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How do you win a Twitter debate?

Spoiler Alert: You don’t.

Only a fool would try to win a debate on Twitter (e.g. 1, 2, 3)

Do you watch Game of Thrones? In one of the earlier seasons, there’s a great quote:

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”

Twitter debates are a lot like Game of Thrones — except they’re even more vicious. And there’s no way to win. You honestly have better odds at winning the lottery, going to Mars, or walking on water.

I could actually stop this blog post right here. But that would be an unsatisfying ending to this story, right?

When you participate in a Twitter debate, you’ve already lost. But why is this? To answer this, let’s put Twitter aside for a moment and pivot to a topic I’m obsessed with: Debate.

Do you like to debate?

If I asked you to publicly debate me on a topic you’re an expert in, would you say “yes”?

99% of you would say “NO”

How do I know this? Because over the past few weeks, I’ve asked many crypto experts to debate me live on Twitter about a claim they made. More than half of the responses amounted to a reluctant “no”.

It’s safe to assume a subset of this group probably realized their claims are unsubstantiated in the face of scrutiny. That’s all fine and dandy but not what I want to focus on here.

There’s also another subset of this group whom I care much more about; they’re actually the ones I wrote this post for: the people who are too intimidated to debate.

If you’re one of these people, I don’t blame you, especially when you take the current state of the internet into account. 🤷‍♀️

Internet debates are fights, not debates

Do you know what the real problem is with the internet? It’s not lack of truth; it’s lack of willingness to have a healthy conversation. But wait, it gets weirder.

On the internet, and especially in the crypto world, there’s a high priority placed on being open and transparent. Yet, both are plagued with closed-mindedness and toxicity. Social networks today incentivize outrage, echo chambers, and fragmented conversation. Traditional media promotes clickbait and hot takes. And Twitter just happens to be a place where you can see all this in action in real-time.

So, unsurprisingly, when most of us hear the word “debate,” our minds hear the word “fight.”

Whether you’re on Twitter, Reddit, or Facebook, most online debates you see today are actually contentious fights. People are screaming, yelling, and attacking each other instead of addressing the discussion at hand.

As a result, internet debates have become a race to react rather than respond.** Instead of being opportunities for meaningful discussion, they’ve become word wars to win.**

Argumentative attitudes have replaced communication to find common ground or understand different perspectives. “Let’s fight” has left no room for “Let’s explore this idea together.”

It’s no wonder most of us don’t want to “debate” — who wants to be thrown into the ringer and get publicly shamed if others don’t agree with their opinions?

It shouldn’t be this way. And it doesn’t have to be.

How I learned to love debating

Before TruStory, I found debates extremely intimidating; they weren’t exactly my idea of “fun.”

I’m an incredibly shy, reserved human being. I never really cared to pit myself against other people in internet discourse. To me, doing so was a colossal waste of time and energy.

But building TruStory has completely changed my perspective. Now I absolutely LOVE debating.

Why do I love debating?

I’ve discovered that debating is the best way to seek and learn the truth.

Contrary to what the internet thinks, the purpose of a debate isn’t to be deemed right or wrong. Instead, it’s an opportunity for both sides to think critically about a given topic and formulate a more complete picture on the matter.

In this sense, a debate is actually about opposing sides working together to show each other a different perspective. It’s not about conquering; it’s about coming out of the conversation with new insights.

We shouldn’t strive to be right at all costs. Instead, we should aim to advance our collective understanding.

Debating is a powerful way to deploy rational, reasoned arguments and influence the minds of millions. It has taught me how to effectively research, organize, and present my ideas in a cogent, compelling way.

And that’s not all. I’ve become a better critical thinker thanks to debates. They’ve also made me a more confident individual. But above all else, debates have changed my perspective: I look at the world through the lens of wanting to learn rather than wanting to be right.

Once I realized this, it became hard not to love a good debate — especially the ones where I’m wrong.

In fact, I want you to tell me I’m wrong. Otherwise, how will I learn? How will I seek the truth? How will I make progress?

The importance of healthy debate

Every day I spend building TruStory, I become more convinced of the importance of being able to have a healthy debate online. And Twitter simply isn’t cutting it.

If we want to truly understand and solve some of the world’s biggest problems, we have to move away from destructive debates; these do nothing but intimidate everyone except for the loudest and most obnoxious people. And frankly, these types are more concerned with being right than doing good.

It’s upon us to give more people with constructive viewpoints, including the quiet and shy ones, a voice.

TruStory is my contribution to making this type of conversation and debate possible. It’s a platform that promotes strong arguments rather than strong opinions. Where open-mindedness, transparency and humility are rewarded more than dogma. Where your reputation is entirely based on the strength of your arguments, and not the loudness of your voice.

Dogfooding our own dogma

I’ve become so obsessed with debates that they now play an integral role in our day-to-day at TruStory. Every decision we make starts with a claim. That claim then becomes the subject of a “debate.”

Here’s how it works:

Someone will post a claim in the app. Team members who agree with the claim can “back” it while team members who disagree with the claim can “challenge” it. To back or challenge a claim, you have to either draft a sound argument or endorse an existing argument. If someone endorses your argument, you earn Cred (i.e. short for Credibility). After all input is received, we collectively make a decision based on the arguments presented.

Great debates don’t divide, they enlighten

Twitter debates are toxic and intimidating. By emphasizing outrage and impulsivity, social media platforms as a whole have left many people scared to speak their minds.

As a result, they’re having the exact opposite effect of making people more social — they’re turning society inwards on itself.

People are starting to care less about having meaningful dialogues. Instead, they seek immediate gratification by “shutting down” opposing viewpoints with caustic rapid-fire responses.

But what they don’t realize is this comes at the expense of the greater good. People’s perspectives are getting closed off. They’re becoming afraid to even think.

I refuse to live in a world where we don’t have the freedom to think.

This is something that’s definitely not up for debate.

Convinced? 😊Sign up if you want early access to the alpha: https://jointrustory.typeform.com/to/Y1Body