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JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 10, 2012

– How the Internet has altered the way we argue.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Recently I came across a local news story having to do with road rage. Evidently, two men in their twenties got into a highway dispute in the wee hours of a morning which led to a physical confrontation whereby one man finally pulled out a gun to defend himself and killed the other person. The shooter has not been charged with a crime as he is protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. This resulted in a firestorm of letters commenting on the story, most criticizing the shooter and claiming the victim was a really nice guy. Interestingly, most of the people springing to the defense of the victim appeared to be of the same age (in their twenties). Those who came to the defense of the shooter appeared to be older. This led to a rather toxic debate on the Internet with the two sides arguing which person was at fault in the incident. So much so, I got the uneasy feeling the issue started to become as ugly as the initial confrontation, maybe more so.

As for me, I felt it was an unfortunate incident but I certainly didn’t have enough information to form an opinion one way or another, just an article where the reporter pieced together a story from law enforcement reports. This is why I was surprised by the vicious discourse resulting from the article. Some of the commentators were familiar with the location where the shooting occurred, some claimed to know one or the other person in the incident, and others played detective or attorney. All had a definite opinion which they fervently argued, some even going so far as to attack anyone possessing an opposing opinion. I was actually more aghast by the comments as opposed to the actual accident itself. Obviously, none of them were present at the time of the incident, nor knew the sequence of events leading up to it, nor the evidence or testimony compiled by the police afterwards, yet they were hellbent on defending their position which struck me as rather strange. The same can also be said about the Trayvon Martin incident where the public became a lynch mob before allowing the police to complete their investigation.

Actually, these incidents typify how Americans tend to argue in the 21st century. It is not so much a matter of civil discourse anymore as it is spin, attack, ridicule, deceive, and assassinate character; a sort of “Sherman’s march to the sea” mentality where everything is destroyed that gets in the way of the person arguing. This approach has been facilitated by the Internet where it is easy to snipe at your opponent under the cloak of anonymity which seems rather cowardly to me. This is why I have always tried to maintain my true identity on the Internet as I am willing to stand by my words. You may not always agree with me, but you know where I stand on an issue.

In both my writings and pursuant correspondence I avoid saying anything I wouldn’t be afraid to say to a person’s face. I know a lot of people on the Internet who cannot make this same claim. I am also mindful of the old axiom, “If you haven’t got anything good to say about a person, do not say it.” As such, I do not engage in arguments where I know the other person is trying to bait me. If I were to take the bait and allow myself to argue in the gutter, I would lose my dignity and respect, which is something my opponent may be willing to risk, but I am not. When it is apparent we are at loggerheads, and we will obviously not change each other’s opinion or perspective, I simply drop the matter recognizing it is futile to continue. In other words, a lot of people need to learn when to “let it go.”

Understand this though, my way of arguing is considered old school. Today’s Internet savvy kids do not possess this school of thought and, consequently, do not abide by any rules whatsoever. As far as they are concerned, all is fair in love and war, and show no restraint in their arguments or ethical compunction. Somewhere along the line we have forgotten that arguments are a very personal form of communications. We can either do it with a little style and respect for the other party, or simply go for the jugular. Unfortunately, the era of gentlemanly debate ended with the 20th century. It may be considered a bygone era, but we didn’t have quite as many Road Rage incidents back then either.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
THE HEALTH NAZIS – “NO SOUP KITCHENS FOR YOU!” – Oh, oh, look out, government bureaucrats are at it again.

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5 Responses to “JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS”

  1. Bryce,
    I wanted to express how much I enjoyed your absolutely objective (and eye opening) blog post titled “Jumping to Conclusions” posted today.
    I think you really emphasized clearly how much of a role the media and public has created a perception of bias in this case and has elevated this to a serious matter of racism (including the Black Panthers). This story has received so much air time and support (many “hoodie rallies” were held in memory of Trayvon Martin), however, it seems obvious there is a force behind this media insurgency making us as readers and consumers feel bad for the handsome Martin and hate the “perpetrator” and the “racist” George Zimmerman. Martin’s death was over seven weeks ago and the investigation has not furthered, unless you count the announcement of the intentional absence of grand jury in the case.

    I truly expect to the see the same amount (if not much more) backlash with the media as with Casey Anthony. Martin’s case has reopened and poured salt into racism wounds that I thought was healed. With death threats coming from every angle for Zimmerman and the complementary coverage online, it seems easy to jump to his guilt. It is time that will bring true evidence and eventual justice and I hope the media sticks along long enough to report that.

