And Your Point Is Now Lost

I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that when you’re debating an issue how you say something is just as important as what you’re saying. That’s not really something a lot of people subscribe to if the things I see on the internet are true. Snark is everywhere.

As a debate tactic, snark is useless. Snark ruins your chances of convincing just about anyone of just about anything. If someone disagrees with you, are they really going to change their mind when you cleverly (or not so cleverly) dismiss their position with a quip or throw away comment? Nope. Someone with a different opinion is either going to get mad or just switch off completely. That kind of behavior is just making yourself feel smarter and grandstanding so the people who agree with you can agree how terribly smart you are.

Snark does have its uses. Sometimes you just have to do it to make yourself feel better. It’s great for relieving frustrations and retaliating when someone else fights dirty. But whenever someone gets overly snarky I just assume they’ve given up on any meaningful discussion and just want to feel better by ripping down other people.

This post is inspired by the commenters in Aunt B’s circumcision post. Auntie herself makes liberal use of snark, but hers just flavors real intellectual thinking. And she usually makes an honest response to earnest questions. Maybe it’s a personal failing on my part, but listening to Chris Wage argue a position almost always makes me want to take the opposite. His ability to make me want to disagree with him, even when I don't really care about the issue is truly amazing. And just for the record, I quit reading after my last comment. Sometimes it’s just best that way.

Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I really think the world would be easier to live in if people would really take time to think about what other people are saying and logically debate things. But the emotional responses and tendency to ridicule are too deeply ingrained in humanity to ever abandon them.

And of course, in typical W fashion, I’ve practically changed my mind in less than a paragraph. If Spock is an example of a society ruled by logic, then the contentious nature of humanity is probably worthwhile just to keep from getting bored.


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