We are in the midst of verbal combat, with words like “slam”, “boom” and “eviscerate” being common themes in the barrage of insulting debates. The one-liners used to silence others are applauded as effective replies to other insults. If you can “slam” the opponent in five words or less, you win. Conversations are no longer necessary under these rules. Hit quick, hard and with more bold derogation to come out ahead.
All this criticality has led to a big mess. The question is how do we withdraw from the method without giving up our message? I believe we should slow down, listen and then talk, in that order. When we keep our statements concise and clear, they tend to carry more weight. This should be done in a conversational tone. The moment we digress to personalities and away from ideas, we head directly to the arena where combat is conducted. This does no good for our views or for our dignity. In fact, we lose any foothold we may have had in the minds of those we are trying to persuade. Let them run out of content. Let them make it personal. Let them descend into shouting. Step out of the way and let them run off the debating cliff. Leaving their last shouting words hanging in the air tells more about them than about us.
We will still be who we are afterward than we were before. No one has the power to take away who we are. Throwing our pearls to swine will only bury them in the mud. If we use our pearls wisely, we can regain some sensibility in the long run. We might even gain some new friends in the process, people with whom we can disagree but still go to lunch.