Public Discussion

Obi wan Liberali recently asked others if he was considered liberal. Apparently some of his liberal friends thought he was not liberal enough because he is not inflammatory. The discussion that followed in the comments got me thinking about different sites that I have visited and my perceptions. I try to follow sites across the spectrum of political thinking. In doing so I have found some sites (liberal and conservative) where I cannot bring myself to follow closely. In my case, most of the ones I avoid are liberal. I suspect that a reasonable liberal, such as Obi wan, would find that there are more conservative sites he cannot bring himself to follow closely (I am not suggesting that he does, or should, read across the spectrum – only guessing about what I would find if I were liberal like him). That got me thinking that public discourse could be measured along two axis – liberal/conservative and reasonable/unreasonable.

I believe that reasonable discussants find it easy to read other reasonable discussants across the spectrum and less than reasonable discussants who match up with them ideologically. I also believe that unreasonable discussants provide fuel to other unreasonable discussants who are ideologically opposed to them. In other words it is probably fairly easy to follow those in adjacent quadrants, but unreasonable contributors tend to drive away reasonable contributors who are ideologically opposed to them. (Reasonable contributors probably bore unreasonable contributors who are ideologically opposed to them.)

It’s time for another grid:

I have tried to depict who would be alienated by a person who fell at various positions on the grid. For each dot, those on the other side of the line matching the color of the dot would be alienated (according to my theory).

By way of experiment, I am cross posting this at One Utah to see how the discussion differs since that site attracts a very different set of commentors.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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2 Responses to Public Discussion

  1. Reach Upward says:

    You really hit a sensitive point with me when you discussed alienation. I work at reasonable discussion on my blog, but it is likely that many bloggers find the fare I offer far too bland for their tastes.

    From my experience in the blogosphere, the involvement of some is fired by their love of ‘the game.’ They enjoy the argument and the tit-for-tat exchange more than they value gaining understanding. I find this on conservative and liberal sites.

    The blogosphere is rife with people whose opinions are concrete — all mixed up and permanently set. Their concourses of discussion generate much heat but little light. The arrogance, name-calling, and general lack of civility is breathtaking.

    I find this kind of fare alienating. I find myself avoiding such sites because I don’t want to spend time wading through the reeking stench in order to find a few gems of wisdom.

    I guess that one of the good things about the blogosphere is that no one is forced to visit any site. They can avoid the ones that don’t turn their crank. I can avoid the sites I find harsh, while others can avoid my site as being insufficiently titillating.

  2. David says:

    Thanks for validating my own observations and experience. I guess they key is as you said at the end – everyone is free to avoid those sites which do not appeal to them.

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