Truth bubbles, polarization and one-size fits all globalization

Today we share a powerful text by Tuulia Reponen. If you would like an article or an essay to be published, please write us to joensuu@debate.fi!

 

Many people ask nowadays: ”Why don’t we agree on anything anymore?” My answer is: look at the structures!

Truth bubbles

“Truth bubbles” can be characterized as the contemporary “folk disease”. Fingers have been pointed at the algorithms of social media companies such as Facebook for filtering information based on likes in a way that is conducive to creating and enforcing them. Social-media users would see only things they wanted to see in their newsfeed and follow the narratives they already supported. While prejudicial filtering of information is how human cognition functions, and is not alarming in itself, Facebook truth bubbles bring that filtering to the next level. It minimizes the chances that we encounter contradicting information accidentally.

Some analysts claimed that truth bubbles worked in favor of Trump in the 2016 US presidential elections. Trump’s supporters would only see news in their feed that casted his alt-right agenda in a positive light. Some news agencies have exploited the mechanism for maximizing their profits by publishing tailored news articles for different truth bubbles. If you wonder how this works, the same piece of news is published for liberals and conservatives; just some keywords are altered to suit the taste of the target audience. Perhaps even more worryingly, truth bubbles decrease the likelihood that people with opposing views exchange ideas and learn from each other.

A popular cry in Finland at the moment is that “if ‘the extremes’[1] just came to their senses and tried to form a dialogue, forward-looking politics would be possible again”. The discussion mostly revolves around the Finnish refugee policy and how it should be discussed about. Propagators of this narrative include among others the ice-hockey player Teemu Selänne, prime minister Juha Sipilä, the chief secretary of the ministry of interior Päivi Nerg and most recently Pirkko Saisio – a renowned author, actress and an advocate of homosexuals’ rights. In the early 2017, a Finnish speaking Facebook group called “Poliittinen metamodernismi” (eng. “Political metamodernism”), with currently 629 members, was created for the aim to bridge between different social realities. Beginnings of similar initiatives are present elsewhere on the web.

What causes polarization?

Rather than demanding “the extremes” to abandon their version of truths, which I think is at best a futile attempt and morally questionable at worst[2], I wish we would look at what causes polarization. A 2015 study by a group of political scientists (Nolan McCarty and Boris Shor) and an economist (John Voorheis) established a causal link between economic inequality and political polarization. The paper looks at political polarization at the US state legislature and concludes that the rising income inequality has shifted the entire legislature more to the right while the state parties have increased their ideological distances. This means that liberals have become more liberal and conservatives more conservative.

Thus, income inequality does not only have material consequences in a sense that some of us are less able to save up money and invest in shares (something that wealthy people regularly advice poor people should do). It means that we are likely to have less commonalities in our social realities and we will disagree more. In short: if let to increase freely, it can make our societies ungovernable.

When talking about right wing populism, the parallels between the disastrous events of the 1930s and the present day are readily invoked by politicians as red flags of where we may end up again. Economic mismanagement is stated as one of the biggest factors in the triumph of national-socialism. Is the repeat of “the history’s darkest hour” a credible scenario? There exists no consensus at least among historians whose debate I personally have followed. In other words, we cannot know at least not now. It is safest to say that the scenario cannot be excluded as a possibility.

Globalization vs. localization is a mistaken debate

In the light of the recent European elections, some have concluded that populism was a bomb that did not explode properly. The electorate has come to their senses after having been served the bitter lies of Trump and Britain’s “Leave”-campaign and voted for moderate progressives in Austria, the Netherlands and France.

But has the electorate universally accepted the pro-market politics as the only truth? Does the majority of us agree that corporations’ interests need to be first in order to guarantee increasing welfare for everybody? It does not seem to be the case, at least in France where most people voted for the pro-free trade cosmopolite Emmanuel Macron, not in favor, but in opposition to the protectionist nationalist Marine Le Pen. In the face of global challenges, both of them fall short in providing answers.

Despite of Macron’s progressive appeal, he hardly earns that label. He has promised to slash 120.000 jobs from the public sector, cut taxes for households and companies and has signaled support for trade pacts such as the “free-trade deal” between Canada and the EU, also known as CETA. According to the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament, if implemented CETA would lead to increasing wage gaps between the skilled and unskilled workers in Europe and hence would negatively contribute to social tensions.

