D's Thoughts on things
February 20, 2018
Worst types of on-line arguers and how to avoid them – Part 2

This week I will continue with part two of the “Worst types of arguers and how to avoid them”:

3) Deliberately obtuse

The third type of worst person with whom to argue on-line is the deliberately obtuse. An obtuse person is slow to understand situations or information presented to them. However, the deliberately obtuse: understands the situation, has grasped the facts during a discussion, recognizes that you are passionate about the issue, sees the merits of your reasoning, but pretends to not understand, just so they could get a rise out of you. The deliberately obtuse is usually a person in a position of societal privilege because of race, class or gender, and does not care to engage in thoughtful discussion or resolve an issue that negatively affects the marginal in society. If you are not careful, you could end up exerting a lot of energy explaining your position to someone whose privilege insulates them and who only wishes to mock your ire or concern.

4) Apologizing apologizer

This person is enamoured with defending power and its representatives. They are sympathetic to ‘great-man-ism’ and are invested in defending or excusing unacceptable behaviours when committed by the powerful. Apologizers often leap into discussions whenever celebrities are involved. Bill Cosby, for example, had lots of victim shaming defenders coming to his aid a couple years ago. Whenever a great man or woman misbehaves in the public, the apologizing apologizer tries to excuse away their behaviour by saying things like “I’m not justifying abuse, but….” Apologizers move at light speed into debates on national issues unrelated to any political party. The apologizer finds a way to excuse poor roads, for instance. At the core of the apologizer’s psyche is a veneration of power and dominance and you would be hard-pressed to persuade them that power can be abused and that an elevated status does not always guarantee goodwill or class.

5) Professional debater

These cats love the argument, as in they are in love with argument. By this I mean they really enjoy throwing around terms like ‘syllogism’, ‘ergo’ and ‘res ipsa’ etc. You would think that they studied at the feet of Socrates or something. They pride themselves on presenting flawlessly reasoned arguments, but they usually miss the human angle of an issue. They neglect to acknowledge that lived realities often shape the way people react to events on either a national or global scale. They are all about winning an argument, rather than empathizing with the suffering of others. Discussing an issue with a professional debater can get old really quickly, because they love to hear themselves speak and probably spend time re-reading their posts, patting themselves on the back, while your people are out here suffering in these streets.

So, how do you avoid them?

Scroll and keep scrolling. Self-care often involves recognizing toxic situations and stepping away from them. In the case of these on-line debaters it might mean stating your piece and or peace, observing their responses and then making a judgement as to whether or not engaging would be meaningful. Do not feel compelled to prove any of the types above wrong. Do not fall for their jabs and barbs at your emotions, passion or intellect. Be discerning and determine whether the time you spent expounding a cause, topic, or issue will yield any type of fruitful outcome. The jury is still out on how many opinions are actually swayed by discussions on social media platforms, so the best bet would be to work out whether there is virtue in a particular thread. All in all, if you have work to do in the interest of social justice, save your energies for that. That way your pearls remain brilliant.