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Old 04-11-2009, 09:38 AM   #1
Dr. Drib
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When Reasonable People Take Positions

Here's a firecracker - whooooo-doggie!

I’ve often wondered what emotional and educational coinage is at stake when reasonable people disagree to the point of rudeness. I realize that differing personalities often dictate the tone of written discourse, but I’ve also often wondered if two people met who had diametrically opposite views would later find themselves drinking a glass of wine as they discussed their issues, or if they would be ignoring one another. Or would there be an argument right there next to the bar/restaurant?

We’ve often heard a member or a moderator say something to the effect that [this or that comment] was rude, and often – but not always, unfortunately – the person would come back and make a gracious apology and all would be forgiven. And I’ve seen the opposite, as well.

I’m not going to mention names here, but even in the Conservatory there is sometimes a recurring thematic verbal assault upon one member or another. I realize passions run high, but were some of us raised this way, to be intolerant of other’s views? Generally writing, why does this happen? What precipitated this event? Are we that much wedded to our ideals that we sometimes forget what it means to be human? Or is this, indeed, part of what it means to be human?

I think this is fodder for an interesting discussion. Strangely, however, I expect some passionate comments (and the rude remark or two?) if we decide to pursue this discussion.

Don
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:54 AM   #2
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I think that one of the problems, Don, is that in a forum such as this one has to rely solely on the words. In a face-to-face discussion, you have all sorts of non-verbal cues as to the person's approach - aggressive, friendly, etc. You don't have any of that in this medium, and it's very easy to misinterpret a friendly comment as an aggressive attack. I'm sure that virtually all the "heated discussions" we have here would be perfectly amicable chats if conducted face to face.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:04 AM   #3
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I think that one of the problems, Don, is that in a forum such as this one has to rely solely on the words. In a face-to-face discussion, you have all sorts of non-verbal cues as to the person's approach - aggressive, friendly, etc. You don't have any of that in this medium, and it's very easy to misinterpret a friendly comment as an aggressive attack. I'm sure that virtually all the "heated discussions" we have here would be perfectly amicable chats if conducted face to face.
Yes, I'm very much aware of verbal cues. In place of them, we have the Smiley Faces and other various icons to represent those verbal cues that are absent in written discourse.

But would you agree that sometimes individual personalities come across as rude because they don't know any better? Or, if the person does know better, he/she nevertheless decides on a combative stance?

(ADDED): I'm not only talking about a Forum such as this, by the way.

Don
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:09 AM   #4
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It can also be cultural differences too, Don. Eg, we Brits often come across as "rude" to Americans because we tend to be a lot "blunter" in our speech. Eg, in the UK if you want to say "Fred has died", then that's what you say. I've noticed that no American will ever say that - it's "Fred has passed away", "we've lost Fred", or any one of half a dozen other euphemisms. It's as if there's a "cultural taboo" about using the word "died".

Of course, some people just are plain rude; there's no denying that .
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:37 AM   #5
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Ok. And we "Americans" sometimes come across as noisy and boisterous, and often conversationally interruptive.

I accept that, but why are there such cultural differences in the first place?

You're right when we say such things as "Fred passed away."


Don
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:43 AM   #6
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Because our cultures are different; very different. The fact that we share a (more or less) common language sometimes disguises that. I worked in the US for a year, and found it a completely "alien" culture in all sorts of ways. Britain is much closer, culturally, to the rest of western Europe than it is to the US.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:56 AM   #7
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I've never been to the UK, but I often wonder what it would be like for me. (I often find the U.S. culturally "alien" to me, with miles of roads leading to hamburgers and tacos.)

Peru is a very, very "alien" culture to me. Right now, I'm attempting to come to terms with this culture. People here are often (by my cultural standards) very rude, indeed.


Don
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:02 AM   #8
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It can also be cultural differences too, Don. Eg, we Brits often come across as "rude" to Americans because we tend to be a lot "blunter" in our speech.
That's for sure. Compare Simon Cowel's comments to Idol contentants to Jacksons or Diaguardo. Although I think when someone starts a comment with "I don't mean to be rude" then it means he IS being rude... right?

Oh, and saying, "Your father died" or "My grandfather died" is not considered blunt or rude. It is used all the time here. But "passed away" is just a synonym for "died". So, I am not sure how one is less blunt than the other. They both mean the same thing.

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Old 04-11-2009, 11:02 AM   #9
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I agree with Harry's points, but I also think that people sometimes take on a different persona when they are at their keyboard and able to post things in a somewhat anonymous fashion.

I think some people who are shy and withdrawn in physical social settings can become outgoing and gregarious in a virtual social setting. Some people (I include myself here), who are outgoing and perfectly comfortable interacting in physical social settings are not so outgoing in virtual social settings.