Although Marine Le Pen rightly takes on the pro-market elite, she is not the answer either. Leaving her nationalist rhetoric aside, her promises to bring back the jobs for French factory workers ring hollow. Automation will make many of us unemployable (through no fault of our own) soon. It is unlikely, National Front could or should hinder the technical progress that will completely change the job market in the near future.

It seems likely that political polarization will grow in the future, at least if big structural questions continue to be ignored. Globalization is a historical fact, it has been with us for thousands of years, and is probably not going away in the absence of a world police. What I personally find the most fruitful question to ask ourselves is: what kind of globalization do we want, one that serves the interests of the few or one that benefits us all?

***

[1] The label’s use is problematic because it assumes that people who oppose and stand for human rights are on an equal footing.

[2] Basically, by occupying the moral high-ground the criticizer claims that given the same individual experiences, environment, education level, etc. they would have made a better call. In other words, it excludes the societal structures that shape individual agency.

Joensuu Mini 2016

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During the third weekend of November -16 it happened. We held our very first debating tournament in Joensuu. It was nothing too big, a small tournament with 40 people in total. 16 teams of two debaters from Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Jyväskylä and Joensuu competed in the art of British parliamentary debating. Furthermore, we had a remarkable chief adjudication team consisting of Milla Huuskonen, Annabelle van Beusekom (who came all the way from Germany!) and the DCA, Sara Halonen.

The contestants had put creativity in their team names. We had ”Hot, fresh and ethical”, ”Clone army” and ”Zhen’s disciples” to name a few of them. All of them engaged in heavy verbal activity for a minimum of 4 debates. Topics were varied and included anonymous CVs, European military, religious beliefs and positive media coverage of refugees.

From the organizer’s point of view, securing the venue was a number of its own. Our original plan was to organise the tournament in the premises of Normaalikoulu but unfortunately there was a double booking due to a teacher training taking place there during the same weekend. Luckily, we could use the rooms at the university for free. Only that we were surprised a couple of days before the tournament when we heard that we would need to hire security to see over the venue because it was a weekend. Luckily we found a compromise there!

All in all, everything came to a reasonable end but – boy – was Anton under great stress for a couple of days before the tournament! Good that he was able to keep his cool when issues arose. He was determined to make everything work.

And it did! We had two days of excellent debating and judging and amazing socials on Saturday. We tackled issues on the spot. On Sunday, the room intended for serving breakfast was not open before 10.00 when the breakfast was supposed to end. All our coffee makers were in that room from the previous day. Solution!? We borrowed a water kettle and bought instant coffee for the breakfast. It worked.

In the closing ceremony Anton gave a short speech in which he explained the significance of organizing Joensuu Mini. It is to spread debating to smaller towns and outside of the capital region where most of the Finnish debate tournaments tend to be. We firmly believe that debating should be available to everybody.

Critical thinking, thinking from another person’s perspective and good listening skills never harmed anybody. On the contrary, they are more important than ever when we get all too comfortable living in our social media bubbles.

With all that said, we would like to thank everyone who worked on this tournament and everyone who participated. This would not have been possible without all of your cooperation!

Sail away from the safe harbor

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Wojcieh Mościński and Venla Siltala preparing their case in Helsinki Mini 2016

Wocjcieh and Venla participated in Helsinki Mini 2016, in their very first debating tournament, and are willing to tell us about their experience. How is it to go to your first tournament and compete against experienced debaters? Scary? More over, could it be recommended to anybody to follow the lead?

Wojcieh

When I was asked for the first time if I want to participate in tournament, I instantly shook my head. As a beginner, I was obviously not good enough; just the word “tournament” sounds scary and suggests that you need a lot of initial knowledge or skills.

Today, few days after I took a part in Helsinki Mini, I can say it was an amazing experience. It´s worth mentioning that the line between “No, I don´t want” and “Yes, I want” was really sharp. That´s a bit sad that I was so close to deciding not to go, what would make my life to have one unique experience less. (dude, I live 500 km from Helsinki, I am just a beginner and I am low on money – need more reasons?)

