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Author Topic: Why we are here
Funean
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No, not the metaphysical reason (though that's interesting, too). I mean here on Ornery. Over on the meta/healthcare/gripefest thread, KidB said to another member:

quote:
I'm just assuming that you're here because you want to persuade people
and it got me thinking, hmm, am I here because I want to persuade people? I'm not sure that I am, though of course I suppose that could happen as an effect of some discussion or even my own contribution. Sometimes I'm here for the trainwreck. [Smile] Sometimes it's purely social. Sometimes I want to see what the positions are, as they get expressed on Ornery. Sometimes I do have something to say, or decide while reading that I want to weigh in. (Lately I read much more than I post, partly due to time and partly due to boredom with the sound of my own "voice.")

When I do post, I don't think my aim is persuade. I'm pretty sure I'd make more of an effort to find compelling data and other support for my position if that were the case, since I certainly don't expect that my opinion, all by itself, will convince anyone to change their own. Certainly, most people don't change their opinions on a large scale because of conversations. What motivates me to post, usually, is a missing factoid or a point of view that I think is being overlooked, that might be usefully brought to bear on a given topic. Sometimes I'm appalled that something that seems hugely relevant or picture-changing isn't being included in the discussion, or that the conclusions that are being drawn from the data are so *clearly* wrong-headed [Wink] , but more often I think the thing I add is just one more swimmer in the pool.

I tend to read Ornery because I want to see how a variety of perspectives and experiences can be brought to bear on a particular issue. It is therefore frustrating to me to read when the whole discussion seems to revolve around criticizing people for their positions, drawing up "sides," or trying to "win." Not that I don't enjoy good repartee and well-crafted zingers as much as the next person, but when that's *all* there is, my purpose for coming to Ornery is not fulfilled. (And, yes, you all exist to fulfill ME.)

So, aside from fulfilling my needs, why do you come here? What do you hope to find when you read, what are you trying to accomplish when you post, and are you satisfied by what you actually get out of Ornery?

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hobsen
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When I started wondering about this, I observed that Ornery threads with more than a hundred posts almost invariably discuss something in the news. Such was the case with the threads on the Sotomayor nomination, for example. So it seems members may read something in the news, or see it on TV, and then want to respond themselves or read fairly well informed comments. That is what I do anyway, and today for example I await with interest RickyB's expanded remarks on why a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine may now be impossible. He knows a lot more about conditions in that part of the world than I do.
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rightleft22
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I don’t know when trying to persuade someone became a problem. I assume that when someone takes up a position that they believe in what their saying. Unless you’re uncertain about what you think it won’t bother you if you don’t persuade. It is the fanatic who is unconsciously uncertain who can’t abide not being able to convince someone they are right.

When I first started posting I wanted people to “see” I was right and back up my thinking. I became frustrated quite often. Then I posted to see how well I might make my argument, how quickly it would be misunderstood or refuted.
Now I find that I post to see what it is that I really think about something. Often it’s not till I see my words staring back at me that I know I’m full of ****.
I check the board to get an overview of what others are thinking and how they are arguing. Who’s effective who’s not maybe learn something that way.

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Paladine
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I'm here for Funean. [Smile]
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Funean
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Oh, I don't think persuasion is a problem; it's just not "what I'm here for." But I do think it can become a problem when persuasion edges into "brow-beating" and when arguing or stating a position is neglected in favor or merely belittling the positions or arguments of others.
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Funean
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Aww, Pal. [Smile]
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Daruma28
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I'm here specifically to be combative and obnoxious...

...although I didn't realize that until TomD so graciously pointed it out to me. [LOL]

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Funean
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YOU I do think are here to persuade, nay, evangelize, Daruma. [Smile] As well as to be obnoxious and combative. [Wink]
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G2
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I'm came to spread my own particular brand of cancer and slime the place up, I stayed for the love.

[ August 18, 2009, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: G2 ]

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Funean
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My own smileys aside, my question was serious, G2.

I think one of the issues Ornery may be having is a disparity of purpose between interlocutors. If one person is trying to persuade, but is engaged with someone who is merely fact-finding or surveying, Person 2 is likely to find Person 1 to be obnoxious. And if one's musings are being read as purposefully-mounting arguments, one is likely to come across as, well, lame.

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Daruma28
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quote:
Originally posted by Funean:
YOU I do think are here to persuade, nay, evangelize, Daruma. [Smile] As well as to be obnoxious and combative. [Wink]

Guilty as charged. [Cool]
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OpsanusTau
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I like it when people are involved in discussing an idea.

This may or may not be polite or respectful; sometimes it's angry or passionate and sometimes people are rude, and I still kind of like it.

I like it that there are people here who thing radically different things and have utterly opposed worldviews, and sometimes we do a really good job of explaining what we think and why we think it.

