Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Bit of Modern Etiquette

I turned off ISC chat today. I didn't want to do it, but I thought politeness required that I do so, before I let loose a comment I would later regret. Why? Inauguration blather.

There is a reason why the adage exists that recommends avoiding discussion of politics, religion, or money. People have different views, and often their opinions are strongly held. I make no apologies for opinions I hold, and those with opposing views are equally entitled to them. Nonetheless, there are times and places for expressing those views, and times and places for keeping tactfully silent. It strikes me that ISC chat falls into the latter category.

Should those who believe today's events are not a cause for celebration, but merely another milepost on the long march toward socialism and poverty speak up, thereby precipitating an argument? Should the loyal opposition observe to the crowd that the adulation is more than a little creepy, and reminiscent of various populist leaders who later turned out to have very authoritarian tendencies? Or should the proper response be silence, thereby effectively muting the minority? How can any of those be consistent with politeness?

Mind you, I am not saying that like-minded individuals should not get together and celebrate in any way they feel is appropriate. I noticed that Miss Poppy and Mr. Margulis were advertising a celebratory event. If one attends, one should not be surprised at an outpouring of happiness. Similarly, one cannot complaint about partisan chat when participating in a group called "Barack Obama Sends a Tingle Down My Leg" (as MSNBC partisan Chris Matthews once said). But ISC chat? Please, folks.


Anonymous said...

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the politics is perhaps a personal matter. The fact that there are elections taking place in many countries, all the time and, despite this, the citizens of those countries are able to contain themselves on such subjects is, I think, admirable, and worth emulating.

Vivito Volare said...

I am not one to state opinions as set in stone. I am also one to act contrary to my stated opinions.
So, with that caveat, it is my opinion that ISC is not the idyll place for discussions of a political, religious, sexual, or economic nature.

This is not because of the nature of topic, but of the medium. It takes a long time to bring word and meaning into sync with one other person in order to have a concrete conversation, and even longer for an abstract one. None of us have known each other long enough to feel vested in our shared definitions.

Abstract and compicated issues require levity, and small ones require patience.


There is an old saying, that a conversation devoid of conflict is not a conversation.

All told, I would rather exchange ideas, even heatedly, regarding issues than regarding people.

One borders on pontification, the other, gossip.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I've often said, and will repeat, that group chat is not a place for discussing politics or religion (economics I'll forgive, though it often moves on to politics).

I very much enjoy discussing politics and religion but I'm able to do so as detached from my own beliefs.

Sadly many people have the "I'm right and why can't you idiots see that?" mentality when it comes to discussing such things.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Now that my fit of pique has passed with time, I do regret just a little bit sounding so aggrieved. Well, it happens.

All the pomp associated with the handover of power is fascinating to watch, I acknowledge. Given the political leanings of many of the good folk in Caledon, it's perfectly understandable that yesterday was an exciting day for many.

However, as Mr. Volare said, ISC chat is not a good medium for exchanging certain types of views - the nature of the exchange lends itself to quips and quick comments, rather than thoughtful analyses. An off-the-cuff statement, such as one I heard yesterday (from someone outside the U.S., I believe), that he or she was "glad to see Bush go" because "most people dislike him," may be perfectly heartfelt and backed by logical analysis, but there is simply no way to convey those reasons in chat, and no opportunity for others to introduce different facts or opinions into the discussion (or even to find common ground).

Mr. Pearse, you are rare indeed if you can detach the position you argue from your own beliefs. Those skilled in formal debate can do that, but it is something that most of us lack.

My dismay about the whole thing was because I had made a conscious choice to immerse myself in neo-Victorian nonsense rather than watch the news, yet people kept bringing the news to me. I was reminded of an earlier episode, in which one of our bretheren (whom I respect enormously) kept interjecting the score of a certain sporting event: I resisted the temptation to say, "Everyone here has an Aetherweb connection, sir. If we wanted to know the score of the game, we would have it already."

But a good, stiff drink set everything to rights again.