Of Arguments and Debates

So, as promised, I was going to blog about what I’ve observed when people get into arguments (or the more polite version, debates). It is actually very fascinating and interesting (and at the same time mind-numbingly frustrating if you’re the one involved in the argument/debate).

Last weekend, I had the misfortune of posting a Facebook status that became a hot bed of debate/argument. The details of the debate/argument is irrelevant as I find that this is not the first time I’ve observed the behavior or people when arguing.

One of the things I observed was how people will often deviate from the topic at hand – often by accident because in general, people don’t often know how to frame their arguments in a logical and cohesive manner. If you were to get into an argument with someone, be careful not to deviate from the topic.

I also noticed that in addition to deviating from the topic, people also like to add new topics to the mix – some which may sound similar to the original topic and some which are completely off. I had to fend off several instances of these where the person arguing with me was completely off-topic. What ends up happening is the person who had the initial/original point will be working hard trying to address every single new topic. This in turns causes the person who’s defending the original point to have to defend multiple points and in the end, they are exhausted because you can only defend a finite amount of points before you run out of energy.

In addition that that, I’ve also observed that people will also try to illustrate their points with anecdotes or analogies that make no sense or have nothing to do with their point! (This is similar to the above 2 points) It’ll only serve to confuse you and lengthen the debate unnecessarily.

If you ever have the misfortune of getting into philosophical or religious debates, oh boy… Be prepared for terms or words that you’ve never even heard of! A simple word can be turned into the most complicated word ever! Even supercallifragilisticexpialidocious will seem simple compared to some of the terms that people will introduce. Then when you look up the definition, what they really mean was something super trivial and simple. This, I think, is something people do to appear more knowledgeable than they really are. Or they’re just doing it because it sounds stupendous!

The last thing I observed during my day-long debate with a few other people was that if all else fails (using big words, confusing you with nonsensical examples, adding new topics to the original and talking about something completely unrelated), then they’ll attack your personal traits or try to point out facts about yourself that will make you look less reliable. Even the most innocent debates can turn vicious and ugly with name-calling and accusations of character! Even if you’re the nicest person in the world, you could become victim to such a tactic. It’s usually when the argument devolves into two sides and neither side wants to budge from their stance. I was accused of making the topic I initially posted about an “attack” towards one of the participants of the debate when all I did was make a general statement. When I pointed out the fact that neither did this person have to read my statement nor respond, I was told that the fact that I even wrote it was a personal attack to anyone who did read it. Um. What?

Overall, it was an interesting experience. As an introvert, I lost a lot of social and mental energy with the debate though so as much as I enjoyed observing people’s responses, I don’t think I’d do this every day.

One piece of advice I’d give though is that if you were to ever debate with someone about something, ALWAYS make your point clear and stick to one point (the original one) all the time. Even if you have to repeat yourself, at least you’re being clear.

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