Glutton For Punishment: Cyber-Wars

A Typical Late Night

The story of my life

As I have written before, nothing enrages me more than stupid people on the internet. I hate reading an insightful article or opinion online then scroll down to the comments and see someone I KNOW is wrong discredit everything. I always get to pounding on my keyboard to put this unknown stranger into place and go away fuming and ranting to myself.  I promise myself to just stop reading comments, but then I find myself again reading the dumb things people say, getting upset, and losing faith in humanity. It’s a sadistic cycle that I and many others engage in regularly.

But why do I and many others do it every single time though we end up more frustrated than before and nothing changes? Well it’s because I think responding with reason will change that person’s mind, or embarrass them to the point that they will stop arguing. But it doesn’t.

Perfect example was the other night while I was on The Miami Herald site reading up on the last Florida state legislative session and there was an article about the new requirement that anyone receiving TANF benefits i.e. “welfare”, is required to take a drug test. Nothing was really wrong with that except requiring the people applying to pay for it (it should be free). What got me going was the  outdated “welfare queen” stereotype ladened tirades in the comments. Having read books and learned about welfare policy and the reality of the system, I felt it was my duty to deliver the facts. And I mean evidence too. I pulled up official sources on the amount of benefits received in the state of Florida, the requirements of TANF, and even did the number punching to demonstrate that is impossible by design to get rich off of TANF (though no one ever on welfare was ever living the “good life” under AFDC either) and that there is a high incentive to work.

Even after this long well thought out post with calculations and references embedded (with the links so they could see it for themselves), I got a “you must have relatives on welfare then since you know all of the stats.”  I might as well just typed jeiorqha;gfngazgvnafvb’fahhba’, because that person even confronted with hard evidence contrary to their view didn’t budge from their position that people receiving benefits are lazy and mooch off of tax payers instead of getting a job.

So the lesson is, don’t engage with people who hold illogical and irrational thought patterns. It is futile because all of the research and facts in the world that disproves their argument won’t change their mind.  People who take the time (like myself) to engage anonymous strangers on online forums going back and forth are the ones who feel the strongest and hold the most extreme views. You are better off focusing  on the rational more open-minded and moderate people you interact with in person. It’s way easier to sway someone in the middle to your side of thinking than it is to get someone to swing over from the opposite extreme.


One Response to Glutton For Punishment: Cyber-Wars

  1. Miriam says:

    Eh. I run into this issue all the time. In fact, someone once asked me what I say when I encounter people spewing obviously wrong stuff about Israel (which is where I’m from), and I was like, these days? Nothing really. Because nothing I say would convince them.

    However, don’t discount the internet altogether. There are some blogs and forums (those with strict comment moderation, generally) where you can find a lot of intelligent conversation going on. Also, I’ve had great debates with friends over Facebook, where there’s more accountability because it’s not anonymous. So don’t give up.

    I love the xkcd, by the way. 🙂

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