I was right I wasn´t good enough to win. I didn´t. So what? I had amazing time there, met a lot of interesting people and got a great deal of precious experience. Och, almost forgot – also my fear of taking a part in similar events vanished.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Venla

I participated in the Helsinki Mini debate tournament this October. I’d describe myself as an inexperienced debater so I approached the tournament as a learning experience. Despite my doubts about my debating skills, I had great fun at the event and I’m glad I said yes when Anton asked me to come. In the tournament I learned a lot more on how to improve as a debater, made new friends and received useful feedback from the judges. I’d encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming Joensuu Mini, debating veterans and new enthusiasts alike. The Joensuu Mini is a unique opportunity to test your debating skills, improve as a debater, engage in debates on topics as interesting as ever and socialise with participants from different debate societies. If you’re an inexperienced debater, this is your amazing chance to see improvement in just one day! I did it, so can you!

Summer Debate picnic and autumn 2016

The Joensuu Debate Society organised its second summer picnic at the Ilosaari island last week! The chosen motion was: ‘This house regrets the rise of social media’. Many interesting arguments rose from both the government and opposition sides: social media addiction is harmful for work production, it changes the behavior of people to be less empathetic as they are used to vent their rage on social media, it reduces real life social interaction, etc. On the other hand, it was argued that social media increases social interaction, as it makes possible to communicate with people across the globe and organise events and parties with no effort. It also cannot be blamed for making people addicted, as it is just a tool – it can be (and is) used responsibly. Here are some pictures from the event. Drinks, snacks, deer meat (thanks Timo!), and debating of course!

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I also want to tell you a bit about what’s being planned for the autumn semester! We have decided to continue the weekly debates the 7th of September. Make sure to mark your calendars for the special semester opening debate 😉 Furthermore, we plan to repeat some of our popular events, such as the ethnic dinner party and a show debate. Finally, the most exciting event that we are organising: a small tournament right here in Joensuu in November. Don’t miss out on all of the exciting debating! For now, have a great summer.

Cheers,

Anton

End of spring semester update: what have we done this spring?

Hello all once again! It is time to make the last update of Joensuu Debate Society for this semester and look back at all the wonderful things that we experienced this spring. The list is long and it’s been a huge pleasure to see so many longtime goals for the Joensuu Debate Society come to fruition; talks about organising a sauna debate and a show debate at a pub have occurred for as long as we have existed! So let’s look back together at the activities of JDS these last several months. We hope that the update can bring some nostalgia to our active members, an update to our old debaters who have not been able to join the debates, and perhaps excite a new member to come and try debating! We often get the question of what do we debate about; so I am posting the full list of all of the motions debated this spring at the end of this blog post.

Helsinki Open 2016

The two societies in Helsinki have been organising a yearly tournament for quite some time now. It was a huge event with over 100 participants, counting the competitors, judges, and organisers – from all over the world! Joensuu has always participated in the tournament and this year was no exception: Juha Kaltiainen, Tuulia Reponen, and Anton Moisseev competed. Arto Järvelä, the president of the the Tampere society was partnered with Juha and formed a Tampere-Joensuu coalition that was just shy of breaking into the semifinals. Great job lads! You can read more about the tournament here: https://www.facebook.com/Helsinkiopenofficial/?fref=ts

Mahdollisuuksien tori

Also known by its English translation: ‘marketplace of possibilities’, the event is organised for all of the various organisations, societies, clubs, and even some local businesses to create something great for the audience with a common theme of: our world with what we want to emphasise everyone’s opportunities to be part of something and make a difference. Debating fits this theme really well and we organised a small workshop where people had the opportunity to take a first step into debating with some games and light exercises. Unfortunately, we were located inside a building on the second floor and not too many found their way there. Hopefully we can participate again and improve on getting more people to participate next year!

Sauna debate

A longtime crazy idea rattling in our brains, we finally organised the event. The debate did not, however, happen inside the sauna! The motion debated outside the sauna was: This House Would ban picture-based dating sites, such as Tinder. Accompanied with delicious snacks and the wonderful sauna at the student union sauna, Suvas, the event was a success and we hope to organise it once again in 2017 (unfortunately we can get the sauna for free only once a year!)

Spring debate day

This spring we also organised with the co-operation of FINDA (the Finnish debating association) the biggest, most international debate event in the history of Joensuu. We debated the entire Saturday with people from Joensuu, Helsinki, Turku, and Jyväskylä, with a wonderful morning YouTube stream workshop by a talented debater, Alex Harris. The entire workshop can still be seen on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nusv-dIy7k. There are plenty of awesome pictures taken by our photographer, Tuulia Reponen, some of which I have chosen to show below. Thank you to all the c. 20 participants for making the event legendary!

