The enticements of the virtual world and a cornucopia of personal-entertainment diversions have pushed discourse to the side.
Aided by the Internet, more and more people are joining what Miller calls ”anger communities,” like-minded individuals who empower each other’s pique and reinforce shared prejudices.
Meanwhile, in a polarized time, an inability to entertain opposing views civilly has made certain topics – politics, for example – treacherous terrain, and thus ground best avoided.
All right, well, what’s the alternative? Miller celebrates “raillery”, which he defines as “good-humored, intelligent wit and banter”:
Raillery … “is an agreeable gaiety of spirit, which makes conversation cheerful, and which binds the company when it is good-natured but which disturbs it when it is not.”
Let’s have some raillery.
*(Full disclosure: Stephen’s the dad of a friend.)