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The Argument Culture Summary and Response

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The audience I will try to reach are young people who have grown up in the information age. They will be approximately 18-35 years old. It doesn’t matter what their educational or ethnic background is. The audience are the ones who grew up in with the internet and media constantly in their face.

I believe the targeted audience already knows a lot about confrontation because it’s everywhere on the internet and in the news. I don’t believe they know a lot about the other side or how to avoid confrontations. They just don’t have the experience.

My relationship with this audience is minimal since I am of a different generation. I will try to open their minds to looking into another point of view. A point of view that is less confrontational and says “let’s just get along.”

I would like to come across as a fellow spectator. I am in no way an expert on the subject. I am someone who read the essay and said “hey Deborah Tannen’s argument makes sense.” Like my audience, I never really thought about it that much. I want to come across as someone that wants things to be less confrontational and to see things from all sides. I want the audience to see that there are more sides to a story than two and to open their mind to all kinds of different views without jumping to a fast conclusion.

The Argument Culture is an excerpt from Deborah Tannen’s book. Deborah Tannen is a best-selling author whose books focus on how men and women have different conversation habits. (pg. 475) “In this essay taken from her Argument Culture book, Tannen tries to convince her audience that adversarial debates lead to poor communication.” (pg. 475)

The essay states that only hearing two sides of an argument leads to distorted facts, wastes, time, limits our thinking, and encourages us to lie. (pg. 478-479) Today’s society leads people to think in terms of one side against the other. An example of this would be debates. In a debate, there are only two sides of the argument. There is no in between. Tannen suggests hearing three or four sides to an argument so it’s more of a discussion or a dialogue and not an argument.

In the media world we live in today, there is often only two sides to a story. News people cover the news with the intent to cover the most extreme views there are. So in a sense, the news covers one extreme vs. the other. Another example would be a dispute between two parties. Normally, litigation pits one party against the other (pg. 475) Words in the media also have an a effect on us. “War on drugs, war on cancer, battle of the sexes, all suggest conflict and shape our way of thinking.” (pg. 475)

At the other end, sometimes you have to fight whether it be defend ourselves or our country. What’s wrong is when we are impulsive and spring into action without even thinking things all the way through. The use of words in a conversation can also sway the way a person thinks about what happened. For example, if you use the word “smashed” in a scenario asking “how fast was the car going when it crashed?” The person tends to think fast not slow. Also the person is more likely to think the glass of the car was broken when in fact it was not. (pg. 476) The use of words has a great impact on how we perceive things and interpret them. Tannen suggests “that critical thinking is synonymous with criticizing.” (pg. 476)

The high tech world we live in today, does not help with the poor communication of today. We have the internet now. In the old days, there was no internet and people could just sit, face to face and talk out their problems. Today, we sit at a desk and talk to people via e-mail or instant messenger. There’s also phones in today’s world. Today cell phones along with home phones. If a person has a problem with another person it’s easier to send a nasty e-mail then to be nasty and hateful in person.

Today’s society distorts the facts. It does so by focusing on the more sensational story and not the real story. Also it wastes our time by focusing on issues that are made up and not rewarding the proper achievement. It also limits our thinking by using sensationalism to depict
stories. This in turn shapes and clouds our way of thinking. Lastly, it encourages us to lie because society depicts winning at any cost the ultimate goal. We will do anything to achieve this. (pg. 478-479)

Tannen suggests our overcoming our habit to seeing in absolutes. To do this, we need to have more dialogue which means have more than two people to discuss an issue. Discuss the issue from all sides and have greater than two people interpret the issue.

I agree with Tannen’s view on the argument culture. Today’s world is a lot of sensationalism in the news, too much media interfering and skewing our thoughts and interpretations of things. We need to be more open minded as a culture to all views and not just one extreme vs. the other. We also need to go back to talking with one another face to face trying to work things out. An open mind leads to greater understanding and knowledge. Works Cited

Reid, Stephen. The Prentice Hall Guide for College Writing. 9th edition. Upper Saddle River,N.J.: Pearson, 2011. Print.

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