Category Archives: Arguing on the Internet

Arguing on the Internet

Element Descriptor

You are going to die someday. Just as nobody dies wishing they had watched more television, nobody dies wishing they’d spent more time being a keyboard warrior. You need to know when and how to engage, and when you’re wasting your time. Not getting this right will demoralise you and deprive movements of your time and energy

Level descriptors

NovicePractitionerExpertNinja
You know when to engage, and how, with confused people, semi-trolls and general shit-posters. You know what a mute button is and how/when to use it. Your judicious use of innocent questions, snark and memes mean people watching applaud your verve and realise you have a point.You can dive into complicated/complex battles and quickly force idiots to go public with their idiocy, by clear questions, snark and some below-the-belt baiting. You also know that if you wrestle with pigs you both get muddy but the pig enjoys it, and you’re able to extract yourself from tedious flame wars with grace and even verve.You are a battle-hardened (or even battle-scared) veteran of Gamergate and whatever more recent twitterstorms have erupted. You know your moves, everyone else’s moves, when Godwin’s Law is going to be confirmed, and by who. You can mix gifs and rickrolling (subs please check) with the best of them.You know how this works, why it is often beyond futile and is actually harmful to engage with fools on the internet (and they do exist). You know that unless your points are on point, you’ll be traduced, smeared and quote-mined. You know when to walk away, and when to run… (Seriously, people, stop wasting your one and only life fighting trolls, who are probably just AI/bots anyway).

Element Overview Essay

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The reason this is done badly, i.e. too much, or at the wrong audiences is that people do love, a good argument and inflamed emotions on the internet mean that you can shout and swear, and flounce in a way that if you did it in real life, you’d be kicked out of the pub, or glassed or shunned by your friends. So the Internet has become an engine of outrage and anger. 

So the consequences of arguing badly on the internet is twofold. One is you yourself, waste a lot of time and energy that could have been put to better use number two, by engaging with trolls and dickheads. You’ve poisoned the well which is what they want. And you reduce people’s tolerance and bandwidth and you create confusion and the illusion of an actual debate about for example, climate change. And I suppose the third thing is you make it harder for other people to get involved. Because the emotional tone is one of extreme combativeness. 

What is to be done? There are various techniques. One is probably have, don’t feed the trolls as your script. savour if anyone still has screen savers, number two, if you’re going to get into a debate on Twitter, love a few hand grenades in and then mute the person either or mute the conversation and let them exhaust themselves by hurling abuse at you. Number three is have a nice dream of memes and gifs and put downs available.

But on the whole clicktivism gives the illusion of activism. And you can use the internet to communicate with engage with other people. But things like Twitter and Facebook are just trying to monetize your amygdala.

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