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In Defense of The Dying Art of Civil Discourse

When I was in boarding school, there were a variety of outlets that didn’t require usernames and passwords as mandates for entry. For me, the debate team was the ultimate goal, and luckily the ability to present my case in a distinctive and persuasive manner proved to be the right fit .

The varied topics presented their own unique climate, which could sometimes escalate into a full-blown battle that would threateningly veer into areas of turbulence before the moderator would swiftly intervene with the reset button; a necessary tool that would bring us back to civility.

And after all was said and done, the winners would bask in the glow of a hard-fought victory, while the opposing team reveled in the competitiveness of knowing that there will be another opportunity to reclaim the trophy they came so close to securing.

Even as impressionable teens, we were able to revert back to friendships and the warmness of a thriving community that wouldn’t have survived this present climate of “cancellations” and “dragging.”

All this to say that when it comes to the privilege of being able to respectfully disagree in a public forum where topics are shuffled and reshuffled with furious rapidness, and with the passionate and intimidating endorsement of users sporting the vivid blue badge of influential authority — we are unfortunately embodying a stifling era that revokes the right to state your case without the promise of being verbally slaughtered or worse.

I can barely summon the willpower to engage with folks who are only interested in the spectacle of disagreements, that seduce the boisterousness of the maddened crowd, who have all the time in the world to waste on trivialized discussions that could’ve been treated fairly enough to elevate that status to a progressive debate that gratifyingly enlightens.

Trending items tend to garner inflexibly assigned slots almost as soon as they make their debuts, and if you happen to disagree with the general consensus, the best option is to sheepishly refrain from commenting or maybe submit to the pressure of acknowledging by depositing tweets that are cowardly neutral.

And for those rare occasions when you’re feeling especially motivated, the tweets that are posted as a challenge to the only summation of events that will do, quickly draws the level of attention that forces you to shamefully remove the damning evidence of individualism. And sometimes you scrub away that tweet even before shit hits the fan, particularly when the ones you admire, who miraculously follow you, make that signal to other side.

But why can’t we respectfully agree to disagree without the rioting that leads to abuse and the accompanying regret that hovers as punishment for daring to step outside the folds of monolithic temperaments, that don’t encourage growth or the mental enhancements that propel us to seek the knowledge we deserve as ammunition against ignorant outsiders.

It’s disconcerting to observe the acute anger on display that overshadows the exercise in examining issues that are near and dear to us.

We can’t even accommodate a healthy discussion about our participation in a dying industry, and how maybe it’s not okay for some Black publications to treat writers like shit by changing up the rules for the benefit of uplifting visibility for a presidential candidate, while silencing the vital voices of talented journalists, who have a lot to share about the toxicity of the upcoming elections, and yet can’t express those views.

We can’t even dream of initiating talking points that examine the questionable track record of those we hold to such high esteem, without being pummeled by haters who don’t want to consider the possibilities outside the comfort of never having to be disappointed by the evidence that showcases how Oprah isn’t as spotless as the driveway to her Montecito estate.

We can’t loudly speak up on behalf of Kanye without eliciting the ire of his cancellers, who don’t want to hear about how his station as the quintessential artist, battling a crippling bipolar disorder that can make him vulnerable and even unreasonable, and why that doesn’t have to demand the extreme reactions to those imperfections.

The point is that we don’t have to follow the leader in every scenario, and we don’t always have to share the same views because that would be freaky, not to mention scarily robotic.

The sinister creators behind these combative mechanisms were probably aiming for the assembly lines of engagers, who exhibit the methodical responses to feeding frenzies, that none of us can ignore without being labeled as outcasts.

Imagine that we can’t be hired for certain jobs if our numbers don’t meet basic standards of healthy engagement. And for those of us who heavily tweet and write about controversial shit in ways that can be classified as militant, the prospect of forging trajectories in mainstream media is dangerously low.

We are being trained to curtail our thought process so that it fits into the boxes of approval that aren’t inter-changeable, and when we assume the role of defectors with conflicting interests that are begging for the nourishment of purposeful debates, that can lead to an agreeable truce— we end up turning on each other with the level of traitorousness that tragically keeps this current stagnancy, activated.

They say there’s no use in defending the things that can’t be reignited because of the formidableness of evolvement, and how it conditions us to seamlessly adapt to the results of our complicity, even when it’s killing us.

But I respectfully disagree. What do you think?

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say!

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