You’re all bloggers, you know. If you’re on Facebook, you have an opportunity to express your opinion with an audience of FB friends. More of us should be taking advantage of this opportunity.
Because unless you zealously guard the ideological purity of your Facebook friendlist, limiting it only to other people who also only limit to conservatives, you are bound to log on one day and find some spectacularly annoying and/or downright asinine comment posted to which you must respond. And I mean you MUST respond. (See #10, below.)
Now this can be bruising, because text-based arguments get nastier a whole lot quicker, in my experience, than face-to-face interactions. Most people are a whole lot more polite in person than when protected by the relative anonymity of their computer screen, and this goes double for Leftists. What’s more, it is often the friends of your friends to whom you will find yourself responding, and they may well be people you don’t know and will never meet, which can shove the nasty meter into overdrive. But armed with these tips, you can have a rewarding exchange, pound Leftism, and maintain your dignity:
10. Let no Leftist idiocy go unchallenged.
This is the basic rule. Example from one of my very own FB friends after Tuesday’s elections:
“I’m looking at election results and finding myself quite frightened.”By the time I got to this, several of this person’s equally pinheaded friends had chimed in with variations on the theme, like “Terrified!” and what not. Leftists rarely feel the need to explain such kneejerk responses, or post a link to something that would back up their opinion. In Leftist World, simply making a statement lends it authenticity. These smug yet vague pronouncements are a favorite tactic. Your first response should be a simple question, phrased as if you are simply innocently asking for clarification – in this case, “What’s scary?”
Alternative route: Immediately launch into biting sarcasm. “Yes, I suppose lower taxes, more jobs, a better economy and less wasteful spending could be downright terrifying.”
9. Challenge them on namecalling.
Since they have few coherent arguments, you will get called an unpleasant name on a semi-regular basis. Staying with the election thread I mentioned above, how many posts do you think it took before I was called a “teabagger”? If you guessed two, ding ding ding! You win! When I pointed out that using a vulgur sexual slur did not add anything to the quality of our discussion, the gentleman in question offered the commonly used Leftist response that he “didn’t mean it that way.”
“If you knew me, which you don’t and were simply making assumptions, you’d know I didn’t mean it in that way… A tea bag in my house is simply that. A bag full of tea. My mind didn’t work its way to that extreme. A tea party must be made up of a bunch of teabaggers anyway right?… if not, what is each member called? Tea Leaf?”Can you spot all the low-hanging fruit he left on this one? The most obvious, of course, is that words have meaning and if one is going to deceitfully deny those meanings, then any chance of meaningful discussion vanishes. It took a few tiresome back-and-forth exchanges to clarify this for him; he was a particularly slow learner. Whether you get called a name directly or it’s hurled at people who think like you do, don’t let such foolishness go unpunished.
8. Challenge them on failing to respond.
Everybody gets tired when an argument has gone on for awhile, but if at all possible, stick with it until they surrender. Remember, you have more and superior arguments. I find that most Leftists simply give up when they have no response, which is very telling for those who might read the exchange. You could allow someone to withdraw quietly and gracefully, but I always challenge the defiant departure. Example: “I’m done with this crap!”
No, they’re not done. They wanted to throw a parting punch, so return the favor. Ask what is “crap” about debating an issue. Point out that it appears they have no further proof of their claims. Whatever you have to do, don’t let the defiant quitter get away with it. And if they pop up again after the petulant “I’m done” (as they almost always do) — feel free to say “I thought you were done!”
7. Challenge them on tantrums.
Now this one will really stir the pot. You can usually tell when someone’s lost it, because a verbal (well, cyber verbal) tantrum is punctuated with capitals, exclamation marks, and often a profound lack of grammar, spelling or logic. They just unload on you.
“You are sorry excuse for HUMAN why don’t you do the world a FAVOR and just go incinerate yourself YOU F***IN B***H MORAN!!!!”Poetic, no? Never let them have the last word after a rant like this. It will only encourage them to use their bullying tactics on some other unsuspecting Facebooker. However, for a number of reasons, it’s crucial that you cultivate an attitude of amusement regarding such a tantrum. First, that will help you avoid untoward spikes in blood pressure. Second, it will prevent you from responding in kind. It is far, far more powerful to exhibit your mild amusement at their loss of control. Even if you feel yourself getting angry, never let them see you sweat. Turn it around on them. “Now, now. Did someone forget their meds this morning?” Remain the always in-charge, indulgently amused adult. You’ll drive ‘em nuts.
6. Challenge them on profanity.
We have already covered this to some extent in the tantrum section, but it bears noting that you should never use profanity, and when they (invariably) do, immediately employ the same indulgent adult we just described: “Now, now. Does someone need their mouth washed out?”
Alternative route: Immediate and concise rule reminder. “Profanity is the sign of a limited vocabulary. Kindly refrain from using it, as it is antithetical to a civil discussion.”
5. Challenge them on rabbit trails or getting distracted.
Sometimes when a Leftist is losing an argument, he or she will try to change the subject. This can actually be entertaining if you immediately shoot them down on the new topic, as well, but generally speaking it’s important to quickly point out that they are not staying on topic.
