Perspective | The problems with online ?debate me? culture


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The New York Times
SOURCE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/whats-wrong-with-online-debate-me-culture/2019/08/29/c0ec8aa2-c9ca-11e9-8067-196d9f17af68_story.html
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Summary

Their model is not Lincoln and Douglas, but rather Socrates: By needling their interlocutors with rapid-fire questions, they aim to reveal, as they see it, their opponents’ ignorance and stupidity, and their own superior intelligence and logic.My most memorable “debate me” involved a white-nationalist YouTube personality with a ridiculous ersatz Latin pseudonym (which I don’t want to share, since he doesn’t deserve the attention), who appeared in my Twitter mentions one day, absurdly insisting that I have called the classics inherently fascist. It’s a natural fit for online debaters who are convinced that they are more logical and less emotional than the people they challenge.These modest men also identify with Socrates, the original “debate me” troll. Many of the dialogues end when the interlocutor has been bludgeoned into submission and seems to find it easier to agree with Socrates than continue further — every “debate me” man’s dream.After all, a debate isn’t a conversation — an exercise in which people generously try to understand each other’s point of view.

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