By Tom Morris
Debating: it’s a hobby that conjures up images of the poshest of the posh, young Etonians battling it out over mahogany desks, just as their daddies did and just as they themselves expect to do so in parliament in years to come.
Not so for Cardiff’s Debating Society, who met for an informal debate to get themselves warmed up for this year last week.
Under the title “This House Regrets The Rise of Tinder,” four teams competed to argue for and against the Tinder dating app.
Four teams may sound like a lot. There were two teams taking the position of “the house,” who argued that Tinder is profoundly bad, whereas two more teams formed the “opposition” and argued that Tinder is actually a good thing for society. Each team was in competition with not just their opposing side but also their stablemate on the friendly side. There are also seven judges (of whom your intrepid correspondent volunteered to be one) who decide which of the four teams put across their points in the most persuasive manner and thus win the debate.
This system is known as British Parliamentary, where four sides compete, much like the parties of the Government and Opposition in Westminster. Thus the House of Proposition (that means in this case, the ones arguing in favour of the existence of Tinder) were also known as the Government.
As such the Government began the debate. Two girls known only to the audience and judges as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister put forward the case that Tinder is inherently objectifying of both men and women, as it creates the idea that the most important part of anyone’s persona is their physical attractiveness, and that in turn promotes lad culture.
The opposition got their first proper stab: Tinder didn’t create lad culture, and is only a symptom. They even added the controversial point that Tinder and even clubbing exist to divert people’s sexual attention away from more civilised arenas such as the workplace.
Arguments continued from all four teams until, after a summary by the backbench teams, the seven judges convened to discuss which team had argued their point most successfully. A cardinal sin was not to listen to the other team and go off on a tangent of your own- the judges agreed this was a sign of weakness, of not being able to conjure a counter argument.
This was a fun Give it a Go event, but normally debates are slightly more serious. Matthew Cullen, club secretary, points out that “no matter experience levels, because debating is about public speaking and putting over an opinion on a whole range of subjects, anyone can join in as everyone has an opinion.”
Debating meets on Mondays at 7pm on the SU’s third floor for training on how to be a better public speaker and critique arguments. They also meet on Thursdays in Main Building, rooms 1.25 and 1.40, for a proper debate about various topics. Anyone can speak and anyone can judge. They also host regular special events with guest stars from the worlds of debating and politics, starting with this Saturday where a world champion will be giving a lecture.