Another frustrating situation is when multiple people are contributing to the discussion and the Leftists get distracted (or try to appear distracted) by some peripherally-mentioned aspect of the conversation. “Oh, I love a good pot of Earl Grey but my husband likes Darjeeling.” You can gently bring them back to the discussion at hand, or depending on whether they are sufficiently humble, you can choose to let it go. This tactic can, after all, represent their attempt to make a graceful exit.
4. Challenge them on mischaracterizing your statements.
This one’s very important. Make sure you carefully read what they’re saying, and don’t allow them ANY leeway in re-stating your positions. (You can re-state theirs if you like, because it’s their responsibility to call you on it – they almost never will.) Don’t allow them to change your meaning or make any assumptions.
In the election thread, I asked numerous times for a specific substantive example of what was frightening about the elections (after my opponent had exhausted the whole “I didn’t mean you were a teabagger” thing). Reproduced here in all its original glory is the next response:
“What point that you have raised would you like substance to accumpany my response? You’ve raised very little points in which I feel like you care to hear another side of. You’ve made it clear that you only listen to one side of an issue anyway. I guess I didn’t know we were debating anything. Are we? what are we debating? The fact that the election results were frightening?”I know what you’re thinking. This guy is providing an entire orchard of low-hanging fruit! Sometimes one doesn’t know where to begin, there’s so much to be harvested. Unmitigated stupidity is difficult to ignore, but in this case, the obvious immediate point that needed to be made was that he had mischaracterized my statements by trying to paint me as uninterested in his opinion – when I had just asked for his opinion. Simply stating this was the best response.
3. Challenge them on outright lies.
As already described, my friend’s original statement was that she was frightened by the elections. Her other friends had chimed in with how terrified they were, and one said he wanted to move to Canada. (All this with no specific reason why – just that the elections were “scary”.) Shortly after the somewhat unhinged “what are we debating” post mentioned above, original friend posted this howler:
“It might be wise to re-read my original post. I never mentioned the ‘other side’ or being afraid of ‘enemies.’ Just frightened by election results…which, incidentally includes some low voter turnout and a number of other concerns that have nothing to do with a particular republican or democrat.”Hahahahaha. This one’s too easy. Low voter turnout! It was making people want to move to Canada! Needless to say, I was forced to point out the painfully obvious disingenuousness of her statement.
2. Challenge them on every inappropriate statement.
Sometimes, as in some of the examples I’ve cited, there is so much material to respond to that you might be tempted to let a few things go. That of course is a judgment call based on how closely you want to stick to your original point. But I like to hold their feet to the fire on each and every unsuitable comment.
Another person on the election thread (apparently only Leftists on this friendlist) posted this helpful information:
“Every time I read about people screaming about big government and too many taxes, my husband and I just remind ourselves that the majority of people aren’t that intelligent. I’m appalled by the ignorance and lack of depth I see.”Please note that true to the Leftist playbook, she does not offer one argument in favor of her opinion, but instead communicates (a) conservatives are screamers, (b) she and her husband are more intelligent than the majority of these people and (c) these people are ignorant and shallow.
It’s important to take a minute to point this all out.
1. Challenge them on being “offended.”
After I pointed out a series of inappropriate statements made by another writer on the election thread (see #2), we finally reached the motherlode of Leftist indignation – the opportunity to play the offended victim. In this case, the tiresome but fully predictable whine came from the original writer, who accused ME of insulting her friends. At this point it is often helpful to provide a brief summary of the entire thread… something along these lines:
1. RB makes a crack about scary elections.
2. PB says it’s terrifying and he wants to move to Canada.
3. Diane asks what’s scary.
4. PB calls her a teabagger.
5. Diane suggests that is not an effective argument.
6. PB says Diane can’t know what he was really thinking when he called her a teabagger.
7. Diane says words have meaning, and asks if you going to answer my question.
8. PB says you only care about your own opinion.
9. Diane notes again that she just asked for his opinion.
10. RB says when she said elections were frightening she meant she was scared by low voter turnout.
11. Diane laughs hysterically.
12. AC joins in to offer the news that she and her husband are smarter than all the stupid, ignorant and shallow conservative screamers.
13. Diane sighs and points out that this is also not an argument but simply an ad hominem attack.
14. RB accuses Diane of insulting her friends, who have either implied or outright stated that Diane is a stupid, ignorant, shallow, screaming, teabagger who won’t listen to their side. Although they never stated their side.
Ahhh… Arguing with Leftists. Sometimes it’s like taking candy from a baby. But remember, other people are almost always lurking, reading, and considering. Stay cool (easy to say, difficult to do – I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes on this one) and try to be the bigger person. Those lurking readers will be able to see who’s presenting rational thoughts, and who’s devolving into hysteria. I think it’s telling that in this thread I’ve used as an example, some of the participants went back the next day and deleted all their comments. Apparently even they eventually recognized how foolish they sounded. Score.