Superficially, I Want To Win Arguments

I admit it. I have a problem.

An animated GIF taken from TV show Father Ted, showing the main characters suffering withdrawal symptoms having given up habits for Lent.

I thought I could give up Twitter any time I wanted. And the last time I thought I wanted to, and it turned out I couldn’t, I decided it was probably due to external factors. Certainly not my fault. Nothing to do with willpower, for sure. I mean, how could it because hard to give up Twitter? Who’d even want to use it, such a cesspit of rage and hatred and supercilious condemnation as it is?

Well, apparently I do.

Even though, particularly since 2016, the infamous “Year of Political Decisions I Admit I Think Were Utterly Stupid And Self-Spiting And Opened The Floodgates To All Sorts Of Dreadful Shitty Behaviours”, the twittersphere has for the most part been full of Nazis, xenophobes and bigots, and decent people loudly and passionately (and rightly) opposing Nazis, xenophobes and bigots.

“Rightly”. Mmm… No, no: they are right. It is right to oppose Nazis, xenophobes and bigots. These are dangerously toxic, corrupting attitudes that, left unchecked and unchallenged, can and have caused catastrophic human suffering.

But recently I’ve been mulling this stuff whilst ostensibly trying not to put it on this blog. I think I’ve done moderately well keeping politics off this site lately – and the only price I’ve paid in exchange is hardly ever posting anything. I’ve been mulling all sorts of things about the nature of good and evil, and how to know which side you’re on, and how to fight effectively for the side you want to support.

And I’ve been doing just that for quite a long time now. Trying, anyway. I’ve been getting quite passionate about it, because I know I’m on the right side (obviously – not like those people who know they’re on the wrong side but fight anyway and I thought that was going to be sardonic but actually now I think about it there must be many racists and bigots who know they’re wrong but do it anyway), and because I believe the fight, overall, is of critical importance. Whatever form it arises in, whatever clothes it wears, we’re fighting back the same corruption, the same darkness, that brought so much destruction to the world in the Twentieth Century, and at regular intervals back through Human history.

So that’s bad, right? That needs beating back down, right?

It does. It does need fighting against. But. Am I doing it right?

Looking at Twitter, you’d think the whole world was just Nazis and the decent people opposing them. And clearly I’d rather be on the decent people’s side than the Nazis.

But (again):

There’s that.

And there’s this:

Mike Hind (Public Relations) appeared on my Twitter radar in the run-up to the fraudulent UK Brexit referendum. Shortly afterwards he and his family pissed off to live in France. And I’m only scathing about that because I’m jealous. As jammy as he is, though, he also knows his stuff about the legion of “bots” infesting Twitter — and to some extent Facebook — in their continuing campaign to present themselves as a “grassroots movement”.

(The concept of “fake grassroots” has given rise to the term “astroturfing” to describe what these bots are doing.)

I should mention that a “bot” isn’t, as the name suggests, necessarily an automated program, but can also refer to people who behave like bots. That is, they tweet regularly, persistently, repetitively, often aggressively, and are generally utterly impervious to argument of any sort.

And it’s very, very easy to get caught up with them.

For someone like me, who has a serious weakness for debate and discussion, it’s both irresistibly alluring and screamingly aggravating, infuriating, and (literally) depressing.

Like I said, I have a problem. To put it superficially, I want to win arguments. More precisely, what I want is to engage with fascists, jingonationalists, gun nuts, Tories/ukippers, Trumpets, red-pillocks and the countless other noxious elements out there, and…

Well, really, I don’t know what. Convince them? Never going to happen. And I know it. At least, if it’s going to happen it’s not going to be because I persuade them. It’ll be because they persuade themselves. Because they get over it. Grow out of it.

And if it’s beyond my power to nudge a Nazi off the Hitlerian path and back to civilised society, then what the hell am I doing arguing with them on Twitter?

Because… Because the argument is, undoubtedly, still alluring. Like a siren; or like a brightly coloured carnivorous plant. It draws you in. It chews you up. And what’s left is a husk. A soulless wreckage.

I’ve been a soulless wreckage long enough. So having some time back laid off using Google Plus — only because I wasn’t getting anything constructive out of it — I’m now going to limit myself on Twitter and Facebook too.

I will not post tweets or Facebook posts except for:

  • Links to posts on this blog or others I might contribute to;
  • Links to podcasts or videos I contribute to;
  • Shares in support of friends who do creative and groovy stuffs.

I will, though, listen out for direct messages on either system, because I’m actually quite friendly — if evil — and I do like to hear from folk.

But I’m going to try to learn not to monitor them as obsessively as I do, so please don’t be offended if I don’t reply for a day or two.

Finally, the last rule: if your tweet or your Facebook post leads me to believe you’re a Nazi or angry xenophobe, an Alt-Righter, a Holocaust denier, a politically motivated flat-earther, a climate change denier, a Moon Hoax advocate, a 9/11 Truther, an antivaxxer, a residual GamerGater, an “MRA”, an angry “incel”, someone who’s ever said “Make America Great Again” or “Taking Our Country Back” unironically, or otherwise the sort of person who thinks the word “Progressive” is an insult or that social justice itself is something to be opposed, I’m going to block you. Go push your bullshit somewhere else because, per Hind’s rules above, I ain’t propagating it for you.

On the other hand, I don’t actually like blocking folk. I’m just trying to keep myself away from political debates I’d otherwise get embroiled in and probably quite annoyed about.

(Featured image used under Creative Commons licence: Source)

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