Can we all stop agreeing with each other and have some arguments please?

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Copyright, TarkiB

One thing I notice an awful lot of are comments on blogs that start, “Great post,” or “I couldn’t agree more.”  Rarely do I see “What are you out of your mind?”  Or “Are you on crack?”  Yet I wonder if instead of simply echoing each other’s sentiments about the awesomeness of community or the transformational power of social media, or the lack of vision of those who’ve yet to embrace Twitter, we should have a few more disagreements.

Let’s debate whether or not Twitter actually will extend its value from the core user community to have a long term impact on individuals and marketers.  Let’s disagree about whether social media is replacing true human contact.  Maybe we can get really opinionated and insist that despite the community’s desire to participate in creating advertising that crowdsourcing is a terrible idea if we value quality creative and craftsmanship.  Better yet we can even have an argument over what we should argue about.

Everyone agrees with Chris Brogan. At least most of the time.  (Usually I do, too.)  And with Seth Simonds. And with David Armano. And with Amber Naslund. I’m noticing that people are more often than not agreeing with me.  Which is the last thing I’m looking for.

It seems to be a blog thing, especially a social media blog thing.  It’s far less common on news and editorial sites. When I wrote an article for AdWeek last April, lots of people disagreed with me.  I loved that.  It made for interesting debate and conversation and I even got a post out of it.

Maybe we simply need to write more challenging posts and take more controversial positions.  Or perhaps we should all go and read people with whom we disagree instead of those who already reinforce our positions.

Am I the only one? Are we all just a little to considerate out here?  What do you think?  Agree?  Or disagree?

82 comments
saimaayub
saimaayub

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Paul Marobella
Paul Marobella

Hey Edward,

Geez, 85-comments to get through before I can leave mine?! I was at Ad:Tech/Chicago, today. And the funny thing is that there was some great arguments on one or two of the panels. Sadly, they seemed more personal-based than perspective-based. But I digress, the mutual-admiration society that is our business, has to come to end for us to truly progress.

Love the blog.

Paul
.-= Paul Marobella´s last blog ..Live Blogging: Ad:Tech Chicago - Client Bashing =-.

gabriela rolim
gabriela rolim

;) u must visit the brazilian world of twitter... we only have FIGHTS! everybody hates each other... you will love it ;D
.-= gabriela rolim ´s last blog ..Xuxa Meneghel ganha profile falso no Twitter =-.

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

I think we can agree that the photo for this post is pretty awesome. Nice pick.
.-= Leo Bottary´s last blog ..Why You Should Interview Anyone Who Asks =-.

Laura Bergells
Laura Bergells

You know what the best part of this post is?

The comments!

The way this post is constructed allowed a dynamite conversation to evolve.

Some bloggers state very obvious things. It isn't meant to encourage a conversation. Perhaps it's only meant to elicit a "thanks for the thought".

When you post to provoke, though - it seems you're bound to get more stimulating commentary.

bowerbird
bowerbird

oh, and just for the record,
i blame it on dale carnegie. :+)

-bowerbird

Bob Knorpp
Bob Knorpp

What a firestorm of comments! Very interesting stuff here.

But after debating this for a week and talking about the need to engage in more disagreements, it also occurs to me that maybe we're going a bit too far in the other direction. Blogging doesn't have to always be about opinion. Sometimes blogging is about education. Sometimes it's about honest sharing. Sometimes it's about personal promotion. Sometimes it's about a Kmart gift card. (That last one's for you, Ben Kunz. ;)

Debate is a good thing and I believe it sharpens ideas. But it's simply not always warranted. Agreement can be a good thing as well, because it enhances credibility for ideas that are solid. I think the bigger takeaway of this discussion is not to disagree more, but to think critically and give credit where credit is due.

Just thought I'd throw a little balance on the scales.

Bob Knorpp
Host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast
Posts Every Monday @ http://beancast.us

Alan Wolk
Alan Wolk

Long-standing problem in blog land, Edward.

One that's been debated quite a bit in the past (how's that for passive-aggressive disagreement;)

I have given up reading many of the blogs you site above precisely because the majority of the comments are "Brilliant, Bob! You wrote it was Tuesday and you know what? Today really is Tuesday! Traditional agency types would never figure that out!"

