Argumentation and Parallel Understanding

The exchange of ideas occur during conversations, debates or other methods, which requires people to talk on certain things. However, in these instances, people have a probability of misunderstanding when people do not grasp both content and context of the message or the topic of interest. Usually, people are aware of the subject at hand but when they start giving arguments, there seems to be a deviation from the topic, which results to unnecessary heated debates. This is called "parallel understanding."

Say for example, I posted on Facebook the following:

"What is happening on Philippine TV? I like romanticism but it should be a medium to deliver more than that. Appreciating TV shows is quite okay. But the use of time on debates about who or which is better is plainly garbage. Is this what we Filipinos learn from Philippine media? I understand these entertainment shows act as "stress-relievers," but it seems the young people takes it as an essential topic of interest worthy of in-depth discussions. This is something to worry for the future Filipino generation must discern what is entertainment and which is more important in the society."

The Facebook post has elicited various positive and negative reactions. Personally, I do not know whether those who liked the post really understood it; but certainly those who reacted negatively in one way or another manifested "parallel understanding." How can one say parallel understanding exist? This is the focus of this blogpost.


Now, let us take a look on the main idea of the post. Was it the media, the youth, the youth's preference, romantic TV shows, TV personalities? It would be confusing whether the argument should be taken either on a general or a specific level. Most who reacted negatively thought that the statement was provocative and suggestive that those who watch romantic TV shows were incapable of making worthy social discussions. However, should the argument be taken specifically such that the argumentation was a threat to specific individuals?

The idea started with a general statement that Philippine TV could deliver better than the current status. Then, further statements were provided about why it would be better to engage the youth in better socially-relevant discussions. Should one would like to refute the statement, it would be appropriate to say that  Philippine TV has already delivered enough, rather than saying those who watch certain TV shows are unable to engage in worthy discussions, like irrational individuals. As you could see the basis of the negative reactions was a form of parallel understanding. It is seemingly relevant, but did not suit exactly how the argument should be refuted.

When one attempts to refute a statement, one must identify to whom the message was directed. Was it a group of person watching TV, or the social influences like media? Was the statement blaming and singling out that the media is solely to blame why the youth are not engaging in more worthy discussion? There was no mentioned message of blaming a certain entity. Moreover, there was no strong claim that the media should be primarily blamed of the situation. Should one understood the main idea, one could say the contention was directed to the media, not to those people preferring a certain type of TV show. Hence, to prevent parallel understanding, one must refute and argue within the same direction, or else the exchange of ideas becomes irrelevant from the main point.


Thirdly, one seeking rebuttal or clarification must distinctively recognize the intention or objective of the statement. Reflecting on the Facebook post several times, the objective was two-fold: description of a social problem affecting the youth; invitation or suggestion for the media to facilitate the youth's engagement in socially-relevant discussions. This shows that the statement does not make those who watch TV show aware of their incapacity and apathy towards social issues. Moreover, the statement does not warrant an immediate solution of the problem. It does not also imply that the author knows the ultimate solution of the problem.

This is something I need to point out because I was obliged by one to provide a solution, such that the person considers the objective or intention is insufficient and incorrect and it should be what the person thinks. With this, refuting or engagement in argumentation must never deviate from the primary intention, unless another makes other propositional statement to be debated upon. What would be the point of debating when two people have two conflicting or different objectives. They seemingly understand the topic but reveals parallel understanding.

Identifying Influences

The most difficult part of debating or refuting the statement of another is to infer the various influences that pushed the person to make the statement. I am aware that those who reacted negatively watch those romantic TV programs and that they consider the statement as an  attack to their preference and intellectual value. This is the reason why they would use all means to disprove the statement I provided. Some are simply tired of the sad reality in the society, and they think the statement as direct interference to their leisure time. Interestingly, there were some who had personal interests that rebuttal seems as a means to take the author personally.

I myself have been influenced by various situations before I made the Facebook post. I woke up irritated knowing that the Filipino youth seems uninterested of a social and political movement that was supposed to be conducted on the same day. Instead of using their time and exerting effort on taking part of the change, the youth seems to be busy in quarelling and competing in social media, resulting to a total of more than 35 million tweets. Worse, the youth takes pride of the achievement, as if it is socially-relevant. For me, it is not. It gave me the impression that the TV shows were more of a priority than making a change in the country. What irritated me further is that the Philippine media seems to deliberately shift focus to the entertainment shows, rather than the social movement. Worse, the youth seems to like the shift.

However, what are the signs of a person manifesting signs of parallel understanding. The person usually use more adjectives than verbs and adverbs. This means that the person judges rather than describes. In connection to this, a person, who does not exhibit real understanding resort to concluding, rather than attempting to understand. Furthermore, they attack individuals personally for them to protect themselves from unnecessary shame and criticism. The tone of conservation would also be inappropriate since instead of utilizing critical-thinking, they express their emotions and lose objectivity. Furthermore, they also try to convince others and take a popular stance to show others they understand almost everything, in contrast to the reality.


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