It’s hard to believe that January is over, and we are into February now. My time flew by as I worked on a personal art project and engaged in Twitter debates. Both of these things helped me to destress after encountering frustrations from the office as well as from my church life (see The Bad Side of Nostalgia for hints into my spiritual life, although I haven’t written extensively on it to date).
Many people will not understand how engaging in a true debate could be relaxing in any sense of the word, but for me, debates offer a great distraction that keep my mind in a healthy state of exercise and contemplation. I don’t have time to dwell on negative thoughts or frustrations brought on by other people whom I cannot avoid or address. Online debates can partially be held according to how I wish to pace them. I can’t control my opponent’s response time, but I can control my own. This allows me time to think out my arguments and divorce my emotions from them as necessary. It also allows me to put the debate on hold when real life interrupts or if I simply need to give my eyes a break from staring at a screen.
There are different types of debates. During and directly after my college years, I enjoyed engaging what I refer to as “paleo-enthusiasts” in discussions on possible behaviors and capabilities of extinct animals. Therapod dinosaurs were a favorite topic. Such debates are easy to base in scientific information and often require citing of sources to back up claims. It can get tedious hunting down online articles that don’t require some sort of subscription to access, but the arguments made are based in the concrete worlds of biology, geology, and physics.
Other debates require more abstract thinking and exercises in self-exploration. Religion, politics, morals, these topics cannot be engaged in successfully by those who have not spent a great deal of time pondering them. Some such debates get bogged down in flowery words or emotional appeals that do not constitute actual arguments. But a good debate in any of these topics will play out like a skilled chess match. They take strategy and forethought and a careful consideration of your opponent’s positions. It helps to study a wide range of viewpoints, even those with which you strongly disagree.
I do not expect this post to cause anyone to start jumping into debates for relaxation purposes as I will do when under stress. But I hope it might spark some interest in the exploration of topics for the sake of learning (rather than for story research or for simple pleasure). If you come across debates that catch your interest, I encourage you to explore the topic for yourself, from both (or multiple) sides. Don’t get caught up in flowery language or emotion, but explore the facts and check sources. Learn for the sake of bettering your understanding.