Saturday, November 15, 2014

Entitled to Your Opinion: You Need to Argue Better.

This is the internet.  No one reading this should be surprised by that fact because there is probably no way in hell you found your way here without having a basic understanding of what you were getting yourself into.  If you happened to not understand what you were doing and found yourself here anyway I am impressed with your navigation skills while also being a little concerned about your situational and cultural/technological awareness....or you might be using Internet Explorer.

Anyway, my point is that the internet is the safest way to say offensive things and not be punched in the mouth; it s a place where one can launch into a diatribe about contrails or Sandy Hook hoaxes and have no fear whatsoever of the social backlash because when linking to all the articles doesn't sway the crowd over at the Moms Demand Action facebook page, you can close the browser, adjust your Guy Fawkes mask for maximum visibility and boot up WOW.

For most of what we use the internet for (cat videos/youtube, shopping, facebook) there is no real need to take things too seriously, though much of our personality is in what we share and how we interact when there is a topic of debate.  If you have never been involved in a debate on the internet then this is either your first day or you are so passive/aggressive that you write your comments/rebuttals to a topic or post down on a piece of paper next to the computer so hard that you know they will feel it.

But seriously, there is absolutely no way that I am aware of to avoid a disagreement on the internet.  Right now there is probably a flame war taking place over the lead content in Swarovski candelabras between a 30y/o homemaker in Omaha and a 22 y/o cafe hipster in San Diego and that argument is probably on an Off Roading forum because of course it is.

dont bother saving it, it will only make sense here.
I enjoy the internet debate as much as the next guy, and we in the firearms community can (will) get pretty heated about anything that is even remotely connected to the Second Amendment.  Since 2A rights are more-or-less constantly under attack from one group, politician, party or person, we stay in a perpetual state of defense when the conversation comes up while also having to police our own when they go off-reservation.  This is the nature of things and its not likely to ever change because those who would rather disarm the populace and rely on the government to protect them are not going away and if anything are doing their best to co-op the next generation into their way of thinking.  The threat of this is very real and something we should be concerned about; yet some of us are content to marginalize our contribution to the conversation by shooting ourselves in the foot at the earliest possible opportunity.

When preparing to discuss a topic of disagreement, do you have a plan?  Do you have a method of debate?  Is CAPS Lock your immediate go-to?  If you intend to get involved in a debate, there are really two main reasons for doing so; to be heard or to sway the other persons opinion to agreement with you because you know you are right.  The problem with the former is its one dangerous step away from being a troll, the problem with the latter is that the other side believes themselves to be right as well and reaching a point of agreement or changing their mind is a very steep slope on the internet where there is almost no commitment needed to act like an asshole.  Despite how much you may dislike this-or-that person, law, topic or noun, you wont be winning hearts and minds by using dismissive language or terms.  Referring to the President as Obummer, Obunghole, or The liar in Chief isnt going to sway the opinion of someone who supports his policies at face value or is neutral to the point of debate.  Using Libtard or Democrap also does very little to strengthen your position in an intelligent conversation.  While we may not want to respect the person, party or position, they do deserve a degree of respect at least in name or position to keep the argument from pinwheeling in flames like a plane full of nuns into an orphanage just because you think you will be the first person to sneak One Big Ass Mistake America (Obama, clever) into a debate about the Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare).  Using someones actual name or official title in your disagreement allows you to attack their message, policy or opinion as opposed to just attacking them.  Avoiding pejorative nonsense does wonders for your debating success and if the other side of the debate results to name calling, you aren't the one who looks like an asshole. 

Likewise, there is a fine line between political cartoons and racist/tinfoil hat bullshit.  By "fine line" I mean "completely obvious and worlds apart."

                A: Political Cartoon.                                  B: Racist Bullshit
As you can see, the differences are subtle but if one looks close enough they can see the difference.  What is gained by going route B?  Nothing at all if your mission is to sway opinion, but if you are just interesting in trolling, pissing people off and being the loudest, most obnoxious person in the room, route B or a variation of it is probably the plan.

Well, guess what?  No matter the topic, nonsensical crap exists to support/attack it and I would be willing to bet that a great deal of internet bandwidth is used up sharing macros and memes that are disingenuous, racist, out of context facts, lies or bad photoshops (or all of them).  In the world of instant access to fact checking information, no one bothers it seems because whats facts when we can spin up our respective base by lying?

We know this is bullshit
Guess what?  So is this.  

Despite how much many want the "2.5 Million" to be true, there is simply no way that it is.  Guns prevent crime, sometimes in ways we cannot observe.  If a bank has an armed guard, how many crimes does his presence prevent?  No way to know.  If a police officer is diligent about parking lot pass-throughs in a mall, how many muggings does he prevent?  No way to know.  Yes, this number if oft quoted, not updated and based on bad research.  Dont believe me?  Check it out here, here or here.

We know the macros regarding the Ft. Hood shooting is a lie, and we may just assume the 2.5 Million is true because of conformation bias.  If it aligns with what we believe, we are more apt to agree with it without bothering to put in the work to confirm it.  As a pro-gun person we see the Ft. Hood macros as crap, yet may do nothing to confirm the validity of the 2.5 million statistic.  On the alternate side a liberal that is anti-gun (if one is reading this, hello) may swallow the Ft. Hood crap as truth but doubt the 2.5 million statistic as NRA propaganda.  In this case, the liberal would be half right.

We sometimes get so emotionally involved, lazy or angry that we fail to fact check, or devolve into arguing with photos instead of well thought out points and facts.  The internet is full of BS and sharing it without fact checking doesnt help anyone, it just fuels more BS and muddies what should be a very common sense debate.  If you want to troll, I cant offer you any advice beyond maybe join 4/Chan.  If you want to change minds as a responsible member of the 2A community, my advice is to check your facts, trust but verify and above all else, be objective.  Our opinions are important to us; if you want your opinion to be important (and respected) by someone else, you may want to take a high road approach to the debate and treat it more like a conversation with your grandmother than with a crazy hobo.  Also, googling the truth behind something before sharing it on facebook or IG is very helpful.

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