There's a Reason
Any discussion or conversation Etc. such as politics, religion, etc. likely to create discord should be avoided. The names of ladies should not be brought into conversation. Talking shop, (i.e.) daily routine duties, etc., should be avoided. Discussion of general military matters is, however, to be encouraged. - Hints for Young Officers (RCS of I; 1931)
There’s a reason that young officers, in days gone by, were advised against talk of "politics, women and religion" in their messes. Quite simply, it's because many normally rational members couldn’t maintain objectivity once they felt their own personal opinions and ardent beliefs were being denigrated.
Objectivity, the ability for rational discourse …. we all want to believe we have it. Of course, most of us are perfectly capable of discussing controversial issues without emotion, right up until that point where we are blind to the impact of our own emotions. It’s a natural reaction, we can’t help it, and at the same time we can’t see how it makes us look just as outrageous as "that other guy who can’t see the case I’m explaining."
The internet has great advantages and also great disadvantages for human interaction and communication. Unfortunately, among its greatest disadvantages is the reality that most people on line are alone, they are without that best register of the effect of their emotions – the presence of others – both friends to caution them against hasty words, and opponents, to see just what effects their words are having.
We’re human, we get emotional. The internet doesn't convey emotion, but that doesn’t stop each of us from reading what we want in another's words. If we are already prejudiced against another’s arguments, every word is a personal assault on our own beliefs. In return, each attempt at rational counter-argument is taken in the worst possible light as well, until any discussion on sensitive topics between two ardent supporters of opposite sides inevitably spirals into another thread of on line crap.
What solutions can we offer? Sadly few.
"Couples counselling" by registered therapists and subject matter experts is rather beyond the capabilities of this, or any, on line forum.
I would suggest that each of us needs to ask ourselves what our personal hot button issues are. Then, we need to decide if repeating the same arguments with the same people, or facsimiles of them, is worth the time, stress and effort.
Bigger men (or women) can always walk away. Perhaps after posting one (unemotional) statement of their personal opinion. Or perhaps after posting nothing more than a link to the last time they made that statement, or to a credible third party reference.
The grief, the stress to all involved, to the participants and including to those watching a train wreck of a thread, IS NOT WORTH IT.
Not one thread on politics (which includes gun control issues), gender/sexuality, religion, etc., etc., that has spiralled into senseless circular arguments has been worth its weight in electrons at the end of the day.
It’s time for a more mature response. It’s time for people to simply start saying "I don’t agree, but I do not consider this worth arguing about."
It’s not surrendering; it's conservation of energy.
Don't feed the trolls; and it doesn’t matter who the troll is, or may be (sometimes it’s everybody still beating the equine after a certain point).