Thursday, 11 September 2014

Before it was Cool - Accusing People of Becoming What They Hate

I'm obviously very proud of myself for winning arguments on the internet, I write about the arguments I've gotten into here every now and then. Rather than accepting the wisdom that you can't argue with internet trolls, I've made a point of arguing with the most belligerent people I can find every now and again.It's my little act of vigilanteism. I'm just trying to clean up the streets.

Of course we all know that vigilantes fight crime with crime. Beating people who commit crimes is criminal. And the analogy holds - I don't argue with these people by being reasonable, I do it by being an outrageous jerk. If I continue to respond to someone in a pointless argument for a week and a half, I'm not trying to win on points, I'm trying for a TKO.

I said just the other day that if you tend to win arguments then, rather than being clever, you are probably just emotionally exhausting. My threshold for emotional exhaustion has to be outrageously high just so that I can interact with ordinary people and hold down a job, these internet jerks don't know what they are dealing with.

So if the point of arguing is to give the people a "taste of their own medicine" by being frustrating to talk to, then accusing people of being everything they hate is a pretty decent approach. The point is to push emotional buttons, after all. If they are frustrated at how "irrational" everyone else is being, concentrate on demonstrating that they are being irrational. If they think those with opposing political views have been taken in by mass media, focus the argument on how they need to "wake up."

Let's talk about Independence Day, yeah, the movie with Will Smith. How does Will Smith save the Earth from the aliens? Well, naturally he flies up there in an alien spacecraft. That's art imitating real life. When people are being oppressed by other people with superior technology, the people with the inferior technology are eventually going to steal the superior technology and put it to use against their oppressors. Technological advantages are temporary without continuous innovation.

But, of course, Will Smith doesn't know how to build an alien spacecraft or fine tune one, he just figures out which button to press to make it go. And so we see the technology of accusing people of being what they hate debased into, "Atheism is just another religion."

Anyone can repeat a stupid phrase like that. The point of this tactic is make the other person feel like this was the genuine impression you got from interacting with them. You aren't just out an insult in their direction, you are listening carefully to what they are saying and really thinking that they sound like everything they don't want to be. That's effective emotional bullying. If you just want to call someone names, just go with "doo doo head."

Until I saw other people doing this crassly I don't think I even realized the extent to which I employed this tactic. But these days I feel like I have to stop myself whenever it comes up. The loser hipster wannabes have started going to see that band I like and I just don't want to be there anymore.

It's too bad, because the right wing nuts really do regularly adopt total moral relativism to justify themselves and I'd like to be pointing that out. Oh well, as I said, those with the better technology have to innovate. This week someone was arguing that "fairness" was a childish goal and that "fair" didn't really mean anything. I asked him if he had studied economics. He had!

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