Saturday, October 24, 2015

Villainy, Hyperbole and William Arthur Ward- Redux

Progress continues.

Before I go dark as I must for the next two and a half weeks or so, I thought I would present this partially rewritten old removed blog post. It's entirely too simple, but advocates some worthwhile habits all the same.


In this post I would like you to consider the folly of internet villainy. Or rather, the folly of indicating an individual or group as being a villain or villainous on the flimsiest of evidence- if any at all.

Now, to be clear I am not saying villains do not exist. There are all too many people who, via grotesque narcissism or compulsive deception certainly qualify, however they are- I believe- vastly rarer than many would believe. Instead I note that most vilification in the media and internet has been not only horrible, but horribly ineffective to the point of being outright counterproductive.

Why? Because as a society- I speak of the internet especially- we do need to collectively learn that there is nothing to be gained from getting incredibly angry about people being wrong on the internet. There is nothing to be gained from trying to paint people we disagree with as irredeemable human beings unworthy of basic dignity (I believe some exceptions apply, but are- I would insist- most rare indeed and not to be casually identified).

When you paint someone as a villain you oversimplify and exclude the possibility that they are simply mistaken. Worse, by painting them as an irredeemable villain you effectively exclude yourself from being taken seriously by them. Very few people on the internet, when faced with abuse and vitriol, become more likely to change their opinion as a result.

On the contrary, they are more likely to buckle down in defense of their point of view and may even stop considering whatever the given subject is objectively at all.

Who is right becomes more important that what is right and when that happens- everyone loses.

To avoid this, I would put forth that it would serve any reader well to be more aware of hyperbole. A.K.A. jingo, rhetoric, drama, or fishnozzle.

Now, hyperbole is not something commonly effective on someone who disagrees with you. Instead it is something you must be wary of in your allies. It will most often be used in an echo chamber, or closed circle of like-minded individuals to reinforce a siege mentality and discourage any disagreement with the consensus.

It is the megaphone by which the loudest idiot ensures they are heard over the others.

It needs to stop, yet it can only be stopped internally. You, dear reader, need to be able to stop and ask yourself 'is what I am saying accurate or dramatically exaggerated?' if the latter, you will need to be the one to then re-evaluate and back down.

If you do not, YOU run the risk of becoming the loudest idiot or a minion thereof. Worse still, hyperbole works on the user as, or even more effectively than it does on anyone else.

This is how Men's Right Activists convince themselves they are oppressed by women. This is how wishful special omniqueer you-can't-prove-I'm-NOT-an-oppressed-minority types come to genuinely believe they are as well.

These people are not the enemy though. Their backwards thinking is. The enemy is a problem, not a person.

When you attack a person rather than a problem as if they are the enemy, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy in most cases. It turns out that when you attack the average person, they tend to react to it as if YOU were the enemy. Imagine that.

Finally, spare yourself considerable grief. Do not bother trying to harass MRAs or Social Justice Warriors out of existence. It's not going to work and each of them will just take it as confirmation of their existing biases. Effectively using it as encouragement.

Instead I would encourage you to take this quote to heart.

"It is wise to direct your anger toward problems - not people; to focus your energies on answers - not excuses." - William Arthur Ward

If you solve the problems that give rise to these people, you set the stage for everyone to move on to something more worthwhile.

Or, failing that, donate to a worthwhile charity to spite your enemy I guess. That's better at least. You know we've got a lot of room for improvement when 4chan shows us a better way.

Progress continues.

Perhaps most comically of all is the fact that this Jesus is still far too improbably Caucasian to be a proper representative of the Middle Eastern Jewish Son of God.

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