Debate Cards and Memes


When I was in high school, a friend of mine and I decided we would join the debate team.  Seemed like a good idea and the two of us were among the top students in our class.  We really thought we would be the best team ever.

I’m not sure if I knew what to expect, but the debate team was not what I expected.  Most of what I studied in school came fairly naturally to me, but this just didn’t.  There wasn’t really any homework, but long hours were expected to be put in at the library.

The goal of debate was to find things that other people said and transfer that information onto index cards.  Other kids would get large boxes to hold their cards of information.  Sorted by arguing point.

If I remember correctly, the national debate committee (or something like that) decided on the topic for the semester.  And that was the only topic.  Kids would go through journals looking for great quotes and statistics regarding this topic.  Arguments from those considered to be experts were far greater than arguments from any of us.

I struggled.

The kid I originally planned to team up with found a new partner before the first debates took place.  This was right down his alley.  He spent weekend after weekend at the library.  He devoted so much time that I was not willing to.  My guess is that if I searched him, he’s probably a successful attorney somewhere in the world.

Although, there is a part of me that thinks he could have been the inspiration for Sheldon Cooper.

I believe we were all required to  participate in at least one debate during the semester.  I borrowed one of my dad’s ties one night and did that.  My new partner was about as interested in debating as I was after it all got started.  We went and debated.

I remember a point in the debate when she leaned over to me and said, we don’t have a card to argue against that.  So it goes.

We received compliments on our delivery of information and knowledge, but we did lose our one and only debate.

As the semester came to a close, I submitted a change of schedule.

If you think I sat down at this PC to write about my debate team days of nearly 30 years ago, have a sip of coffee and regain focus.  It might feel as if I’m changing gears.

The other day I came across a tweet by Steve Kornacki from MSNBC.  He does their analysis for them.  The “Big Board” they call it.  Kornacki shows districts and counties where the delegates are coming from and the leanings of voters in certain areas and how that will break down for the candidates and tells the world about exit polls to try and find trends about what is driving the voters.

That.

That is what I could get into.

Get rid of Brian Williams and his smartass comments.  Drop Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews and their blatant bias.  Don’t spin the data to fit your dialogue.  Don’t turn analysis into anything more than it is.  I know there’s a need for somebody to tell the story, but the story better be good.  The real story is that very few people participate.  That’s the real story.  Cover that.

Kornacki posts something about how likely Democrat voters are to vote for either Clinton or Sanders in a General Election.  The exit poll was from New York voters only since that is who was voting.  The data was favorable to Clinton.

The data does not show the story of voter suppression in New York.  From what I’ve seen, 160,000 voters in Brooklyn (Sanders’ home city) had their registrations mysteriously switched so they could not vote.  From what I heard, voters were being turned away even though they were properly registered.  The estimate is that over 3 million voters who thought they should be able to vote in New York could not.

All that is for another post.  It’s embarrassing how the election process is designed in the United States.  You know, the land of the free.

Back to the tweet by Kornacki.  I click on it.  The arguments start.  Normal everyday people.  And then the memes start.

One person posts a graphic with words that support why Hillary Clinton is the better candidate followed by a graphic with words from a Bernie Sanders supporter.

The tennis match continues.  Volleying back and forth from one supporter to another.

ElliotMemeAs I scroll, I couldn’t help but think back to that debate class.  How people must have folders on their PCs full of memes for any occasion.  First ones with data and facts and then condescending ones.  And then insulting ones.  And then, quite honestly, we’ve all lost.

I’ve got news for the whole world.  The debate team is not for everybody and just because you have a picture that says something, does not make it a valid point.  Except for this Sam Elliot meme I just made.

Turns out that it’s very easy to do.  We can all make them.  Look, they even put the web site on my image.  I saw all the popular images.  The most interesting man in the world and that dinosaur and Willy Wonka.

So, here’s my point.  Memes are not proof.  They are not debate cards quoting intellectual journals.  We are all not on the debate team.  People keep talking about how this primary season has been the nastiest yet.  Look how easily people with differing views can create exchanges with each other.

Look how easily we can take each other down a step or two for having an opinion.  Reactions and interactions happen in an instant anymore and it’s only good for public discourse up to a point.

Let’s face it, Bill Clinton controlled what people knew about him and how we was perceived in the public eye.  He was the last president to be elected before the internet.  Nothing has been the same.  Nobody can simply play the saxophone on Arsenio Hall to improve their image.  Not anymore.

So, please remember, memes are not proof.  Memes are not anything but a cheap way to give your opinion.

Just like when listening to the pundits on television who deliver opinions as if they are experts, there comes a point where we all need to be able to think for ourselves and form our own opinions.  Anybody who thinks others’ minds should be easily changed, well, that person is a special kind of stupid (another Sam Elliot meme I could make).

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