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Group photo of those dedicated debaters who could stay till the end of the long day!

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Pub show debate

As a prelude to the spring debate day, we organised a show debate on the crazy motion of: This House Believes That Trump will be a great president. I’m sure that this motion looks really difficult for the government to win… You would be surprised though… We booked the upstairs of Bar Play and were surprised just how many people came to see it! The upstairs was quite full of people who ended up voting for the government side as the winners (!) The debate was also a great way to have awesome interaction between the Finnish debaters: we had two Joensuu participants, two from Jyväskylä, one from Helsinki, and one (very loud and excited) debater from Turku. Quite possibly the best JDS event of the year!

Show Debate Poster

Our controversial Trump debate poster. Some were ripped off!

Other events

As always, we have continued our weekly debates. This semester’s last debate was on Wednesday the 18th of May. The motion that was chosen was definitely not an easy one: This House Would make development aid contingent on levels of genuine democracy. The motion required some very deep analysis and explanation of mechanics. How can genuine democracy be achieved/measured? How to make sure the money goes to the correct people if no genuine democracy is achieved? How to achieve genuine democracy if no aid is given? The semester’s last winners were Tuulia Reponen and Tomas Pavuk from the opening government, congrats! Here are some photos from the last debate (notice how horrible I am at taking a selfie with laying my fat finger on the lens…)

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This semester we also organised two weekly debates in Finnish for the benefit of all of the people not confident in their English. It was a pleasure to see some new faces who had not dared to try debating before! And finally, there were two (well one is still coming up on the 30th of May at 18:00 in Aurora 202) YouTube workshop streams on specific topics: Immigration and refugees, and gender and sex. These workshops are meant for everyone who want to a) learn more about the topic and b) learn how to discuss/debate that topic on the grander scheme. FINDA is securing expert debaters to hold the workshops and it’s great that we can benefit from these valuable lessons.

That was about it for this spring! It was a huge pleasure to meet all of the new debaters and it makes me sad to see many go back home. Such is the life of an international university; we just hope that we were able to give something valuable to our members and that people might continue debating outside of Joensuu J Have a great summer everyone and our dear staying members, see you during the next semester! Oh and as promised, here is a list of all the motions that we debated this spring semester:

13.1. This house believes that science is a threat to humanity.

20.1. This house would no longer print newspapers.

27.1. This house regrets the media focus on the personal lives of politicians.

3.2. This house would rather live in a world without religion.

10.2. This House would pay all elected politicians the median wage in their country.

17.2. This house supports English as the only language of communication.

24.2. This house would allow anyone to take up residence in any country, provided that they will not be an economic burden on that country.

2.3. This house welcomes the entrance of large numbers of robots into the workforce.

9.3. This house would pay youth to not migrate from rural areas to urban centres.

16.3. This house supports hacktivism.

23.3. This house would remove any politician breaking their campaign promises.

13.4. This house believes that the best way to remove the problems that come from tax evasion is to remove taxation altogether.

20.4. This house believes that social welfare prevents the full potential of people to start a career.

27.4. This house believes that social welfare prevents the full potential of people to start a career.

4.5. This house would establish geographical zones where the selling and consuming of any and all drugs are legal.

11.5. This house believes that reality TV has made humanity worse.

18.5. This house would make development aid contingent on levels of genuine democracy.

About the demonstration at UEF on Monday 14.3.

The Joensuu Debate Society aims to progress critical thinking and open mindedness on difficult topics in Joensuu. Therefore, we, the board of the JDS, would like to write about the recent demonstration at our university. It is safe to say that most people have heard about the students’ demonstration outside (and inside) of the Carelia hall on Monday. It is a hot issue right now in all Finnish media. However, most of the coverage has been in Finnish, so we would like to offer a summary of the events in English, as well as add some discussion on the matter.

The context of the situation is that the Finnish Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä, was invited to be the main speaker of a lecture at the Carelia hall of the university. He represents a government which plans to cut a total sum of 150 million euros from the student allowance budget. What this means is that very soon students will lose 90 euros per month. Furthermore, there is the looming possibility of the yearly tuition fees to be extended to all Finnish students. This is not the sum of the austerity measures that the government is planning: all in all the education cuts are over 600 million euros. And all this is coming from a man who had personally campaigned on the notions that he will not cut from the Finnish education and will not decrease the students’ allowances. In other words, we are talking about a man who has committed serious campaigning fraud.

