Monday, 11 June 2012

To Debate or not to Debate - that is the question. Is it good for our psychological well being?

Facebook is a Debating Society. The way it is set up makes it that way. Whatever your status, it is bound to get some sort of attention. Just of late there has been some ruffled feathers concerning historical debate. Debate is meant to be contentious, especially if it is in the public interest and whereas a subject about a historical topic may not be necessarily one of the most inportant issues in a modern society, it can provoke great argument amongst  both the professional and amateur historians. We are taught in college and uni that when you join a debating society, you are likely to hit upon some emotions that no one ever thought existed within themselves and others, but that although joining in a debate that contains emotive an subject may get argumentative and aggressive, it doesnt mean you get personal and nor do you take things personally because thats when the topic becomes void, when people begin responding to what they believe to be a slight or an insult.

Equally, when you put a 'contraversial' idea out there, such as an author's suggestion that one of our historical King's was actually the son of someone else, you cannot expect people to not question this and you must be prepared to respond. Both the questioner and the responder need to do so politely and without aggression because although its a debate, we're not at college or uni and these aren't our colleagues, fellow students or mates. These may not be people we've ever spoken to before. Debating on FB should not be the same as the rigorous debating groups we maybe used to in our academic places. What I often find disturbing is that friends and fans often come to the 'rescue' of the debated and I've seen some pretty nasty things said to people who are asking for sources or putting over a different perspective or argument. People need to remain calm and allow people their views without trashing them personally.

It often pays to play it cool. I'm a bit of a hothead myself and used to get fired up about stuff but really, people stop focusing on the subject and focussing on my behaviour then and that only helps them deflect the topic from the real issue which is not the desired outcome when trying to get an argument over. Plus I have often over-reacted to something and then felt really awful with an emotional hangover that makes me feel even worse. I have been learning that debating on FB means you are often taking the safety of your mental well-being into your hands . you have to have thick skin and broad shoulders not to be hurt by some of the really inflammatory things that are said. I am saying this because so many of my friends have been hurt bey things getting personal and resentment is an evil powerful tool with which to batter ourselves with. I know I have to stay away from anger as it is not an emotion that serves me well as my past history will tell me.

People need to react more calmly to people's views, don't give in to that little voice inside your head that wants tor bite back otherwise the whole debate is lost and noone is the winner, certainly not the person/subect, you are trying to defend or defame which ever it be.

Recently I posted a piece about Anger and shared this very wise line: "Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die", it isnt going to happen cos very often they're calmly and happily asleep at night in their beds while you toss and turn and play your next argument or what you should have said over and over in your head. Debate, but don't get personal.