Pig-Headed People


Loyal to the Nightmare of My Choice

I loved being a teacher. One of my favorite teaching techniques was to inspire intelligent debate among my students. The trick is to debate the topic without getting personal. This isn’t always easy, but it’s an important life skill that good instructors teach while they’re teaching literature or science or math.

The Heart of Darkness always inspired heated debates. Was it racist, or meant to be anti-racist? What does the river symbolize? Is Kurtz or Marlow the hero of the story? Classrooms full of teens have long debated these questions, and in my class they did so without name-calling, anger or personal attack- mainly because I was there to stop such things and to guide my students in constructive discussions between differing opinions. They were kids, and they were learning how to discuss without degenerating into angry insults.

Most of us learn these skills but somewhere along the way, we forget them. Nowhere is this more evident than online.  Intelligent debate is virtually nonexistent. (See what I did there? Virtually non… nevermind.) It’s easy to find passionate, animated, strong opinions – and those are good things and shouldn’t be mistaken for rude or angry. But there’s a line between passionate and pig-headed, and it’s similar to the line between debating the topic and attacking the debater.

It’s hard to want to engage in what has become an increasingly strident, angry, confrontational and personal war waged by people who use insults as compensation for a lack of intelligent opinion. Clearly these folks were never my students.

These days, I just keep my own pig-headed opinions to myself.


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5 thoughts on “Pig-Headed People

  1. For some people anonymity brings out the best in them. It allows them to express their personal feelings and beliefs without fear of being attacked or ridiculed. It allows them to record and share deeply personal and private thoughts without having to worry about being judged by people they know.

    For others it brings out the worst parts of human nature. People go on crusades of slander and cruel language to try and “accomplish” some mission they’ve elected themselves to. They see themselves as infallible and anyone who disagrees with them or does something they don’t like may become a target. Often, these are also the types with the most time on their hands to try to cause harm to others. I think they simply have nothing better to do.

    I wouldn’t give up hope though. I think there is something to be said for how awesome it can be when an internet discussion involving dozens of people doesn’t, or isn’t allowed to degenerate. I’ve read a ton of insightful arguments that have at times caused me to question some of my own convictions. There is still value here I think.

    I try to do my best to ignore the bad and see the good in this type of thing. After all, according to some I am just a “dumb programmer” and a puppet. Being a business owner, I’ve had to read a lot of crap and still remain professional or even silent.

    I guess we have to take the bad with the good and do our best to elevate the good.

  2. yes, to all the above….
    Some people are very angry, not at you or me, but at life in general. They can’t shout at their bosses or at the guy in the street, so they do so, whether drunk or sober, online at the weekend… it’s a shame, but it’s just freedom of schreech…

    …best ignored with a drink in your hand…

  3. “…people who use insults as compensation for a lack of intelligent opinion.” Love the flow of words in this phrase, Whiskey. Reminds me of my mother’s sage advice, “Never argue with an unarmed person.”

  4. Pingback: Bumping it Down | Whiskey Shots

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