Last week I got into a Facebook debate with a longtime correspondent who ended a discussion she had thoughtlessly started and an argument I was winning handily by writing, "As with other things David I am happy to agree to disagree but two last things I will mention …."
And then used her last word to accuse me of not being on the side of Jesus and Ghandi. (Really!)
I didn't mind that as much as I minded the "agree to disagree" bailout. There are times when it's good to agree to disagree: Usually with a relative with whom you have more than once taken the same argument to its utterly dreadful, screaming extreme.
But in round three of a Facebook debate on a wholly new subject? That's just putting on your hat and walking out the door before you have to admit that maybe possibly perhaps you are partly wrong.
Agree? (Or agree to disagree?)
YES. I hate that. See also the similarly stupid and white-flag-waving “everyone has the right to have an opinion.” While true, not all opinions are of equal value.
David Murray says
I think people often post or express their opinions not for the sake of starting a conversation or a debate, but to reveal or show off something about themselves (they’re loving, they’re generous, they’re understanding) … and then when a debate ensues they feel sorry for themselves. THIS WAS NOT WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND.
I think people who see argument as an essential (and often fun) method of human communication should shower in separate bathrooms from those who think a debate is a nightmare and a fiercely argued case is an affront.
Sometimes you remind me of Kevin McMurtrey.
David Murray says
That’s a little opaque, Suzanne, even to me. Are you trying to make a point while avoiding an argument?
Judy Gombita says
When I attended a Crucial Skills workshop (this one led by David Maxwell), I asked him that same question:
Isn’t it a cop-out to say “agree to disagree?”
He said normally yes. The exception was a “wedge issue,” whereby there was virtually no possibility of any movement on either side.
And let’s face it, David, you don’t want to “agree to disagree” because then the “debate” would be over…..