Friday, August 26, 2011

Absolutely *not* Filler

[Please visit www.jasonkorolenko.com for updated content]

Lately, when I glance at the stats for this blog, I see something like "Three weeks since last post," written in italics, as if the damned thing is taunting me. It teases, it lashes out. Eventually, it starts to get whiny. "You don't love me," it says. "Why don't you love me?"

And I feel bad. "Infamy and Misfortune," I say, "I adore you. I do. No, there's no one else. I swear."

It's a lie, though. There is someone else: From the Woods to the Jungle.

But I still love you, Infamy and Misfortune. I will always love you. In fact, very soon, I will have some news for you to spread to the world. Be patient.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Lost Art of Debate*

[Please visit www.jasonkorolenko.com for updated content]

I miss the days when two people could champion severely opposing views, but still discuss their opinions in a respectful, intelligent manner. When did argument become anathema? Is it a result of constant political mudslinging? A perception of increased social aggression? Does it come from watching courtroom dramas where prosecutors manipulate people to confuse perception with truth (and vice versa)? Or from hearing Mom and Dad go at it at 3 am because Dad just came home drunk and stinking of cheap perfume?

Mostly, it is because people have forgotten that argument promotes education, and is not simply a way to fight with someone who thinks differently.

We've all known someone like Imaginary Barry (no offense to any real Barrys out there), whose ego is so big that he can't even entertain the concept of being wrong. So instead of educating himself, or spending five minutes away from Call of Duty to come up with an intelligent, informed response, he resorts to insults or name-calling. He'll keep insulting, and keep name-calling, until the opposing party finally shuts down in despair.

Then there's Sheepish Keith, a quiet and reserved sort of guy, who doesn't like to argue because he's afraid someone might not like his opinion, and therefore might not like him. But there's also Ralph the Pacifist, who refuses to state his opinion out loud because he feels the word "argument" has a negative connotation, and believes the inevitable outcome of every debate is full-on fisticuffs. Let's not forget Apathetic Jack who has no real opinion about anything at all.

"But Jason," you may be asking, "aside from your (successful) attempt at blanket generalization, and (largely unsuccessful) attempt at humor, what's your point?"

My point is that people need to stop being so sensitive. Just because I disagree with you doesn't mean that I think your opinion is stupid. It doesn't mean I think you are stupid. It doesn't mean that I naturally assume your bathroom is a filthy mess or that you wear the same underwear three days in a row. I don't judge your background or your upbringing based on your beliefs, so don't judge mine.

Your opinion is just that: yours. Be proud of it. Support it, promote it. Understand that the best way to strengthen your belief is to listen to - and learn from - the opinions of others. And - shock! horror! - that may force you to question your beliefs, at which point, one of three things will happen: (1) You will work to put some muscle onto your opinion's measly frame. (2) You will consider trading your opinion in for a newer model. (3) You will rebel, withdraw, and call everyone around you an asshole.

Don't be a number three.


*Give thanks to Lawrence Pearce's Twitter Feed for inspiring this post. And check out his excellent blog while you're at it.