And I know I am not the only one who's lost patience with those blogs and stopped reading the comments (and the blog) as a result.

But you can fix that. Just be a little argumentative back. Disagree with people on your own blog and they'll stop with the sycophantic comments.

Worked on the Toad Stool, anyway,
.-= Alan Wolk´s last blog ..Location, Location, Location =-.

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

Great conversation Edward! You should pick fights more often. ;-)
.-= Leo Bottary´s last blog ..Why You Should Interview Anyone Who Asks =-.

bowerbird
bowerbird

oh yeah, edward, i'd appreciate it if you would _not_
remove the hard-line-breaks i insert so carefully...

it's that poet-thing, you know.

(as well as being another way i mark my postings.)

thanks.

-bowerbird

bowerbird
bowerbird

edward said:
> Your comment is here. Though you aren’t are you.
> You appear to be the only one with no link and
> no real identity. Perhaps that is one of the issues.

i understand your thought process.

but a pseudonym is not the same as being "anonymous".

"bowerbird" started out as my performance poetry name,
over 20 years ago, and gradually became the name i used
for all my creative purposes, until now i use it exclusively.

which is something i explain to anyone who brings it up...

in the worlds of performance poetry and electronic-books,
my two passions, residents know me _only_ as bowerbird...
(that's in my face-to-face relations as well, not just online;
it's only when i'm hiding online that i use my "real" name.)

i can direct people to some of my sites, if they really care,
but i'm guessing that most people don't.

my e-mail address is bowerbird@aol.com, and has been
ever since 1995 or so, so it's not like i'm going incognito.
indeed, for a poet, i am a remarkable display of stability...

i usually offer to buy lunch for anyone willing to travel to
santa monica, if they should want to meet me in person...

and if anyone wants to e-mail me with their phone number,
i will call you, with my number exposed, so you can call me
any time you wanna check whether i'm a real person or not.

all of this is something that most people understand fine,
once it has been explained... and the people who continue
to harp about "my real name" are the people who just want
to dismiss what i have to say without really thinking about it.

it's precisely because i want people to know the exact human
who wrote each of my posts that i'm happy to sign each one.

-bowerbird

Mariano
Mariano

Edward,

I would argue, like some of your commenters even, that we're loosing the ability to accept constructive criticism as a natural response to something we write. By default, we all want to be encouraging, and even if we think something sucks we're discouraged from being anything but nice.

This is especially true in the social media arena because I think people like the idea of being able to connect with others, and they search for common ideas and ideals within the subtext of articles that have been written.

Much like when people immigrated into the United States in mass numbers and tended to identify with others in the same situations through community and religion, we are tending to gravitate to others with whom we identify first as we all become accustomed to having social media in our lives. Once we're more comfortable with it and confident that our arguments can be substantiated by our following (or whatever makes us an authority), I would think you'll find more healthy discourse all around.

I do try, however, to both accept and respond to constructive criticism or comments with which I disagree. I wrote a lot about autism on a separate blog I maintained for a long while and had a couple of colorful comments about the topic. It definitely made me think carefully about my response, and challenged me to concisely word my answer (just as this is!). But I attribute that mainly to the fact that I'd been blogging for a while and felt confident that I could provide a counterpoint to their argument.

As always, I enjoy your posts, even if I disagree with them and never voice it. Thanks!
.-= Mariano´s last blog ..How Often Should I Blog? =-.

Steve Parker
Steve Parker

Edward, thanks for your thoughtful reply and encouragement. There's never enough of that to go around. This thread is one of the best I've joined in, so hats off to you and everyone on it.

Tom Cuniff put it even more strongly than I would when he said "Orthodoxies become calcified before they have a chance to be examined." I don't know if they're "orthodoxies" exactly, but one reason your post resonated with me was it’s so tiresome and unnerving when advice/tactics/pseudo-rules for social media or new marketing best practices are treated by the vast majority in the blogosphere/twitterverse as "settled law." AS IF. Being popular is no substitute for being right.

