Some of us have found it is hard to have a constructive conversation on the Internet. What are the options?
- One approach is to post your ideas on an open site: you can say almost anything, but you then get complete strangers sidetracking the discussion with their own issues and concerns, telling you the question is stupid, and screaming that you are a bad person for even asking it.
- A second approach is to post your ideas on a closed site, set up to cater for a particular idea or group: the conversation is more likely to be polite and stay on track, but you are limited in the views you are allowed to express, and limited in the people you can gain responses from.
- We want to explore a third approach: a closed group, open for anyone to read, but not open to anonymous contributions; a membership restricted not by commitment to a belief or a goal, but by a commitment to truth and a few shared values.
We are engaging with people who are different from us to explore ideas with the aim of making the world a better place. So this is, in brief:
- a call to action;
- a call to think; and
- a call to link the two together.
A Personal Note
When I first started going to the pub, a friend gave me some important advice: "You can talk about anything you like, apart from sex, religion and politics." People care deeply about those three subjects, so they produce strong feelings. What they were saying without saying it, is that you can't expect people to remain friendly when they disagree about things they care deeply about (especially if they have had a bit to drink). I followed their advice, mostly. For a while, anyway.
But, over the years, I have found it is possible for people to care deeply and also disagree well; when we do, we often learn and grow in ways which are not possible when you only talk about 'safe' subjects and with those who agree with you. I want to learn and grow and, it turns out, so do many others. Welcome!
(P.S. I recently found this interview with Jonathan Haidt, which describes a lot of the concerns which motivated the creation of this website and community.)