Consensus or Debate?
I’m of the opinion that there’s a little too much consensus within the blogging and podcasting community that I'm part of. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have something in common with my fellow writers and it helps when advancing ideas to have grass root support. However if everyone pretty much agrees with each other it doesn't always make for an entertaining or rigorous debate. Braxwolf recently wrote a very personal post about his faith and strayed in to territory that most bloggers consciously avoid. As a result it attracted a great deal of comments because religion is a divisive subject and candid articles of this nature are rare.
We live in a world where many people are increasingly reticent to court controversy or publicly nail their colours to the mast. There are legitimate concerns that the moment take any particular stance on religious, political or social issues, your words can be willfully misconstrued, taken out of context and used against you. Political correctness, which is a greatly misunderstood term, has both benefits and pitfalls and sadly one of the negative effects it has is killing the desire to express a view for fear of how it will be received.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the art of debating and critical thinking are all too often absent from many blogs and podcasts. Many people are either unable to raise their arguments above the binary, or choose to ignore the intellectual requirements a rational debate imposes upon all parties. Too often a person’s right to have an opinion is mistaken for a right to have their opinion respected. Another fallacy is that all opinions are of equal value or merit. They are not. Giving an uninformed view equal airtime as that of an expert can be damaging. It implies that both views are on a par with each other. This is dangerous. Look at the harm the anti-vaccination lobby have done for example.
Another reason why many of us choose to stay away from major and controversial debates is because it takes a lot of hard work to prepare a measured, informed and persuasive argument. An empty sound bite, a glib one liner and scaremongering rants are two a penny and seldom require anything other than bluster and faux conviction. Considering all sides of a discussion and researching a credible, evidence based argument is a far more labour intensive task. Plus we now live in a world where being factually correct may not necessarily be perceived as winning an argument. Style so often trumps substance these days and the slick public speaker with the personality and jokes, may be able to convince audiences that they have won, even when they haven't. Spin is the foundation of modern politics and has subsequently bled out in to the wider culture.
The net result of this reluctance to engage as well as the refusal to acknowledge that one may be wrong, has led to the fragmentation of the gaming community. #GamerGate provided an object lesson on this phenomenon recently and we are still feeling the after effects. A divided community is hardly beneficial, especially if change is being sought. Then of course there are some individuals who do not have any specific sense of conviction and are simply affiliated to a particular side to advance their own ends. Usually this will be about self-promotion, click bait and money. Personally I think there are far too many "false prophets" in the gaming community at present.
With Burton & Scrooge Uncut making a return to podcasting, we have decided that the show is not going to dodge some of the harder and more challenging subjects. However we have no intention of showboating and throwing more fuel on the fire. We intend to grasps the nettle and discuss things in a measured, informed and adult fashion. Furthermore we will agree to disagree on some matters and will not feel the need to fallout with either our guest or listeners as a result. The mentality of the playground has been allowed to taint and derail discussions for too long and I think as a community it is time for us to relegate it to the fringes where it belongs.