Civil discourse has left the building

couple arguingA recent exchange I saw on Facebook exemplifies to me both what is wrong with discourse in this world and what could have been very constructive.

“Person A” quoted part of a comment from “Person B” and then declared that the statement “…tells everything about the heart attitude of the person. Most people who [fill in the blank with your favorite cause] don’t use terms like that…”

Not surprisingly, Person B took offense to what Person A was implying. No one short of God can truly know a person’s heart, he fired back, and proceeded to call Person A “ignorant and arrogant.” Thus the presumptuous characterization by Person A succeeded only in provoking an indignant response. The ensuing exchange was laced with accusations of personal attacks followed by flimsy denials and counter-attacks.

That is what’s wrong with discourse in social media and the world at large.

The shame of this is Person A’s post also contained some well-reasoned arguments that supported his viewpoint. Thought-provoking, even, and hardly the words of an ignorant person. Left by themselves they would have been constructive and could have led to better understanding among people with differing opinions. We desperately need more of that kind of dialogue. But those points were mostly lost amid the noise of the accompanying insults and assumptions which, yes, came across as arrogant.

Sad thing is, this example (which I admit is tame compared to a lot of exchanges you see) is the norm and not the exception. It’s what assaults us pretty much every time a controversial subject comes up. We’re all about ridiculing, cursing, and assuming the worst about each other.

It’s been said that we have to “earn the right to be heard.” Lord knows we don’t do that by alienating our audience with verbal abuse, we do it by engaging them in thoughtful, edifying discussion.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the state of civil discourse? What has your experience been?

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/


2 thoughts on “Civil discourse has left the building

  1. Cool Deb

    Call me a social pollyanna but I find social discourse to be civil. My Facebook account is more personal; my Twitter account is more professional. Both are equal in civility and respect. I am a huge advocate for social, especially for organizations to see, here and learn from.

    1. Chip McCraw Post author

      Deb, my Twitter account is more of a professional outlet too and yes, it’s definitely more civil. I wish my Facebook feed were as respectful. I have friends on opposite ends of many issues and it’s not fun to watch sometimes.


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