Rhetorical Poverty

The general rhetorical poverty of online forums and social media may just be something we need to accept; like belching, pimples or flatulence it is an aspect of human being which may have to be considered inevitable…

Context: Immigrants Do Not Increase Crime, Research Shows

I am posting this more as an observation of the comments thread below the original post (at the link above). Equal access to information entails equal opportunity to broadcast opinion, regardless of the sophistication or accuracy of the position taken.  Ad Hominem arguments are thrown around as if they achieve anything more than juvenile giggles or wilful narrative misdirection. The false attainment of strength sought through public assertions of vitriole appears to be ubiquitous in online forums and social media. An opinion voiced on the topic of immigration may be a valid assertion, be it for or against immigration, as long as it is supported by intelligent reasoning and evidence. It seems as though manifold immature insults and wishful thinking have overwhelmed rational public debate.

This great levelling of rhetorical quality is a consequence of the democracy of information access and the ease of broadcasting any opinion whatsoever. The flattening of the topography of contemporary debate in the political and public policy domain may actually be assisted by the presence of the lunatic fringe: things perhaps need to be stirred up a little for clever ideas to be able to also bubble up through the culpable inertia of intellectual stagnancy which sets in at the very first opportunity in governments and public debates across the world.

There may be a silver lining to this cloud: there is an old Chinese aphorism that proclaims that one cannot truly appreciate being healthy unless they gave also at some point been sick. Similarly, given the proliferation of poor argument and irrational thinking expressed online – we can learn to appreciate intelligent reasoning and authentic argument and cleverly expressed ideological assertions all the more in light of the proliferation of all of this online rhetorical poverty.


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