The Argument Culture Essay, Research Paper
On any given night when watching the news, there are bound to be a number of stories involving arguments. Usually there are two sides to each point of contention, and both sides seem unable to compromise. But there are also a large number of times when the media examines stories which are not argumentative, sometimes regarding fact, possibly human interest. This mix represents the multiple ways we view the world. Without a doubt, the argument culture to which Deborah Tannen refers in The Argument Culture exists, but it is nevertheless countered by a distinct interest in goodness and compromise rather than strictly confrontation. Unfortunately, differences in opinion are often staged as brutal battles rather than the potential for learning. Our society has started to shift from intellectually stimulating opinion-based discussions to more confrontational polarized debates, nevertheless there are a number of issues which are not argued at all.
Tannen?s assertion that we tend to approach the world in terms of two distinct choices is exemplified in the current partisan political system under which this country operates. Specifically, in presidential debates, candidates become so embroiled in proving themselves “right” and others “wrong” they neither hear nor acknowledge the merits of another point of view. Without a doubt, this obsession with battles and arguments adds to the ineffectuality of our current political system. In addition, political figures have become so concerned with losing some of their extreme constituents, that they refuse to compromise and move closer to the middle. The current approach to politics need not be so argumentative as to eclipse the pressing issues at hand. Fortunately, there is still a great desire in our country for peace and compromise.
Not every issue is presented in terms of an argument. However, in many cases these issues are overlooked because they lack the confrontational qualities that the media needs for sales and ratings. Hearing two sides of an issue which then requires personal thought and reflection are usually more interesting than undisputed facts, so even factual information is spun to involve controversy. But this does not mean that human nature is becoming more obsessed with arguments. It is merely that the media exploits conflict. There are a plethora of examples of facts which don?t warrant news coverage because they are not disputed. Generally, service to the community, which is at the forefront of importance to many people does not involve arguments. Random acts of kindness are typically viewed as just that. While it may be interesting to watch people take sides, it is equally heartwarming to observe the goodness innate in humans as well.
Both arguments and the lack thereof are essential to a functioning society, However, as Tannen states, the automatic leap towards confrontation can be disastrous and counter-productive, which is not to say that they are not times when debates and intellectual battles are integral parts of learning. While the argument culture seems to have pervaded our society, I don?t think individually our nature is to be confrontational or argumentative. It is important to remember that we can learn more by keeping an open mind.