Fuck that website

Fuck that website

So, this is a geeky website. We talk about video games, horror movies, wrestling and comic books (among other things). Most of us have worked in tech support at one point, we work on a webcomic together, hell, we’ve all pretended to be vampires for fun on numerous occasions. There are all manner of geeks but there is one thing that is true of almost all of them: we spend a lot of time on the internet. A lot of time.

It makes a ton of sense when you think about it. Geek culture is (or was) by its nature niche. There wasn’t a bunch of people in any one place who were passionate about this one geeky thing so when a global network allowed us to all connect with one another, we were all up on that shit. Do you like to knit Dr. Who stuff? You can find like minded people easily. Seriously, I just assumed that that existed and a quick Google search totally proved me right. Basically, no matter what you’re into, if you’re a geek, you’re probably a pretty well traveled internet user.

Quid pro quo you’ve been in (or at least been witness to) an argument on the internet over something that in the big scheme of things is probably insignificant. In some cases it will be an argumentative clash of opinions between people who feel strongly about opposite sides of a story, in other cases only one will really care and the other will be trolling, sometimes, both will be trolling. Two people pretending to really care about something just to argue and try to get under the skin of the other one? We live in a wonderful world.

An interesting thing happens on the internet. People are way more likely to pick a fight and start an argument than they probably would out in the “real” world. Why? Well, depending on the situation there might be a degree of anonymity. Almost always there’s a sense of safety from sitting in your own home instead of being in someone’s face. Plus, it’s easy to dehumanize the person you’re arguing with. After all, you don’t know them. They’re just words on the screen that disagree with you. Fuck those words. Fuck that person. They probably stand against everything you’ve ever held true and believe in.

The internet created a world where it is so easy to argue that we probably don’t stop and think “hey, is this worth it?” I personally have been guilty of picking fights online just out of boredom. I see something that I don’t agree with and I’m like “fuck it, let’s do this, here’s why you’re wrong idiot.” Another side effect of the whole anonymity/words on the screen aspect of the argument is that in lots of cases, the argument is the only thing we know about the other person. There’s no need for compromise because there’s no relationship to maintain. You’ll probably never speak to this person ever again. Armed with the fact that there’s no benefit to backing down from your argument, you can be as stubborn and bull-headed in your opinion as you want to be.

Here’s something you’ve probably rarely thought about (and I sure as hell didn’t until recently): Is it healthy to bitch and argue over little things on the internet? I realized that I probably knew the answer as I asked it. It’s just a simple matter of removing the phrase “on the internet”. If someone bitched and argued over little things all the time in their day to day life you’d probably hate that person and not spend time with them.

Still though, I thought a little research was warranted.

What happens when you get into an argument? You usually get angry. Same thing applies on the internet. You read a negative comment about something you care about and you get angry and start the argument. Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact it’s a survival trait that gives us an edge in high-stress situations. I’d recommend reading this article on anger and mental health since I’ll make some reference to it in the next few paragraphs.

First of all, anger allows you to quickly translate complex situations into simple to process notions of “right” and “wrong”. Right there we’ve got a problem. If you’re getting mad on the internet and typing a mile and a minute all pissed off and huffy what are you doing? That’s right, you’re taking something complex and in your anger you’re turning into “right” and “wrong” and black and white. It doesn’t take a doctor to see that that kind of thinking is going to get you in trouble. Not only that, it’s going to make you more angry. You simplify things into black and white and you have no reason to see the middle ground since you don’t have a relationship to maintain with the person you’re fighting with.

Anger is associated with a pile physical issues: high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, anxiety, even cancer. Hell, if you get stressed out enough from anger your immune system will have a harder time fighting off the cold and the flu. You will be a weaker person if you’re angry all the time.

So what have learned so far? I would say that you should probably save getting angry for things that actually warrant getting angry about. Not some bullshit on the internet. Even if we feel like we don’t really care about an argument that we’re having, the body might just be having a stressed out physical response that is probably fucking us up in all sorts of terrible ways. Now, I think we all already had an idea that there are some negative repercussions to getting mad all the time. But, we still see the most aggressive nonsense in the world flying around on Youtube about the Jonas Brothers.

What kind of person would still be getting into stupid arguments even though they know it’s bad for them? How about this kind of person:

  • Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
  • Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
  • Envies others and believes others envy him/her
  • Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
  • Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
  • Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
  • Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

Hey, does this sound like every troll on the internet ever? Sure does. You know what else it sounds like? It sounds like (and is) a list of symptoms associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

That’s right. Every day on the internet people are constantly exhibiting behavior that is associated with an actual mental disorder. Over the stupidest shit. Recognized as superior for no reason? Constant attention? Lack of empathy? Arrogance? Expects unrealistic special treatment? Fuck, it is scary how much that describes people having arguments on the internet.

So yeah, maybe next time you are about to get all riled up and engage someone online take a deep breath and think it through. It’s normal to feel angry when you see something that goes against your beliefs. First step is to probably think if it’s really worth getting angry about. You know that getting angry will feel like shit and this argument is probably going to keep you invested for a little while. Is it worth getting angry? Remember that that same anger is going to try to turn into a black and white situation when it probably isn’t. So even though you can instantly reply with your witty fucking rebuttal try to think about the whole situation.

So you’ve decided that this is worth getting angry over and you’ve carefully thought about it and you still want to engage now that you’re not thinking about it in black and white terms? Ok fine. Go ahead, just try not to handle yourself like a person with an actual mental disorder.

You’ll probably be better for it. A happier, more carefree person.

As always it’ll be a pain for me to take my own advice. Fuck you.

See you next week where I talk about something else like I’m superior or special despite having no special accomplishments.

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