Gloves Off! The Folly of Fighting Online

The age-old adage, ‘Don’t mention religion or politics’ has never been more true.

When I heard that Baroness Thatcher had died I didn’t post a snide comment on Twitter, I didn’t change my Facebook status to something scathing, I didn’t repost anything from untrusted sources, and I didn’t scour the web for articles on which I could post vicious political rants; or alternately vent my outrage toward those who had. Sure, I had my own opinions and I shared them with people I know. To be honest, I’m rubbish when it comes to gossiping.

I’m politically moderate and open to sound reason from all sides, I don’t feel the need to possess an unshakeable preconceived verdict on any given topic. Nor do I ram my own beliefs down other people’s throats in the assumption that I hold a monopoly on being right. I can be wrong or I can simply lack the relevant experience to form an opinion; because of that I reserve the right to sit on the fence for a while, or to later change my mind. Unfortunately, the individual who hides behind the shield of an anonyous username often has an excessively confrontational and unwaivering stance when it comes to sharing their expert opinion. They are right. We are all wrong. End of.

When I heard of Thatcher’s demise I didn’t feel the need to launch into a debate with the rest of humanity, and that’s simply because the population of the Internet doesn’t resemble a closed gathering of likeminds at a polite dinner. Post a comment on a Twitter feed and not only is it readable by known friends, it’s publicly available for comment by those who have no personal connection to the original author; often these people are looking only for a battle to prove a point for nothing more than the sake of their own selfish amusement. A debate where neither party has much respect for the other’s integrity becomes an argument. Where no mutual respect exists, and the topic of debate is largely just a frame for oneupmanship, the scenario played out is simply a fight. This week there have been a hell of a lot of messy fights raging online.

Of course, you might not agree with some of the observations I’ve made in this piece, which is absolutely fine. You and I have entirely different life experiences which served to form our own unique perspectives – I’m sure we can disagree without the gloves coming off. I avoid fights on the web as much as I do in the real world. You see, on social media you cannot truly win an argument, ever. It’s just not possible. You can participate in one, or you can walk away from one; but for as long as new opinions are able to be added and shared to a growing audience – and the page remains publicly available – you can’t win because there is no point of conclusion. The fight will simply evolve into a riot. From there it is simply a descending scale of how much of a fool someone is willing to make of themselves to continue flattering their ego or trying to score points over a stranger. The riot usually tips into outright war when someone joins the argument just to be pedantic about the grammar of the original authors. Gloves off!

My thoughts on Thatcher? Well… dinner?


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