List debates

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Sat Jul 1 06:17:45 MDT 1995


Lisa has written recently about the tone of exchanges on the list.  I
want to add a brief note here on that topic.

I see the following frequently happening:

X writes a post that is not personally-directed and is substanative in
content.

Y takes exception to X's post and writes a sharply-worded or personally-
directed reply.

X then responds in kind.

X and Y then allow the vicious circle to continue and other list members
jump in and before we realize it the discussion degenerates to personal
attacks and name-calling.

While I was reading the 683 posts (more than half of which came from this
list) that accumulated while I was on vacation for 2 weeks, I noticed
this trend happening repeatedly.

What is the morale of this story?  Nobody like to be dismissed, insulted,
or distorted.  When that happens to you, you most frequently respond in
kind, i.e. contempt breeds contempt.

The solution?  We are an open forum where any list member can write
anything he\she chooses.  Yet, we should always try to remember why we
joined the list to begin with (for communication, exchange, intellectual
recreation, or whatever) and write our posts using words that enhance the
process, make it more productive, and make us feel better about being on
this list.  I am as guilty as anyone else in letting exchanges get out of
hand.  We should all strive for better communication.


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