Friday, June 22, 2007

Blogging and Friends

So it's well-known that it's inadvisable to discuss sex, politics, or religion in social settings because feelings run so deeply on the issues that discussion may quickly lead to arguments and the destruction of friendships or at least a pleasant afternoon. When I first got into blogging, I thought it was perfect because it let me say what I always want to say but am too polite to do in person. ("What are you, nuts?? You believe that God literally dictated the Torah to Moses?")

Then, of course, because bloggers are human, we start getting friendly. And then we face the reality that engaging in these debates even online means pissing people off and creating strife.

At least anyone I've met (or "met") through the blogs already knows where I stand on all the issues, so if they have become friendly, it's with that knowledge. Still, it's kind of a shame that it's so hard to discuss these issues without everyone getting all riled up.


CyberKitten said...

JA said: Still, it's kind of a shame that it's so hard to discuss these issues without everyone getting all riled up.

That's because, as humans, we're irrational beings basically unable to divorce a discusion of ideas from our often passionate belief in holding those ideas. Our beliefs inform who we are - therefore when beliefs about things are debated it can seem that the person who holds those beliefs is being held up to scutiny and censure. Unfortunately until we become somewhat less 'human' our debates will continue to piss people off.

Intergalactic Hussy said...

It bothers me, too, that some things are taboo. So, what are we supposed to talk about? The Weather? Yes.

Religion, sex, or politics always comes up. And often related. I find that sex isn't too hard of a topic to approach...many times even politics. But RELIGION? On no, that's special and sacred and never to be discussed!

I find that most of the people who say that you might not want to talk to anyway because they're just boring. They don't have much input and that's why they put up a wall.

Anonymous said...

I find these discussions a useful way to filter out annoying people. So I often bring up sex, death, god, religion in conversations. If people agree with me fine, if they don't that is fine too, what I care about is that they don't get offended easily, and can defend their positions. I can't deal with people who offend easily. Its the sign of small mind. They suck out your freedom of thought and stifle your creativity.

Diatribe said...

You are wrong, and your idea of tabooing religion, sex & politics is ludicrous. There is a thing called dialogue, which means you try to build rapport and agreement instead of barriers and differences. In the context of dialogue one can absolitely discuss religion & politics. A dialogue conjures an open atmosphere, which is condusive to building bridges, not burning them. As long as you emphasize the points of agreement and make the points of disagreement secondary religion and politics are a fair game.

The Superfluous Man said...

JA, perhaps the people who are more mature, i.e., can at once strenously disagree and appreciate your company, are different in someway? Maybe they lack empathy or compassion, are a little awkward, or, um, Vulcan? See the third entry here- Related: are the people willing to buck intellectual orthodoxy, like Steve Sailer or even an atheist among Orthodox Jews, different in personality from the average, somehow? How many J.A.P.s (models of conformity and perhaps even small minds) end up in that category?

diatribe, if you're looking for the truth, establishing points of agreement is pointless - it's where you disagree that matters, because you can't both be right.

Besides, you manage to make dialogue sound very superficial and futile. You want to convince people of your view, which you (usually) hold to be true. If someone, say, thinks the Bible was written by man and you disagree, recognizing where you agree is just evading the argument. You can hem and haw, but at some point, you have to state your position.

diatribe said...

The superfluous man,
you are wrong as well as superfluous. The point of JA's post was the seeming impossibility of keeping a friendship when one argues controversial topics. My contention is that it is possible if one communicates properly. Establishing points of agreement is absolutely neccessary to carry on a meaningful and civilized debate. It also helps to open ones mind to what the other party is saying, which alone enables the pursuit of truth. Unfortunately only few philosophers follow this precept. It's where you agree that matters because that is the ground for arriving at the truth together.
Dialogue is not futile in a debate. You do want to convince other people of whta you hold to be true, but if you're sane you know that your truth is not the absolute truth, and therefor there is a possibility of your opponent having a point too. The only way of coming to see your opponent's point of view is by establishing common grounds.
Of course if you're a lawyer you're objective is quite different. In short a debate can be a friendship's friend if it is carried out in a diplomatic fashion. Negotiate your emotions but argue your points.

Stephen said...

I've been blogging for two or three years now. I'm always addressing religion and politics, with people who hold a wide range of opinions. I'm pleased at how well the bloggers who frequent my site can exchange opinions on hotly contested topics, without it degenerating into rancour.

In turn, I comment on the blogs of atheists and people who are right-wing politically. But of course I'm selective about who I dialogue with. There are lots of ideologues abroad in the blogosphere, and I don't see any point in wasting my energy on them. I'm not sure what we really accomplish by all this dialogue, but it certainly seems to be constructive.

elcarl said...

Many people do not wish to discuss their premises, which in cases of religion and politics, are their values. They are neither true nor false, but of great importance. If premises vary, so should the conclusions if they are logically developed. So discussions would make sense and be less threatening to some people if they were seen as clarifications, rather than attacks. I am working towards this and hope others are also.

Ezzie said...

Hehe. :)

But just as in real life, when you know where the person stands, you also know when it does and doesn't make sense to debate; it's just good not to let yourself get too riled up about it. It's also worth keeping in mind which ones really care about which issues and which don't, and whether they enjoy the conversation or not.

But even among friends, the blog is a better medium than real life for the ones that you get riled up on - at least it can't turn too ugly due to the delay in response time.

If you ever show up for lunch, we can still talk politics. :P [Religion, maybe. Sex, no.]

The Zombieslayer said...

No matter what you believe, you'll offend someone. Get this, I've banned two people from my blog since I started blogging in 05/2005. The first one was because I had a joke about English culminary skills (or lack thereof). I'm not kidding either. He went ballistic and started verbally attacking everyone who replied.

So...say what you believe. It's a free country.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not sure you can really be someones friend or enemy if you don't know their full identity. Basically, you're an anonymous penpal.

jewish philosopher said...

"What are you, nuts?? You believe that God literally dictated the Torah to Moses?"

"What are you, nuts?? You believe that if mud sits around long enough it will turn into people and that's how we got here?"