Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Lost Art of Discussion

Is it just me, or do people seem less able to discuss opinions, nowadays, without losing their minds? I see examples of this trend on social media sites (Facebook feeds are teeming with it), media coverage of whatever protest is happening that day and, worst of all, face-to-face conversations amongst friends.

What happened to us? When did we become unwilling or unable to accept the idea that not everyone will agree with our every thought?

There has always been a small minority of highly opinionated people who, with the slightest provocation, will fly off the handle when confronted by a dissenting opinion. This is especially true with certain sensitive topics, like religion or politics. But those people weren’t the norm. They were the ones we avoided at social gatherings because they tended to suck the fun out of every room they entered.

Now, it seems like those people are everywhere, sucking the fun out of, well, EVERYTHING.

I have lots of opinions, most of which were formed by listening to other people. Many of my opinions have changed over the years when new information was presented that caused me to rethink my position. To be honest, there aren’t a lot of things that I believed in my 20s that I still believe in my 40s. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was dumb as a post back then. Twenty years from now I’ll probably look back and feel the same way about my current level of intelligence.

Which brings me to my point. The smartest people I know are those who are open to hearing, and learning from, the opinions of others. They understand that there is always more to learn and that, should they spend their time fighting against opposing ideas, they’ll likely not learn it.

I wish I could say that I am one of those people but, sadly, I still sometimes fall into the oh-so-easy trap of defending my ideas without truly listening to another’s opinion. I’m working on that. I hope everyone is, because arguments breed anger and resentment, whereas discussions breed thought and progress.

Let's all try to rediscover the lost art of discussion. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn something.


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