Do we really want to talk?

Here’s a post I’ve just put up on the Wemedia blog. Thought you might want to take a look.

24 Responses to “Do we really want to talk?”

  1. 1 T
    March 11, 2010 at 18:00

    Is it good that we have more online opportunities to express ourselves? Yes.

    But also, keep in mind human nature. Online groups are a microcosm of the world. And, deep down how many people hate to lose an argument?

    My approach to posting is this. Whatever you view is, it’s your job (yes, your job) to do your homework BEFORE you post. Just throwing out talking points gets old after about 10 seconds. And frankly I don’t have the patience for that. Because, it defeats the purpose of the whole thing.

  2. 2 dan
    March 11, 2010 at 18:09

    When you share your opinions online, is your objective to discuss the matter or to win the argument?”
    We all think we are right otherwise why are we involved? No one stands up and says “I have the wrong opinion”, so of course we like to win but I think that discussing any matter must be based in facts and not political correctness. Certainly we can disagree how we see those facts and that makes for a great discussion.
    The caution is that we all have biases and as artful human beings we can craft the facts to fit our biases and any moderator as an honest broker must be able to see thru that.
    However Ros as much as I love the social media we are human beings and humans talk to one another. Talking is the very basis of understanding and the day we lose that is the day we lose our humanity.
    Let’s keep talking on WHYS.

    • 3 Maxine
      March 14, 2010 at 14:34

      Well said Dan. Also,don’t forget the human fact that we all come from such different perspectives. Different ages, different backgrounds,gender, and countries with multiple facets.How can we all possible agree on anything, yet sometimes we do and that is a miracle.

  3. 4 Ibrahim in UK
    March 11, 2010 at 18:14

    “When you share your opinions online, is your objective to discuss the matter or to win the argument?”

    Everyone has an agenda; the contributers, the readers/listeners and the moderators. Very few people have their agenda as Truth or Justice so there is very much entrenchment on each side and very little give.
    The starting position for most people is that we believe we are right and will try to present the arguments online as best we can. The more emotionally attached to a particular outcome we are, the less likely we will accept logical counter-arguments. If the subject was new or “neutral” (whatever that is), there would be more interest in working together to discover the truth about it, rather than defending a preconceived side.

  4. 5 gary indiana
    March 11, 2010 at 18:16

    I like to communicate with the WHYS respondents. I find the idea of being able to comment upon important topics and of being able to read comments pro or con from people I could never have come to know any other way, as being very little short of miraculous. I read every comment. As for my motivation, I follow an idea planted in my youth: Humans are affected by every social interaction. Failing to socially interact with anyone is to relinquish one’s effect upon their lives. And of course, only good effects will result in mutual advantage. This is true whether communicating with a friend or with someone who considers you an enemy.

  5. 6 Ibrahim in UK
    March 11, 2010 at 18:38

    “And is discussing an issue with those who disagree with you to show weakness and to damage your cause?”

    Not at all, at least it shouldn’t be. But that again depends on the cause. If people choose the side of an issue based on personal preference (or prejudice) instead of logic, it makes it harder to defend and argue and the cause looks superficial and weak.

  6. 7 Bert
    March 11, 2010 at 18:44

    I like to see what other people think, and I like to give my own opinions. I don’t expect to change anyone’s opinion in an online forum, or in most discussions that often become arguments, but it is defintely valuable to see what others think.

    The problem with any forum with many participants is always the same. Discussions work best with very frequent interaction. So whether online or face to face, if there are many participants, then frequent interaction is simply impossile. Just like business meetings, small groups are far better for real interaction than “cast of thousands” meetings.

    So, bottom line, what I’m looking for, in this sort of forum, is to get a sense of other people’s views, and to make my own views known to them. People should not go around assuming that the rest of the world agrees with everything they think.

  7. 8 Ibrahim in UK
    March 11, 2010 at 18:48

    “My concern is that in many cases what might be called an online discussion is either a series of points that fail to acknowledge each other, or a shouting match.”

