Is argument becoming impossible?

There is a growing trend in public argument that I, along with many other forum posters find aggravating. It irritates me to no end that I cannot have a decent argument without people becoming upset because they do not want me pushing what they think to be “my beliefs” on them.

Many, even on SDMB, have developed an overwhelming sense of “to each his own.”

I can see a couple reasons for this:
“To each his own” could be an excellent disguise for apathy.
If not a disguise for apathy, then surely it’s because truth and progress are entirely personal (which is still apathy unless your idea of progress is making other people happy).
And, if you do somehow care, then you would have everyone be happy in their own way, which, if anyone with empathy thinks their way is better, is impossible.
So how can humanity progress if progress is personal?

Call me a rube if you want, but “to each his own” is a stagnant ideal. How could we ever get anywhere without imposing our ideas?

You’re free to try to impose your ideas or argue for them here. Just make sure they’re factual or convincing.

That’s not really the issue though. It’s slightly better here, but the thing I find disturbing is that people will become offended when I try to clue them in on something.
For example in another thread, talking about deliberately provocative clothing in public, there was a whole crew that would let them wear the clothing. BUT if the clothing explicitly expressed an idea, that’s when they get upset.

Maybe that’s your struggle. I’m a big fan of being persuaded. I love to be challenged with sound argument and evidence, and I love it when I am persuaded to change my mind.

I’m not a fan of imposition.

Dude, you joined today and have 2 total posts.

Can you link to this, for some context? This discussion so far is too abstract to engage with.

I think it’s a cultural problem. Too many people today can’t understand that they are not having ideas imposed upon them simply because someone else states their case. If I argue for point A, I am expressing my opinion, hopefully backed up by logic, facts, etc. That is not equivalent to shoving my beliefs down your throat, but that’s the way it is often seen nowadays. Witness the recent flap about college students who need to have their tender ears protected from ideas that they disagree with being expressed on campus. That’s what college is supposed to be for - to challenge your beliefs and develop critical thinking skills. Instead, these precious snowflakes want to suppress any speech that challenges their convictions, because it might make them feel bad about themselves. Give me the “question authority” protesters of the 1960s any day. I don’t agree with a lot of what they believed, but at least they weren’t afraid to challenge and be challenged.

That’s as may be, but the OP seems to be arguing (heh) that imposition of one’s beliefs on another is important, and apparently that people are too sensitive to listen when he drops truthbombs on them.

Or something like that? Still not all all clear on what you’re trying to say, Helpful.

Sorry about the vagueness.
I was trying to get at what NeonMadman was saying, but harsher. Like, if you think your way is better, you have a duty to tell other people. Why let them suffer? To do any less would be irresponsible, depending on the circumstances.

Arguing about how to argue with out actually stating an argument. Brilliant meta.

Ok. So you tell them your opinion. Is it then their fault if you fail to persuade them of its rightness?

I think part of a responsible argument is being open to the possibility that you could be persuaded to agree with the other side. If someone starts off with the idea that there is no redeeming quality to their debate opponent, such that the opponent has to be rescued from their opinions, I take that as a sign of arrogance.

This does not mean that I have to be open to extremist arguments on racism or whatever in order to have a debate. Listen to them, yes; counter them, yes; pretend that they are valid points, no. If someone wants to be a racist and my best attempts at persuasion fail, then oh well. Not my job to rescue them from an immoral life.

Some people think that merely having opinions gives them some kind of an edge in any argument.


On the other hand, if you harp about it incessantly, you will (human nature being what it is) drive them further away. Sometimes, the best way to put forward an idea is to STFU and change the subject. No one likes a one-note-Nelly.

A good many Christians have learned that the best way to proselytize their beliefs is simply to lead a good, clean, honest, friendly, peaceful (Boy Scout oath!) life, showing by example, and not by argument, the sincerity of their faith.

I have a strong suspicion about the OP’s beliefs, about the beliefs of the people he wants to argue with, and what he wants to argue about. But I’ll stick to general, abstract principles.

To use myself as an example, I’m about 50 pounds overweight. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that friends and loved ones might feel compelled to tell me, “Listen, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but at your age, that’s not healthy, and you really need to start exercising and eating less junk.”

Those people mean well, and have my best interests at heart. But there DOES come a point when each of them has to realize, “I’ve said my piece, and I hope he listens, for his own good. But if I push the subject any farther, I may lose his friendship for good. So, I hope I’ve planted a seed in his mind and that he’ll follow my advice later.”

If they CAN’T stop, even after I’ve told them, “All right, you’ve made your point, now drop the subject,” well, I’ll probably just avoid them like the plague forever.
So, the OP has to ask himself, “Which is more important- the relationship I have with this person or being right?”

That’s true no matter WHAT topic you want to argue about. When Jesus sent his Apostles out to preach, he told them, “If people will not welcome you, move on, shaking the dust from your feet.” Note that well. He didn’t say, “Keep screaming the Gospel to them, even if they don’t want to hear it.”

That’s true of weight, religion, politics or anything else. If Grandma keeps telling you, “Listen to Rush Limbaugh with me” after you’ve told her a hundred times that you don’t want to, she’s being a jerk. On the other hand, if you keep trying to convince Grandma that God doesn’t exist, long after she’s told you to keep your blasphemy to yourself, then you’re a jerk.

Get this: It doesn’t MATTER whether Rush Limbaugh is a genius or whether God exists. If you care about keeping a loving relationship with your Grandma, you have to respect each other’s boundaries.

Isn’t that what the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing? They think their way is better, they think they have a duty to tell others, they don’t want others to suffer?
No, I would rather they keep their opinions to theirselves unless I ask them for them.

Yeah, but he said: “depending on the circumstances!” In the circumstances you describe, those people are wrong.

The beauty of this behaviour is that you will eventually come across as an angry asshole. I used to be like that about certain issues but a wise guru helped me through my anger issues (I’m not saying that you are necessarily angry, but I was). I used to also know someone who had a pet issue and she would always manipulate any conversation in that direction and then off she went.

Your “harsher” statement is telling, IMO. Also, you may think that your way is better, but you could still be wrong. As a relatively unimportant example, I prefer using keyboard shortcuts over using a mouse. I have guided others through the process in working groups during which someone else is at the keyboard and he/she doesn’t know how to do a particular task with a Word table for example. I’m going “now hit Alt N and then R” and he’s going “how do I do this with a mouse?” I do not have a duty to “harshly” tell him how to do it my way. He’s comfortable with the mouse and, even though I find it frustrating to watch, it’s none of my damn business how he does it.

What you’re describing isn’t “argument”. Some might call it obnoxious or bullying.

Just so we’re all not he same page, total posts are now 3.

And what is wrong about apathy? Few people have strong opinions about every damned thing.

I shan’t call you a rube, but with the weight you place on imposing your ideas you begin to come off as a bit of a fascist.

Anyway, this is Debate. You want room 12A, next door. It’s marked The BBQ Pit. Or is that Abuse?