Washed Up by Sarah Juggins, January 8, 2019
As we start a new year, I have made one very firm resolution that I hope to stick by in the coming months. I am going to get much better at debate.
The thing I have noticed over the past two and a bit years – I can’t think what that timeline coincides with – is that people have lost the ability to debate with reason and logic. More importantly, they have lost the ability to respect the other viewpoint and to give it credence.
Panellists on television scream and shout at each other, politicians snap and snipe at each other, everyone from celebrities down to the man or woman in the street has a view to ram down the throats of anyone who will listen. I think it all began with the rather meaningless statement “Br**** means Br****”.
Back in the mists of time, when we first began to talk about a referendum, there were some very good discussions circulating. Personally, I had a lot of informative chats, either face-to-face or online with people on the opposite side of the argument – and there were times when their persuasive points made me question my own line of thought.
Then it all changed. The result and the ensuing chaos and clamour – rather than encouraging people to question their own decision-making and asking if it was correct – have caused people to become entrenched in their views.
That statement: “Br**** means Br****” is a case in point. I still picture Leave supporters all over the country folding their arms, shaking their heads and closing down any discussion with that firm, yet meaningless three-word sentence and hence an impasse is reached.
And I have noticed this trend happening with every discussion. Rather than engaging in lively debate where there are concessions on either side, the current trend is for a person with a viewpoint to get on social media, shout their view and then barricade themselves behind their words.
Any attempt to offer an alternative viewpoint is shouted down – from government ministers to the man in the pub, we are in a place and time where contempt has replaced conversation.
It is toxic and it needs to change, so my resolution is this. I will enter each debate or discussion with a willingness to listen to the other side and an openness to change my own viewpoint.
There are, of course, some views I will never rescind, but I will listen and nod politely… unless of course, someone says “well, at the end of the day Br**** means Br****”.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2019.