Advocatus Diaboli: You naughty Devil!
There is a risk of being labelled with and the holder of an opposing, sometimes odious, point of view when one acts as the Devil's Advocate. Social media seems for many to be a hotbed of free opinion, a place where one can express their viewpoint, and argue, often emotively, against the thinking of others. Along comes the Devil's Advocate and the debate is perhaps thrown into confusion. People who do not know the author of such advocacy will tend to believe that he or she holds the opinions expressed, sometimes to the writer/speaker's detriment. Those who know the writer or speaker's true philosophy will immediately realise the ploy.
This brings the role of advocatus diaboli into question as a useful tool to achieve the object desired. That object is most often to test one's own viewpoint, by arguing the opposite, with frequent skepticism. You bait those who hold your own point of view, or philosophy, to illuminate their argument against your false idea. It should, supposedly identify strengths and weakness of the argument made on both sides of the philosophical divide.
Where there are equally opposing views and arguments in a forum, surely the need for the Devil's Advocate is lost? Conversely if you venture into the crucible of a majority shared, point of view, then expressing an opposing view amongst similar thinking people will just get you into trouble. You will perhaps become the victim of vitriol and a diatribe of hatred, making the technique of being Devil's Advocate very risky indeed, if you do not have the stomach for it.
Whichever way you choose to use the role of advocatus diaboli it is going to create a contest, sometimes a bitter one. You may well declare your ploy, which defeats the object of your stratagem, but it often leaves some doubt in the minds of those who receive your view. Is there a place for this in social media forums? Could not the very impersonal nature of blogging platforms, the inability to detect a tongue in cheek comment, nor indeed a smile or a wink, make the technique inappropriate? If not, it would most certainly be a great saver of face, in those times you are on the loosing end!
Who are Ecademy's greatest advocates of the Devil?
He blogs at South of the Africa Equator. Of course Andrew does Twitter a bit - Follow @zimbandrew and LinkedIn: Andrew Field and I am trying Google+ too - please feel free to link up.