Calling for respectful disagreement and debate is very important. (Almost) everyone on the thread saw that, so it struck a chord. The reason it's important is because a) marketing best practices are NOT all settled law, b) there's a lot of experimenting that needs to be done, c) there's a lot to learn that needs to be proven or disproven (not assumed), and d) argumentation and debate is essential to discovery and continuous improvement.

Aren’t best practices in any profession by definition a collaborative, group learning process? We won’t discover America if we all sit around tweeting how smart we are to know the earth is flat.

That's my current riff. I wish I could direct you to my blog for more, but it's not baked yet. Dozens of unfinished drafts are piling up in my corner. I *hope* to find the time soon to get it off the ground.

@bradnoble
@bradnoble

Edward, I followed your provocative Tweet here and was disappointed. Because all of this chatter is about social media. How it should be different than it is.

It sounds like you're complaining about the guests at your cocktail party.

My 2 cents on the root of your issue: it's time for a different reason to get together than to discuss what social media is and isn't.
.-= @bradnoble´s last blog ..AM ride to work around Mystic Lakes =-.

bowerbird
bowerbird

yes, the groupthink is pernicious.

i was trained as a social scientist-- a social psychologist, actually, so i am familiar with groupthink. good argumentation is key there, and you actually seek out evidence that'll disconfirm your hypotheses, in an active search for _the_truth_.

but that attitude hasn't gotten me very far vis a vis blog commenting.

indeed, i'm widely known as a "troll", even though i work very hard to be constructive, and avoid ad hominem. (plus, i stay away from the "opinion"
issues, where there is no real answer.)

the thing is, bloggers are praised by their readers so often that they come
to actually believe they're golden, and are "shocked" when anyone disagrees. it's as if you've come "into their house"and pissed on their living room carpet...(more than one has actually said this!) so they attack you, as if "in response", attributing the worst of motives to you. or remove your comment, or ban you...they _take_it_ personally, even if you were careful to write it so that it wasn't.

and even if the blogger himself doesn't insult your input, the reader/friends will. they're there to trade favors, and you are upsetting their precise environment.

the other thing is that a lot of bloggers are using their platform to build their "personal brand", and it doesn't benefit that effort if people disagree with them. (they can even construe it as you taking food out of the mouths of their children.)

plus the only thing a blogger hates worse than having you say "you are wrong" is to have you document clearly, with a dozen solid reasons, exactly why they're wrong. so it's not as if they are open for dialog...

so the odds of having a productive thread are greatly reduced, to the point of zilch. i persist, because many of the lurkers are smart enough to see through the charade, so i know i reach these objective observers. but some days, it can become very tedious.

-bowerbird

Mark Harmel
Mark Harmel

There is a wonderful back-patting nature to social media now. Part of that is good. If you repost my tweet I'll do the same to yours. Adweek is more of a broadcast media where readers are not hoping for something back in return. That may change as the space matures and we have too many Twitter followers already.
.-= Mark Harmel´s last blog ..everglades, sanibel island and airboats =-.

Tom Cunniff
Tom Cunniff

Steve Parker hits the nail squarely and painfully on the head: "The color theme of Twitter should be brown for all the over-the-top brown-nosing... (why) ruin our chance to be popular by disagreeing with the popular kids?"

One could answer, "Well, what's the harm in being nice and agreeable?" There's no harm in being nice, but there's MASSIVE harm in being endlessly agreeable.

1) Everyone's ego gets stroked, but nobody gets smarter.
2) Weak ideas -- and some genuinely destructive ideas -- flourish.
3) Cults of personality and group-think thrive.
4) Innovative ideas are ignored and people who think different are exiled.
5) Orthodoxies become calcified before they have a chance to be examined.

When we lack the intelligence, people skills or nerve to engage in spirited and healthy debate we stop learning. There's a risk of becoming an exceedingly polite but entirely brain-dead group.
Some people, like @amandachapel, believe we're already there.

I've seen this movie before, in Web 1.0 before the bubble. Nearly all of us got cocky. A very few of us got rich. But not one of us escaped getting burned when the bubble burst. Arrogance and insecurity seriously slowed the growth of digital, and I fear it's about to happen again.

Here's the irony about social media.

The gurus demand that corporations think differently, take risks and stretch. Yet, it never occurs to anyone that these are things we ALL need to do.

