Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Arguing on the internet

[click all images to enlarge]

I've received a lot of weird mail on All This Is That over the last four years. Love letters, letters demanding I remove something offensive to someone somewhere, hate mail, insanely argumentative emails that totally missed that what they are reacting to is parody/satire (like a great deal of the extreme statements printed here), and the usual offers and blog spamming. The weirdest stuff, of course, I ignore. I have been sucked into the morass of some pretty stupid debates. I usually avoid them. . .except with those who actually still seem to have even a marginal grip on reality.

The ISS website has some great tips. . .a virtual toolbook for winning internet arguments:

To make up for your lack of research and knowledge, use big words:

Opponent: Saying gays can't march is in direct conflict with the Constitution.
You: Your claims are trefilonious and scadlidiously out of tremdemnation.

Don't be swayed, and even if you are, don't show it.

Opponent: So you see, "The Simpsons" is still quite a relevant show, certainly more so than Family Guy.
You: Nevermind, this is stupid.

Ignore what other people have to say.

You: So you want solders to march into your house and eat your food?
Opponent: The Third Amendment isn't even relevant anymore.
Someone else: He's right, there haven't been enemy soldiers on U.S. soil in 150 years, the possibility of it happening now is almost impossible ever since the creation of the National Guard. You: So you want enemy soldiers sleeping in your bed?

Act like you're satisfied with your point, then leave before hearing your opponent's retort.

You: All the fuck Maddox does is write about how much he hates stuff, oh real funny, He's a fuckin' genius! I'm outta here.
Opponent: Um, did he seriously just leave the chatroom?
Someone else: Yeah.

Always have the last word, even if it doesn't really fit the discussion.

"You: So I guess we can agree to disagree?
Opponent: sure.

Ask a question you know is unanswerable.

You: I just don't see what's so great about it.
Opponent: Red Son is so brilliant because it's a hypothetical story that asks a cool question: What if Superman landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas?

You: If you lived in the Ukraine would you still think it was so brilliant?
Opponent: ?????What?????

Point out misspelled or uncapitalized words in your opponent's argument.

Opponent: Tim Burton's batman was way better than The Dark Knight.
You: Says the guy who can't even capitalize "Batman," and technically, "The Dark Knight" goes in quotes, dumbass. Who taught you English?

Act like your opponent doesn't understand what you're saying.

You: I'm just saying that Superman would totally beat Shazam in a fight.
Opponent: So you think Shazam is weaker that Superman, I know.
You: You obviously don't understand what I'm saying.

The Big Big Planet Blog has an article, "How to win Internet arguments." Here is one of their suggestions (and one I have repeatedly employed here, along with the Nazi suggestion below):

"Group your opponents into large collectives and give them names (for e.g. “the anti-war camp”, “pro-war people”, “the opposition”, “the media”, “abortionists”). Then whenever necessary, you can bring up the less intelligent quotes previously made by other members of their group to re-refute."

Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka writing at Something Awful, posted a piece years ago, titled "How to Win Any Argument On the Internet." There were four precepts he expands upon:

  • NEVER DEFEND YOUR OWN POINTS (just attack the other person's argument over and over and over)


  • IF LOSING AN ARGUMENT, FEIGN FRUSTRATION AND THEN CLAIM YOU'RE BLOCKING THE PERSON. ("Every person on the Internet harbors a secret fear of having their communications blocked by somebody, particularly when they're devastating that person in an argument").

  • AT SOME POINT IN TIME, CLAIM THE OTHER PERSON IS A NAZI. ("Every, and I repeat EVERY Internet argument should involve at least one comparison to either Hitler or the Nazis").


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