Have We Forgotten The Art Of Arguing In The Era Of Outrage
It is everywhere, from the roads to your social media feeds, to your news channels to film theatres. We are surrounded with outrage in all walks of our life. Reasoning seems to have taken a back seat, as people prioritise the two seconds of instant fame or attention that outrage brings them. Do not like a film’s casting? Tired of your neighbour’s lack of parking skills? Flight got delayed? Friends changed the weekend plan last minute? Post it on Twitter with a catchy hashtag. It is no wonder then, that in a world that only gives you 280 characters to put your point across, outrage takes precedence over arguments and debates. The worst part however is that outrage seems to have seeped into relationships as well. Do we ever stop before channelling our inner rage on our partners, family and friends today, to muse over how outrage won’t to do much to solve the discord at hand? That it’ll only make the personal equation that we share with another person worse? But then, who’s in the mood to listen?
- Outrage has taken over arguments, even in our relationships.
- We are increasingly growing intolerant, unwilling to understand other person’s point of view.
- What gives people the confidence that their side of the argument is flawless and the other person is absolutely wrong?
- With outrage we are embracing rejection over compassion and what goes around, comes around.
Do we ever stop before channeling our inner rage on our partners, family and friends today, to muse over how outrage won’t to do much to solve the discord at hand?
In school every student was exposed to the art of debating. You would present your views on a subject and then other participants got the chance to do the same. According to me, these debate sessions were (I do not know if schools still hold them) the silver lining to our rote learning based education system. This activity was one of the rare things in our curriculum which actually gave us skills we could put to use in life outside of our schools, both in personal and professional life. It taught us to think over the pros and cons of every issue thoroughly. It taught the listeners the virtue of patience and value of listening to both sides of any arguments. Of how sometimes right and wrong could be deeply entwined and it was difficult to separate one from another. Alas, with all the useless lessons that we were made to cram up in our school life, we also left the art of debating or arguing on school premises.
We Indians are terrible at art of arguing. Arguments become shouting matches and escalate to threats and fist fights in no time. Perhaps that is why the format of outrage suits us so well, because not listening to others is so convenient. The lack of bandwidth to give others an opportunity to express their views stems from a sense of entitlement and superiority. We assume our argument to be right, without a shred of doubt. The level of confidence we have in flawlessness of any logic that we endorse is amusing.
The art of arguing made us patient, considerate and generous, and by choosing outrage over it we are fast losing those traits.
However, this tendency to outrage instead of arguing has also seeped in our relationships. We are increasingly becoming intolerant partners and peers. But when you refuse to even consider others’ point of view, it blocks communication and eventually forces you apart. What’s the point of engaging in an unhealthy conversation with someone, where no one is ready to see why the other person thinks or does what she or he does? Why must one put in efforts to build up a relationship, when it doesn’t even grant you the leeway to explain yourself during a dialogue? The art of arguing made us patient, considerate and generous, and by choosing outrage over it we are fast losing those traits. We are driving ourselves towards isolated existence where it is my or the highway and it is going to be the latter of the two sooner or later. Can we always expect others to agree with us all their lives, while we do not grant them the same favour?
Arguments, debates, dissent not only made us a liberal society; they made us accepting as people. With outrage we bring blind rejection in our lives. The question is do we realise that these rules of rejection are applicable to us as well? What goes around indeed comes around.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.