Yet again I will attempt to write. To those of you who read my blog regularly it may appear as though I’ve dropped writing for a while without reason. Trust me, I’ve tried to write, but none of it is what I want to keep. I know a while ago I told you all that I write how I feel as though this blog were my own personal journal, but even I don’t know what I’m feeling at the moment. I’ve drafted so many posts trying to explain what I’ve been thinking about these days, but they’re unstructured, so I toss them away with the rest of my drafts. I know I’ve also told you that I don’t always go for structure either, but the drafts I’ve written don’t serve my thoughts justice. By the amount I’ve posted lately it may seem as though not many things are running through my mind. It’s the complete opposite. For a while I’ve not had any time to feel/write/express any thoughts I’ve been having. Currently my mind Is racing with a million thoughts and ideas. Although, right now I’m looking at 20 more days of being surrounded by those who don’t understand/ comprehend who I truly am. I know if I were to voice my thoughts aloud with these people it would serve to further frustrate me, rather than help me sort through them. I know the term like-minded doesn’t seem to mean a lot all that often, but to me, it’s a precious thing. Being around like-minded individuals allows me to be myself, rather than someone who remains silent to avoid the byproduct of conflicting view points. I usually love debating, but that’s with people who know how to debate without treating it as though the winner is the smartest, and the loser obviously must be the dumbest person to walk the planet….it proves to show just how intelligent you are if you truly think one minuscule debate serves to prove anything at all as far as the intelligence of both parties. In one of the classes I took last semester, we learned some valuable things about argument. Sure in theory they were just formalities you must maintain in order to be liked, but it lead to a level headed argument. What appears to be a basic concept is one that hardly anyone follows: show validity in the opposing side’s argument, and don’t slander the opposition as a means to prove you’re correct.It was as though our class was a living, breathing social experiment in the works that night. My professor put four animals up on a slide show and asked all of us to pick which animal we felt embodied our spirit/personality the best. We had the choice between a lion, a chameleon, an eagle, and a turtle. Soon we all were paired into a group with people who chose the same animal. The professor then asked us to form an argument as to why our animal’s attributes/ characteristics were the best. By this time everyone was now solidifying the connection they felt between their personal traits and the animal’s. So in a way they identified with the animal. Then commence every group stating their argument. Each group stated why theirs was the best, but then also went on to point out the flaws in the other animals as a means to build theirs up. Even without the aspect that these people were now identifying with the animals, they were put on the defensive now, because their side was being attacked. Then add in that everyone identified with the animal they chose, and the arguments continued to escalate with more jabs at the other group’s animals.
At the end of the night I was beyond frustrated at even being a part of this entire exercise. It was a testament to the lack of intuition many people have when it comes to being perceptive to their audience.
Once the exercise was finished, our teachers asked us to make comments as to what we thought of the arguments and the exercise overall. I’m not typically one to speak in class because I simply don’t enjoy doing it, but this was a special case. I was frustrated with the entire thing. I explained how I felt we could have all strengthened our arguments by removing the slandering of the opposition, and perhaps also shedding light to the positive traits the other animals possessed.
In the end, the professor let us all know that that’s how we should compose our arguments–not by breaking down our opponent, but by showing how both sides have merit, but perhaps our side possess a few more attributes that make it better.
It is now that I realize that you could be the smartest person in the world, who even knows this argument technique, and still misses the point. These things we learn aren’t for nothing, and they surely aren’t meant to be confined to purely school related matters (such as papers and speeches). Yet many forget that that old trick you learned to use while writing argumentative papers could also serve you very well in real, face-to-face arguments and debates.
Throughout writing this I’ve come to realize that someone can debate and pretend to be the most intelligent person in the room, but they’d be missing the point of everything. It’s not about who can remember/regurgitate the most facts (that sometimes don’t even apply to the argument) to back up their point. In the end no one will truly care who won the debate. We don’t naturally lean towards loving/befriending/confiding in/supporting those who continually strive to make us out to be inferior to them. So next time you debate, do it for the fun, for the expansion of horizons, and the mental challenge it brings. Don’t engage in debate simply to put others down to feed your ego.