There are a lot of reasons why our conversation degrade into pissing contests and flame-wars. It is quite difficult to hold a reasonable conversation with someone who is intent on causing a disagreement, which is the true definition of a troll. There seem to be a lot of trolls roaming around and trying to pick fights in other people's blogs. It makes for a difficult communication because it tends to derail important discussions. Sure, you could ban them, but some of the people actually don't always realize they are being trolls. I know, hard to imagine, right? I mean, how could someone not realize they are a complete asshat? I have seen it happen. Mainly, there are two types of trolls that I have dealt with in the last couple of weeks. The "real" ones who have nothing better to do with their time than to pick fights because they are bored and miserable and want others to be in the same pity pit with them. And then there is the other kind, the ones that have a lot of friends, and who thinks they are doing everyone a favor by picking a fight with one of the "real" trolls. Their behavior ends up being self-aggrandizing and somewhat trollish.
Either way, the two combined can make for a rapid downward spiral of reasonable discussions. Or at the very least, a very negative atmosphere within the comment section. Best way to diffuse it is to recognize the behavior and realize that some of their motivation, whether intentional or accidental - thrives on the missteps everyone makes in every day conversation.
Sometimes people just say things that we disagree with.
Here is the thing, not everyone is going to agree with you. And that's OK. It isn't the end of the world. It doesn't mean they are immediately and categorically wrong. Nor does it mean that you are immediately and categorically wrong. It is called a difference of opinion. Disagreement is not necessarily a bad thing. It provokes discussion and learning. It is a chance to be exposed to something that isn't the normal for your world purview. And it is definitely a chance to learn. So, approach these opportunities with an open mind. It will cost you nothing and gain you much if the situation and discussion are handled well. Think of it as the standard Speech and Debate classes from high school and college.
Sometimes people will say mean things.
Welcome to the real world. People are not always nice. In fact, people are so entrenched in holding conversations with whatever electronic device is attached to their ear or hand, they will not always notice you, much less engage you in decent conversation. People don't do courtesy anymore. It went the way of a lot of things that require reasonable action. And people don't filter or censor the things they say on the basis of you or your experience. They don't care about you or your experience. For the most part, people are mainly concerned about their own situation in the universe: their responsibilities, their bills, their mortgage, their jobs, their lives. And they could care less about how their bad mood is going to run off and spill onto you. They should be more careful. They should try and represent themselves in a better fashion, but really at the end of the day, the popular philosophy is "it's all about me". And no one really cares about the other person in front of them. Much less all of the people who might be in some way connected to the person in front of them. It is a very self-entitled world out there.
Sometimes people just come from a different area and their upbringing is different.
Not everyone speaks the same language, right down to the popular slang that filters in. I visited someone's blog one day and they were surprised to learn that an acquaintance had never heard a particular popular phrase. I had never heard of it either. So, sometimes there are actually some things that we take for granted that end up being a cultural or regional deal and so it is unknown in other parts of the country. Also, it is a matter of what gets rejected or accepted by the local pop culture. But no matter, what our local support system may oblige certain things that other places will not, particularly in regards to the language and communications. Keep that in mind and imagine how difficult it is to communicate with someone from another country. Always keep in mind that not everyone speaks your language and the Internet is International. English isn't necessarily the default language for some people, so be respectful and patient.
Sometimes people just insist on choosing the context and intention that they prefer, rather than the truth.
Don't expect the person in front of you to be interested in the actual truth of what you are saying. They are going to filter the comments through their own process and color the information with what they are expecting to hear and not what is actually being said. It's a defense mechanism, in some ways. It provides them with a false sense of security that they are grasping the information accurately and that the knowledge is at least in part what they were expecting to hear, when in reality they are failing because of a separate agenda. Sometimes they are just wired to take part of what someone is saying and not actually hear the entire context.
Sometimes it's a difference between listening and hearing.
There is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing involves the acceptance of the noise, sound and surface context of what someone is saying. Listening involves actually processing the received information. People wait for their turn to speak. That's it. For the most part, people will hear and read part of something and go off on that one small portion rather than take the entire context and attempt to process the focal point. But I imagine that sometimes this is in part due to our locus of control. We are a very "me" centered world now. People aren't interested in giving over control in regards to anything, and that sometimes includes simple conversation. So, what happens is that people end up "talking at" people rather than "talking with" them. See the difference?
Obviously there are more situations. But these are the ones that pop into my head. And seem to be the ones that drive the two types of trolls I mentioned above. Don't let them poison the well of good conversation.