Disagree with me, please. We can all learn something from it.
.-= Tom Cunniff´s last blog ..What If Your CEO Is Right To Be Afraid Of Social Media? (Part Two) =-.

Michael Durwin
Michael Durwin

I'm finding less and less value on Twitter because of this. The way I see it:

a) most everyone on Twitter agrees about most everything or...

b) many of the so-called social media experts (as most people know I have a big problem with them) are hacks and don't have enough experience to disagree or...

c) even those that know what they're doing don't want to disagree with a big shot like You (Edward) or Brogan for fear of looking incompetent to colleagues or potential customers.

I know this last one to be particularly true as an industry opinion I voiced on Twitter certainly cost me a job.

You'd think that the relative anonymity of Twitter would force more disagreement, but as Twitter's population explodes, it's filling with more and more noise, burying the good content.

Can't wait for the next place we go after Twitter.

Jimmy Gilmore
Jimmy Gilmore

A creative director who really wants to be argued with? Say it isn't so.

It's actually a very small segment of Internet users (ref Forrester) who actually feel inclined to leave a comments on blogs. So you should feel pretty awesome getting as many comments as you do for a niche blog. And BTW this is taking up way more time than an @reply would have. Killing my bandwidth. Oh yeah, great post.
.-= Jimmy Gilmore´s last blog ..Ten things advertising people need to know about social media =-.

Mark Trueblood
Mark Trueblood

I might be terribly cynical, but I think the chain of agreement is often pure brown-nosing AKA starf***ery.

In society we are generally conditioned to not express opinions contrary to an individual who has made a name for themselves.

Plus, a lot of Social Media folks are either entrepreneurs in search of clients, or job-seekers in search of leads. So they're doubly careful to only spread around the sweetness. I see Tweets all the time that go something like this:

@FamousAdPeep:Holy crap, I love me some egg salad sandwiches!!! Booyah!

@Sycophant: @FamousAdPeep Wow I like egg salad sandwiches too! Let me DM you my recipe!

@Sycophant: Egg salad is Great, I agree! RT @FamousAdPeep Holy crap, I love me some egg salad sandwiches!!! Booyah!

However, sometimes I err in being TOO argumentative when i disagree, which is just as annoying. I'm working on that.
.-= Mark Trueblood´s last blog ..Under The Influence changed =-.

Brian Hamlett
Brian Hamlett

Ben Kunz, Annabel Candy, and Mike Morris make the first point that I think we've all caught onto and agree with, that is, we are all attracted and typically follow those we are like-minded with. Therefore, there isn't much reason for debate. Further more, we sometimes develop relationships with those individuals and funny enough, do we debate with our friends even offline?

Then you have Stuart Foster's and Davina Brewer's basic comments that we've all pretty much been taught by our mother's to "play nice" with each other, so we shy away from confrontation or debate.

I like Anthony Butler's response in that it takes us respecting one another's position to have a useful debate and that, in my opinion, usually doesn't exist! We get so defensive, we take it personal, we think you're attacking how smart we are, what we believe. That is oftentimes not the case.

For me, there are two things I need for this to happen:

1) I need someone who WANTS to be challenged!
I look for many different perspectives and I follow many different people. They all present valuable feedback, information, concepts, and thoughts that help me continually improve and define who I am. SO, if I want them to continue to be valuable to me, I have to make sure they are continuing to grow, improve, and redefine! As Edwards states, by me challenging those that I follow, I am actually building them up, improving them, by getting them to think from a different perspective. That is GOOD! That is what makes us better and how we learn! Let's DO that! BUT, in order for that to happen effectively, we need this...

2) I need someone (the leader/blogger) to have the patience and understanding of how to moderate a debate!
We talk about flamers and trolls, we talk about those that won't ever see someone else's view and yet will viciously defend their own. This takes a person who has the patience and respect to see everyone's point of view even if they do not see each others. If we all respected one another, this wouldn't be the problem. That is hardly the case, therefore, the "leader" has to take charge and somewhat control the discussion/debate. Until someone can clearly and consistently do this, other bloggers won't take the chance of having debates in their communities. They need an example of how to do it right, consistently.
.-= Brian Hamlett´s last blog ..Survey Says: Twitter is a Waste of Time =-.

Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)
Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)

The question then becomes: how do we seek understanding? How can we create a forum that both invites and supports dissenting opinions so that folks on all sides of an issue fee heard but -- more importantly -- understood?

And is that possible in the asynchronous pattern of blogging and commenting?
.-= Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)´s last blog ..Vacation from reality =-.

Steve Parker
Steve Parker

I have to agree with your post (sorry). What I find fascinating are three things that you didn't really mention specifically but which are important sub-texts that did show up in others' comments. First, as a society we're losing the ability to disagree without being disagreeable...to have what used to be called a "healthy debate." This is a great loss, especially in a democracy. It's good that so many are too polite to trash others without cause or knowing them, but that moral good now gets in the way of healthy debates, because we don't wish to be seen as personally attacking those with whom we disagree. (We know many will take it that way.) Second, this situation is made worse by choosing to take in ONLY "news" and opinion that we already agree with. This started prior to social media, but social media is doing nothing IMHO to improve the situation, and may be making it worse. Third, your observation made me realize that social media is not fad OR trend, but rather both fad AND trend. The trend part is its permanence and significance, but the fad part is its' ridiculous junior high-ness. Seth and Chris and Amber and 200 others are the popular kids, and we all want to be popular like them. (The color theme of Twitter should be brown for all the over-the-top brown-nosing and atta boys that goes on among the A-listers. Puh-leeze!) It's much easier to agree with them, and hope they notice us and like us. Why would we ever want to ruin our chance to be popular by disagreeing with the popular kids? The real answer to the question you pose may be just to "get comfortable with ambiguity." I for one have, out of necessity. I follow as many of the leading marketing voices as I can, and with many I totally agree with somewhere between 60-90% of what they say, but STRONGLY disagree with the rest. Unless we embrace the ambiguity, we just won't be comfortable appearing to "trash" someone with whom we agree most--but not all--of the time. By the way I strongly agree with your reason for calling for debates, which is that maybe we'll learn something. Ultimately learning is the only reason to debate.

Melissa Dafni
Melissa Dafni

What a great discussion!

Group think has long been an issue which I think is easily exacerbated by social media. As many have already pointed out, we tend to follow and read those that we agree with. Actively seeking out opinions that disagree with your point of view is the exception,not the rule which continues the group think cycle. I agree that we do need to have more constructive disagreements, but as has already been said, that requires more effort and whether or not people are willing to put forth that effort remains to be seen.
.-= Melissa Dafni´s last blog ..Analyzing Yahoo’s Know Your Mojo =-.

amymengel
amymengel

Some great comments here, specifically from Ben, Leo, Bob and Mike about 1) people self-selecting similar personas to read online and thus not usually disagreeing and 2) it's just easier to head-bob than to craft a dissenting opinion, so most often those who agree comment and those who don't just move on to another place, another post.

I'm guilty of this myself; sometimes it is because I don't want to take the time to draft a response that disagrees and other times because it's because I don't trust myself enough to take on an "authority" (though I realize that's a no-good excuse and I need to ramp up the confidence).

I wrote a similar post a few weeks back and a few of the comments left there - one of which was that people want to be liked and LINKED - and so they try to score points by being agreeable. One commenter said that it's especially true for newbies in social media who have "mini 'Aha!' moments" as they continue to learn, and fall into a natural agreement pattern in the beginning as they soak in all this new knowledge. http://www.amymengel.com/2009/07/a-little-less-conversation-a-lot-more-discussion/

Another commenter on that post made the "be careful what you wish for" argument - just look at how much "argument" happens on newspaper blogs, for example. Oy.
.-= amymengel´s last blog ..Social Media Smackdown: Tacoma Art Museum vs. Cincinnati Art Museum =-.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

If a post deserves to be called out, it will be. I don't care who you are or what your reputation is - if you've written something that's BS, then I'll call you on it. And I'd expect you to do the same for me (which many of my commenters do, and what makes the conversation so much better). :)

And for the love of God, man, switch on threaded comments! It's not 2008, you know... ;-)
.-= Danny Brown´s last blog ..Passion Drivers =-.

Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)
Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)

What concerns me about calls to action for "disagreement" is that disagreements all too often turn into battles of judgment or simple exercises in contradiction: I'm right, you're wrong. (Rarely does it go the other way: you're right, I'm wrong.)

From that standpoint, I see nothing wrong with manners and consideration. But I do agree that sycophancy is a problem: the less we seek to disconfirm that which we think we know, the more extreme (and tenaciously held) our views become.

But I don't think the answer likes in asking for commenters to disagree--disagreement is easy. (this comes to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM).
Disagreement, to me, implies arguing positions, instead of debating issues.

It's a catch-22, of course: to build an audience for your blog (and raise the probability of thoughtful discourse in the comments) you need a wider audience base. The most common way to get that wider audience base is to have your posts shared and cited...and who is most likely to do that? People who agree. To seek out disagreement means that you run a real risk of limiting the very audience that would provide the interaction you desire.

This post is a perfect example: what I think you're really asking is for commenters to be thoughtful, not sycophantic. Since your readers do not appear to be those solely in this for the numbers, it's a false construct: Who would--really--disagree with the "be thoughtful" premise, even when cloaked as "please disagree"?
.-= Tamsen McMahon (@tamadear)´s last blog ..Calendar on your phone. Simple. Right? =-.

David Armano
David Armano

I disagree with myself all the time. :-)

be sure to listen to conversations in places like Twitter and in real life not just blog comments. There's probably more hearty discussion than at first glance.
.-= David Armano´s last blog ..Brand U.0 on YouTube =-.

Mike Morris
Mike Morris

I think the primary reason for all the positive comments on blogs/Twitter is that posts are generally read by people who are subscribers/followers. If I'm actively reading what somebody is writing, it's generally because I have similar views or I'm interested in their opinions. This is a much more personal connection than you would find with somebody who subscribes to a newspaper or magazine RSS feed. These publications can include articles written by a wide range of authors, so while the reader may be interested in the topic, it's much more likely they will disagree with the opinions expressed in an individual article.

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Made me think Danny Brown's question about Twitter killing blog comments; if the only thing I have to say is “great post” or “ITA” then I just retweet without posting a comment. When I do comment, I hope I add something interesting to the conversation.

“Are we all just a little too considerate out here?” Or maybe we’re a little chicken?

Like Stuart said, folks won’t call you out on your BS. Some people are afraid of confrontation, of disagreements, of being a pot stirrer, and afraid of alienating those who they want to comment (favorably) on their own blogs.

I also think people sometimes overreact to negative comments, take it personally instead of as respectful, healthy debate; and when things do turn bad, some don’t know how to criticize the blog (position) rather than the blogger. So we want to avoid controversy, post with kid gloves. FWIW.
.-= Davina K. Brewer´s last blog ..A Week in Bad PR: Object Lessons from the Dark Side =-.

Stuart Foster
Stuart Foster

Sometimes I write posts and say things merely to illicit a reaction from the social media peanut gallery. Why? Because otherwise I probably would go insane from the all the holding hands b.s.

I like argument. I like challenges. I like it when people tell me that I'm doing something incredibly wrong (and why).

Most people don't call bullshit on me when they should. Somehow self confidence and putting it down in a blog made it the gospel? If I'm wrong? TELL ME. Makes everyone's life more enjoyable.

Challenging the staus quo is something that doesn't come naturally for a lot of people. They've been taught to be nice...not thoughtful.
.-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..The Cookie Cutter Expert. =-.

mitch blum
mitch blum

It all depends on the community, the topic and the level of anonymity.

Professionally-oriented communities (like this one) tend to be overly polite because most people are motivated by networking and use their real names. They want a job now or later, so they don't want to run the risk of pissing off an industry leader or presenting themselves in a negative light.

Yet the same people will happily go onto agencyspy or adweek and engage in malicious gossip on the messageboards using an alias.

Communities based on shared hobbies/interests by anonymous/psuedonymonous people tend to spiral into blog wars and troll fests based on personal conflict and bruised egos.
.-= mitch blum´s last blog ..Saving The Boston Globe =-.

