The internet is full of people debating about the things they love or hate. If you have a social media account, or have ever commented on any kind of forum, the chances are that you’ve encountered someone who disagrees with what you’ve said, and sometimes this can evolve into a constructive debate, or devolve into horrible proverbial shit-throwing.
In 2017 I got into a few debates online around the things I love and hate in pop culture. From movies, to series, games, and books, I’ve enjoyed debates and suffered criticism for what I love and hate.
So now I’ve taken some time to remind all of you of a few things to consider for 2018, when you feel like you may be heading towards an online debate with someone. While this list can be used for any topic debated online, since this is a movie blog, I’ve framed this from the perspective of debate around movies. I hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to share these insights with others so we can maybe work towards building a more tolerable internet some day.
1. Beware The Trolls
The first rule is that you have to walk into every argument understanding that the person you’re arguing with may be a troll. A good way to check is to have a look at their timeline. Are they posting shit that just stirs the pot? Are they constantly baiting people into different unnecessary conversations about pointless things? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, then I’ve got news for you: You may have stumbled upon a troll. If you can, try and spot them early, even before you enter into a debate with one.
The best thing you can do here is walk away. Nothing you say is going to convince this person because they have no intention of being convinced of anything. They don’t care about the argument, and you and your emotions are a game; the fact that you are disagreeing is what’s actually fueling them.
Trolls are a part of internet life that everyone has to deal with at some point. I’m pretty sure that even trolls get trolled sometimes. The internet is full of good and bad things, and so like real life, you have to take the good with the bad. On the plus side, since this person probably doesn’t even care about your actual opinion, they’re not taking anything away from it! Silver linings, yo.
2. Don’t Make Anyone Feel Inferior
Now some days, in a debate you will be the pigeon, and some days you will be the statue. But here’s the thing: Just don’t be a dick. If someone doesn’t see something the way you do, especially when that opinion is completely subjective (like with art), that’s okay.
Read this next part very carefully, because it might save years of your life from the unnecessary stress of random internet debates about movies:
IT’S OKAY TO DIS.A.GREE. WITH OTHER PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET.
You: “Hey, I think that film sucks, and here’s why”
Person: “Hey, I think that film is great, and here’s why”
You: “Oh cool, I see what you mean, but I disagree” / “Okay, I don’t understand that point, but that’s okay”.
I swear if this doesn’t change your life, send this advice back for a full refund.
3. Don’t Attack the Person, Refute the Argument
Man, I once said Blade Runner was a shitty movie, and this writer at Birth.Movies.Death put me on blast to their followers, who immediately commented on how horrible my taste in film was, how I was a leper, and how I may be a terrorist too.
I decided to handle the situation by being kind and maybe a bit sassy with everyone who came at me. Looking at the writer’s content and the kind of followers they had, they were expecting me to be this alternative-view fucker hating on the joy and glory that Blade Runner brought to the world, and its impact on cinema. Truth is, this boytjie from Cape Town South AFRICA, is pretty much just not that guy. But whatever.
Pro Tip: If someone hits you with the ad hominem, look at the next point below. It might be a troll, or someone lashing out emotionally.
4. It’s Okay to Walk Away
Sometimes you may get involved in an argument with someone who just won’t see sense. They may not fall into the category of troll (as mentioned above) but they may have an irrational opinion based on their emotions (and don’t forget that you may be the irrational one sometimes too).
Oh, the options are endless. From actually logging off, to deleting the original comments, or even better: blocking the person. If things spiral out of control, you can feel free to take the escape route most times.
Look, I get that there have been situations where people get stalked by mass armies of internet assholes, and get doxxed and stuff, so maybe keep an eye on the situation for early signs so you’re able to avoid this if you can (see point #1), but in most cases if you’re talking about movies or other things in pop culture that you love, you’ll get an opportunity to walk away before this happens.
This is the internet and it’s full of wonderful and horrible things, so make sure you look after yourself by not saturating your life with bullshit. Walk away!
5. You Don’t Have to Win Every Argument
Sometimes you will go up against someone and they will pull out a piece of information that will just leave you sitting there with egg on your face. Dude.. It’s okay! I know that as human beings we’re super proud, so we want to come out on top.
We want our opinion to mean something and we seek validation from other people for the things we say and believe. This mindset is rampant on the internet, with the endorphin high we get from notifications… likes, loves and positive comments all work towards programming us to want more of this validation, as we internalize those things and they work towards defining how we see ourselves, and how we perceive the way people in the world see us. It’s all about validation.
But take a step back, do some introspection, and understand that while the internet and real life intertwine, you’ve got a beautiful life outside of the validation from random strangers staring at screens of various sizes. Social media and the internet is both real life, and a fantasy.
Make sure you’re able to define yourself outside of it; it’s important for your mental and emotional well-being.
6. The Love/ Hate of Film is Subjective
So here we come to the heart of it. I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I’ll say it again: art is subjective, and (for the most part), things we adore in popular culture like movies, books and music; all of these things make us feel things, so the reaction is usually subjective and unique to the person experiencing it.
Understand that sometimes something that seems silly, or kitsch, or poorly made to you may mean the world to someone else, and that’s okay; because you have the things you like that other people may not understand at all.
This ties in with not making people feel inferior, but goes a step further to make you understand that what you’re feeling is about you, and even though you may want to share that with the world, not everyone is going to get it. And that’s okay.
In closing, I’d like to wish all of you an awesome 2018. Go out into the world, and onto the internet and spread joy and awesomeness about the things you love (and hate).
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