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M_Unlimited
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Re: Debates subforum

Postby M_Unlimited » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:01 am

Walls of text? Nobody around here that I know of writes walls of text. 3

In fact, I'd venture to say that a wall of text is not only an ineffective means of communication because nobody wants to read a wall of text, but also means a person is so long winded that they love to read their own type, sort of the web version of people who talk a lot because they love to hear the sound of their own voice. Keep in mind the other disadvantage: You would prove that economy of language and felicity of speech are not attributes that you posses.

I remember back in college when I had an American History professor who pointed out that w hen turning in essays, he appreciated economy of language and felicity of speech. Essentially, he wanted us to be able to express our ideas in a clear, efficient manner that didn't require huge long essays that talked a lot and said very little. I admired the idea, and have tried, with varying degrees of success, to adhere to it, although I'll admit that I get pretty long winded on here.

I think the reason for getting long winded when writing replies in a forum, especially in a debate environment, is because it's really a lot harder to effectively communicate an idea, especially an abstract one, in this kind of environment. Human communication is 20% syntax and 80% tone and body language... So that means when you're posting on a forum all you have is the syntax... so at best, you're communicating at 20% of your normal effectiveness. It's easy to imagine why so often misunderstandings occur, or people become frustrated. You also never know how someone will interpret a given turn of phrase. For some of us, sarcasm can be an effort to inject a little levity into a serious subject, for others, it's considered very rude and insensitive. How can someone know how you meant it? How can you know how it'll be interpreted? Maybe if you knew the person well and they knew you well enough to correctly interpret your tone, but how often does that happen?

Add to that the unspoken assumption about web forum debates: The winner is the person who gets in the last word. Essentially we assume that when a person stops responding, it's because they've been beaten and have run out of ammunition for their arguments. That isn't necessarily true, of course... Often times people simply lose interest in the topic, or they stop posting because they're becoming too emotionally invested in the discussion and need to push back from the computer desk. It could also mean that they've simply made their point and see no reason to belabor it... but even so people (including myself) find it very difficult to stop without getting the last word, because of the desire for the moral victory which is, of course, imaginary and not really worthwhile anyway.

Sop ultimately what's the point of a long winded post? It's an effort to be clear, and overcome that 20% communication deficit. The problem is that writing a wall of text post is self-defeating because people rarely want to take time to read it all, and even when they do they'll probably just skim most of it and likely lose much of the meaning, which in turn only leads to more frustration and more and more walls of longer and longer waves of text... Which feeds the cycle and makes things worse and worse until the length of the posts begins to shorten as people start to become exasperated and lose interest in fighting... and yet will still keep posting to get in that last reply and "win" the debate.

So yeah, no wall of texts here. I don't know what you're talking about.

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:mrgreen:
I actually read all of that :) Well said.
@Cheryl: Thanks for a wonderful community. It is a pleasure and honor to be a part of it.

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