Thursday, July 27, 2017

To Respond, or Not to Respond

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A Discussion Between 
Prof Thug and Stoned Willy Poonhound on 
Responding to Facebook Comments

Prof Thug: Hey Willy!

Stoned Willy Poonhound: Professor.

PT: Thanks for joining me today.

SWP: Eh. What else I gotta do.

PT: True. You're a homeless dog.

SWP: "Wanderin tha planet searchin fer truth" n "homelessness" are not tha same.

PT: Right. Well I thought I'd get together with you to talk about something that's been on my mind a lot lately. With this disaster of an administration running this country, there's no shortage of things to get outraged about. And where else to express that outrage but Facebook.

SWP: Obvi.

PT: And express outrage I do. But I've been thinking about why exactly I respond to hateful, ignorant Facebook comments...

SWP: Ya could jus say Facebook comments.

PT: ...especially from people I don't know. Posting on my own page is one thing; it's a way to vent, to express myself, to share interesting things, all that good stuff. But I've been considering for some time now whether replying to hateful comments on other friend's pages or on the news pages is at all helpful. Or healthy.

SWP: Ok. So why ya do it?

PT: Well, I consider myself a teacher, and writer, and not just as a profession; I try to teach and write wherever possible. Deep down, I feel like I can teach a few people about a few things, you know?

SWP: Sure. So what's tha problem?

PT: The problem is, the asshole making the ignorant comments is not going to change his or her mind, so who am I really teaching?

SWP: Ya think anyone ever changed their mind cuz a sum comment they saw online?

PT: I think I may have changed one mind on one single topic in the years I've been on Facebook.

SWP: If ya know that, why do it?

PT: Well, Facebook is social. Comments can be read by other people. Maybe there is someone out there whose mind is not made up and they will be swayed by my argument. Or maybe someone out there is offended by the ignorant comment but too timid to say anything, and maybe they will feel empowered by seeing someone else sticking up for them.

SWP: That's fair. But if yer 118 comments deep in a sub-thread, is anyone really reading it besides the few people gettin tha notifications?

PT: Maybe, maybe not. The thing is, I also consider myself a student of life, and conversation is a great way to learn. Even if the conversation is with a big dumb dumb, you can learn a lot from what dumb dumbs say. They reflect society's problems. Plus, I believe it's important to engage with people who have differing opinions and worldviews.

SWP: Avoidin tha bubble n all that.

PT: Exactly. Discussing your beliefs helps shape and strengthen those beliefs. Facebook commenting provides great practice in discourse.

SWP: Yeah, but sometimes yer comments seem kinda...assholeish. That improves discourse?

PT: I'm not perfect. I can't deny that my inner asshole can sometimes take over, especially when confronted by bigotry or hate.

SWP: I can relate. No mercy fer bigots.

PT: Absolutely. But...

SWP: What?

PT: I often end up regretting commenting.

SWP: Why?

PT: Well it usually breaks down into insults when facts and reason don't seem to work. And I don't really mind that, it just seems counter-productive.

SWP: Not really teachin anybody at that point...

PT: Right. Another thing: sometimes seeing how much ignorance and hate is really out there gets to me.

SWP: Disillusioned wit tha world n shit?

PT: Exactly. Like, how have these people gotten this far in life being so stupid?

SWP: I ask myself that same question bout tha human race as a whole. All tha damn time.

PT: Funny.

SWP: No, seriously.

PT: You're probably right. We are the literal worst. As evidenced by Facebook comments.

SWP: Yup.

PT: I just try to bring a little light or sanity or reason into the conversation.

SWP: But ya cant help breaking down inta insults...

PT: Yeah. Look, I'm trying. That's why I'm talking it out here.

SWP: Lemme ask ya this: Hav ya considered...not replyin ta ignorant comments?

PT: I...well...

SWP: Yeah?

PT: It's just...

SWP: Spit it out.

PT: I CAN"T STOP, WILLY! I tried, I swear. It just feels so good to shout my knowledge at everybody! It feels soo good to shut down an ignorant piece of shit! I know it's not helpful but making someone look foolish online is one of my favorite things to do ohmygod I love it so much! But it's killing me, Willy. It's tearing my soul apart. I want to be a teacher and I want to spread love... but it feels SOOOOO good to own these clowns!

