Rethinking the Argument Culture in America





Rethinking the Argument Culture in America

In her article The Argument Culture, Deborah Tannen highlights the importance of looking at all the sides of an issue. Many people have the tendency to view two opposing side of an issue. They look at two different sides of the issue in context, and this denies them the chance to examine all possible alternatives. Tannen notes that the argument culture has become prevalent in America, and this has affected all the sectors including health, politics, education, and social issues. This type of culture has changed the way people relate to each other. Conflict has become increasingly common in modern times as people think that they have to argue about everything. I agree with Tannen’s perceptions concerning the argument culture in America. People need to realize that there may be more sides to an issue and that they do not necessarily have to argue in everything or hold opposing points of view.

According to Tannen, the argument culture has created a situation where people see everything as a battle. She illustrates this by giving examples of the words that people use to describe the serious situations they want to deal with, such as war on drugs, battle of the sexes, and politician turf battles. This demonstrates how highly people regard opposition. There cannot be any form of war if two groups did not have opposing views. The fact that there is war on different issues indicates that people have failed to agree with each other. They have failed to consider each other’s point of view or to look at other possible alternatives that are different from theirs.  

Tannen notes that the argument culture has permeated all sectors of people’s lives. People cannot agree on social and environmental issues such as abortion and global warming. People hold different views politically, and this determines how they solve matters affecting the nation such as the economy. She adds that the argument culture may not be effective, as it does not enable people to solve the problems and challenges facing them. Many people do not have strong perceptions. Most of them are in the middle ground regarding social issues. For instance, in political situations, a person may align himself with one party but he may not always agree on everything that the party does.

Tannen points out that people have to fight in some cases. They have the right to defend themselves, argue against ideas that seem too risky and dangerous, and fight against actions and decisions that are offensive. However, this does not apply to all situations. People are different in the way they approach situations. While someone may consider an action as worth fighting over, another may have a different opinion. He or she may consider other alternatives of resolving a crisis, instead of starting an argument over the issue. Not every person is able to distinguish between situations that warrant arguments. Therefore, such people have a tendency to create arguments in all the situations they face. Moreover, some people believe that they have the right to voice their opinions, and many of them believe that they can only do this by being in the opposition.

The argument culture has created a divisive situation. It has encouraged some people to remain voiceless in the sense that they are not able to raise their points concerning a specific matter. Because of this type of culture, some people believe that they have to be vocal and loud so that others can hear them. Those who are not able to do this end up keeping silent over the issue, and they may end up avoiding others. The argument culture has redefined the meaning of critical thinking, especially in schools. To many students, critical thinking means opposing the author’s point of view. Students who may agree with the author’s argument are usually at a loss of what to do. They do not seem that one can think critically by expounding on, and deepening the author’s arguments.

Tannen observes the impact of technology in people’s lives, especially the effect it has had on relationships. She notes that technology has redefined communication because people no longer prefer talking to each other on a face-to-face basis. They prefer using modern technology such as emails. She adds that this has led to isolation although it has led to more networking. Technology continues to advance and many people currently prefer social networking sites. These sites enable people to communicate electronically by sending each other messages, videos, and photographs. However, this does not equal face-to-face communication. People relate to each other differently when they are together physically. They are able to observe each other’s non-verbal cues, which are also a form of communication. A person can reveal a lot of information by the gestures, facial expression and other bodily movement he uses. This element is not present when people use technology to communicate.

Tannen notes that the argument culture has reshaped people’s lives and culture. it leads to wastage of time and distortion of facts. People spend more time trying to prove their points or to defend themselves against false and inaccurate accusations. The argument culture also limits people’s thinking. People are concerned about the headlines they see. Writers place the most catching headlines in their work, and they lean on the extreme. The words used shapes the way that people think. Constant use of military language encourages people to see everything in terms of war. The argument culture encourages people to lie and to misrepresent. People look for the most compelling argument to defeat their opponent as they represent the other side.

Tennen urges people to end the argument culture by examining all the possible sides of an issue, instead of just looking at the other side. People have to redefine their understanding of debate, by including more dialogue. They have to think beyond two different opinions of an issue. She illustrates the possibility of this situation in different situations. She encourages educators to give the students assignments that will compare three cultures instead of two, as they will be forced to look at each culture individually. She urges media personalities not to have two sided debates, as one person will always look for ways of opposing the other. She urges people to look at the other sides of a situation instead of just focusing on two different perspectives

Tennen has made a clear and compelling argument that seeks to represent the argument culture in America. It is indeed true that many people strive to look for ways to oppose each other. She does not seem to encourage people to agree on everything, but she urges them to reconsider their approach to the way they handle different situations. However, although she has noted the effect that technology has had on communication and social relationships, she has failed to connect how this relates to the argument culture. From her perspective, it is not clear how social isolation contributes to the argument culture in America. Her perspectives on critical thinking are on point. Many students do not realize that they can actually agree with the writers concerning specific subjects while at the same time show that they are thinking about the issues raised critically. They believe that they have to represent the opposing views of the issue. The argument culture is indeed prevalent in America.  

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