(my apologies to Dale Carnegie)
This post is inspired by a shit load of Fetlife drama that is happening in my little kinky community. As I sit here watching round #2120 of this crap on my Fetlife feed, I decided to write, not a post expressing outrage and sadness about what is happening, but a tongue-in-cheek guide to how to lose friends and isolate people to help those new to the conversation jump right in and find immediate success. I think these can apply to any online “discussion” really. Hell, a private Facebook community that I’m a member of is also going through the same thing right now. So, enjoy my advice – and feel free to add your own.
1. Be a dick.
Whatever you do, just be a jerk about it. Write responses that are contrarian just to be contrarian. Nit pick everything written about the subject and parse out what would be perfect to attack. Grammar is always good as is word-choice. Go after someone’s profile photo or life choices. Just whatever you choose, be a total dick about it.
2. Listen to respond, not to understand.
No need to find common ground with the people you are arguing with or read to understand their point of view. Your mission is to read and listen to merely respond to what they are saying. Don’t ask questions to help you understand where they are coming from. Don’t read their statements and wonder “what’s happened to make them take this position”. Nope. Read and listen but only so you know where to go with your next argument. This is not about bridge building – it’s about winning.
3. Advice should be taken as ageist, sexist, racist, ableist, or any other appropriate -ist.
If someone comes to the argument using their experiencing with a matter, be quick to label them as trying to oppress you due to age, race, sex, whatever. Throwing around those -ists will make it known that you cannot or will not be pushed around by someone who might know more than you. It shows you are doing “listen to respond” well. And it will shut them up or at least make them take their oppressive language elsewhere.
4. Use all your academic resources to solidify your argument.
This is truly the time to pull out all of your resources from academic studies. Pile on the things people should read to understand. Because if they were serious about the topic, like you are, they will go read these things and understand for themselves why they are wrong. Plus, it shows you have knowledge and they do not. And if it is clear they aren’t reading what you posted, please point out that they are not taking this seriously by not following your links. If you really want to get at someone who is doing this, you can turn the tables on them and point out that their academic privilege is showing.
5. Any question asked is someone blaming the victim.
No matter the question, if a question is asked about the situation being discussed, demand the person asking the question stop victim blaming. Even if the person asking is trying to understand the situation better in order to maybe intervene and help you or the victim, it doesn’t matter – they are victim blaming by even asking any questions instead of joining your outrage. If they were truly with the victim, they wouldn’t be asking questions but would be in an immediate rage like you are. In fact, point that out too – that their lack of immediate rage is blaming the victim. This one has lots of possibilities.
6. Anyone arguing with you is acting childish – you are not acting childish but trying to be the adult.
Anyone who argues with you is clearly just being either childish or they are trying to bully you into changing your mind, like society repeatedly does the victims. This language will drive the conversation away from the real topic and get things going down a different path which keeps your arguments on the topic in tact while distracting them by putting them on the defensive.
7. Tell them to check their privilege.
This one is an instant winner in terms of isolating people. Point out they are cisgendered which means they won’t truly understand. Tell them they are white which means they will always look at the world wrong. And if it is pointed out that you too are coming from the same point of privilege as they are, simply respond with “well, I’ve checked my privilege – have you?” Remember, privilege applies to them not you.
8. Call names.
But, if someone calls names back, point out how childish they are being. Demand evidence about why they think they are justified in attaching that label to you. And in the end, call names back because, well, you are justified in doing so even if they are not.
9. Flood the discussion.
Don’t just write a sentence or two or three. No, write paragraphs. And write paragraphs in response to everything and everyone. Flood the discussion with your words so that those words are the only things people see. If your argument can’t be good and concise, make it abundant and never ending.
10. Ignore the overall context & focus on words / phrases.
Embrace the micro-aggression in this one. Someone phrased something in a way that you don’t like? Ignore the overall point the person is trying to make – focus on how offended you are at the phrasing. Fixate on word choice but ignore the overall message someone is trying to make. Doing this will help you drive the discussion favorably in your direction – and people will just get frustrated and stop arguing. Minds aren’t changed, but is that really the point of this discussion anymore?
11. Get someone to evoke Godwin’s Law.
Godwin’s law is simply this: “Godwin’s Law states that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin’s Law has effectively forfieted the argument.” Get someone to evoke Nazis or Hitler – and you win! This may require some careful planning on your part, but I have faith you can do it.
Online arguments / debates all seem to follow a similar, non-productive path all centered around micro-aggressions. In 2014, sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning wrote a paper called “Microaggression and Moral Cultures” which discusses the rise of victim-hood culture whereby people are using online public platforms as a way to garner support for their feelings, arguments, position, etc. Conor Friedersdorf wrote a great article in The Atlantic about this paper and the rise of victimhood culture. And the example he gives in the article is spot on to what I describe above in terms of what is happening – how people are attacking each other – and really, at the end of the day, how the point is lost in all of the noise as people spent more time drumming up support for their own feelings and arguments and less time actually trying to find middle ground.
The other issue that arises in these online arguments / debates are centered around the idea that someone’s opinion is right. Example, I don’t believe in global warming. Well, science has proven it exists. To not believe the science is interesting, but doesn’t make your belief right. Fact is not subject to opinion as an override. Yet, we have nurtured this idea that if it is your feeling or your belief that it is right over actual proof that your feeling / opinion / belief is wrong. Here is a great article discussing this fact.
At the end of the day, I find that the voices of reason are lost in the noise of the two extreme opposing sides. Middle ground is never found. The issue at the center of the debate is lost in the noise of the opposing groups. And groups continue to divide into smaller and smaller subgroups which destroys any sense of “community” the group may have had.
But what do I know – I’m white, middle class, abled bodied, cigendered, not young (40+ age group), and clearly out of touch with what people really find important.
Or so I’m learning…..