Sipilä in a photo with a student. The sign says: 'student allowance will not be weakened'

Sipilä in a photo with a student. The sign says: ‘student allowance will not be weakened #educationpromise’

 

So one should clearly see why university students would not be happy with Sipilä and do not like the idea of him coming to hold a lecture at the University of Eastern Finland. There should also be no confusion as to why students would want to demonstrate against the austerity measures targeted at them. Therefore, an official demonstration had been organised in the hallway of Carelia to meet Sipilä before he went inside the Carelia hall. Alas, he had never walked past the group of students waiting for him for over half an hour – he had snuck inside through a backdoor. This did not resonate well with the students who felt cheated that the prime minister did not want to face them, so they went upstairs and made themselves heard outside the doors of the hall. Meanwhile, several students had signed up for the lecture beforehand and when it had started they got up from their seats and started chanting in protest. They were quickly thrown out but during the brief period that the doors were open, some of the students had decided to hold the doors open further so that the protest slogans of the 100 or so students would be heard inside. The university staff attempted to remove everyone from the doors. No one was behaving aggressively, the students resisted passively and only tried to hold the doors open. The arrival of the police forced the students back but they continued chanting for about half an hour.

All in all, the events of the demonstration on Monday were clearly justified. There is good reason why students would not welcome a lecturer who takes away so much from education and the students, as well as, lying about not doing so during his 2015 campaigning. Furthermore, dodging the people and refusing to communicate with them about their concerns is not a good trait in a leader of a nation. It is fair to assume that had he not dodged the protesters downstairs, they would not have had any reason or even the drive to go upstairs. It is important to remember that none of the students acted in an aggressive way, they only showed passive resistance. Unfortunately, this is not the characterisation that the Finnish media has given. The main news outlets of Finland have called the demonstration chaotic and have described the events to have had escalated into fights. None of this is true. The only arguable wrong was that the students had disturbed Sipilä’s lecture. However, considering the aforementioned facts about Sipilä, and his government, the act of preventing him from lecturing at UEF is fair. Some have said that he was not at the university in his capacity as a Prime Minister but as an expert in the field. This cannot be true as long as he is in power. He has been democratically chosen to fulfill his political role for the nation and that should never be forgotten in any public venue.

It is unfortunate that the brave students who participated in the demonstration are getting so much criticism – even from fellow students. Surely it cannot be argued that there is plenty to demonstrate against (including the fact that Sipilä has committed campaigning fraud). Furthermore, as argued above, the demonstration was completely justified, peaceful, and legal. And yet somehow this particular demonstration has gained a huge amount of coverage and students participating in it critical feedback. A particular article that shall not be mentioned went as far as to say that the reputation of UEF and Joensuu was tarnished. However, why would these kinds of demonstrations ever be negative? It can be argued that demonstration is one of the strongest political tools available to a civilian. It is a tool that we Finnish people have been shy to use and most of the demonstrations that have been organised have not gained enough attention; the ministers have ignored the student demonstrations organised in Helsinki last week. Many Finnish people have also been reserved about demonstrating publicly. And yet this was a demonstration that attracted a large amount of students and gained the attention of the media and Sipilä himself – and somehow this is a problem. We should not be criticising this, we should be celebrating the fact that the Finnish nation is becoming braver to voice their concerns.

Sincerely, the Joensuu Debate Society board

End of 2015, start of 2016

Hello dear old and new debaters of JDS (and anyone else also reading. NSA?)! First of all, happy new year! With the new semester and the first debate approaching (13.01. Wednesday at 17:00), it is high time to make a write up of the previous autumn. So first things first, let’s see what sorts of special events there have been.

Turku Open 2015 

Finland currently organizes two large international tournaments yearly. One of them is the annual Turku Open, which we once again participated in. I, Juha Kaltiainen, and Hajime Nomura set out in a small car to represent Joensuu and above all learn new skills and have some fun. The tournament was a great success, well done Turku as always! Unfortunately they did miss a professional photographer so not much that we can show from there. Just trust us when we say that, as always, it was an awesome thing to participate!

