Why I block feminists and SJWs (but not all of them)
Since joining Medium only a few weeks ago, I have lost count of how many users I have just blocked without ever engaging them, or maybe after one or two tries and realizing there was no point in continuing.
And it feels good.
But not for the reasons those of you I will probably block in the future have already decided by your own criteria while reading this far.
I don’t block viewpoints, talking points or strongly stated beliefs, even when I disagree with them just as strongly. Not for that alone. I block smug arrogance, doctrinaire dismissal, high-toned condescension, intentionally polarized invective, judgmentally finalistic hyperbole, to give a few examples.
Why? My dad has told me all my life, one of the most reasonable, balanced, considerate and tolerant people I ever knew who absolutely has his limits of patience and one absolutely knows when he has (finally) reached them:
“pick your battles”
To the extent that this safe and basically idle exercise is a battle, I enjoy a good go-round with folks who know how to disagree over even the most delicate and crucial things, but do so with grace, etiquette and decorum. They are rare enough but they do stand out, and I tend to be drawn to challenging them sometimes just to see what sort of match will ensue. If I am wrong, and someone can tell me so like an adult and without falling back on histrionics in place of making a solid point, then it is a privilege to be told so and learn from it. And yes, this has happened.
But what is not worth even trying to speak to, in any tone or to any degree of diplomacy, is a voice that has already established itself as impossible to conduct dialogue with. My experiences tell me that even those who expect a kind of echo-chamber experience in online discussions, are often among the first to go cyberserk with guttural harshness, when someone’s position has led to their discomfiture or has left them needing to clarify a point they are incapable of clarifying.
So why bother? I’ve had enough of those sessions where one party is just shouting at the other and vice versa, and largely desisted from them early on in my relatively short time on the internet. I’ve watched from the sidelines and seen many more of these, and just wondered what it was about the activity that had both parties mutually willing to continue.
A bizarre sort of consensus indeed, when two people have decided what they most have in common is a desire to continue flailing away at one another. No, thanks.
I actually went through one day and diligently blocked every last user here whose byline said “from ThinkProgress” and that username itself, not because I might not find an occasional worthy point or learn something in their content, but because all such authors I read consistently had this preachy tone and this air of moral high-groundedness to them, reflected in their comment responses as well, enough to show me that whatever the atmosphere is within those halls where ThinkProgress does its thing, it apparently encourages this kind of approach basically reducing prima facie any demur from the content of their sermons, to a pre-assigned status of ignorant neanderthalism. And there is no arguing with that, so why bother?
I blocked eight or ten people today, mostly over their reactions to one post of mine. Not to put them in their place, they are already in it, where they put themselves. Not to teach them a lesson, they won’t be taught any. Not to settle a score or rig a win for myself, I wasn’t keeping score or trying to win.
I blocked them, because they showed me with their rhetoric, their typesetting, their formatting, their tone, their petulance and their gleeful arrogance, that all any of them wanted from me in the future, was for me to continue offending them so they could continue practicing the wildly popular sport, of being offended.
I blocked them, and will continue blocking them, BECAUSE I CAN.
And, it feels good.