If you’ve come looking for tips and tricks on how to buffer a knuckle duster blow or a survive a pull and tug of the old cojones in a street ball, you’ve come to the wrong place.
I’m about to talk about something dirtier. Much, much dirtier – the good old Facebook rumble.
You know how it begins. Some wise-ass has just gotten on the proverbial soap box and posted a status on a hot and heavy topic.
An hour later, a stream of comments appear, all embracing various viewpoints and opinions. You want to jump in. You want to become one of the many now going for the jugular but something is holding you back. You don’t want to be that guy. You know, the one that makes a debate fizzle out or end tragically after discourse turns into nothing but a witch hunt.
It’s a fine line, isn’t it?
So, to save you from a roasting, here are some tried and true rules of engagement to keep your debates clean and the conversation churning on.
- DO NOT MAKE REFERENCES TO HITLER
This includes Nazi analogies and creating comparisons between your subject and the treatment of Jews in death camps.
There is actually a law behind this. Godwin’s Law to be precise.
American attorney and author, Mike Godwin, considered the impact of hyperbolic Hitler analogies on internet newsroom conversations and found that once the old “nazi card was drawn” the debate would either end abruptly or the analogy maker would lose the debate.
I believe there is some weight to his claim.
By using such a comparison one not only exaggerates their premise but hides certain constructs that make whatever you’re debating unique. That is, you’re sidelining the conversation and concealing important data while not addressing the subject at hand.
Yes, terrible things happen but they certainly do not identify with the experience of falling victim to genocide and Hitler’s fangled outlook of social Darwinism.
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- KEEP IT ABOVE THE BELT
It’s only natural that certain statements, once the debate gets going, will offend or annoy but that gives you no excuse to start referring to someone as a “stupid whore” or a “washed up jerk off.”
By doing so, you’re resorting to the lowest common denominator and many will assume you don’t have anymore ammo to solidify your argument.
Besides, what has someone being a jerk-off got to do with the subject at hand?
You don’t sneak in a punch after the bell has tolled and you don’t bring someone’s Momma into the war zone.
- BE OPEN TO CHANGING YOUR MIND
As Sophocles once mused in Antigone: “think not that your and yours alone must be right …but since we are likely to go astray, the reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.”
In that vein remember that only a donkey doesn’t change their mind and what is a donkey? An ass!
Debate is there, much like peyote, to expand your mind and broaden your knowledge – not merely serve as a platform for your soap-box rants.
This includes holding too dear to your favored political or social ideologies. All this does is pigeon hole you and leave you blind.
Conservatives, liberals, communists and anarchists can all learn from each other.
Let your ears be willing to hear and leave your eyes wide open…
- BE AWARE THAT INTERNET DISCUSSIONS CAN HAVE “REAL WORLD” REPERCUSSIONS
Researchers have long considered that interaction on social media can have real world implications.
More specifically, the act of unfriending after a dispute which can later translate into a disconnect between the two warring parties in real life.
Remember that some are more sensitive than others and, while you may feel passionately about your cause, your tone may come on too strongly which can result in said disruption.
Just make sure that, before engaging, you know who your opponent is and to what degree they can take a good old Facebook spat.
And always consider if your cause is worthy of potentially losing a companion in the real world over.
If you believe it is, then smile before you press send. You don’t need to engage with that bigot/prude/asshole anymore in the real world than you do on Facebook.
Now that you have all the rules on hand, make sure you engage.
While none of us have time to engage in every drawn-out debate, it is wise to engage in the ones you feel strongly about.
Your input could shed light on a subject matter, change people’s minds or rile things up a little.
What’s more, you could be defending the voiceless or acting out against societal prejudice or other.
So speak up! It is your duty to do so.