D's Thoughts on things
February 13, 2018
The worst types of on-line arguers and how to avoid them – Part 1

The title says it all. This week’s column is going to outline the worst types of people with whom you could get into an argument. I have braved the battlefield, and I have witnessed enough semantic backpedalling to write this article as compact as possible, just so that you don’t have to.

Why a post about arguers? Sometimes current events require thought, comment and thoughtful comment. However, trying to engage in thoughtful discussion on national issues, in the age of social media, can be frustrating to say the least. Whenever an issue of social justice arises, or issues that affect racial or political minorities, thread discussions become soul draining, mind-numbing dumpster fires that lead to stress, anxiety, and depression for the unwary. Knowing how to recognize early signs of a looming trash thread and its trash contributors is key to healthy and meaningful discussions online. It is also a form of self-care to be able recognize potentially emotionally exhausting situations and avoid them.

With that in mind, here is a list of the worst types of arguers/debaters that you might encounter on-line and how to avoid them:

1) The What-About-Er and Concern Troll

The opening salvo of this person’s argument is the classic “what about x,y,z, what about this or that.” They jump into discussions about national issues with the intent of shutting them down, because their side is “looking bad.” The what-about-er is quick to tell you a particular ill is not unique to your country and that you shouldn’t single your country out because of it. This is a dangerous approach, because you might be discussing an issue in need of urgent action. In telling you that another country has it worse or another person has done worse, the what-about-er shows that they are not interested in addressing the issue, but prefer that you stop speaking about it.

Sub-specie of the what-about-ers is the “concern troll.” This person only brings up an issue about which they are not regularly concerned to shame other commenters into silence. For example, if some folks are talking about issue A, the concern troll brings up issue B, usually a tragic situation happening in a random third world country, just to show that they are “woke.” Classic examples can be found whenever women speak up about violence or abuse, the response is often “well what about the men who are abused?” The reality is they are not really interested in the random tragic situation, nor do they care about men who are abused, but they do want to shut down the current conversation because it makes them uncomfortable. These folks are to be ignored, stepped over or around, because they don’t care either way.

2) The Willfully Ignorant

Appealing to facts in this case does not work, because this type of arguer is not interested in such things. Cognitive dissonance momentarily sets in when holes are poked into their reality, but that passes and they thereafter refuse to re-arrange their ignorance. They are usually the loudest proponent/opponent on an issue. They often have large, visible platforms, but use them to spout retrograde ideas that leave you scratching your head. Maya Angelou said when someone shows you who they are, believe them. The willfully ignorant with the large platform usually shows themselves because they are usually secure in their lack of knowledge. They are also harmful to societies, because they are usually very influential and respected.

Next week, I will continue with the second part of this discussion of worst types of people with whom to argue on-line.