Anthony Butler
Anthony Butler

The argument about most people only consuming media that conforms to your worldview has been worn into a smooth path.

Respectfully disagreeing with someone takes a lot of things people have in short supply-respect, time and an ability to see how the person on the other side of the argument has arrived at their viewpoint.

Certainly in a business context, you get one of those things wrong and the knives will come out for you.

With the passing of Ted Kennedy, perhaps it is a good time to realize that it is possible to be both idealistic and pragmatic at the same time. To treat other people with respect, even though you have fundamental disagreements with them.

It's definite skill which most people don't feel secure enough in their career, personal relationships or knowledge to practice more often.

Bob Knorpp
Bob Knorpp

This is all pretty fascinating when you start to unpack it. But the thing I find most interesting is whether we agree too much or whether agreement is the whole point of most social networks.

As Ben points out, the broader online community is really quite hostile. People feel emboldened to spew venom at will under the cover of anonymity or just because they don't have to look a person in the eye.

Yet social networks are presumably formed around people of like-mindedness. There are undoubtedly people who follow those who disagree with them for the sake of debate, but I would venture to say that most of us chose to follow people based on whether we already like what they're saying.

And by saying this, the debate evolves further as to whether social networks are healthy ecosystems for ideas. We talk about Twitter replacing news sites for many of us, but are we better people if we only hear the news we want to hear, reported in ways we want to hear it?

I've always said that social networks are only as good as the people you follow, so I try to engage with people who disagree with me as much as with those who agree with me. But I think you raise a very good point that broader news sites and open forums still very much play an important roll in our social efforts. If we don't pay attention to the broad audience, how can we draw people to the micro audience?

I think all this also highlights the often shirked responsibility held by bloggers/posters/whatever. I hear a lot about keywords and SEO and posting content that drives traffic. But it's the rare blogger who challenges their own thinking, explores ideas that may be counter to the thinking of their audience and occasionally admits that they were wrong. The quality of the content is what drives the debate. We can't blame the audience for agreeing with us when we're posting "vanilla" ideas.

And I have to plug my friend, Ben Kunz, before I'm done. Thought Gadgets is a great blog that inspires a lot of interesting debate and dissent, because Ben is always pushing boundaries with his thinking. Check it out here: http://thoughtgadgets.com

I also invite you all to listen to Ben on my show. He's recorded several and is schedule for more. Just search for "Ben Kunz" in the search bar at http://beancast.us

Thanks for the post, Edward. And I look forward to also having you on the program.

Bob Knorpp
Host of The BeanCast
Posts Every Monday @ http://beancast.us
Follow on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thebeancast
.-= Bob Knorpp´s last blog ..015-Fast Takes: The Best of The BeanCast =-.

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

One more thought: Bloggers often craft their arguments in a way that don't incite disagreement. In a post a few months ago, rather than offer a premise that was crafted reasonably, I suggested that APR accreditation had all the teeth of the diploma scarecrow received at the end of the Wizard of Oz. Comments came out of the woodwork!
.-= Leo Bottary´s last blog ..What's Your Priority? =-.

Amy Flanagan
Amy Flanagan

I often see responders starting on the points with which they agree, then moving to the points on which they don't. I find this tremendously refreshing and wish it would ooze over into other forms of media and face-to-face conversations. Main stream media (in the US anyway) is set up to create an environment with two sides - one is right, one is wrong and there is absolutely no middle ground. I like a world where even people who disagree start their thoughts with, "What is right about what this guy is saying?"
.-= Amy Flanagan´s last blog ..10 effective numbers for starting blog headlines. =-.

Meredith Gould
Meredith Gould

Hey, if you want more people to disagree with you and even get nasty about it, write about faith-based issues relative to marketing, healthcare and, oh, just about anything!
.-= Meredith Gould´s last blog ..Sort of on vacation =-.

C.C. Chapman
C.C. Chapman

Are you insane? *laugh*

This is a problem that I know we were talking about on Media Hacks recently. The fact of the matter is that most of us read blogs, follow people on twitter and friend people on Facebook that we have similar thoughts with.

This creates the whole Koombaya atmosphere that you are talking about. If someone writes every day about topics I completely disagree with them on, rather then commenting I'm most likely just unsubscribe and not read them any more.