It's boring to me when people "back up" their thoughts with too much referenced evidence from elsewhere, and it's also boring to me when the arguments get too personal, but I am endlessly fascinated by the glimpses into the workings of other minds I can get here.

I guess I'm here for kind of the same reason I get into long conversations with people on public transportation. When it comes right down to it, I am addicted to stories, and I just love to hear the stories that people tell about themselves. When Ornery is at its best, that is what we are doing here; telling each other our stories. Not literally, usually (though that does happen), but the story of how our thoughts are running and maybe why we think they are running that way. Knowing what other people think and having some insight into why they think that gives me good ideas about how I can change what I think.

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Daruma28
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Good post Ops...in a more serious vein, I kinda agree with your point.

I like getting a pleasant surprise when I find agreement with people who I don't expect it from...like when you once weighed in on the debate I had with Ev about the vegetarian mono-culture agri-business model vs. diverse farmland cultivation.

I gained even more insight than I thought I had from your contribution to that point...and it certainly helped me to "visualize" OpsanusTau as something more than the liberal/progressive/democrat female I had come to associate your screen name with.

In other words...interacting with people for whom I disagree with on a wide variety of fronts when it comes to politics and socio-cultural issues also provides the opportunity to find out what common ground does exist -- and it turns these "debates" from the abstract and esoteric into concrete examples of basic humanity for me.

When I find accordance with people I generally disagree with, I learn to respect them on some level beyond the stereotypical caricatures we all have to a certain degree in our minds about our respective ideological opponents.

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DonaldD
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I am here because I like to be obnoxious... and I need role models (and for the chicks, of course)

Plus, there are just so many people here who are just, well, wrong. I have a duty. (and did I mention the chicks?)

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JoshCrow
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While I occasionally get sidetracked, I mostly come on here to test the mettle of my views on various issues, in the hopes that I can argue them well, or failing that, be convinced of an alternate point of view.

More recently, however, I have become interested in combating "disinformation" and responding to criticisms of the Obama administration - some of which have merit, and some do not. Where they have merit, I give it some thought, because I supported Obama and should be cognizant of those areas where he goes wrong. I remain irritated by the level of snarkiness with which some people post otherwise interesting information, and I am leery of one-dimensional attitudes. I try to check myself to see that I have not become so hardened in my position that I cannot acknowledge the truth in someone else's perspective, and graciously so.

The mind that can never admit it's own defeat can never come to learn anything new.

[ August 18, 2009, 08:02 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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LetterRip
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Hmm,

I used to be here because I could hear positions articulately expressed about things which I had an opposing position, or perhaps hadn't thought about, that I could 'find worthy opponents', and thus avoid the rather common trap that 'smart folk' fall into of believing they are right on everything just because most people they encounter are poor at arguing their case.

Now a days it is partly force of habit, partly old friends, and partly because there are occasionally still ideas and threads I find worthwhile and interesting.

LetterRip

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tonylovern
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i come here for a variety of reasons.

sometimes its to hash out how i feel about certain things. sometimes its cuz i feel like arguing. sometimes i want to see how everyone is doing. sometimes i just want to prove to myself that theres some logic hiding in all my crazy.

edited to add: and also to fulfill funean.

[ August 18, 2009, 08:23 PM: Message edited by: tonylovern ]

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:

The mind that can never admit it's own defeat can never come to learn anything new.

I also come here to air my frequent "it's/its" typos before a public audience.
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Greg Davidson
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I came here to better understand the thinking process of those who hold opinions different than mine. Originally I had read OSC's book Empire and came here looking for a WTF explanation. But I almost never read his editorials any more, and instead just lurk here.

But I am getting a little weary... The same arguments get applied to every new topic and news story. I try to treat every discussion as a new start, but I am losing the patience to do so. I am so tired of cartoon views of the world (all X's are bad, greedy, incompetent, etc.). I wish we could have a deeper and more informed set of conversations about the real world in all of its complexity.

I hear some of Daruma's comments about people he personally knows to have been taking advantage of government welfare-type services, and I am sure he is right. There are people who abuse welfare, and there are people who don't. I'd like to get into a discussion about what separates the two, how can we prevent the former and encourage the latter. There are Obama policies I would criticize, but compared to the onslaught of criticism (government action = socialism) there's no room for the nuanced criticism that I would like to discuss.

So overall, I am a little weary. As a person with only a few hundred comments to my name, I guess I have less of an intellectual equity stake around here, but I would like some more productive discussions.

