Saturday, April 20, 2013

The difference between "challenging" and "attacking" and why it's important


I've noticed an interesting trend in American culture.  I first noticed it on the internet, but once I noticed it there, I noticed it EVERYWHERE.

The fact is that we (Americans) no longer consider it socially acceptable to challenge each other, with the exception of a very small percentage of the population who are pursuing higher education at a very rigorous level.  (I'm thinking Ivy league graduate schools, here.)

Try it today.  The next time one of your friends says something that you don't agree with, question why they feel the way they do.  Particularly if it's an opinion that they reached through emotion and not through logic.  I guarantee that not only will they hate you for it, but everyone else will tell you that you are being rude.

This is especially true in Texas, but I have noticed it everywhere that I've gone in my travels across the country.

When did we all decide that we would rather be publicly ignorant than have to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable for a couple of seconds?

It would be one thing if this was confined to religious beliefs, but I have seen this in discussions concerning every topic imaginable.

People will say something about science that is blatantly wrong, and feel attacked when someone corrects them.

People will get the facts wrong about a public event (usually due to getting their news from questionable sources) and feel attacked when someone corrects them.

People will say blatantly inflammatory things, designed to get other people angry while having no basis in reality or fact, AND THEN FEEL UNFAIRLY ATTACKED WHEN SOMEONE QUESTIONS THEM!

Who is responsible for this?

What generation decided that this was going to be the way we operate?

How did they think that we would advance and grow as human beings without ever having our faulty information corrected, or our logical fallacies questioned?

I don't know.  All I know is that it happened some time before I was born.

Maybe it's always been this way, but that is no excuse.

I would like to suggest that we rise up together, as a whole, and reject this social norm.

The next time someone questions you and you feel attacked, stop and take a deep breath, and then ask yourself if they might actually be saying something valuable.

The next time that you see someone saying something that is blatantly wrong, correct them. 

Please use logic and facts to do so, and not inflammatory rhetoric. (If you don't know what a logical fallacy is, find out.  If you don't know what the facts are, look them up.  This is the internet age, people, you have no excuse for being ignorant.)

And then when someone gets mad at you for "attacking" them, call them on it. 

Explain to them the difference between "challenging" and "attacking".

Link them to this article, if you have to.

Because the difference is incredibly important.  Being attacked is a terrible thing, and no one should ever have to tolerate it, but being challenged is the only way that you will ever grow!

And if we never grow and never change, what is the point of being alive?

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