It has become a known fact that our nation now thrives on the thought of political controversy. No matter which side of the isle one walks down, the notion of progressively attacking our country’s largest issues at their roots in hopes of creating solutions to our problems has evolved into the idea of aggressively attacking them. The truest downfalls of this country are no longer the primary topics of discussion. Rather, it has become a debacle of pointing fingers at one another in the sole pursuit of proving the opposing side wrong versus advocating for or against the dilemmas at hand. This behavior is projected through all elements of media, and it is the negative development of the argument culture in America that is setting us back from potential political progress.
After recently reviewing a section of a novel entitled "The Argument Culture" by author Deborah Tannen, I found myself particularly intrigued by the overall content. The piece not only discusses the transformation of the argument culture in today’s society, but provides readers with an in depth look at the concept in its most basic form. Tannen writes that argument culture, “has served us well in many ways but in recent years has become so exaggerated that it is getting in the way of solving our problems. Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention -- an argument culture.
The argument culture urges us to approach the world -- and the people in it -- in an adversarial frame of mind.
It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done: The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as "both sides"; the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to attack someone; and the best way to show you're really thinking is to criticize.”
The word “criticism” struck me funny, as I believe it to be the key component to this ultra-specific definition. Not only do we see this reaction through a political lens, though we see it in multiple aspects of our daily lives. As human beings that are constantly exposed to contriving aspects of feeling inadequate, our first response is to criticize another in hopes of boosting our own morale. Instead of addressing our own personal insecurities, we find it easier to compare ourselves to others and talk ourselves into attacking their differences so we may gain a greater sense of confidence within ourselves.
This, in turn, has a significant influence on the shaping of our argument culture, as we believe this is an acceptable retaliation in all areas of life. Yet, what is important is to realize that this flow of negativity begins with us as individuals. If we continue to believe in this distorted concept of irrationality, we have no right to scrutinize the reflective behavior in our political system.It takes but one person to make a difference in this world. If we ourselves take no initiative to institute change in our surroundings, we will be forced to live with such an ineffective argument culture.