SWP: I get it.

PT: It's childish. It's pointless. It just adds to the divisiveness and the tension in this country and I hate it. But I can't stop.

SWP: I understand. You want to feel powerful.

PT: It fills me with so much power, man! Just calling these assholes out and debating with logic and facts and love and then insults feels like a shot of HGH straight to my ass cheek, man. I need it. I need it so bad. I go to sleep thinking about what kind of hateful jerk I'm going to decimate in the morning and I wake up with my finger already on the send button. I dont even know how it got there.

SWP: Thats kinda weir--

PT: I'll be halfway through typing something and I don't even know what I'm saying but I know it's brilliant and I know its gonna change the world.

SWP: Ohhkay...

PT: But then I hit send and I immediately realize the futility of it all and I feel like a moron for stooping down to their level and I want to take it all back and just delete everything.

SWP: So why don't ya?

PT: Because then I see the notification. The asshole has replied back.

SWP: So now...

PT: Now I have to engage further.

SWP: Ya gotta get tha last word in.

PT: Damn right! I'll get the last word and it'll be the best damn word they've ever seen.

SWP: What if they don't reply back?

PT: They always reply back.

SWP: Ok, but what if they don't? Or what if ya get in there n delete it before they respond?

PT: Because then I won't get any likes.

SWP: .....u serious rite now?

PT: Absolutely! Why else post on Facebook if not for likes?

SWP: So that's it.

PT: That's what?

SWP: That's tha real issue here. Yer addicted ta "likes."

PT: What? No. Huh?

SWP: Thats fuckin it dawg. Ya got a "like" addiction, homey.

PT: No no no. I have a thirst for spreading knowledge and verbally tearing morons apart.

SWP: Yea that's part of it probly. But I think it's really tha likes.

PT: That's ridiculous. Besides, they have the new emoji responses and I'd much rather get a heart emoji than a like.

SWP: That proves my point!

PT: That's...I don't...shut up. Idiot.

SWP: I see we're at tha insult portion a tha convo....

PT: What the hell's the point of arguing with you here anyways? Nobody can even like my responses so how do I know if I'm winning?

SWP: See?

PT: See what?

SWP: Yer doin it all fer tha likes man!

PT: But I...

SWP: Tryin ta "win" tha convo?

PT: ...but that...

SWP: Yer sick!

SWP: man. I didn't even realize how bad I had it until just now.

SWP: Yea its pretty bad.

PT: Wow. I need help. Help me, Willy. Please. I can't stop. The insults always get the most likes and I love that damn thumbs up sign! I need it! Each one gives me power! I eat them up like Flinstones chewables!

SWP: Those are bangin.

PT: Now Facebook does the floating likes thing on your phone when you go to your comment and that's so cool! It's like little thumbs up bubbles!

SWP: They are pretty cool.

PT: See?!

SWP: But come on man. Yer fallin apart here.

PT: I know I know. Help me. Tell me what to do, Willy. What would Stoned Willy Poonhound do?

SWP: Ya really want sum advice?

PT: Yes. Yes, please. Anything.

SWP: Create a fake online persona.

PT: Huh?

SWP: Create a fake persona. That way ya don't gotta pretend like yer doin it ta "teach" anybody. Ya won't have to feel bad fer "stoopin to their level" cuz nobody knows who ya really are. Ya won't offend any family or friends. It's easy n ya can insult people all ya want without feelin guilty.

PT: Are you serious man? I'd never do that. I'm no troll.

SWP: Scuse me?

PT: I can't even believe you would suggest something like that. That's beneath you.

SWP: But you created m--

PT: I'd never pretend to be something I'm not. Besides, I don't really think I have a problem.

SWP: Are ya kidd--

PT: You were leading me to the conclusion that I have a problem. But I think you were misunderstanding me. I don't have a problem. Maybe you have a problem?

SWP: Ya really are an asshole.

PT: Oh great, here come the insults!

SWP: I don't "like" you. At all.

PT: That's all we have for today folks! Thanks for joining us. Good talk, Willy!

SWP: Fuck you.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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