As I promised last week, friends, here’s a follow-up post to my previous one. This time, I’ll be discussing some more life lessons taken from the chatroom I was ejected from.
1: Know when to back off from a conversation.
Some time ago, I got into an argument with someone when he called the manga Berserk “trash.” I thought he was kidding around with me at first, so I kept talking about it, and even started joking that “well, if you think Berserk is bad, then maybe I shouldn’t trust you when you say Neptunia (a very mediocre series of cheesecake JRPGs) is bad.” However, after bantering for a while, I figured out that he wasn’t joking and really did loathe the series. Upon realizing that, I promptly changed the subject by saying he had “personal reasons” for disliking Berserk and dropping the discussion.
This might not seem like an impressive feat, but it’s light-years ahead of how I used to be a few years ago. Back when I was a teenager/young adult, I was something of an argumentative chap, though certainly not a “master debater” (lol). This was in the days even before I became an internet troll, mind you—I’d try to get into debates over all kinds of subjects with all kinds of people. In many cases, this was productive (I eventually got my foot in the door by becoming a moderator of the “debating” subforum back at a very old community I once went to), but also in many cases it simply aggravated the other person. For instance, there was one time I was talking with someone about gay marriage, and pulled out a whole lot of citations and scholarly literature on the subject in preparation for a “debate.” They told me, in response, “Gunlord, I appreciate your effort, but I just don’t want to talk about this.”
That was years ago, and I should have taken the lesson then. Still, better a slow learner than one who learns not at all, and I at least managed to apply the lesson in my more recent interaction with that Berserk-hater. Essentially, I figured out that there are times when debate or discussion between opposing viewpoints can be productive, but there are many more times when it’s just pointless (at best). Debates over whether an anime or videogame is “trash” are usually the latter, and rather than continue to pursue that line of discussion, you’d be better served to back off and let it lie. That’s exactly what I did—I just disengaged, told the other person he had “legitimate personal reasons” for disliking Berserk, and changed the subject.
Now, I didn’t do that perfectly. I should have realized he was being serious much sooner than I actually did, and “personal reasons” was a graceless phrasing I should have replaced with something better. But overall, I dealt with that better overall than I would have previously. Alas, if he could see this entry, the other person would probably call me a big ol’ dumbo anyways. My response? Maybe I am a big ol’ dumbo, but as I said above, not as much of a dumbo as I used to be. Improvement, even minimal improvement, is better than nothing at all ;D
2: Don’t joke about loonies.
This was quite some time ago too, before I actually started doing research on things. I’d recently heard of the MGTOW acronym, and while even at the time I thought it was kind of dumb, I didn’t realize how utterly abhorrent its adherents often were. So, since I didn’t want to be in a relationship (and still don’t ATM), I joked around with my friends from that chat, humorously calling myself a “MGTOW.” They took the joke and ran with it and started calling me a MGTOW too.
After that, unfortunately, I did some more research and found out how crazy those guys were. I got first-hand looks at their racism, bad faith, and insane Elliot-Rodgers style beliefs and figured out I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. Unfortunately, my buddies over there continued needling me about being a “MGTOW” long after I told them those guys aren’t even appropriate to joke about and ought to be avoided as much possible.
I’m not mad at my former friends, but I am critical of my own foolishness. It was, after all, my fault they made fun of me for that in the first place, I shouldn’t have joked about those horrible people to start with. I’ve really no-one to blame but myself. Still, at least I learned another valuable lesson: Don’t joke about things you know very little about. I should have waited to learn more about MGTOW and what it really represented before turning it into an in-joke. If I had realized those weirdos were as violent and unhinged as Klansmen, I’d have been as disinclined to “pretend to be one” as I would be to pretend to be a Klanner. So from now on, I’ll never joke or make light of something until I’m sure it really is something innocuous, as opposed to something to shun entirely.
3: When someone who’s supported you withdraws their support, it’s not as important if you can now stand on your own.
I owe a surprising chunk of my present online life to that chat I’ve been jettisoned from. I got a tumblr to hang out with those guys from the chat, joined a forum because a few of them were there, and got into One-Punch Man because of their recommendations. Now that I’ve parted ways from those old friends, you might think I’ve been left adrift, stuck with a bunch of accounts I no longer have a use for.
Well, you’d be wrong. I might have got a tumblr in the first place for that chat, but the longer I had it, the more it took on a life of its own. I reconnected with a couple of old friends from Livejournal on tumblr, and I’ve made tons of new friends—over a hundred—who like stuff ranging from LoGH and mecha to cute animals and hot girls. I’ve settled down nicely at that new forum and made a few friends with whom I can talk about the Souls games and Bloodborne. And I’ve found that One-Punch Man, and the folks who like it, are as enthusiastic and accepting as anyone I used to know.
