Arguing on the Internet

There aren’t enough *head-desks* today to keep me from feeling the pain. Most of the time I use social media for networking, sharing art, and hanging with friends. Once in a while, it’s shoved in my face how uneducated some people are – and how little they care about being educated. Yesterday it was rad-feminism vs. egalitarianism, and today it’s hysteria over chemicals on food.

When I allow myself to be dragged into these small internet squabbles, it’s usually reluctantly, because I know that nothing I say will sway the witless wonders. I could back a semi truck trailer full of peer-reviewed studies up to the house and bury them in facts on paper: they simply do not care. They know it’s so, and thus it is so. When I do choose to stand and explain as nicely and patiently as I can, I keep a couple of things in mind. One – never use insults. I’m a student of the Southern Lady school of arguments. Sugar and honey catch more than brimstone and vinegar do (I wonder if those two react? Hm… Nope, not doing that experiment without a vented hood!).

Two, and it’s linked to the first, I’m not arguing to persuade the instigator. I’m giving those on the sidelines information they can quietly digest, dig deeper into, and reflect on over time. I’m not a happy warrior, like Sarah Hoyt (you might want to read this article about the media’s mirror effect) or Larry Correia. I’m very unlikely to ever follow his internet arguing checklist, although it amuses me that it is so very right, whether the topic is political or not. When I refute statements made from opinion and emotion, I’m not trying to win. I know, in fact, that I will lose. But I don’t care. 

If all I can do is give someone else the data they needed to solidify a sneaking suspicion they had, then I have won. It’s not about beating the one in front of you, it’s about bringing facts into the light. When the shadows are cast thick and dark, it’s time to light a candle. Or, if I can, a big freaking spotlight, to shine it on the obvious. Once upon a time, ‘everyone’ for values of that word, thought the world was flat. Or that the universe revolved around our wee little planet. At least… this is what people in power were saying. Did everyone agree with them? Mmmm… probably not. But to speak up was to wind up in hot water (and that may have been literal). I’m not going into Galileo, suffice it to say he was a bit too much a happy warrior, and was punished for slander, not science.

Even as early as the dawn of the age of science, a lot of what we knew wasn’t so. Marie Curie’s discovery was used in objects all over houses, even in medicines… but now we know that it killed her slowly and cruelly. Yesterday’s settled science is today’s abandoned theory on the superhighway of discoveries and technological advances. Today’s settled science… but you get what I mean. No true scientist will argue against questions. Question everything, assume nothing. Within reason. Sometimes you can safely accept information. One of my last classes before graduating included a discussion of a paper my professor had published. It studied a phenomenon which seems ‘well, duh!’ but it had never been formally observed, recorded, and documented. Would beetles with their elytra (hard protective outer wings) removed be more likely to die, especially if confined with a hungry spider. The answer seems forgone, but when we make assumptions…. the spiders ate the beetles with no hard shells more often than they did the intact beetles. Unsurprising, but still, it shows there is never a stupid question.

The argument that sparked my post today? began with my sharing this quote by Camille Paglia, who I respect and admire, unlike most feminist rhetoricists, because she does recognize the value of egalitarianism.

“Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.”

The objection was made that indeed, all men are callous and exploiters. I took exception to that, and the following exchange, preserved precisely, took place.

I was amused to discover another quote by Camille Paglia this morning while looking for the original words. She and I were on the same wavelength, it seems: “It is capitalist America that produced the modern independent woman. Never in history have women had more freedom of choice in regard to dress, behavior, career, and sexual orientation. ”

I am able to have these far-ranging arguments because I am protected by freedoms and liberties that I do not take lightly. I can be female, and my words have weight. I am a valued member of society… but still, oppression and victimhood is the refuge of those blinded to reality of life outside this culture. Grow up, get a life, and learn to love the light. I’m exasperated with arguing with you. I’d rather have intelligent debates and reasoned discourse that challenged me to think deeply, than to be forced to shine a light on the obvious for the willfully blind.



2 responses to “Arguing on the Internet”

  1. Christopher MacArthur Avatar
    Christopher MacArthur

    I agree with your premise, arguing with most people today is pointless and exasperating. In my case, I double-majored in hard sciences that neatly cover the oft-argued topic of “Climate Change.” I gave up trying to debate this, because most people don’t, won’t question anything. They seem to believe it’s heretical to do so, because noted commentator X” said it was “settled.”

    And one observation: “Sugar and honey catch more than brimstone and vinegar do (I wonder if those two react?” I believe the first three together would make a form of napalm; the addition of vinegar would just make it sting a bit more. 🙂

    1. That argument is why I bristle at anyone who says ‘it’s settled’ about any science topic, even when it’s probably settled. Then again, I’ve always been an inquisitive child.

      Um. Hmmm… sulfur, glucose, fructose, and acetic acid. I could see that being an interesting combination, although you could whip it up with eggs (sulfur), honey, and some lemon juice into a pie. Happy Pi Day! LOL