What It’s Like Being Trashed on the Internet

If you have no debate skills the internet isn’t the right place for you

Louise Sawyer 2.0
Apr 29, 2020 · 4 min read

Since December, I’ve been experiencing a really weird phenomenon. I have been attracting a ridiculous amount of traffic from a single story, however that’s not what makes me raise an eyebrow.

The two key things hiking my curiosity are:

  1. Roughly half the crowd hates the story and feels compelled to leave hostile comments.

If you plan to crap on a story you should at least read it until the end so you can take an informed crap.

By reading a story through to completion you allow yourself to assess all points the writer is trying to make, not just points you can yell at.

Reading half a story is like finding a single fingerprint on a New York city subway and arresting the person it belongs to. It’s half-assed, uninformed, and you’ve likely got the wrong guy.

Debate is a useful skill

People debate all the time in a productive manner. Divergence of views can only enhance the overall experience. But not if one assumes the other has esteem issues just because their opinions differ.

On the internet we have no idea who anyone is yet some people are comfortable making harsh, sweeping judgements if another person doesn’t agree.

Skimming a story and picking out one or two things that make you angry only causes others to view you in a tainted light. We don’t know if you’re here to gain understanding or just assert your judgements.

In the end, you’ll only look like a mad fool when you fly off the handle with half the information.

I admit the opinions I put forth in my controversial article could be construed as catty and biased, depending on which end of the spectrum the reader falls. While some readers are downright hostile, others are fully on board which makes me confident I wasn’t just blowing smoke out my ass.

Over 500 readers have applauded the article which means at least that many were able to read it, consider the information and decide whether or not the information is for them.

I think it’s fair to assume none of the angry people applauded, but they sure as hell took the liberty of commenting. More than 110 fired-up responses so far. What these people don’t realize is that their comments come across equally as rude as they think the article is.

They didn’t prove any points, they just appear to be angry, unhappy people. Not one of them opened themselves up for debate, rather they shut down any opportunity to communicate.

In their hostility they used the most slanderous judgements they could muster up. My perceived rudeness in the story pales in comparison to their comments, so did they really improve the situation? Do they really think they “taught me a lesson?”

I’m doing my best to read and respond everyone, regardless of how opposing they may be. That’s how healthy debate works.

Picking and choosing which pieces of a story to criticize is akin to bad parenting. It’s like a helicopter mom waiting for her child to screw up so she can unleash her wrath, rather than offering any kind of discussion or reasoning.

If you’re only here to pick out pieces of a story you can light on fire, why bother being here? You’re just clogging up timelines making it difficult for the real debaters to shine through.

The internet is full of the same opinions, the same experiential stories, the same everything. Blending in is extremely counter-intuitive for me because I legitimately do not have the same opinions as most people.

If I don’t share in common viewpoints I’m not going to pretend I do just to appease the common reader. I like living on the edge a little and it’s working well for me, so why change a good thing?

Several of my pieces have transformed into a flurry of activity in the comments sections, just because I had the courage to publish my authentic, and sometimes unpopular point of view.

We need balance, or unbalance, to keep it interesting. Not everyone is willing to go out on an unstable limb, nor does everyone belong there if it feels unnatural to them.

In writing just as in anything, we need a yin and a yang. Opposites attract, there’s no me without you, there’s no smoke without fire. But if you’re writing for the internet, make sure you show up in a hazmat suit in case there’s fire.

Final notes

It makes me smirk a little bit to know that the title for my controversial piece was actually taken from a funny meme. I just took the words and expanded on them, I didn’t make them up.

Unfortunately I’m not that original.

Thelma & Louise

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