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Dinner and Christmas party 

One of the non-debate social highpoints for our society is always the annual ethnic dinner party. We are blessed with talented chefs from all over the world and therefore get to taste all sorts of awesome food! In 2015 our theme was Japanese food. It was really awesome to see so many people gather around one table. Another new social event that we organized in 2015 was the Christmas party. Surely one has to always organize ‘little Christmas’! It’s a Finnish tradition. Board games, Karelian pies, ‘star pies’, glögi, cookies, etc. What’s not to like? Good times.

Japanese Dinner Party 2015

Finda events

One new feature of 2015 was the unison of all of the Finnish debate societies. This had made it possible to organize more small events. One of these was the Helsinki one-day workshop event. While it lasted only one day, there was plenty of debating action. Great judges and good feedback (and I’m not saying that just because I was one of the main judges!) It is indeed a great time upon us in Finland, as it is very important to have many events where to practice! The Brits have nearby tournaments every weekend, no wonder they are so ahead of us for now. For now!

Autumn 2015 overall

The autumn semester of 2015 was a really pleasant time. Many new people tried debating, many new friendships were made. This was definitely the most diverse semester for us, as well as we had the most visitors coming than ever before with a grand total of 28 people during the second debate! The last month of debates was much quieter though and we were back to a more ‘intimate’ number of people, our usual eight-ish. The search for new debating enthusiasts never ends!

This autumn we tried to organise a secondary weekly event with Juha. An educational seminar-type of an event for deeper debate skill education. While there were not that many people, I feel that we succeeded in teaching the most enthusiastic people deeper debate skills. Anything that can give you an edge is always a great thing, right?

All in all, I am thankful for all the wonderful moments and sad to see all of our exchange students go back home. Have a great spring to those who have returned back home. And may we have a great debating semester 2016.

Anton

15.10.2015

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Short September update

Hello ladies and gentlemen!

It is time to make a small update on all things Joensuu Debate Society related. Tomorrow is October and that marks one month since the semester began. Debates have been running for two weeks already and what great debates we have had! First of all, I must mention how amazing it has been to have so many new people curious to try debating! Last time we had the all time record with 26 participants. That meant that for the very first time we were able to organise three simultaneous debates. Awesome! I sincerely hope that everyone has had a great and productive time at the Joensuu Debate Society and will continue to be active. So far the two topics we have had were:

This supports global maximum wealth limit for house individuals.

This house believes that schools should avoid instilling a sense of patriotism.

These two debates are but the beginning! Starting from next week, there will be a secondary meeting, one that is completely oriented towards learning concrete things about debating through various materials and exercises. This is meant to be a supplement to the ordinary weekly debates so that people can come and practice their newly learned skills during the debate!

Furthermore, this month we will be hosting the first outside of the university event in the form of a ‘Foodie-Friday’. We will choose a specific type of ethnic food to make and enjoy food together. I look forward to seeing you at my place next Friday!

That’s about all the updates to make for now. However, I urge you guys to be active in suggesting things to do or topics to debate! We want everyone to feel that they can contribute and get what they want out of the hobby.

See you tomorrow for the third debate 🙂

Cheers,

Anton

What’s up with Joensuu Debate Society?

Dear debaters! I’m sure you’ve had a wonderful summer holiday so far. It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other in the warm and comfortable Aurora 206 debating about zombies and such. So I thought it’d be a really nice time to bring back debating and the Joensuu Debate Society to your attention and make a long overdue update. It’s been a really great semester of debating and our society has grown so much! We’ve meet so many new people and tried so many new things. I’m really glad that so many of you decided to try debating out and stuck around. I’m just really sorry to see so many old faces go onward to different cities and countries. We’ll miss you guys and I hope that you find an awesome debate society where you go!

 

Last debate of the semester

Last debate of the semester

 

The 2014-2015 semester saw such a huge leap forward for us as a society. First of all, we finally formed a governing body and joined the student union clubs, granting us a budget for the very first time! It’s been great to be able to organise larger events thanks to this money. And organise events we did. First, there was the cross-disciplinary beginner’s workshop organised in co-operation with Praxis RY and Lingtwisti RY. It was really great to see a lot of new people who would not ordinarily come to our weekly meets and show them debating. We even got a reporter for YLE to come and interview me and Tuulia Reponen on live radio!

