Over the past week, I’ve written a lot about one of the most controversial issues in Sport. I’m not here to discuss that issue, but instead something that I’ve noticed as a result of being in the middle of the conversation: We are losing the ability to understand nuance.
When it comes to just about any argument you could have, we’ve lost the art of discourse and instead fall for what I’d call an exchange of soundbites. Partial explanations that sound good at the surface level, but fall apart upon deeper inspection. We use these quick hits as jabs against our opponent. Determined to knock them down with the next piece of information we heard some pundit say or some expert tweet. We’ve succumbed to the internet's version of arguing.
Step back and think about issues you’ve had arguments over. It might be about taxes, politics, or who should go into the hall of fame. Doesn’t really matter what the subject is. But you’ve likely thrown out some argument for your side without fully realizing the implications of it. I know I certainly have. Something that I heard on a podcast that seemed to make intuitive sense and now can be used as ammo to back up my belief. Even if I don’t have a deeper level of understanding below that quick fact.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with knowing small snippets of facts to utilize in such scenarios. The problem comes when we fool ourselves into thinking that we understand the full issue when all we have are a bunch of jumbled snippets. As humans, we are very adept at fooling ourselves into thinking we know more than we do.
And that’s often why modern disagreements break down without anyone changing their viewpoints. We trade soundbite jabs that make us feel good about our positions, and never take the time to dive deep and truly understand what we are defending or arguing against. The need to feel like we “won” supersedes the ultimate goal, which is finding the ‘right’ answer.
It’s not to say that someone needs a full deep understanding of a topic to have or voice their opinion. That would be ludicrous. But what is important to understand is where the limit of your knowledge lies and that there is almost always more complexity to an issue. Maybe this is a pie in the sky dream, but bringing back nuance to topics, instead of trading jabs, might help us make our way towards solutions that actually work. Instead of worrying about who ‘wins’ and feels good from their internet sparring match.
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