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but I think here is safer
What lessons have we learned in this group?
Certainly, we're all human so we all have unpopular opinions of one kind or another, and we all think other people are wrong sometimes. Whether my unpopular and/or wrong opinion matches someone else's... well, I can only find out the hard way. (And yes, I am using the word wrong precisely because it's a word that gets my hackles up.)
I tend to think that people are dismissive when there's a presentation of an opposing view, but I also know that I have a particular neurosis about not being heard so I'm probably going to perceive it even in instances where it was not intended. I can't expect someone else to know that, so the best I can do is ask for clarification before formulating a response. Not too long ago, during a debate that I poked my head into but didn't really particpate in, someone said something along the lines of "surely we're not arguing about tone." I understand that we need to read people's words as written, but tone does exist and I think we can't just pretend it doesn't. People can say perfectly nice things to you in a tone that makes you want to hit them with a shovel.
I don't know. Among my friends we have a system of calling "purple monkey" in a purple monkey argument. A purple monkey argument is one where things have gotten so bad that someone can bring up a purple monkey and have it be able to fit into their argument in all seriousness. There's no reasoning anymore, for whatever reason, and everyone knows it, but everyone also needs to have the last word anyway. In those cases, if a participant comes to their senses enough to call "PURPLE MONKEY!" the conversation stops. Immediately. No rebuttals, no more words, no one wins, and we all have to sleep on it.
We find it works surprisingly well, because we've all agreed to it, and calling purple monkey doesn't mean you 'win.' That's important - that people don't like to feel like they've 'lost'. Most of the time the next time the issue comes into conversation we don't have to do it again.
Can such a thing work in a forum? I don't know.
Secondly, the anonymity of the net gives people courage and they say what they would never say face to face.
Thirdly, given the above, did anyone really believe a civil discussion could be held about politics, religion, or sex?
Seriously, though - this reminds me of the holiday meetings we used to have in college. (I attended one of those places where everybody has an opinion on everything, marches and sit-ins are all but mandatory, and it's only okay to pick on Republicans and Christians.) So every year in the middle of December our RA would announce the "holiday decorating" meeting where we would all have an opportunity to air our concerns about the public display of insert your favorite festive/religious item here.
In some houses on campus the debate was nasty, vicious and lengthy, and resulted in nothing being hung anywhere (except possibly a few housemates in effigy).
The house I lived in had a fairly eclectic contingent of folks some of whom were very devout, some of whom were definitely and vocally NOT. Somehow though, every year we managed to have decorations and artifacts of multiple faiths and types strung up all over the place. We all enjoyed the atmosphere and the opportunity to see and experience different traditions and beliefs.
What made the difference between houses? Attitude, maybe... respect shown throughout the rest of the year for other people's opinions? The fact that there weren't as many of us, so we knew one another better? I think the folks that have mentioned the anonymity factor are probably on to something.
Sorry, I am not sure what to suggest. I noticed on the other thread, though, a suggestion that there should be rules about who was allowed to post (eg a certain number of books, or paying membership). While I can see the reasoning behind this, I think there would be a danger of stigmatization and it could well be off-putting to new members who are trying to get a feel for LibraryThing.
So I come back to the purple monkey. Perhaps we could have an option to click on one, when war seems to be brewing.
Respect exchange of ideas, etc.,
By not having the goal of changing anyone's opinion (people change themselves), or disparging anyone's remarks, using tact, treating people on LT the way I want to be treated (whether they reciprocate or not).
I have found that with a little more thought and patience; not responding in kind to a "provocative" post in a provocative manner allows the fire generated in me to die down before posting.:) Peaceful exchange depends on me. I am responsible for keeping a fire going or letting it die out gradually...
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