How to Deal with Crazy People on the Internet
I’m not sure what it is about the internet, but comments, forums and question answers have this weird tendency to attract a special kind of crazy. We’ve all encountered it in some form or another (they seem to thrive in the politics and religion categories). Maybe it’s a person who shouts obscenities, thinks they’re always right, or just treats others like they’re children. Whatever the case is, these people are oblivious to their own brand of crazy.
A lot of people, myself included, think that, with the right logic, information and politeness we can enlighten these crazies. Not necessarily change their point of view, but at least establish some level of understanding so the hate won’t fly around so freely. So we respond to their posts, again and again. But, if there is one thing I’ve learned from crazy people on the internet, it’s that they are unmoving in their hate and have limitless energy. Where a normal person might tire of arguing, the internet crazy only seems to get stronger the more the fight devolves. You make an intelligent point, they dismiss it. You make a counterpoint, and they insult you. You get angry, and they point out how you, not them, are becoming hostile. It’s an incredibly poisonous situation to find oneself in.
There is a quote that I frequently like to reference for situations like these. I heard it from Carrie Fisher, but I think she got it from somewhere else. It says “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I use that quote for internet crazies that are so obviously trying to hate something to death. However, by interacting with them, I realize that I’ve only managed to break this rule for myself. I end up getting needlessly frustrated, when these people aren’t worth getting frustrated over.
And in that, there is the beautifully simple solution. We just need to ignore them. It can be hard, sometimes, because the internet crazies like to push buttons. They know what to post that will incite the most backlash, allowing them to relish in the flame war that results. But we must remain strong, we must ignore. We can’t avoid every internet crazy, as they tend to pop up out of nowhere, but there are a few that we can identify. And, rather than be frustrated that we know regular internet crazies, we have the rare power to selectively ignore them. Kind of like unsubscribing to someone’s feed on facebook (which is probably the greatest feature of facebook).
Now, one might argue that if the internet crazies are dominating the conversation, then it could create an inaccurate picture to outsiders. And, that is probably true. For hot button issues like politics and religion, it can be very difficult to leave misinformation hanging out there without being contested. But we have to think of our personal health first and foremost. Maybe, by arguing, you will have balanced the discussion, but you certainly haven’t changed anyone’s mind, and the internet crazy has just gotten fat off of your rage. Meanwhile, you’ve got a brand new ulcer.
So, I’m writing this brief little hub, not just as a tip for navigating through the internet, but as a reminder to myself. Every time you see a hot button question, forum post or whatever, don’t take the bait. It’s not worth it. Nine times out of ten, if you can just manage to navigate away from the page, or close the browser, you’ll see that you have no desire to go back and find the offensive material. Your day will be infinitely better if you avoid it, and you will thank yourself later.
© 2013 M. T. Dremer
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