Back when Donald Trump's candidacy was still funny, there was a joke going around
that he was the personification of an internet comments section. But the real joke has turned out to be that all
public discourse now happens at the level of an internet comments section. Or if not all of it, far more than is healthy for us as a society or as individuals.
One consequence of our comment section discourse is that we spend so much time telling
people what they think that there's no time to ask
them what they think and why. We’re so busy cultivating cynicism and trying to be edgy that we forget to be kind and compassionate. This situation has been the source of some of my melancholic mood
as of late.
Alas, if we are to live in the era of public discourse as
internet comments section, we ought to know what we’re getting into. So without further ado...
Ten Rules for Public Discourse as Internet Comments Section
1. You must never think critically about your own beliefs. Your view is automatically right because it is yours
. USE ALL CAPS INSTEAD OF REASONS!!!!
2. You must never empathize with people who disagree with you.
3. You must never admit that people who disagree with you might be decent human beings.
4. If people tell you that your view dehumanizes them, you must never reflect on whether they have a point. Remember: your view is automatically right because it is yours (see Rule 1). How dare
they question it?
5. All issues must be black-or-white, with-me-or-against-me. There can be no coalition building with people who disagree about a few issues; there is no such thing as an in-house disagreement. You are either 100% in my house or 100% outside of it.
6. All positions must be believed with the searing zeal of the martyrs; your enthusiasm for your position must burn as hot as your hatred for any opposing view. USE ALL CAPS TO EXPRESS YOUR COMMITMENT TO YOUR VIEW AND CONTEMPT FOR OTHERS!!!!!
7. Godwin’s Law
is in full force: your opponents and/or their associates must be compared to Nazis as soon as possible. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about powerful politicians or your local PTA. No issue is too trivial to be compared to genocide.
8. Bombastic, hastily generalized
claims must be made and clung to irrespective of nuance, truth, or new evidence.
9. You get to choose your own facts! If people disagree with your facts, direct them to a conspiracy theory or partisan website as evidence. Bonus points for hour-long YouTube videos of people rambling in their basements.
10. And of course, if your view can’t be expressed in 140 characters, it is not a view worth having. Sad!