Healthy debate versus just being an asshole

XUP’s mention in her post yesterday of Tom Sawyer, one of her regular commenters, reminded me of a guy I once knew several years ago (a work acquaintance).

This guy was one of those people for whom the phrase “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” was created. He’d taken some psychology courses in university and had the impression that that made him a psychologist. So he’d deliberately make inflammatory comments just to get a rise out of you so he could observe your reaction. A bit like a shock jock, without the humour. One of his first comments to me when I first met him (in a work social setting), for example, was that he could tell by looking at me that I was a bitch when it came to social relationships with men.

There are a lot of people like him on the Internet, people who like to stir the pot just to stir the pot. They like to watch people rise to the bait, something that invariably happens. Their defense is that they are trying to spark debate. That’s bullshit. The people who truly are trying to spark debate genuinely like a lively debate so much that they will take the opposite view to yours in any given discussion just to keep the discussion going, even if they don’t believe the stance they take. The biggest difference between the two is that the people who genuinely like to debate tend to make fairly decent arguments in their favour without resorting to insults or personal jabs. The people just trying to get your goat frequently fall back on taking personal potshots.

In their own ways, each are annoying to be around, though only one is likely to get his face punched in by poking the wrong person on the wrong day.

I’m just sayin’….