On November 7th I felt a sense of relief that the American political campaigns were over and I would no longer have to watch heated television debates, read through political rants on Facebook and avoid long conversations that easily turned to bitter arguments. But even after the elections determined President Obama would have another four-year term, the angry debates continued. And all of this had me thinking, we have lost the ability to debate rationally.
The presidential debates were the perfect proof. Both Romney and Obama interrupted the other, tried to talk over each other, made faces, scoffed, chuckled and otherwise berated their opponent. The civilized back and forth that a classic debate calls for was nowhere in sight. The two candidates went for personal attacks and barbs over rational thought and explanations.
And it didn’t end there. The debates went to Facebook and other social media outlets. I’m all for sharing your thoughts and opinions, but why can’t we do that with adding insults to the mix? It seemed as though it was impossible to place a political comment on Facebook without being bombarded by rude counter positions. I know several people who unfriended others on Facebook because of such encounters.
The same went for personal exchanges. A political conversation might start off as civil but very rapidly it would escalate to an argument. In the end, both parties would leave hurt, offended or frustrated. If we had the ability to have a truly rational debate these conversations could have gone very differently.