Final Summary-Response Essay
16 October 2011
Argument Culture: Confrontation Online
In “The Argument Culture” by Deborah Tannen, she describes our adversarial society in debates and dialogues. Tannen discusses our culture’s style of seeing issues, questions, and conflicts as having two sides that battle each other for one goal. She states that using war metaphors: war on drugs or fight against AIDS, makes every conflict a battle in the minds of outsiders. The result, she says, is that the quality of information received is compromised. According to Tannen, language “invisibly molds our way of thinking about people, actions and the world around us”. In politics, she points out the increasingly warring mentality, whether at election time, during confirmation hearings, or immediately following the president’s State of the Union address when an opposing response must always be presented. Tannen distinguishes that some look forward to confrontation for many reasons, as well as enjoying a good debate, and that some issues do have two sides to it. The argument culture makes us distort facts, waste valuable time, limits our thinking, and encourages us to lie (Tannen 491-492). She warns against the way the culture of critique, by plummeting every issue to two sides, can destroy the tone and complexity of a discussion and even value too highly of opinions. Tannen believes that thinking of solutions as having more than just two sides Rosales 2
will help this problem. Instead of looking at an issue as “good and bad” or “pros and cons”, we should diversify the paths to take to get to a certain goal. Tannen discusses the influence of electronic communication in ratcheting up the level of aggression. According to Terrance O’Brien, the percentage of internet in homes in 2009 had tripled in the last ten years. With an increase in the use and knowledge of technology in the last decade, people can clash with...