Argumentum ad Facebook: the social network fallacy and how to rise above
Almost everyone on Facebook has witnessed or engaged in some heated argument over issues ranging from favorite superhero movies to stances on abortion. At some point, you may have wondered, “Why am I trying to defend my views on foreign policy to a complete stranger at 3am, when all I wanted to do on here was post a picture of my cat sitting in a box?”
It is fascinating, if not exhausting, to witness the psychological issues which are ever present, and become exaggerated to the extreme on social media. In an order to diffuse the insanity, it is important to not be drawn in by its powers. In order to accomplish this, one must elicit social-media redlichkeit.
We must first recognize the structure of the paradigm. What is really going on here? No one is forced to be on Facebook, so why do some people seem to loath everyone and everything on it?
Simply put: People go on Facebook to say what they think, never to change what they think. Committing the fallacy of Argumentum ad Facebook, are all those who are convinced that they can somehow surpass the crushing reality of this statement, and proceed to act upon this delusion.
There is a proverb that goes something like this: “A fool has no interest in learning, but rather in displaying what he knows”. We could easily replace, “A fool”, with, we’ll say, “Ad Facer”. By “Ad Facer”, I am referring to those people who commit the fallacy of Argumentum ad Facebook. Not to say that all Ad Facers are fools. Perish the thought. We all commit this fallacy, we just needed to know why it doesn’t work.
Some arguments hit so close to home that we feel it is our duty to step in and bring some sense into the conversation. If we could just get explain all of the unique experiences we have had, and use all of the logic we can, we will be able to convince someone that they are wrong. If they could just hear this quote from scripture, then they would finally succumb to the crushing grip of reason! This the way of the Ad Facer. The only way to have a real argumentative conversation is to have at least two separate parties that are willing to learn. No such environment exists on Facebook, or other social media for that matter. Join a ‘closed group’, maybe you’ll have some luck? Maybe, but don’t hold your breath. Real conversations still need to be real conversations. Real people, talking to each other in real time. Ad Facers need to understand this fact.
It takes courage to say, “Even I, the great rhetorician, won’t convince those Trump voters to vote for Bernie”. This is due to the fact that they didn’t make those political statuses because they wanted to hear what you had to say. They said what they did, to display themselves. By saying they are wrong, you are denying their value. Maybe not intentionally, but they will always take it that way, and dig their heels in all the deeper.
Maybe if I use very kind wordin…NO! Kindness, or sensitivity of any kind does not translate onto social media. If I don’t put an exclamation point after a ‘happy birthday’, I must not like that person very much. You must shout praise, or suffer the consequences of begging to differ.
But wait, there is a third door…
Enjoy the benefits of social media, but be an educated participant. Recognize the characteristics of the paradigm, and follow this essential criterion: “You cannot change the opinion of others through statuses/comments/posts/ or any other form of cyber communication, on social media”. Why? Because of the pseudo environment, and the mindset with which everyone enters this environment.
Rise above the squabble. There will be moments of temptation. They can be overcome. If you are tempted to go off on someone for their beliefs, instead of accomplishing nothing more than the aggravation of yourself and others, start a blog. Be yourself, and let that be your legacy.