Whatever Happened to Nuanced Thinking and Patient Discourse?

Inquiring minds want to know

Brian Tubbs


Photo by Sherise Van Dyk on Unsplash

When I was a kid, I remember a conversation between two of my buddies. One asked why the other was doing something. The second kid replied: “‘cause.” Not “because.” Saying the full word would have required too much effort. Just “‘cause.” And he pronounced it “cuzz.”

This went back and forth for a few minutes. It never got any deeper than that. Of course, this wasn’t necessarily unusual. It just happens to be one that I remember.

Kids have “conversations” like this all the time.

In some cases, kids settle disputes through yelling (who can scream the loudest?) or the opposite (giving each other the silent treatment). Or insults. Or shoving, kicking, punching, or biting (if they’re really little).

You expect that lack of nuance and sophistication when it comes to children.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming like this more and more with grown-ups.

This is particularly evident when conversations pertain to politics, religion, sex, relationships, or anything into which we invest our emotions.

Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a renowned psychologist and author of the book The Inconvenient Truth About Adult Development, has also observed a decline in emotional maturity among adults. She writes:

“Today’s adults are often more like preadolescents in their emotional development. They are more easily offended, more likely to engage in emotional outbursts, and less able to manage their anger and frustration.”

This has been exacerbated by social media and the consequential decline in both patience and attention spans. Ella Taylor, in an August 2020 op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, put it this way:

“America has a terrible case of the Screaming Memes. We yell past each other and bellow ill-considered thoughts into the ether, where they spread unfiltered onto our streets.”

I once complained about this on Twitter (now X), and someone replied: “That sounds nice, but Science!” As if just saying the word “science” somehow ends all discussion. It doesn’t. But setting that aside, what this person was getting at is the seemingly…