Tolerating Right-Wing Idiots is Good For The Soul

Hegelian dialectics were never a natural way to debate. Language evolved for personal expression, signalling to your own kind, warning calls, thus expressing emotions. But rational debate was a good idea and worth striving for. 

However, what little progress we’d made, as a society, seems to have been lost. Discussion has degenerated into angry shouting, and it will come as no surprise to you to that I blame social-media.

In the past, people would sit around in pubs and cafes, in kitchens, in student flats, and discuss matters that were important to them. There would be as many opinions and perspectives as there were people physically present. Many would be only tangentially relevant to the topic others felt most passionate about. Some would be irrelevant observations. Some people would be bored and try to get the conversation onto other subjects. At least one person would have the wrong end of the stick, and would think you’re talking about something else entirely. 

This is good and healthy. It reinforces a sense of community and the plurality of community. It helps diffuse antagonism and conflict and therefore any rising exasperation and antipathy. It gives the angry a sense of perspective.

The internet cannot replicate this sense of plural community, despite its constant use of the word, and its chatrooms. Online “communities” are formed around having the same opinion, rather than the geographical misfortune of having to live among this bunch of idiots and the consequent necessity of learning to tolerate, even like, those you profoundly disagree with.

Online interactions are strictly and artificially turn taking. They are thus binary, opposed, mano-a-mano single combats. Even in Zoom meetings, only one person can take the mic at a time. 

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