Even with that being said I completely agree with what you are saying. Recently there was a great heated debate on another site about a blogger issue and what I loved is that for some reason the trolls stayed away and rather then it turning into one big flame war it was actually an open conversation.

I think that is another point. Most of us have been around on the net long enough to watch things spiral into the bottomless pit of trolls and flame wars and know that you can't always have a good old fashion productive argument online.
.-= C.C. Chapman´s last blog ..Come Sit Around My Campfire =-.

Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary

Edward, you're being an idiot! ;-) Better? I have people offer comments all the time that challenge my point of view. My latest post is a great example. That said, I think people tend to applaud what they agree with, and often find that challenging a point of view takes a great deal more energy. Your detractors are out there (we all have them) but sometimes it's just too much work. If you agree with a post, the case has already been made, if you don't, you have to go through the trouble to make it. There are plenty of people out there who disagree with you, it's just a question of them coming forward more often. I think you should continue to invite being challenged, we all need it. And for those avid blog readers who disagree the blogger, then say so!
.-= Leo Bottary´s last blog ..What's Your Priority? =-.

bezalel
bezalel

I had this argument on Twitter with a friend about some comments a fan made on her FB page. Well, she deleted the fan's comments because she thought of them as a personal attack or as she says, a "flame". The commenter was in fact letting off steam but also had some valid arguments. So, I thought she should have responded to the comments - I really felt this was going to lead to a constructive discussion and allow to other fans to participate and give useful insight. But that wasn't the case.

I too, feel we should argue more. It's a mechanism of knowledge. But, given the above example, I now wonder how easy it is for someone, in a social web where one matters because people "follow" him, or "like" him or are "friends" to him, to express his honest opinion. Can he face the risk of being "blocked" ?
.-= bezalel´s last blog ..Το Google Books ως πλατφόρμα διαχείρισης γνώσης =-.

Annabel Candy
Annabel Candy

1. People don't want to disagree with people they've only just met.
2. I might disagree with you in the future after I've got to know you a bit better and know that you won't hate me for disagreeing with you, or want to end it all because you're so hurt by my mean comments.
3. Bloggers always mention trolls. No one wants to be a troll do they?
4. Don't people naturally associate with people they agree with? I know some people like to argue but I don't so I wouldn't spend my time at sites which were rubbish and whose articles I totally disagreed with. I'd just go elsewhere.
5. Probably because of all this I never dare to write anything controversial on my blog. Except once when I wanted to tackle racism in Australia. Of course it turned out to be my most popular and most commented on post.
6. So I think we need to be controversial and considerate too:)

Ben Kunz
Ben Kunz

Absolutely wrong.

Actually I find agreeableness varies by channel. Blog commentators are often ego-stroking because niche blogs attract like minds. Few seek out a blog unless they like the author's point of view. So we fall into a groupthink, because our training, experience and interests are similar.

But the broader the audience, the sharper the response. Adweek columns draw a bit of hostility. When I've written pointed opinions for BusinessWeek to a very diverse readership, damn, all hell breaks loose. I thought the Widget Association Whatever was going to lynch me when I called animated boxes on web pages a passing fad. Anyone whose training or education is different, or whose politics or job is threatened by a point, launches grenades back. I love that, because it's bracing and challenges me to defend, or even rethink, my opinions.

So perhaps all this friendliness on blogs means we're just caught among our groupthinky peers. The solution is to either challenge our peers sharply, or to publish elsewhere in front of a more diverse audience. Or best, do both.
.-= Ben Kunz´s last blog ..Nielsen confirms advertising impressions are often fiction =-.

Seth Simonds
Seth Simonds

Want more people to disagree with you? Break your argument down into points to streamline the process of disagreeing without being disagreeable.

It's much easier to leave a comment that says, "I'm with you on points 1-6 but point 7 leaves something to be desired and here's why..."

Also, try asking only one question at the end of your post. Most of us don't have the bandwidth to handle all the options you're throwing our way.

Err, perhaps it's just me.

Anyhow, Great post!
.-= Seth Simonds´s last blog ..Twitt-R-Done! You Know You’re A Social Media Hillbilly When… =-.

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