Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy

A Practical Reminder From My Peer Mentor: Don’t Argue With Idiots

Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. ~Mark Twain

Even while intending to enjoy a quiet evening surfing the Internet, today’s increased interconnectivity means higher chances of interacting with people who’re very different from you (e.g. at different developmental stages with different capacities to understand various subjects). Unexpectedly, you may find yourself slipping into a debate and committed to seeing it through to the end.

It’s during times like these when I appreciate being reminded to pull back and take stock of other people’s capacity to understand the topic at hand so that I don’t wind up banging my head (or theirs) against the wall trying to prove a point. Such a task may be likened to explaining calculus to the average 1- year old and, as the preceding video illustrates, persistence in the endeavor may make you look like the fool instead.

Run-of-the-mill conversations (or, rather, the geeky 2-person debate club) between me and my peer mentor revolve around deeper, abstract, and often esoteric topics (which I’ll cover in the future). However, even if needed just once in a long while, timely reminders of life’s little lessons are just as important.

For instances where he’s suggested I think twice about various, potentially silly, courses of action and everything he’s contributed in the past 14 years, here’s a brief shout-out to the one I’ve come to consider “the other half of my brain,” a brilliant devil’s advocate and worthy opponent, my right-hand man, best friend, and peer mentor. This post is dedicated to him. Happy Birthday N.M.! 

In conclusion, here are some questions for my readers. What are your thoughts on the video’s message? How do you judge if a debate (particularly one that occurs online) is worth pursuing?

5 responses to “A Practical Reminder From My Peer Mentor: Don’t Argue With Idiots

  1. Thomas July 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Good question. I don’t often get into exchanges in comment threads, but when I do, the exchanges are almost invariably unproductive. Perhaps that’s because I tend to express my views emphatically, thus attracting a combative person to jump in or triggering the combative instinct in a person on whose views I’m commenting. Perhaps my exchanges would be more productive if I were to come at them less combatively — by adopting a neutral tone or offering my thoughts as a “possibility,” for example. But when it becomes obvious that the discussion is going nowhere, I will continue to do what I do now: Fire my best shot (for the satisfaction of doing so) and walk away from the thread. If the other person comes back with a comment, I don’t know and don’t care because I’ve decided not to waste any more time on the exchange.

    • L. P. July 22, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks for commenting. I’ve participated in more protracted exchanges on LinkedIn (as a debate has yet to occur at this blog). In doing so, the manner in which people express their ideas along with their writing skill helps me gauge if we’re at about the same level and, hence, if they’re capable of understanding the information I convey. Of course, even seemingly intelligent people can blindside me with narrow-mindedness and, in this case, I know there’s nothing more I can do to open them up to a different viewpoint.

  2. cindy knoke July 23, 2015 at 12:17 am

    He he he he! I am a trained shrink. Shrinks never argue. Once you commence an argument you lose in my line of work, so one never starts. It works online too. If someone starts to be argumentative, I say, “this is an ‘unusual, interesting, novel’ whatever perspective.” If they really are messing with me they go to spam. If they are worse than spam, which has only happened 2x’s, they get black listed which is a wp function for dealing with PIA”s! 😉

    • L. P. July 23, 2015 at 12:47 am

      Hi Cindy! If ever there’s another reason not to engage in online debates, I don’t like to feel tethered to my computer (it’s hot enough in Redding that I’d rather avoid baking myself here). Hence, I’d estimate that over 90% of the debates I engage in are only between me and my peer mentor here (because we both take enjoyment out of interacting with each other this way and neither of us take it personally).

      However, there’s just one phrase he uses that absolutely drives me nuts: It is what it is. I can accept that sometimes “it is what it is” but I think there are also situations where it’s more than what “it is” or even it isn’t what one thinks it is. Ugh, he and I can go in circles about this, hahaha! 😛

  3. Mike July 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

    Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Good one from Lynn! Watch the video!!!
    It’s so easy these days with all of the social media encounters to get caught up in arguments. Usually, they are wastes of time.

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