๐Ÿ’ฌ 3 Reasons I Do Not Engage in Twitter Debates

Replied to 3 Reasons I Do Not Engage in Twitter Debates by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

There are three reasons why I do not get into debates on social media. So, if you’re looking to get into one with me, please feel free to read this blog over and over again to get an understanding of why I won’t debate with you. Those three reasons I don’t debate are:

They’re rarely about common understandingโ€”Debates on social media are rarely about finding common ground, and I always prefer to get into situations where we can learn from one another and move on with a better understanding. Many people trying to debate us are really looking to win. That’s never a good beginning to a beautiful friendship.

They make you look really crazy to onlookersโ€”When we are in the battle, we feel like we are making tactical moves and Tweeting or posting really impressively smart comments. In our heads, we feel like J.K Rowling with her stunning comebacks. In reality, we look crazy, and it’s just not worth it.

I’m not good at themโ€”I’m the first to admit I’m a reflective guy. I’m not a debate-club graduate, because I need time (and lots of it) to gather my thoughts, look at the research, and process my answers. Debates on social media rarely encourage that type of thinking. I’d much prefer to have someone post a comment on the blog that I can respond to.

This is an interesting reflection Peter. It captures some of the divide within EduTwitter. Although it can be a space to connect and shares, something Ian Guest captured through his research. It can also be quite toxic, a point that Stewart Riddle unpacks.

In some ways, this reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago on ‘ideals‘:

Although it is important to dream and dream big, at some point our efforts need to turn to finding pragmatic solutions for the now. They need to be ideas and initiatives that respond to the problem at hand. Instead of calling for a revolution, our attention should be on how we can evolve education one change at a time.

My concern is that we decide who or what is our tribe then chastise those who do not agree. It feels like this is what happened recently with Greg Miller.

What I liked about your post is your comparison with blogging and Twitter. Personally, I find it a different experience to collect my thoughts on my own site (like this post), rather than just jump straight into Twitter. Although I can link this post to yours and webmentions will bring your responses back, I believe it is in the comments that a deeper discussion can be had. I find myself being much more reflective in not only taking the time to craft out my comment with various links, but I also feel more ownership and awareness of what I write and say.

In the end, we may not agree with each other on every matter, but we need spaces to carve out knowledge and understanding together. I think that this is the challenge of the #ProSocialWeb movement.

5 responses on “๐Ÿ’ฌ 3 Reasons I Do Not Engage in Twitter Debates”

  1. There’s so much to pick apart in the issues that Peter raises and which you’ve reflected on Aaron, don’t you think?
    Could it be that there are some people for whom ‘a good argument’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohDB5gbtaEQ) is a source of pleasure … or entertainment? To what extent are the platforms which facilitate such interactions responsible for the unpleasantness which some people experience? I guess I’m asking whether this might be better addressed as a social or a material phenomenon? For example, does conflict through debate arise on full-fat blogging platforms, compared with the short-form microblog format of Twitter? Or to go one further, are there people who simply can’t resist debating with the intent of ‘proving’ their point even in f2f situations? Is it even worth asking who/what is at fault here?

    No answers I’m afraid, just more questions.

    1. Ian, you always remind me of the ‘coaching approach‘, you have a way of questioning that leaves me forever itching at a scratch I cannot reach. Your reference to those who enjoy the thrill of the debate reminds me of the discussion around ‘lurking‘. You remind me that a village is full of many voices and accommodating them is no easy feat. Maybe this is why I have yet to properly respond to your previous question about what I would replace Twitter with.

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