    I agree with that. I think one of the difficulties in having online text discussions (including WHYS) is that opinions and counter-opinions are far apart, sometimes in the next day, sometimes not at all. The debate loses momentum and the focus changes, so topics aren’t properly thrashed out from beginning to end. It instead becomes a large deposit of unchallenged opinions and unanswered questions (or accusations). I have yet to see an online mechanism for facilitating the perfect discussion. Some topics might be too big for just one blog. Someone (moderators + selected users?) may need to decide on sub-topics for each debate and narrow the scope of the discussion to encourage greater interaction between the opinions. (e.g. this one: There are a few questions in there, we will all answer some part of it, not necessarily the same parts). Getting the balance right between a topic too big and a subtopic too small is tricky I imagine.

    • 9 Bert
      March 11, 2010 at 18:54

      I don’t think the problem is with the text medium, as much as it is that many want to participate. Face to face, or telephone, is certainly a better way to speed up the dialogue, but it too falls short when scores of people want to have a say.

      • 10 Ibrahim in UK
        March 11, 2010 at 19:11

        I guess that’s true. Especially your small meetings example. Although with the online phone call ins, there are usually a few “experts” who take calls from other people, so the experts are leading the topic while interacting with others’ opinions, and there is only a finite limit on how many people can talk at once on air.
        So what about text somehow following the calling in model: a few “experts” leading the arguments while readers write in opinions to challenge/comment on the experts?
        Maybe the purpose of the blog is just to get opinions and it shouldn’t be for having debates and discussions?

  8. 11 patti in cape coral
    March 11, 2010 at 18:51

    “When you share your opinions online, is your objective to discuss the matter or to win the argument?”

    I think a lot of people just want to win the argument. People rarely change their minds after sharing varying opinions which makes me think they are only hearing the facts that confirm their own position. Some of this is only human. After all, I have to admit I get the warm and fuzzies when somebody agrees with my position and I don’t have to face opposition alone. In general though, I’m not one of the more “controversial” posters.

    My primary focus is getting information and education. A lot of the discussions on WHYS prompt me to look stuff up on my own that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of researching. In that way I’m sure I can be an annoyance to people who expect you to do your “homework before you post.”, but I’m getting better at it.

  9. 12 dan
    March 11, 2010 at 19:08

    I am not so sure that people do not change their opinion as much as they have better understanding of the opposition point of view and isn’t that the point?

  10. 13 nora
    March 11, 2010 at 19:09

    I want to hear the latest from people on the ground in Nigeria, Chile, etc. where the big things happen. I know that I do not know what it is like on the ground.

    Right or wrong, more interested in collecting and contributing facts to collective reflection on the how and why of it than arguing emotions.

  11. 14 patti in cape coral
    March 11, 2010 at 19:11

    @ Dan – You are probably right, maybe understanding is happening more than is apparent in the written word.

  12. 15 Bert
    March 11, 2010 at 19:30

    Brava, Susan, for telling it like it is. Her points about WalMart are spot on.

  13. March 11, 2010 at 19:30

    I have changed my opinion through the WHYS posts on some subjects.I read them all,perhaps as man as three times on certain subjects.Some of the posts are just point scoring,others quite deep.But as for the heading:-Do we really want to talk? Of course we do.it is the only way we can comunicate with any glimmer of inteligence.We all like to win,and if you argument is logical,factual,truthful and temperate then you can.Start shouting and you have lost,in my opinion.

  14. 17 Alan in AZ
    March 11, 2010 at 19:53

    I’m not big on blogging, because most blog spots are just lonely and voicing rhetoric on something useless.

    But I love this site because it deals with meaningful, relevant topics.

    As for emails, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and make new ones and the web is an awesome way to learn. Knowledge is power and the web has helped the world grow and will continue to evolve every person that uses it.