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edgmatt
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I put up the best argument I can for the things I believe in. If they hold, they make my beliefs that much stronger. If they falter, even a bit, I like to say I adjust my view accordingly - although probably a bit grudgingly. I wish I heard some feedback on the things I say from people on "my side" of the argument. Like even if you agree with me on 90% of it, let me know about the other 10%. It's one thing to hear it from people who tend to disagree with you most of the time, if someone who usually agrees with me tells me I'm mistaken on something, that tends to really make me step back and look at things.
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JoshCrow
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Oh yeah, another recent motivation of mine: when, say, someone posts links to what is an interesting news item, but sources from partisan blogs and presents a one-sided take, I like to find a more balanced article that presents pros and cons (or simply contains information absent from the first post) and I paste that up on the same thread. Witness the "offshore drilling" one floating about now.
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scifibum
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I don't even know anymore. It's a part of my life. Half the time I am tired as hell of if but I keep coming here anyway. It's odd.
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Ben
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It fills a craving from when I remember reading the newspaper as a kid (before the internet came along) and enjoying the stuff I learned from the longer articles and stories. Then the news turned more into infotainment and I got bored with them. I like the conversations on a wide variety of topics, and it's usually a good place to get more in-depth information on some topics that the news never go into anymore, or point me into that direction at least. And one of you is likely to make me reassess my thoughts on a given topic and examine contradictory evidence to what I believe. It's great for learning. And over time, I have come to feel a friendship with most of the regular posters, though I admit it may not be much in my direction, given my low posting numbers and lurking or slow responses.
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Clark
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I'm here for multiple reasons, but none of them are to persuade. I use Ornery as a method of keeping up on news; Ornery provides a significant percentage of my news. I'm also here for the interesting tidbits, the occasional human interest type thread. I'm here to learn. I'm in a particularly non-Jewish part of the country, and have been glad to learn more about some of the unique beliefs from Judaism that explains why they do some of the things they do.

I'll also tell you what I'm not here for. As mentioned, I'm not here to persuade anyone. I'm not here for any particular social aspect. I've made no real attempts to reach out to anyone here. Most significantly, I'm not here to argue. Often times I think about posting, get a paragraph in and just quit. I stop because I find that I really don't care if you all agree with me or not.

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Viking_Longship
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I come here for several reasons. Firstly I miss having a community of english speakers. Secondly when I read something in the news I want to discuss it. Thirdly while there is a variety of political and social positions here generally we are all capable of carrying on a discussion at approximately the same intellectual level.

Also I want to see what crazy thing Daruma says next and what snarky thing Ricky will say in response. [Smile]

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TommySama
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"In soviet Russia, forum tells you why there."
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The Drake
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I really do enjoy understanding points of view different from my own, and the generally articulate and thoughtful submissions from other members of this forum are immensely helpful.

I also make an effort to advance my point of view in a way that will be clear to others.

These points of view may be long-standing, or they may be recent. Through the lenses of history and current events, we interact in a way that reveals our character, our beliefs, and our desires.

My favorite moments are when someone changes my perspective, either slightly or a great deal. My second favorite is when I am able to submit information or ideas that do the same for others.

And then there's just random fun stuff, which helps lighten the mood from time to time.

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rightleft22
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quote:
I think one of the issues Ornery may be having is a disparity of purpose between interlocutors. If one person is trying to persuade, but is engaged with someone who is merely fact-finding or surveying, Person 2 is likely to find Person 1 to be obnoxious. And if one's musings are being read as purposefully-mounting arguments, one is likely to come across as, well, lame.
I would agree. Awareness of the likely cross purpose between interlocutors should help posters keep their cool.
If someone is getting upset because of how others are responding to their posts a good question to ask is what their trying to achieve. Are you trying to persuade? Are you threatened by views that differ from yours? Do you just enjoy a good dust up? You can learn a lot about yourself from a site like this.

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Colin JM0397
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Ditto to OpsT and LetterRip.

Started here for the arguments, but I'm not interesting in that (much) any more. I still get a bug up my rear on occasion and get into the mix, but the vast majority of my time here is to keep up on current news, gain some insight into how others think/feel about things, and to have some discussions about whatever I feel like talking about.

Working at home these days, Ornery has become my high-brow workplace gossip fix; my water cooler, in other words.

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aupton15
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I think my reasons change by the topic. Sometimes I want to read about something that completely baffles me, or something to which I have had such limited exposure that it is like going back to school. As I've grown and learned in the outside world, I've been more comfortable posting things that I know (or at least believe very strongly) about, despite knowing that I am wrong about it.

I also found that there were some personalities behind all these words that are very real. I remember times when posters would be genuinely compassionate to one another, even when their opinions on nearly every important issue could not be further apart. Those displays of real humanity made Ornery a very compelling place to return to. Of course, I also remember personalities that are less pleasant, but those have been much more rare in my experience. If it were not 8:30 in the morning, and if I were not at work, I would drink a toast to you all at this point. I suppose coffee will have to do. To your health and continuing wrongness!

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Kuato
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I came I suppose because I wanted to discuss equitable economic policy. To my wonderful surprise a lot of OA people learned mungese just to talk to me.

(But that's not totally true--- I first got all mad about an evolution thread and HAD to register in order to take on the mob! That one, I really don't think I won though we did achieve a judgment that if I'm not right I am at least consistent [Smile] )

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