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Getting real tired of your attitude, Internet

July 3, 2015

Many of us have bemoaned, will bemoan, are bemoaning the rudeness and downright hostility (and sometimes, violent vitriol) of random strangers on the internet.

I’m done bemoaning. I’m sick of it. Time to start pointing out the poison and refusing to take part.

This comes from an incident. A friend posted an article on FB yesterday that sparked some discussion. Let’s say that it was about, oh, let’s say, the epidemic of feeding tacos to turtles. (It wasn’t, but it’s a fine thing to talk about.)  The discussion went something like this:

Person: “This article points out an awful lot of problems with feeding tacos to turtles, but doesn’t actually provide any solutions. If people want to feed tacos to their turtles, they should! The economy would crater if turtles couldn’t be fed tacos. Think of the Taco Bell employees on welfare…  There’s just no point in trying to change the taco/turtle situation.” [The argument was more cogent than this, but again, it’ll do for now.]

Me: “As for solutions, just off the top of my head, how about feeding turtles other things, like lettuce or whatever? How about we move over to a carrot-based agricultural emphasis? These are just a couple of ideas. I don’t own a turtle, but I do eat tacos, so I’m just a regular consumer here, no expert. But there have to be alternatives, if the taco-turtle conundrum is really that bad (and it is).”

Person: “[Reasons why I’m wrong.] But you got one thing right; you’re definitely no expert.”

Me: “Well, that got a little hostile a little fast. I’m out.”

Person: “[Another snippy little attack comment.]”

Now, I really don’t have a problem with disagreements. Nor with being told I’m wrong. But I’m sick to allfire death of random ad hominem attacks in what should be a perfectly civil conversation. The topic wasn’t even all that controversial…which wouldn’t excuse the attacks, but it would at least make them more understandable.  This is, to me, the equivalent of this:

Me: “Dang, Hokas sure are a delightful running shoe!”

Person: “You would say that, you foot-whore.”

Is that seriously what passes for acceptable? Remember, this wasn’t an actual random stranger; this was a friend of a (very kind and decent) friend. Is this what I can expect if I start attending cocktail parties again?

Yeah, I get it. Internet. Well, I’m done with it. I’m going to start modeling my behavior after a good friend, who – when unacceptable behavior happens in the vicinity – says “That is unacceptable,” and goes on to explain why.

Turning a discussion into an ad hominem attack is wrong, and unacceptable. Stop it.


P.S. I’m also getting sick of that tactic, “If you don’t suggest a solution then you’re wrong / don’t get to talk.” Pointing out the problems in a situation is perfectly acceptable, useful, and widely accepted in most if not all societies. Is there a name for this tactic? UPDATE: I am so happy!! I found what I think this is. This tactic is shifting the burden of proof, “A fallacy that challenges  opponents to disprove a claim, rather than asking the person making the claim to defend his/her own argument.” At worst, it’s a variation of this; “You may not continue with your arguments without also providing solutions to the problems you raise” is DEFINITELY shifting the burden of proof. I’m so, so happy!

P.P.S. shows “ad homimen” first used in 1598. I like the idea that you’re not only illogical, but that your FORM of illogic has been recognized as stupid for over 400 years.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen permalink
    July 3, 2015 4:18 am

    1) I like your P.P.S.

    2) Escalating from discussing a topic to insulting people is unacceptable.

  2. Jules permalink
    July 3, 2015 2:07 pm

    So say we all.

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