 

Show debating at its best

Show debating at its best

 

It was also an amazing experience to organise the cross-city workshop day. I truly felt that it was a great learning experience for everyone and it was pure awesomeness to get so many people coming from Tampere and Jyväskylä. Here’s a wonderful quote from Tuulia Reponen, who tried debating for the very first time that workshop. She wasn’t even originally supposed to come and saved our day!

My first time, it came unplanned and by surprise – like the first time often does. It was the first Saturday in May. The day which I will never forget! It was not supposed to happen then and there. I had already planned what my first time would be like; it would happen on a regular Wednesday at a nice and safe place. Well, best things come unplanned I can tell you!

I was supposed to do something else that day: write my bachelor thesis and clean my bedroom for starters. What a boring Saturday, you may think and I agree with you. I would obviously check my Facebook before starting any of the tasks.

He was online. First he hesitated to disturb my Saturday, he knew I was busy. Then he managed to say it: he needed me. I instantly agreed to come around.

I was anxious as I was about to try it for my very first time. My heart beat went up. I memorized what I had previously heard about it: assertion, reasoning, illustration and linkage. I was careful not to forget anything. Then, suddenly, it was my turn to play the game.

I was fairly quick, five minutes it had taken me. It had been very exciting and I truly enjoyed my first time. I needed some time to recover though. The experience had been intense – even a bit violent. Would I do it again? Of course I would! Next time it would be even better…

 

A picture that truly captures the essence of co-operating with everyone

A picture that truly captures the essence of co-operating with everyone

 

And finally we had our largest participation in a tournament ever: 8 people went to the Helsinki Open 2015 tournament. A great end to a great semester.

 

We look so damn good in Helsinki

We look so damn good in Helsinki

 

Well, the past semester really was great. However, let’s aim for an even greater year 2015-2016! During the upcoming autumn and spring, let’s reach something even bigger. Let’s get more people to try out debating, let’s all try to reach a new level in our debate skills, and let’s help new people reach the level of debating that we have. And let’s organise even more great events and include even more people in them!

There’s still one month till the next semester so I wish all of you a nice summer (I hear they’re promising quite hot weather for August). For now, there’s not much to do but in a month we’ll vote on a debating day and decide what kind of events we want to organise during the autumn. And soon after that, it’s time for the first debate of the 2015-2016 semester. Oh, and there’s the Turku tournament in Octobers as well! So, hang on, there’s going to be really awesome debate activities very soon. I hope to see all of you with the same enthusiasm as last year.

Have a great month guys!

Tampere Workshop 2015

Tampere workshop 2015 (1)

 

It’s been a while now but as they say: better late than never! So what is the event that happened a little while ago? Well, the Tampere debating workshop of course! A grand total of 29 awesome people participated from Tampere, Jyväskylä, and Joensuu. From Joensuu, we had me (Anton), Yuanxu, and Adrian.

So what are Tampere debating workshops like? Those who have been with us for a long time might recall that there was a workshop in Tampere a year ago. These glorious events are full of great people all with the same interest: learning to be a better debater. And Tampere workshops deliver: this time each of us debated four times in one day – with each debate judged by an experienced adjudicator and a ‘wing-adjuticator’. No matter what experience everyone had, I believe that once again, everyone left with much more than with what they came with. Personally, I had a great time judging the debates, which hopefully was up to Tampere’s standards (it’s pretty difficult to reach the same level as Leo Silvennoinen, the official head adjudicator of the workshop.)

Naturally, after a long day of debating the best thing was to party hard (and who parties better than debaters!) The participation fee covered lots of snacks and drink and at midnight it was time to go dancing at the nightclub.

Workshops (especially the Tampere workshop) are awesome but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Yuanxu had to say:

I felt nervous before my trip to Tampere because I lack confidence of my debate skill, as i always did. But that two days really change me a lot. People there are friendly indeed. The feedback from judges are useful. I managed to change the structure of my speech in the following debate as the judge told me to and it worked. I know the journey of debate is long but it is not difficult for me any longer. So glad to meet all these excellent debater and spent whole day having fun and learnt new things. This remind me of the first year of my debate career in China, someone in the team told me that at the very first beginning you join because you love debate, but later you will find it’s the people here that you really love. Thanks again for everything. I can’t wait to join the Joensuu workshop.

True story, by the way, we should definitely have a workshop in Joensuu with the same awesome people!

Have a debater-ific week everyone! 🙂