For all of its promise and power, the internet can be an ugly place. One of the lowest levels of content is often found in a site’s comment section. On many sites, this unregulated free-flow of ideas becomes a fight to the lowest common degenerative insult faster than you can say “your mom is a troll and you’re gay” (that’s high art insult on a site like Yahoo).
This site, which I’ve been a fan of and contributor to since the Shanahan years (lost my original handle due to a misunderstanding of SB policies), has constantly fared better than just about any other site I’ve been to. Even during the most contentious McDaniels or Tebow fights, I could usually find common ground with posters whom I disagreed with -- namely that we all love the Broncos and we don't have to agree on how we do that in order to enjoy this site together.
When it comes to debate, I'm a fan of thinking out of the box and those who think that way. I see tremendous value in looking at, listening to and sometimes changing my opinion to the other side of where I am at a given moment. One of the great constants in life is change; if I'm exactly who I was five years ago, in my mind, I've got a problem (or ten).
In my work (as a filmmaker) I often employ those who think differently in order to poke holes in our production plans. Whether or not I ultimately agree with them, I would rather face challenges in preproduction than during a shoot.
I find the following habits destructive in trying to further meaningful and thought-provoking debate:
A) Insisting one's way is absolutely correct (negating other opinions unilaterally and therefore negating the possibility to learn as opposed to simply dictate).
B) Refusing to take responsibility for one's side of a disagreement and the possibility that the other side may have a point, too -- that in fact both sides, particularly in a discussion that is subjective or speculative (which I would estimate at least 90 percent are here at MHR), may be "right' in their own way and that maybe, just maybe, by holding more than one opinion as absolute in a non-absolute situation one might garner greater understanding.
C) Defaulting to insults and snark in the midst of an otherwise reasonable debate.
One other note: I am a teacher and an academic. I completed my Masters Degree less than a year ago and have been teaching media and film for the last four years. I mention this as it affects my writing -- some see it as stuffy and elitist. I do not write with that intention. I write based on who and where I am at this stage in my life and in a manner I hope conveys the clearest meaning so discussion can continue forward and new insights can be gained. I am far from perfect. I make a great number of grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes both here and in my professional writing, despite my best efforts. I try to discern meaning over style when reading others posts -- in other words, I'm not the grammar police. And I look forward to your thoughts on debating at MHR.