As we all know some of the dialogue on the internet is less than constructive. While most of the conversation taking place on this site is on a level I would consider phenomenal (read: objective, open and respectful) elsewhere, and even sometimes here, civility is lacking. Recently I posted principles for civil discourse, so today I thought I’d post principles for non-civil discourse. Here are several principles for how to Not Really Win an Argument:
1. Take a persons argument to an extreme: If the argument is about environmentalism, assume the person you’re talking to wants everybody to live in the woods and heat their tents with hemp oil. It will be much easier to attack them if you take their ideas to an extreme rather than contend with a more balanced view.
2. Always use the term always: A great way to exaggerate somebody’s idea is to use the words always and never. Has a person said we should be kind? Spin their statement into an always statement…We are alway supposed to be kind and never supposed to be unkind, therefore we should be kind to people who turn pet poodles into breakfast sausages. Always and never takes the discussion to the polar exaggerated opposites, and it will make it much easier for you to not really win the argument.
3. Find a Non-Applicable Loophole: If somebody says you should not be controlled by anger, make sure to point out we should actually be angry about the underground sex trade. This is an effective technique in terms of not really winning an argument because it serves to distract and confuse people. Technically, you are right, because we should be angry about the sex trade, and nobody will notice it really had nothing to do with the spirit of the persons comment.
4. Demonize the Other Person: The best way to demonize a person is to compare them with Hitler. It’s easier than you think. Is the person you disagree with a painter? Guess what, Hitler was a painter. Do they wear a uniform? You’re in luck, Hitler wore a uniform. Are they part of a movement that is supposedly trying to help people? Cha-ching! So was Hitler. Do they have a small, square mustache and beady eyes? You’re in there like swimwear!!!
5. Always be Shocked: Gone are the days when it was only appropriate to be shocked at genocide or human trafficking, now it’s okay to be shocked at a cancelation of the spin class at your local gym. Being shocked creates a lovely melodrama that, while rationally absurd, lends to emotional confusion. Use phrases like: “I am outraged” and “I can’t believe” or one of my favorites “You have the audacity to such and such”…and you’ll definitely be not really be winning an argument.
6. Preach a mini-sermon: Perhaps the best way to not really win an argument is to flaunt your self-righteousness. Make sure to speak from absolute authority, and assume the tone of your contenders teacher. They’ll just love you for it!
Can you think of any other tactics that people use to not really win an argument? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll make this list even longer, that way we can link to it as a sort of objective referee. Could be fun.