Are you listening?
In September I ran a 7-day blog challenge and had some great participants, one of which was blogger, Thoroughly Modern Mommy, whose blog is quite impressive. Her topics are even more so and not what you typically find on a “mommy blog”.
This Modern Mommy takes on a lot of things others side-step. In choosing her topic for her guest post here, she took the time to make sure it would fit, not just my site, but fit my readers and what they are accustomed to finding here. You will recognize the topic as something I have written about many times so it is near and dear to my heart.
Introducing, a Thoroughly Modern Mommy and the first ever guest post on CheriSpeak…
On Facebook Arguments
…And other ineffective things: A list of five things you can say to make me lose my mind
I love Facebook. I really do. I spend way too much time checking people’s statuses and posting pictures of the cutest kid ever. (Mine, obviously.) But there is a part of Facebook, and all online interaction really, that makes me want to unplug forever.
Yes, I’m calling it a “Debate.” And if we were having this discussion in person I would use air quotes. I know they’re totally played out. But I like them.
People of the internet, ask yourselves. Do you want to be heard? Or do you want to be right? For so many, it appears to be the latter. But if you have any inclination towards being heard, here are five internet debate tactics to avoid.
- “Look! A vague meme that supports my side! I must post!”
Ok. We all love memes. In fact, I created one for a contest that led me to this very blog. (Thanks, Cheri!) And when they’re clever, they’re amazing. And when they’re not, well, they clutter my newsfeed. Shhhhhhhh. I have secret. You don’t have to repost every single meme you read that vaguely falls on “your side.” (Of whatever argument you’re trying to win.) I had a college professor give me a good rule of thumb for using quotes in writing. And I think it applies here. Use a quote if someone says something that you couldn’t possibly have said better yourself. (Wow. No need to quote that last sentence from me. That was really awkwardly written. I’m sure many of you could have done better. But you know what I mean.) If you see a meme and think “Yes. That is exactly how I feel and it is expressed in a clear way that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Also, it says something new that I haven’t said in other memes twenty times today already.” Please. By all means. Post away. Otherwise, maybe skip it.
1A. Speaking of reposting. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s called Snopes, people. It takes like two seconds.
1B. “Either you get it, or you don’t.”
This gem is commonly used in an ongoing argument that has come to an impass. People use this one when they can’t think of anything else to say, but need to insist on being right. It’s intention is “I’m smarter than you and I’m sorry you just can’t process at my intellectual level.” It’s ACTUAL effect is “I can’t think of anything else to say but am incapable of allowing someone else to have the last word.” My favorite is when it’s used multiple times in the same discussion. Cool argument, bro. Tell it again.
So what do you say instead? Either find a different way to present your opinion, (a challenge, I know. But an effective method of communication.) OR just don’t say anything at all. That’s the beauty of online conversations. They can just… end. Things that would be considered incredibly rude in life are acceptable online. Just walk away, man. Just walk away.
3. “Either you see it 100% my way, or you are 100% wrong.”
Come on, now. Really? I can’t imagine how emotionally exhausting it must be to live in such a black and white world. If there’s one thing we’ve learned recently it’s that there are at least fifty shades of gray. I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before. But the ability to hold two conflicting ideas in your head simultaneously is a sign of intelligence. Free your mind, and the rest will follow. Seriously, though. Open your mind a bit to consider other points of view.
3A. “That is not in line with the views of my chosen political party or religion, and therefore I denounce it.” As a Democratic Christian (I know, right?) my head would explode if I tried to live in that world. You are allowed to establish your own opinions. And they are allowed to fall outside the confines of organized religion and politics. I don’t know ’bout y’all, but my church welcomes smart people who ask questions.
4. “You’re stupid because everything you believe is stupid and… stupid”
We’re working with our four-year-old on not calling people names. (Her current favorite is “booty butt.” She thinks it’s hilarious. She learned it at school.) We’re not really getting through to her. But then again, she’s four. I feel like she’ll eventually have the understanding that calling people names is not an effective way to get them to agree with you. Just like she learned that asking nicely is more effective than whining. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA just kidding she hasn’t learned that. But she will. Right? RIGHT??) Really though. She’s four. So I give her some room to learn, and am confident she’ll get it. Because we talk about these things at home and make them a priority. But there’s not much I can do for the grown a** men and women on my newsfeed who apply the same tactics. I checked my Facebook as a break while I was writing this. And at the very top, there it was. A prime example. An adult, well-educated man posting a link to a “news article.” He had written, simply, “here’s a moron.” And the opening lines of the “news article” called Obama a liar and a thief. The article was about a conversation that happened on ESPN. The thing is, I actually agreed with the main point of the article. But do we need the name calling? (Especially the one that had zero to do with the content. Be mad at Obama in an article about, oh I don’t know… Obama maybe.)
5. “I don’t think this is important. Clearly, you are overly sensitive and too PC.”
I’ve saved this one for last because it is the one that bothers me the most. We all have our stuff. The stuff that is really important to us that makes us get up on our soapboxes. For full disclosure, my current stuff includes racism, adoption, feminism, and Red #40. (All food dye, really.) I say current because we can- and should- have different priorities in different seasons of our lives. And I choose those issues because of my mixed-race daughter who we adopted and who has severe (like woah) reactions to food dye. That’s my stuff. It doesn’t need to be your stuff. It really doesn’t. But please. PLEASE. Don’t go out of your way to tell me my stuff isn’t important or that I’m just too sensitive. Just… Don’t say anything. (See #2) If I think a cartoon is racist because it has characters in blackface. If I don’t want my daughter to listen to a song because it has the lyrics “you know you want it” and I don’t want her to think it’s Ok for a boy to say that to her ever ever ever. If I am on my soapbox that you don’t think is important. Just… Don’t say anything. Now don’t get me wrong. If you have an actual argument. Like, if you have a different to historical context for blackface that I’m unaware of. Or if you found research that shows that those lyrics actually build strong, confident girls. Or if Red #40 was scientifically proven to be safe. By all means. Bring it. But don’t just tell me it’s not important. It’s important to me.
So there they are. My top five internet arguments to avoid. Unfortunately many may find that without these they have very little to say. Not you of course. You are clearly very smart and would never say these things. So for you guys, the ones who DO have arguments that fall outside these debate traps, send them my way. I bet you have some really smart stuff in your head that I’d like to read!