politics · public life · relationships · social media

How to Ruin Constructive Conversations and Lose Debates

Are you sick and tired of finding common ground with your friends and family?

Do you want to feel good about yourself without doing anything good?

Do you grow tired of accepting people that disagree with you as reasonable human beings?

Look no further.

Here’s 13 ways to ruin an opportunity for a constructive conversation, and/or lose a debate. You can do it in person, or on social media – but behind a screen is better, because it’s more impersonal.

13 ways to ruin a constructive conversation

They’re very easy to do, and they’re happening all over the internet, in Youtube comments and Twitter replies, all day, every day.

  1. Attack the person’s character to avoid discussing their ideas.  Ad hominem style. For example:

“What do you think will be the effects of Trump’s tax cuts on the American economy?” “Trump is an idiot and a Nazi.”

“What did you think of Joe Blogg’s argument about growing the economy?”

“I didn’t read it, because in 1978 he made a joke about lesbians, and I find that to be inexcusable”. 

2. Call into question their reputation to avoid discussing their ideas. 

Change the topic to be about how they are paying their bills and supporting their families.

“Ben Shapiro has sponsors to fund his show, and sponsors mean capitalism, therefore Ben Shapiro is part of the system and he totally endorses every belief and policy of the sponsor’s board of directors”.

3. Label them with a meaningless buzzword, or compare them to Hitler, to avoid discussing their ideas.

“That guy supports slightly reducing the massive levels of immigration into our country, he is such a racist, Islamophobe. I mean, he’s basically Hitler.”

4. Change the topic to be about something else – your hobby horse – rather than their ideas. 

“As a Vegan yoga teacher, I don’t support reduced immigration because I specialise in inclusive practices in my studio, and my three kids are all working successful jobs…”

5. Personalise their statement as an attack on you, and shame them for it, rather than discuss their ideas. 

“Crime rates in ethnically X communities are disproportionately high.”

“How dare you talk about my ethnically X friend like that, he isn’t a criminal…”

“I think fatherhood and having male role models are crucial for young boys’ and girls’ development.”

“So what you’re saying is you hate all single Mums?”

6. Use various forms of shaming and guilt, or condescension, rather than discuss their ideas. 

“One day when you’re older you’ll understand – then you’ll think like me.”

“I am so disappointed in you for supporting X political view, I thought you, of ALL people, would know better than that”. 😐

7. Openly mock or insult the person’s appearance or sexual appeal, rather than discuss their ideas. 

Bonus points if she’s a woman – nothing shows the true colours of progressivism like a feminist insulting another woman’s appearance in 2018.

“Melania Trump is wearing a pink dress, clearly she supports stereotypical notions of femininity and has joined forces with the patriarchy. Plus she’s ugly.”

8. Invent some new words, or redefine their meaning, to make yourself seem smart and with the times – but don’t discuss their ideas. Frequently use words like “the patriarchy” and “systemic oppression”, as though those words need no definition or clarification.

“The fact that you, as a cisgender white male, cannot recognise the systemic oppression that is taking place in the West today towards incels is demonstrative of your illicit, unconscious bias and patriarchal, colonial privilege.”

9. Get offended by their tone, and make the conversation about that, rather than their ideas. 

“I know that we need to have a national conversation about Islamic terrorism, but the fact that you even used the word Muslim in the same sentence is highly suggestive that you see a correlation between the two, and I’m sure many members of the Muslim community were offended and are now incentivised to acts of terrorism – all because of your lack of nuance. So basically, you’re responsible for ISIS.”

10. If you haven’t already – change the topic to be about something else that you feel like talking about, in order to trap them on another, entirely different point, rather than discuss their ideas. 

“You don’t support Hillary Clinton because of her long history of corruption and deception, but Trump said he liked to grab women by…”

11. Call them hateful or controversial, and say that their ideas are dangerous and should be silenced, rather than discuss their ideas.

“This is 2018, and to express any opinion other than mine is, quite simply, dangerous to our democracy and should not be allowed in our national conversation”.

12. Cry. Literally cry….rather than discuss their ideas. She’s crying, how could you make her cry? Why would you do that? Clearly you’re a bad person and your ideas are just wrong.

Also, side note – it’s very effective in relationships. If you cry, you are always right, and therefore you have the moral high-ground.

13. Create some imaginary statistics on the spot that don’t prove anything relevant, rather than discuss their ideas.  Because everyone loves statistics. To be more specific, 98% of people love statistics.

Bonus round: After the conversation, put salt in the wounds with these additional bad boys:

  • Threaten them with violence, peer pressure or just intimidate them into silence.
  • Spread rumours about them that can’t be verified.
  • Try to shut down the person’s livelihood – sue them, start a campaign to get them fired, protest outside their business, give them one star reviews, boycott them, etc.

In conclusion: Whatever you do, don’t give them any basic human decency. They can’t be allowed to disagree with you. Above all – don’t talk about their ideas.

Otherwise my fake narrative will fall apart, and I may have to humble myself and admit I might be wrong.


If you like this kind of reverse-wisdom, check out:

Thanks for reading.


Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle, to encourage and inspire those who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.

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