    Your opinion on media bias and overall objectivity in this case has been an appreciated breathe of fresh air as a studying journalism student and close observer on this case.

    I wanted to share with you a video about the Trayvon Martin case that I think you will find relevant and supplemental to your coverage. I hope you enjoy it, as I included the link below.

    “No Grand Jury in Trayvon Martin Case”
    http://www.newsy.com/videos/no-grand-jury-in-trayvon-martin-case

    The clip does a great job of concisely sourcing and compiling news reports to emphasize the scope and context the content being reported on. Newsy synthesizes and analyzes news into neutral comprehensive video clips showing a variety of opinions on the story.

    I hope you will embed this video into your blog and maybe in the future, we could swap blogroll links and widgets.

    Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I look forward to working with you in the future,

    Lyndsey Garza
    Community for Newsy
    Twitter: @newsyvideos
    http://www.facebook.com/newsyvideos

    Like

    • Tim Bryce said

      Lyndsey –

      Many thanks for your comments, and the video link; very interesting. I would be delighted to work with you at Newsy. I also offer my column as an audio MP3 file. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about video. Drop me a line at timb001@phmainstreet.com if you are so inclined.

      All the Best,
      Tim Bryce

      Like

  2. Jenn said

    I have to agree Tim. The way of arguing today is not really debate style arguing. It is a Sherman’s March to the Sea–and I love that analogy you use. There is no respect for an opposing opinion…if you don’t agree with the masses you are part of the problem. And that mentality, in my opinion is creating a closed mindedness from the very people who claim to be open-minded.. I guess the younger generation will do what they are taught. Go to a political rally, watch the analysis shows on cable news stations–they all do this–and it is irritating as heck. I have since kept my nose out of internet debates on politics for this reason. I won’t be baited.

    Cheer, Jenn.

    Like

    • Tim Bryce said

      Thanks Jenn (I see you’re up early). Yes, people get easily baited and as cannot win in such arguments there is no point in lowering yourself to the level of your antagonist.

      All the Best,
      Tim

      Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A P.M. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “Good article, Tim. Dropping the argument before you find yourself slugging it out in the gutter is what I have to do with one of my daughters who is too liberal to separate fact from fiction. I cannot discuss politics with her; not even the KeystoneXL pipeline. DUHHH.”

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “This essay REALLY hit my hot buttons. This total lack of concern for others and insistance on getting what they want is exactly what I am dealing with now, since we have two-digit IQ, immature, low-life neighbors all around us. I was brought up with very high ethical standards and a social conscience, taught to be decent and never get angry and lower myself to their level, no matter how you are treated, and grew up in a highly intellectual family, full of reasonable people who could argue without taking it personally or ever personally attacking. One thing I have now learned. THAT DOES NOT WORK WITH THESE TYPES OF PEOPLE.

    My husband has lived here all his life and thinks all people are like this. He has refused to move, even when we had enough extra money to do so, because he believes all neighborhoods are like this, despite never having lived anywhere else since he was three years old. I’ve lived in eight states and in six areas of Pinellas County, and only here have I encountered this. After reading your essay, I am now wondering if my husband is right. I have no idea how to deal with these people who can’t even think, let alone think logically, and who blame others for things they have done themselves. Letting it go and walking away is not an option here, as you mention, because these people regard it as weakness and only increase the bullying, and the constant noise. I have found the one and only way to get them to back off is to be even louder, meaner and scarier than they are. I hate having to do that, but it is all they understand, having grown up in trashy homes where that was normal behavior. You don’t have people like this in your affluent neighborhood, do you? God help us if this is everywhere. The moral rot alone will destroy us, even without the political/financial efforts being made to do so. This is my biggest problem in life, far, far worse than my physical illness, our financial insecurity, and being so far from my closest friends, who are keeping me going through all this by phone and e-mail.”

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “I have also noticed that lack of solid information does not deter some people from forming and expressing opinions. The media is at fault for spinning, slanting and spiking information, but we should all be smart enough to wait for facts if we cannot find them by research. Showing a shooting victim’s baby picture next to one of the shooter, for example, tilts the truth and fans the flames of indignation. Freedom of speech allows us to express ourselves, but with it comes the responsibility to listen to the other person’s words with respect. While we may not agree on the issue discussed, we need to respect each other’s right to hold an opposing opinion.”

    An R.M. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “I liked your article. Critical thinking – it’s the other national deficit! Sadly, opinion commentary on blogs, social and broadcast media have become misinterpreted as objective news by a growing number in our society. Like your ‘way of arguing,’ I fear civility in general is becoming ‘old school’.”

    Like

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