Debates over WhatsApp
It is election season in India. Like any fellow citizen, we all have weak opinions and hold them strongly. Adding fuel to the fire, everyone has preferences on who is the best leader, what the leader should do and not do. This is not something new. For the past seven decades, we have been having elections, and people are divided with their opinions.
I noticed a troublesome trend in the discussions and debates happening over WhatsApp. I am not even considering the fake news problems and propagandist bigotry forwards. That is a huge problem, and I hope Mark Zuckerberg's minions fix it in some years. My problem is the mildly persistent tension and hatred on things which are beyond our control.
When two friends from different ideologies debate face to face on topics, the things get settled down in a few minutes. We all get non-verbal clues like body language, tone and volume, which conveys a ton. So the debate can go personal or become intense, but things get back to normalcy at the end. But I suspect it is not the case in a discussion over WhatsApp.
I think the medium itself is poorly designed for a serious debate. You compromise nuance for brevity. Your real intention is not fluently translated into words. People can easily get sidetracked. Most importantly, there is a bad taste in your mind with a disagreeable argument or content put forward. It persists over time and makes the shyest and reticent people spew harsh words. It evokes a similar response from the other side and leaves the same bad taste in their memory. The worst thing could be that this may impact someone's relationship IRL. You might want to duck yourself or cover your face when you meet the same person face to face.
I don't know if I am right on this. But I try my best to avoid serious discussions over text. I use them mainly for fun - conveying happy things, making fun of others, sharing plans and other mundane stuff. It brings me a lot of peace.