Taking a “War of Words” Too Literally
Tannen’s claim is true enough with profound substance. Hot topics are taken by media to the extent of being pugnacious. They find it amazing I guess. As one side says something the other camp deliberately disputes it. And this is where the media plays along – it is how they treat the subject to open – they want their readers, listeners, or viewers caught up on how both camps point out their position. If something came too hard lined, it is the “action” they are waiting.
She well explained that our culture must not be obsessed on this media flow. A stream of argument and dispute. It can be beneficial however, but not a lot. Some arguments can be taken aback to constructive approach but if seen in public is most often negative. It is because the whole thing is under the public eye. Come to think of it, whenever we are out in the open, the unrestricted, we actually become restricted simple because we have to impose responsibility on our words and actions.
It is easy indeed to verbalize anything that would just be hanging inside our heads, without much thinking. Do we really mean it? Does it make sense, what we just busted out? Or there would be much appropriate word to use that would not look us an educated “war freak”? Again, it is what the media is anticipating. If two divergent ends are expressing theirs views to the extent of harsh wordings and callous remarks; it is a live show they are making – more money perhaps at the end of media producers.
To point out one perfect example of Tannen’s account of Argument Culture, the Political Debate, where two bureaucrat aspirants convey their platforms and persuade people to make a wise-use of their right to vote. This is acceptable as long as both parties would not be too critical and save picking on each other as this apparently result to a fight. In the purest sense, each aspirant is running in a public office to serve the people and make a civic difference; that is what s/he must highlight and not the wrongdoings of his/her opponent.
Nonetheless, personal attacks on hopeful public servants are rampant as an epidemic. Instead of putting a worthy debate it is a culminated battle. Because at the end of the so-called debate, more or less both parties would not even yield on what the challenger is propelling – as s/he is much more focused on his own winning. I personally want to trash out the word “debate” for this stance and use “dialogue” as an alternative. It is more positive I guess.
Going back to the treatment of media on public issues, it has been like an inclination that if it is sensational it is what makes the news. Yes indeed and so it is in the public hands too to explore the abyss meaning of such discourse. It is the community that hears and receives the arguments and it is in every individual to discern which is to believe and not to believe. If the media itself is being critical we as a human being must be analytical on what we are reading, what we are watching, and what we are hearing.
Anyone will find Tannen as little too optimist herself but as a socio-linguist of our contemporary time I admire her keen and upbeat observation and dissertation. I strongly believe that everyone should be an advocate of resolution. It is a personal campaign for dialogue rather than debate. A diplomatic crusade for a more sensible and mature journalism.