The 11th Nesta-SCMP Inter-School Debating Competition is now in its fourth round, with losing teams being knocked out of the event. Last Friday, Ying Wa College eliminated St Francis Xavier's School, Tsuen Wan in a match-up between two boys' schools. The debate took place at Ying Wa.
The teams argued on the motion: "Facebook enriches our social life", with Ying Wa being the affirmative side.
Adjudicator Leo Zen, an English teacher from Diocesan Boys' School, gave the edge to Ying Wa because of their stronger rebuttals.
Zen praised both teams for their views over what it means to have a quality social life.
St Francis Xavier's said Facebook reduced face-to-face contact and allowed users to lie to each other easily. This caused the quality of one's social life to deteriorate. They also highlighted the issues of cyber-bullying and privacy concerns on Facebook to strengthen their argument. The first speaker for St Francis Xavier's, Angus Lau Lai-lun, said Facebook led to less interaction with people in real life.
"Communication through Facebook leads to a deterioration of social skills because people are not able to share their feelings verbally or through facial expressions," the Form Five student said. "Facebook users, especially those who are shy, will become even less confident in interacting with people in real life."
Ying Wa's third speaker, Form Six student Billy Wong Shing-keung, rebutted all these points strongly. Billy said it was the Facebook users, not the social networking site itself, that were responsible for all the problems. "Facebook is not a weapon. It is a communication tool. It is up to the users how they make use of it. It is evident that appropriate use of Facebook can lead to a better social life," he said.
Zen was deeply impressed by Billy's views on the appropriate use of Facebook which helped refute his opponents' arguments.
"It is a very strong rebuttal. In fact, I think it would have been even better if it was introduced earlier. The affirmative side did a great job [with their rebuttals] but I would like to remind them not to talk like a sales person promoting Facebook," Zen said.
The adjudicator praised both sides for good pronunciation and clear structure in their speeches. "The structures of the speeches were easy to follow and both teams outlined their arguments clearly. All speakers were able to make good use of intonations to draw attention and provide excellent information to support their arguments," Zen said.
Zen reminded the debaters to use fewer note cards when speaking to the audience.
The contest is jointly organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, and is sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.