Couldn’t agree more. I grew up in a family that would often have intense debates over the dinner table. My father is a lawyer and thoroughly enjoyed (still does) a debate over politics, history, religion, linguistics, anything really.
I would add though that relatively often I find in social situations that it is more prudent to hold back a little bit. People can be anxious and uncomfortable about being pushed into debating an issue when they’re not confident in their knowledge of it. Or when they suspect you might know more about the subject than they do and they don’t want to be perceived as unintelligent. Debate can be great, but you’ve got to pick your sparring partners well, and always remain respectful.
Debating without some grounding in real subject matter, and enjoyment of debate itself, is just arguing. Arguing can sometimes be satisfying, but it’s not a creative force.
To be honest, I don’t often feel that same sense of ‘respectful debate’ in online conversation. I guess we all know the reasons: there’s less personal context, you find it easier to be short or mean when you’re not looking at a human face, the format itself can sometimes lend itself to short punchy statements that work precisely because they are divisive or emotionally gratifying. Or it just lends itself to a focus on you the individual.
I guess that’s one reason I like Discourse. It holds a real promise of online conversation approaching respectful debate. But, there are still pitfalls. I find it relatively easy to express my thoughts on something, but a wall of text can stifle conversation. Speaking of which, I should probably stop there.