don't talk about this?
Sep 01, 2004 04:44 PM
by Eldon B Tucker
Paul [writing to Erica]:
At 02:28 PM 9/1/2004, you wrote:
I'd agree that's the best approach. Saying, "Don't talk about this," is the
best way to make someone want to discuss it more. On the other hand,
bringing up something so interesting that other people all start jumping in
with their ideas -- that's by far the best approach when things start
I think it would be more effective to actually start new discussion
threads on topics one considers preferable, as opposed to telling
others their interests are inappropriate or unworthy of discussion.
The latter course only adds fuel to the fire, because people don't
like attempts to stifle them.
Other times, we can see that a thread is retracing its own steps, going
nowhere, and it's time to move on.
Apart from the question of starting new threads or ending old ones, there's
the practice that you, I, Erica, and all the rest of us need to follow so
that we can coexist with each other, given the diverse backgrounds and
viewpoints. That is to acquire the habit of hitting <DELETE> for messages
discussing things we're bored with or don't like or may be offended by. It
could be long-winded preaching, discussions of sex, condemnation or
unqualified praise of historic figures, or highly-partisan politics.
We don't have to answer everything we don't like, because over time the
effort would wear any of us down. We're in a cosmopolitan meeting place and
get exposed to many more different people and ideas than we might in going
to our favorite theosophical, religious, political, or scientific meetings.
A second thing we continually need to be reminded of is that we're talking
to real people. Even though we're communicating using the impersonal media
of email messages, hundreds of others will read what we say and not just
think a response, but feel something. If we are not careful in our writing,
even innocent remarks can be read the wrong way and others may feel hurt.
This skill, fortunately, comes with practice, and those of us that have
been active for a while can usually identify newcomers.
The other thing that's easy to forget is that there's two aspects to a
discussion. As Jerry or April Hejka-Ekins might tell us, there's the
content and the process. The content is what we're literally saying. The
process is how we go about interacting with each other. Say at a lodge
meeting, a dozen people are present, discussing a topic. How they talk with
each other, who gets to speak, who is recognized, who is encouraged to
participate -- all this is part of the process. A group may consider it
fine that the most vocal people dominate the meeting and many spend the
evening sitting and watching -- "lurking" in person. Another group may want
to have more overall participation, and a process-minded person in the
group may pointedly ask some of the quiet people what do they think of
what's being said.
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