  15. 18 Cabe UK
    March 11, 2010 at 20:43

    ‘Do we need to talk’ ? – better still – do we need to talk all the time and is what we say any good? Well, we obviously do, but I don’t think the technology that enables us to constantly seek an audience for every single sentence dropped is necessarily a good thing. If I were to be honest, then my comments / posts on sites like this, would be 50% ego and 50% wanting to put my opinion forward – and that’s because my ‘opinion’ runns more with the wolves than the sheep (sorry sheep – I am actually one in wolves clothing… 🙂 !) And, a medium that allows a Wolf’s opinion is extremely valuable to me! I don’t post to “argue” either! I think the majority of posters don’t do this, because their opinions are pretty much well formulated to begin with – unless of course, one of the on-air ‘guests’ throws a grenade in the stew?
    If you really think ‘Twitter’ and ‘Facebook’ are good then Heaven help us! Maybe the BBC pages on T and F are – but on the whole, I think they produce dunces who speak banal, inane, rubbish the majority of the time, and those usually are the professional celebrities ! The BBC transmits in straightforward neutral about everything so a site like WHYS is good because it attracts intelligent posters and listeners. . Because of this, you get an excellent idea of what the ‘Rest Of The World’ is thinking and in my book, that’s a really unique thing.

  16. 19 Linda from Italy
    March 12, 2010 at 15:47

    When WHYS posts a topic, we are asked to comment and if it’s something that we feel strongly about, we will obviously state those opinions quite forcefully and with conviction. In these cases, there is no argument to win, but hearing what others with diametrically opposed views have to say is essential because it helps us firm up our views and engage out thinking skills to debunk the other argument, using example and logic to counter the other case, thus engaging with the “enemy” if anything strengthens a cause we believe in.
    Personally I get most satisfaction out of the WHYS blog when I reply to an individual post because that mimics “real” conversational interaction so, to use your three relationship categories, it brings us out of category three and into category two, ultimately a more fruitful relationship because there is a sense of actually engaging with a real person, regardless of whether that involves agreeing or disagreeing with them.

  17. 20 Linda from Italy
    March 12, 2010 at 16:09

    “My concern is that in many cases what might be called an online discussion is either a series of points that fail to acknowledge each other, or a shouting match.”
    So what would you have Ros? Is not a normal conversation a lively mix of both those things?
    Naturally people have points to make, many conflicting with others, and in a real conversation, we acknowledge the fact that someone else has said something, but don’t have to acknowledge the validity of what they have said. Some elements of the shouting match are also going to surface, particularly when people start throwing statistics, (increasingly ancient) history or religious convictions at each other.
    When a topic first appears on the blog, people usually state their case, but then posts are picked up and commented by others on in a more focussed way – how is this not a discussion?
    The fact that the blog is becoming increasingly irrelevant to the programme that goes on air is a great shame, very few comments are read out these days, and those that are, are usually brief snippets (Tweets by any other name), giving no idea of the person’s real line of thought.
    I agree wholeheartedly (again!) with Cabe UK, that Twitter is probably one of the worst things that has ever happened to human communication, the name I assume was meant ironically, but life now seems to be mimicking art. Why FB? If people want to comment, what’s wrong with the blog?

  18. 21 patti in cape coral
    March 12, 2010 at 17:16

    I tried to understand Twitter, but I simply don’t. There just isn’t enough room to say anything meaningful, just one line. On this blog we have to distill our comments to one paragraph, but it’s nearly impossible to distill it down to 50 characters for twitter! I had a similar feeling with Facebook, where people don’t really discuss anything meaningfully, but it does seem a very good medium for quick updates on how people are doing. My daughter loves Facebook for keeping up with several political/humanitarian groups and organizations she is interested in. In general I agree with Linda that this blog is a good place for real discussion, even if it degenerates into a shouting match at times. Some times it feels like some commenters do the equivalent of throwing a grenade into a crowded room just to get things stirred up, then duck, but it does usually provoke some highly charged discussion.

  19. 22 Clamdip
    March 12, 2010 at 23:53

    What’s strange is that given any topic there always seems to be a consensus of opinions. You’d think that how differently people are raised might show a huge variation and yet, it doesn’t. Perhaps that means we’re more alike than we think.

  20. 23 viola
    March 13, 2010 at 20:21

    I comment on this blog to try to contribute to a discussion. In doing so, I also attempt to support my point, especially if it contradicts others’ points. If others interpret that as argument for the sake of argument, that is their problem.

  21. 24 viola
    March 13, 2010 at 20:22

    There can be no meaningful “conversation” on this blog because it is not moderated 24 hours.

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