Social media can be a weird thing

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Probably the thing that annoyed me is this notion that I’d need to watch some stupid TV show in order to come up with an opinion on the issues of the day.

Social media can be a weird thing. This morning I managed to get myself into an internet argument and/or insult-fest before I had even managed to drag my ass out of my sleeping bag. I go to my Facebook page and the first thing I see is this comment from one of my Facebook friends:

“Not surprised, another right wing talking point. Ace, read news from some other sources. Diversify!!”

Now I usually wake up in a bad mood even on a good day. And this comment did little to improve my morning. I guess it was the condescending tone of it that irked me. And this notion that I was narrow-minded and needed to be more expansive and open-minded in my thinking, like somebody like, well, like him.

He then added gasoline to the fire by spouting just about every liberal-takes-down-the-conservative cliche you could think of. Ya know? I’ve been brainwashed by the Faux News rightwing talking points from their lacking-in-diversity echo chamber. And etc.

But just for the record, in regards to my alleged need for more “diversified” reading material: In fact when you come to my Facebook page you’ll find THOUSANDS of comments from my Facebook friends, expressing incredibly diverse opinions and points of view from all across the entire political spectrum. All of which I read and consider.

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Modes of communication on the World Wide Web!

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#!&%*#@!!&#!!@!!

 

I enjoy talking to people over the internet. But it occurred to me, this is a relatively new mode of communication. Where we can type out a comment, and then, almost instantly, any stranger with access to a computer can read and comment on what you’ve just said. So I guess we’re all just kind of learning how to use this new technology this on the fly.

Now my dialogues with people on the internet often follow a naturally progression (or regression): They start out as 1.) discussions, then turn into 2.) debates, and then into 3.) arguments, and finally into 4.) insult-fests. And i can enjoy all four modes to varying degrees.

“Discussion” is probably my favorite mode (though there’s a lot to be said for “insult-fests,” too). Especially when the other person comes to the discussion in good faith. Neither party is trying to “win” anything. Its merely an “exchange of ideas.” And we usually both end up learning something new by being exposed to new points of view that we hadn’t previously considered.

“Debate” can be a livelier and more exciting mode. Because your point of view is actively being challenged. But this can be dynamic, like a hotly-contested athletic contest between two equals. The verbal equivalent of a fencing duel. And you can become sharper in your thinking from the exercise. But alas one’s opponent often doesn’t come to these exchanges in good faith. Their primary concern is to “win,” by fair or foul. Often they’re motivated by a need to show the world how “smart” they are (so naturally they don’t actually listen to what YOU’RE saying — they already know everything). Or else they’re urgently trying to advance some agenda that they think the world at large urgently needs. So any dirty little debating trick they employ is justified by the greater good of their agenda being advanced.

Which usually leads to the third mode, “argument.” By this point both parties are like radios: they transmit but don’t receive. And it usually just degenerates into who can shout the loudest and the longest (use all CAPITAL LETTERS if necessary).

Which leads to the final mode, the “insult-fest.” Which can also be enjoyable as we each access our inner Don Rickles. As well as serving the purpose of putting the whole exercise to a quick and merciful ending.

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