Whenever you spend time arguing, debating, or philosophizing with someone, you must either assume that your conversational partner is sincere or that they are insincere.
If you genuinely believe they are sincere, then it would be reasonable for you to stay involved in the conversation in spite of difficulties and disagreements. After all, misunderstandings are a part of life and it’s not a big deal for people to talk past each other as long as they’re sincere in their efforts to get it right.
If you don’t believe that your conversational partner is sincere, however, then it would be unreasonable to continue engaging them further. After all, why would you waste your time trying to convince or communicate with someone if you genuinely don’t think they’re interested in being honest?
These observations about what is and isn’t reasonable might seem to be commonsense, but if you take a look at people’s arguments and debates on social media, you’ll see just how uncommon it is for people to put two and two together in this way. Hardly a day goes by without someone saying “you’re an idiot” or “you’re being intellectually dishonest and you know it” or “You’re choosing to be insane” or some other condemning statement of this nature. My problem isn’t that people say these sorts of things. It’s that people keep on debating after saying these things.
The next time you find yourself condemning someone for being insincere, here’s a simple question you might want to ask yourself:
What does it say about you when you insist on conversing with someone that *you* believe is an idiot?
It’s one thing to have conversations with people who others regard as irrational, idiotic, and insincere. It’s a tragic waste of time, on the other hand, for you have conversations with people *you* regard as irrational, idiotic, and insincere.
Why waste your time with such a self-defeating practice?
Drop your judgments and keep the conversation going or drop the conversation and keep your sanity.