Fighting for Our Lives

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Deborah Tannen argues that we have an “argument culture,” due to the idea that we repeatedly think of human interaction as battles, in the metaphorical sense. This appears to be a critical observation of our habitual use of war metaphors in our society. Tannen suggests that the argument culture urges us to think in a very adversarial manner that our conversations are usually set up to be a debate. Many of us believe that our society has a very binary thinking. In essence, we always think of the right and wrong, good and bad, black and white. We understand the language is a battleground and we know that words are powerful that they shape our perception.

To a certain extent, Tannen proves a good argument; however, I would argue that presenting two sides of the coin doesn’t necessarily mean filling our dialogue with constant negativity. American culture has always encouraged a very bipolar, dichotomous thinking. We are encouraged to think critically and always pay attention to opposing arguments. We constantly see/hear negativities in the news, with the constant emphasis on war, crimes, opposing values and so on. We appear to pay attention more on the negative and undesirable information; however, deviant information from the media allows us to understand our own cultural norms. The negativities affirm our cultural normativity and define our moral values as a society. We are shown what is bad, wrong, or illegal, in order for us to understand what is correct and moral. On the other hand, if we are presented with numerous negativities, the language that we hear and the information we absorb from the media can affect our perception and can develop preconceived notions. Tannen’s argument is somewhat persuasive in the sense that she followed her argument with evidence. For example, she quoted Dwight Bolinger saying, “language is like a loaded gun. It can be fired intentionally, but it can wound or kill just as surely when fired accidentally.” Battles, wars, guns,...
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