There are people on this forum that I don't care for just from reading their comments, although if I sat down next to them and did not know who they were I might like them immensely.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:03 AM   #10
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That's for sure. Compare Simon Cowel's comments to Idol contentants to Jacksons or Diaguardo. Although I think when someone starts a comment with "I don't mean to be rude" then it means he IS being rude... right?

BOb
No, Simon Cowell really is rude - by anybody's standards. Amazingly so .
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:07 AM   #11
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It may be worth noting that, even with people who are generally perceived to be polite and intelligent, a discussion about a subject that they do not happen to agree with, even when not directed at them, is nevertheless oft-times perceived as a personal attack, meriting a more aggressive response from them. This is just a natural aspect of human nature, though clearly not everyone reacts to the same degree.

I have noted many times in which generalized and reasonable discussions (on these and, yes, other forums as well) degrade to direct and vitriolic assaults upon others. The isolated nature of the web allows people who would otherwise simply step away from such a confrontation, to jump headlong into one instead, knowing as they do that they cannot be physically attacked, and that they can simply disconnect and walk away when they'd like.

Human nature demonstrates that when people are in a position of strength (i.e., cannot be physically threatened... a situation similar to being backed up by a group of your peers against inferior numbers, or being protected from superior numbers by a fence or barrier), they tend to become emboldened and therefore more aggressive in stance. The web allows just such protective isolation, and therefore the corresponding emboldenment. It is important to note that, in situations where people who use web forums also spend physical time with the same people at other times (say, in school), forum conversations tend to be much more polite and reserved, in avoidance of the possibility of later physical confrontations.
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:12 AM   #12
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I'd like to chime in, with the following observation:
By typical internet standards, even the most heated discussions to date here in the Conservatory have been surprisingly polite!
I wish we could do better, as do we all. But this is really a surprisingly well mannered crowd!


Xenophon

P.S. Since, of course, I could never possibly offend anyone with any of my writings -- they're all the only sane opinion on the topics in question, after all -- no one will ever need to ask me to tone it down.


More seriously, call me on it if it's needed. Please.

Last edited by Xenophon; 04-11-2009 at 11:13 AM. Reason: tune up emphasis a bit
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:23 AM   #13
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Hi Don,
The psychology answer of the question you posed has been known for some time. It comes down to when a person makes a statement or verbally agrees with somebody, they commit themselves to that answer even if they later find out that it's wrong. Pyscologies such as Robert B. Cialdini have done many studies on this human phenomenon. Charlie Munger in his "The Psychology of Human Misjudgment" (link to PDF) -- He cites Cialdini, Books such as Predictably Irrational, and even The Black Swan cover this error human tendency.

Now to answer your second question, can we sit down and drink coffee/espresso with somebody we so drastically disagree with or are we resigned to not talk.

I once read a quote that went something like
"People do not remember what was said but rather how they felt"

The answer is yes, the trick is to not allow emotions to overrun logic and rational, which is not so easy to do.

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Old 04-11-2009, 11:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenophon View Post
I'd like to chime in, with the following observation:
By typical internet standards, even the most heated discussions to date here in the Conservatory have been surprisingly polite!
I wish we could do better, as do we all. But this is really a surprisingly well mannered crowd!


Xenophon

P.S. Since, of course, I could never possibly offend anyone with any of my writings -- they're all the only sane opinion on the topics in question, after all -- no one will ever need to ask me to tone it down.


More seriously, call me on it if it's needed. Please.
I don't know about other Forums, so I can't judge and/or comment. I do know about this Forum, as I've been a Moderator for over two years. We sometimes have to step in and calm down a conversation, and that almost always works and then the discussion continues and all is well with the world.

Moving on, I would be a hypocrite if I didn't mention that on occasion, I've been perceived as rude - in both remarks and in my subject matter. For example, in another area of MobileRead, I find enjoyment in writing about dead, moldy things and pondering the improbable absurdities of daily living. But that's just my crazy side, which is bent backwards and sideways. I won't apologize to anyone for my crazy views. Don't like them? Don't read them.

When my rudeness is brought to my attention, I attempt to make an apology. I notice that's not true of everyone, however. I will not, though, be drawn into an ideological confontation whereby I perceive that the other correspondant wishes to be argumentative in his or "attack."

I do agree with you that most of us behave rather well: We're thoughtful and helpful, and our discussions generate interest and advice, and generally good feelings all around.

Don
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:33 AM   #15
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I have noted many times in which generalized and reasonable discussions (on these and, yes, other forums as well) degrade to direct and vitriolic assaults upon others. The isolated nature of the web allows people who would otherwise simply step away from such a confrontation, to jump headlong into one instead, knowing as they do that they cannot be physically attacked, and that they can simply disconnect and walk away when they'd like.
Yep, there was a study a while back that had the same conclusion with regards to "Road Rage". Where the "isolation" factor is that we are hidden in our cars.

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