A case for fertile discussions

Chris Barrows sent me a nice feedback on my way to discuss online.

My answer

It’s not gratuitous. I’m not always the critical or skeptical guy. I don’t look for supporting the opposite opinion for sake of starting an exchange. However, I voice my concerns, my opinions and my experience as easily as I support the views of others. I’m rarely complacent, I don’t go for fights. IMHO discussions and especially online shouldn’t be an occasion for personal attacks or denting people’s ego or notoriety. I’m grateful to my Tweeps to understand it.

The same happens when I comment on blogs. If I totally disagree with the blog, I just let go but if it is a person I appreciate and follow, I may be motivated to raise a different opinion.

Those are short exchanges I wished to put in comparison with the pattern of the sterile discussion. I notice often this pattern in discussions with Tech lovers.

It’s very common in the tech area that people adopt a technology, a product and literally fell in love with it.

  • They will not question their choice anymore
  • Whatever comes will be seen from the point of view of this technology only.
  • Tackling and advocating their choice becomes the point of repeated discussions.
  • They find pleasure to discuss at length all the advantages of their choice with like-minded fellows.

I had this experience on a variety of topics:

  • Windows/Linux
  • c++/java
  • PC/MAC
  • Android/iPhone
  • GPL/Closed source
  • Internet Explorer/Firefox

While discussions happen, are passionate and sustained, they never go anywhere. It’s just a throwback of facts and experience, but there is never any progress made. The discussion between the very same person will start again a week later from the very same point. The same arguments will come out again leaving each participant with the same opinion and confirmed in their choices.

I became attentive to avoid being trapped in such discussions because they lead nowhere and eventually become like religion wars.

I like to change opinions. Some people see it as being inconsistent, I see it as being open minded and being flexible. I don’t change every week but when I settled on something for long enough I’m ready to challenge it and change. I’m now more and more vegetarian, I use more Linux for example. I don’t like LinkedIn but I force myself to learn how to use it properly.

I’m not using NoSQL database because I’ve plenty of code with SQL and little motivation to change. This may happen though when my understanding of the benefits will grow and I will see enough benefits to overcome the resistance to change.

Chris tweet comes as conclusion of this post:

What do you think?

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  • http://www.socialmediaslant.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

    Bonjour Bruno,

    Great article and thank you for the mention!

    I agree with you. Discussions where people always agree with one another are boring. I much prefer contrarian views that are argue sensibly!

    Online, people tend take disagreements way too seriously. They feel attacked and cornered most of the time. However, as Chris mentioned in his tweet, “if you can’t take constructive criticism, you are limiting your own success.”

    Enjoy your week!

  • http://www.technkl.com/ Nick Leffler

    I totally disagree! Be as hard headed and impenetrable as possible :-) You are the holder or right for everyone else, nobody should ever change your mind. Of course, that is unless right is relative for each person, which it more and more seems to be the case.

    But I do like Chris Barrows last Tweet that if you can’t accept constructive criticism then you are limiting your own success, that’s true. I would take it a step further though because accepting and actually reflecting on it are very different. It’s a must to reflect on others constructive criticism and possibly even put some of it into play even if it might be hard, even if just to explore it.

    Never try to argue with anyone about Windows vs Mac, Android vs iOS, religion, politics, and in the US guns vs no guns lol It’s a waste of time and leaves you mentally exhausted in the end, not to mention the possibility of bitterness and negativity.

    There has to be some openness to others on each side for any discussion to be productive.

    That would be what I think :-)

    • http://kneaver.com/bruno BrunoWinck

      True to remain sane and focused it’s better not to indulge on lost battles, What is to much outside of what we can change is often a lost effort.

      I try also to avoid sharing about politics and cultural aspects because it not well understood.

      We have enough controversial topics with L&D, xAPI, and informal learning to keep us busy don’t we?