Americans no longer know how to debate — only how to argue

We have less than two months until the next general election — and only about eight months until all the votes get counted. During this period of time, there is going to be an awful lot of arguing back and forth on social media.

We will see manipulated photos and videos. We will see propaganda from Russians and Chinese and those dang Bermudans. Someone will die, and it will be that side’s fault. Another will die, and it’ll be the other side’s fault. People will point out hypocrisy on both sides, from lawmakers in hair salons to spiritual leaders in places of higher learning.

And we will argue about it. Too many of us, though, will do what is even worse — retreating into our bubbles of safe opinions with those who think exactly as we do. We will unfriend and hide from those who do not think like us or who do not provide the affirmation we seek.

We don’t debate anymore — we just argue. A debate would seek some sort of further understanding of an issue or an advancement toward a solution. Such debate could lead a person an inch or two away from their preconceived notions, so they avoid real debate.

What amazes me is the things people debate, er, argue over. Take science for instance. No one gets into a heated discussion over whether the sun is 93 million miles away from Earth or 91 million miles away. It’s just accepted science that it’s 93 million miles away (although I suspect it’s more like 92,998,457 miles away because 93,000,000 just seems a bit too round of a number, you know). Of course, the way recent summers have felt, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s actually 27 miles away.

Folks don’t debate whether 4+4=8, but they’ll argue over every number scientists put out about melting sea ice, global temperatures and hurricane frequency. They’ll argue over numbers put out by the CDC, the FBI, the IRS or the KGB. They won’t argue with their doctor over how much insulin they need to inject, but they will revolt if doctors (or an 18-year-old Wal-Mart employee) tells them to wear a mask.

And don’t even get me started on what folks say about Biden or Trump.

I do think it’s important to engage in actual debate. Actual debate does not mean accusing somebody of being racist or undereducated because they fly a Trump flag or accusing Biden of being a pedophile because of photos snapped during a split-second in front of 500 people at a public event. (I’ve even seen some pics of him consoling his grandchildren at his son Beau’s funeral used to perpetuate this delusion.) But, again, no one debates anymore. So, let’s focus a little more over the next couple of months on a few things we can agree upon and are absolutely inarguable.

Let’s agree that whoever is calling about our vehicle warranties is public enemy No. 1.

Let’s agree that fake crowd noise at empty stadiums is pretty stupid. Um, you’re not fooling anyone, so just play the game as best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt.

Let’s agree that if you’re driving and making a right turn but the right-turn lane has a yield sign and it’s the only dang yield sign at the intersection, um, you’re supposed to yield.

Let’s agree that folks who fail to return their shopping carts to an appropriate location are selfish and lazy.

Let’s agree that folks who toss their cigarette butts on the ground, sidewalk or beach are lazy and selfish.

And let’s agree that just about the only thing LinkedIn is good for is wishing dead people congratulations on their work anniversaries.

And until we can all learn to debate again — using facts and reliable sources — maybe we should agree to stop arguing all the time.

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