4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Online arguments are not meant to be won

Never go full Debbie Gibson

They look mad.
They look mad.

Dear Hipster:

I belong to a local community organization, relatively small in number, but passionate in spirit. Like any group, ours gets its fair share of agitators from time to time. I like to think the people in my community share a common bond — a sense of kinship, if you will — and that the occasional bad apple can hardly spoil the bunch. Our present antagonist, however, has proven to be an almost totally negative force. I don’t want to get into specifics, mostly because I doubt the exact details change anything, but also because I wouldn’t stoke an already raging fire. Part of what makes this individual such a toxic force in our community is that our antagonist’s preferred means of communication is digital. Sometimes, this person opts for preposterous emails to community members, but the usual means of attack is the airing of “grievances” in rambling Facebook and message-board posts. In person, the antagonist prefers to avoid conflict. For my part, I disagree with anything and everything this person is doing, apparently with no intent beyond sowing discord, but I have no idea how to participate constructively in these “discussions” (a term which I use most loosely). In the long run, I just want the madness to stop. What to do?

— Anonymous

Long ago, maybe as much as 10 or 15 years, back before most people can remember, during what passes for social media’s Dark Ages, dealing with internet trolls was simple. To engage the troll was to concede defeat, for the troll’s sole purpose was, and is, to generate conflict. Conventional wisdom held that the only way to quell a squalling, attention-seeking online personality was complete and total non-acknowledgement. An insensitive, trollish comment pegged to the end of an otherwise perfectly reasonable, early-2000s Livejournal entry (about the myriad ways in which OK Computer changed some totally anonymous person’s life) might be seen by as many as eight or nine of the average collegiate hipster’s closest friends. If ignored, 99 out of 100 online antagonists would slink off elsewhere.

Nowadays, in the throes of the new millennium’s digital Enlightenment, the gap between face-to-face society and online communication is narrower than the average redneck’s grasp of properly dressing a kale salad. Facebook groups and message boards are ubiquitous tools for communicating within real-world social circles, and avoiding the kind of antagonism that you’re experiencing is pretty much impossible. I daresay some angry Facebook ranters might even have at least partially legitimate gripes.

(Please note how I qualified that with “some” and “partially.”)

Even so, winning an argument via the internet remains patently impossible. You want to be involved in your community’s discourse (and rightly so, since communities of like-minded individuals are incredibly rewarding), even if it means acknowledging the rantings of a known troublemaker. Mind these cardinal rules before you engage in spirited online “discourse”:

Don’t try to win, because you can’t. Rants aren’t arguments. If you have something to say, say it, and otherwise try to carry on as normal, effectively sidelining the antagonistic party.

Check your facts. Then, check them again.

Above all, maintain your dignity. Sliding into abusive name-calling may feel oh-so-good (I liken it to the warm fuzzies you get from a well-curated 1980s Pandora station), but there’s no changing the fact that hurling insults is basically the Debbie Gibson of argumentation strategies.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Victor Baker’s milestone guitar

“I forget what day of the week it is sometimes”
Next Article

Convergence Community Church: community is our middle name

We envision a place where the people of God converge with the purpose of God
They look mad.
They look mad.

Dear Hipster:

I belong to a local community organization, relatively small in number, but passionate in spirit. Like any group, ours gets its fair share of agitators from time to time. I like to think the people in my community share a common bond — a sense of kinship, if you will — and that the occasional bad apple can hardly spoil the bunch. Our present antagonist, however, has proven to be an almost totally negative force. I don’t want to get into specifics, mostly because I doubt the exact details change anything, but also because I wouldn’t stoke an already raging fire. Part of what makes this individual such a toxic force in our community is that our antagonist’s preferred means of communication is digital. Sometimes, this person opts for preposterous emails to community members, but the usual means of attack is the airing of “grievances” in rambling Facebook and message-board posts. In person, the antagonist prefers to avoid conflict. For my part, I disagree with anything and everything this person is doing, apparently with no intent beyond sowing discord, but I have no idea how to participate constructively in these “discussions” (a term which I use most loosely). In the long run, I just want the madness to stop. What to do?

— Anonymous

Long ago, maybe as much as 10 or 15 years, back before most people can remember, during what passes for social media’s Dark Ages, dealing with internet trolls was simple. To engage the troll was to concede defeat, for the troll’s sole purpose was, and is, to generate conflict. Conventional wisdom held that the only way to quell a squalling, attention-seeking online personality was complete and total non-acknowledgement. An insensitive, trollish comment pegged to the end of an otherwise perfectly reasonable, early-2000s Livejournal entry (about the myriad ways in which OK Computer changed some totally anonymous person’s life) might be seen by as many as eight or nine of the average collegiate hipster’s closest friends. If ignored, 99 out of 100 online antagonists would slink off elsewhere.

Nowadays, in the throes of the new millennium’s digital Enlightenment, the gap between face-to-face society and online communication is narrower than the average redneck’s grasp of properly dressing a kale salad. Facebook groups and message boards are ubiquitous tools for communicating within real-world social circles, and avoiding the kind of antagonism that you’re experiencing is pretty much impossible. I daresay some angry Facebook ranters might even have at least partially legitimate gripes.

(Please note how I qualified that with “some” and “partially.”)

Even so, winning an argument via the internet remains patently impossible. You want to be involved in your community’s discourse (and rightly so, since communities of like-minded individuals are incredibly rewarding), even if it means acknowledging the rantings of a known troublemaker. Mind these cardinal rules before you engage in spirited online “discourse”:

Don’t try to win, because you can’t. Rants aren’t arguments. If you have something to say, say it, and otherwise try to carry on as normal, effectively sidelining the antagonistic party.

Check your facts. Then, check them again.

Above all, maintain your dignity. Sliding into abusive name-calling may feel oh-so-good (I liken it to the warm fuzzies you get from a well-curated 1980s Pandora station), but there’s no changing the fact that hurling insults is basically the Debbie Gibson of argumentation strategies.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Great local skiing could be right around the corner

Wild surf can take away sand
Next Article

Waiting for the San Diego Opera and Symphony on edge of my chair

Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Grant Still, Piazzolla, Vivaldi
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close