's just harassment.

        Is it worth it? First off all, I have no idea if anything I think is 'correct', it is just that - what I think. And someone who respects that, won't need any convincing.
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      May 21 2013: Hi Lizanne.

      I have noticed that some individuals are very good at communicating and remaining calm and non-judgemental, even when others say things that could be interpreted various ways.

      I guess giving someone the benefit of the doubt is a good thing online then?

      Why do you suppose some individuals always end up arguing with others online?
      The conversation will start amicably, and then head south?

      And what do you do when you notice these kinds of individuals, who over and over again have discord with others?
      • May 21 2013: That's the million dollar question, Mary. Why do people end up arguing, regardless of whether they're online or not? The 'benefit' of being online, is thatt you're safe from physical harm. But our feelings are just as vulnerable in the digital world as they are in the physical one.
        Someone's toes get stepped on, a nerve is touched, an opinionated or crass remark about a sensitive subject will tend to do it. But it's hard to guage what is sensitive, and what is crass, when no one has eyes to meet.

        If I see this kind of thing online, my involvement really depends on things like who else is involved, how well I know them, how informed I am of facts concerning both sides of the situation, and whether my comments would be appreciated. But more often than not, I will not get involved in a personal, name-calling fight. I will get involved in a pointless, harmful attack.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.