Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Little Bit About Disagreements

Well this blog thing has taken me a little bit of time to get used to.  I had hoped to have posts every couple of weeks, not every couple of months.

But that is besides the point.  Recently I have gotten into a few discussions with some friends, and they really managed to drive home the nature of disagreements.

I like to think of myself as a student of human nature.  It may be something of a grandiose claim, but at least that is my goal.  So when I have an argument with someone, I usually try analyze what underlying differences bubbled up to cause the disagreement.  What aspects of the discussion worked, and what didn't.  Sometimes I get more out of these reflections than other times. 

A lot of this ground has already been tread before.  After all this is the internet, and truly there is nothing new under the sun.  However, I think it's useful to add my two cents.  Why exactly may be the subject of another post. 

So back in grad school I had a little extra time on my hands (don't my why or how that happened), and so I found a small group of friends on facebook who had radically different views on religion than I did.  Technically, this group formed kind of organically, but regardless I soon found myself engaging in some highly charged debates on social issues.

Now realistically there is no reason to debate social issues on facebook.  You will never win a argument about politics, religion, or another person's spouse so why even try.  To be honest I'm not quite sure why I did either.  But I do know why I stayed.

I stayed because there were a few debaters who could remain relatively civil, and still discuss these hot button issues.  I'd like to say I was civil all the time, but I do know that I had my fair share of sarcasm.  From those civil debaters I learned a little bit of how the other side thinks.

Issues that were complex like abortion suddenly seemed to be about other more vague issues like sexuality.  Concepts of authority more dealt with issues of truth and faith.  The reason debates don't work is that the disagreement is often coming from many different underlying disagreements.  I kept debating, because over time I got a better view of these underlying disagreements.

One of the first steps in conflict resolution is to identify common values and ideals.  There are a lot of reasons to that, but the biggest one that I have seen time and time again is that people have a habit of debating from two completely different worldviews.  It is hard to decide on a color scheme when one of you thinks that blue is pink, and the other one thinks that green is the devil.

Now over time I have gotten less and less free time on my hands.  I have fewer debates that I can freely engage in.  So as a result I don't dive into debates any more unless I have a very narrow point to get across.  I have switched from debate infantry to a debate sniper.

On my own pages I have gotten to a point where I usually mirror the other commenter.  If they disagree, but seem open to discussions I usually begin by sorting out the facts and finding common ground.  If the disagree and are truly disagreeable about that fact, then some sarcastic comments peppered with my own opinion is about all I give.

The people who disagree, are unwilling to discuss the nature of that disagreement, won't budge a bit, and are rude in the process are known as trolls.  And you don't feed trolls.  If you do feed happen them, you only give them short bursts of sarcasm for your own self-aggrandizement.  Don't fool yourself, your never going to convince them, and you are not going to grow yourself.  In fact you are likely to only make yourself look bad and waste your afternoon doing it. 

My hope, and my end goal, is that debates with me are a spreading common ground done through the use of facts that drives down to deeper differences.  I believe I have gotten quite good at that when I'm not riled up.  Which is why you really shouldn't disagree with someone when riled up...nothing good can come of it.

If you've made it this far in my unbelievably long post, and disagree with anything I've said you can piss off do so civilly in the comments section.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Begin The Rambling

It has taken me forever and three days to get a website of some sort up and running, and finally I've done it.   I've had a desire to carve out my own corner in the internet for some time, but always something got in the way.

Back in college when I first got the idea that I had ideas, and maybe those ideas should be written down somewhere I wrote facebook notes, because back then facebook notes were all the rage.  They were easy, and people read them.  Hell, I knew a guy who wrote hundreds of facebook notes.  But all that was four or five years ago, which is a dynasty in computer years.  Now I don't even know how to find my old notes in facebook, let allow read anyone elses.

Of course facebook was great for internet word vomiting to your friends, acquaintances, and that cute person you met at that one bar/restaurant where you went to see that one band (you remember that one you even got a hug from them at the end of the night, and it like totally blew your mind).  Anyways, there was always a question of how to spread your electronic words out into people that you didn't even know yet.

Back in those days in the long long ago, you could use live journal.  I just couldn't get myself to do it.  The concept of my journal being alive scared the crap out of me.  I'm pretty sure that my journal coming alive would be a civilization ender, or at least a town eater.  Either way, I just wasn't that cool with the concept.

No, what I needed to do was make a blog.  Because when you have a blog, it is like having your own personal plane of existence, where you are God.  "Hey I don't like this background...." Bam it becomes My Little Pony background.  Of course this can cause some problems, viz. MySpace.

But let's be honest with each other here, being a God is hard.  There is a lot of creation, and CSS.  I mean once you have something you can improve on it and make it better, but making something from scratch takes effort.  That is why there are eleventy billion website tools to help you make the number one website to help you make money fast, or at least that is what I've been told.

When I was in college though I was an idealist.  I refused to work with those inferior systems with all their bloated javascript, and their extra page-loads.  I was going to create a sleek, slender, modern, minimal, awesome, functional, delicious, nonlinear, and static website for me to broadcast my ideas from the mountaintops of the internet.

It turns out that is a lot of work.  I never quite got there.  I always learned things, but I could never quite get something to ship.  Then I got a masters degree, and got a job.  Suddenly I had no time to worry about how awesome such a website would be, but I still had a strong desire to write.  And I felt that writing should be public, because public writing gets more criticism and makes me work at it more.  Even if no one reads it, the possibility that it might be read gives me that much more energy to review and reflect on it.

So after a year of working it over I decided to get a blogging engine.  I thought about tumblr, because it has so many awesome things, but it doesn't have a data export.  And kids these days, they just don't seem to care about vendor lock-in.   Wordpress is shiny, and has some export feature.  But blogger really seemed to have the administrative end well done, and it exports everything to an Atom feed, so in the end the choice was clear and the work only took a day.

I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do with this website.  I've named it Programming Policy Philosophy, because those are the three things that seem to get me worked up.  However, it may just end up devolving into fart jokes and recycled cat macros.

Hey it was either this, or spamming everyone on Twitter.