Why Your Online Discussions Go Nowhere

This article was written by TJ Martinell.

          “This bickering is pointless!” – Grand Moff Tarkin

In the early days of social media, I loved online discussions on people’s blogs and on other platforms. Although I still do online interactions, I rarely if ever engage someone in a dispute. I also avoid poking the hornet’s nest on Twitter or arguing with someone on some point of disagreement. My dialogues are more confined, limited, and constrained.

My reasons are reaffirmed every time I watch the digital feuds unfold.

This isn’t a list in order of importance. The first thing that comes to mind is that online interaction is in many ways an illusion. People say things they wouldn’t say in person. Their intent and motives are also unknown. Someone who debates in good faith will be continually flustered by a troll whose objective is to bring the other person grief.

Some people enjoy trolling and flame wars, but personally I find it pointless ankle-biting that distracts from creative endeavors offering me long-term satisfaction and meaning. I vote with my time by ignoring people who have nothing to offer me.

If you argue in good faith, unless you’re on a private forum with a solid moderator, vetted members, and a clear list of restrictive rules governing behavior and conduct, you have no reason to think others are honest or have a mutual desire to discover truth.  As much as I appreciate online anonymity, often that is the price paid to prove one’s sincerity before others will give you the time of day.

Some debates occur in the wrong context. You can chat about your favorite video game or movie online. Discussing sensitive or highly controversial topics that inevitably involve enormous ego investment and high emotions are not something you discuss in an open area. That’s for a small room in a cigar lounge in which only trusted and mature companions are present. Also, sooner or later broken people will barge into the conversation and never leave.

This is how the binary-thinking on most topics now occur. If the platform is public, anyone can speak their mind. The most extreme, edgy, radical, loony people will eventually overwhelm the discussion while the normal people can’t handle the toxicity and leave. Frankly, much of the bickering over the Red Pill, masculinity and gender relations involves this phenomenon.

If you’re wondering why we have such freakshow clowns trying to represent various causes or movements they themselves don’t reflect, now you know.

Often these debates and arguments go nowhere because the people have fundamentally opposite philosophies and worldviews that make the matter moot. Arguing with a feminist about whether something is good for men or not is a waste of time, because a man’s best interest is not a concern of feminism (quite the opposite). This is much of the reason I don’t bother engaging people even when I could certainly point out why they’re wrong. Unless they share a basic core value as I related to the point, it’s an exercise in futility trying to convince them otherwise.

When Cato the Elder ended every speech with "Carthage must be destroyed!" (Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam) he did so in a room full of fellow senators who shared the same identity and common interests. It would have made no sense to say this in front of Carthaginians.

Further, most people don’t know the basic rules of logic and reasoning. They either don’t know or don’t understand how logical fallacies work. They rely on rhetoric, rationalizing, reframes or other tricks to avoid getting at the heart of the matter.

Chances are, that's because they are powerless to do anything about it either way, or because their viewpoint is reflected in the social, cultural and political institutions. As a family member told me, you don’t argue with the guy holding the mic, i.e. the person in power. A person who thinks traditional masculinity is toxic doesn’t need to convince you why you’re wrong, because their perspective is already integrated into our culture. It’s like trying to argue with someone who thinks the U.S. should have nukes; they really don’t have to come up with a good argument, because unless you have the power to change that situation, they don’t have to.

If you want to learn more about a topic or an alternative perspective, read a book about it and try proving them wrong if you disagree. You might end up arguing with yourself, but it's still better than arguing online with someone you don't know. Keep your chats to people you know and trust and who you know share the same common ground.

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