So, while I’m not that happy about being ejected from my old haunt, I’m far from dispirited. Ultimately, I’ve grown strong enough to stand on my own, as melodramatic as it may sound. I no longer need my former friends to justify my presence on my new hangouts—I’ve established myself on those places on my own terms now. Perhaps my old companions wouldn’t care, or would even find this admission amusing, if they should ever see it. But so what? The friends I have now care, and that’s all the matters.
4: Don’t wager on “intersectionality” ever being used in any practical, sensible way.
For those of you who don’t know, “Intersectionality” is something that comes up a lot in academic discussions of “social justice.” It also shows up with some regularity in non-academic contexts, though. Essentially, it’s the belief that there are different “axes (or types) of oppression)” that must ALL be taken into account when discerning whether or not someone is (overall) “oppressed” or “privileged,” and ‘social justice’ types are often quite…concerned… with the oppressed (good) and the privileged (bad).
So intersectionality comes in when discussing people who are members of one privileged group while also being members of another oppressed group. For instance, a white woman is privileged because she’s white, but also oppressed because she’s a woman (assumedly). A black man is oppressed because he’s black, but privileged because he’s male. And so on, and so forth.
Now, this idea *can* be used sensibly and effectively on occasion. As I mentioned in a previous entry, my orals advisor and I had a good conversation about the subject, and the concept of privilege itself has a storied history in the work of W.E.B. DuBois. But when it comes to internet debates, for the most part, at least in my experience, ‘intersectionality’ is used simply to dismiss any argument coming from a person already deemed by his/her debate partner to be an enemy, regardless of the actual merit of the argument itself. If I were to argue with one of my old friends on some point involving some social justice cause, they’d dismiss me simply by saying “Gunlord, you’re too privileged to understand this! Even though you’re not white, you’re still straight/male/wealthy/whatever!” Yet, if I were to argue with one of their points, the defense would be “I’m not privileged! Even though I’m white and male, I’m poor, or gay, etc. Remember intersectionality!!!”
I can concede that ‘intersectionality’ has some use as an amusing bit of verbal legerdemain to befuddle one’s opponents, but when it comes to having actual constructive discussions, it leaves quite a bit to be desired. While I haven’t given up hope that I’ll encounter people who actually use it properly, as my advisor did, I certainly don’t expect it anymore. And on that note…
5: Don’t try to appeal to people when it’s futile.
Two things I’ve learned that have served me pretty well: avoid no-win situations, and don’t concern yourself overmuch with the vagaries of no-win people. The benefits of these lessons made themselves apparent not long after I was kicked from my chat. A little while ago I was talking to a friend of mine from this community, and said to him pretty much the same thing I said in my previous entry: “I had a pretty good time at that place–got some good anime and videogame recommendations, so I can’t say I didn’t gain anything from my time there.” In response, he told me, “LOL, Gunlord, you’re being dumb again! That’s exactly the reason we banned you! Talking about anime and videogames instead of the relationships you made with us, you sound like you’re obsessed with anime!”
Yeah, alright. But think of it this way: What if I’d said I was grateful for the people I met and my relationships with them? Then they’d just say, “Oh, Gunlord, you’re being stupid and melodramatic and sentimental. This is exactly why we banned you!”
So you see, I can’t win either way. Those folks would have scorned and mocked me whatever my response may have been—so really, why should I care about what they think of me or say about me? No point worrying much about a no-win situation. As sad as I may have been to see an old haunt of mine kick me out, I can’t be too broken up about it if it seemed like I’d receive the same ill treatment no matter what. That being the case, it feels a bit like I’ve had a favor rather than an insult done to me.
6: You can’t reason people out of positions they did not reason themselves into.
My old comrades would give me a lot of flak for this—“how dare you imply our embrace of social justice is anything but a purely logical, rational, objective assessment based on obvious evidence that any rational, sensible person should be able to grasp immediately!” Maybe, maybe. I wouldn’t be so sure, and if that would convince them I’m a big old dumbo, well, see what I learned in lesson 5. But at least my experience with such SJWs taught me that arguing about the subject in general is pointless, at least with some people.
I don’t know who first said the phrase “you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into,” but IMO it’s quite apt. If my old friends didn’t adhere to ‘social justice’ through any rational process but rather because of self-interest, a desire to signal their personal virtue, or emotional status, any attempt to discuss ‘social justice’ that was more than just uncritical acceptance of its tenets would do nothing but annoy them. So I eventually learned to let it lie, and hold my tongue—very extensively—when one of them said something I considered to be, well, just the sort of thing a stereotypical SJW would say. Given how often I found myself doing that, I suppose, once again, that I can’t be too broken up about getting kicked from such a place.
7: Why, despite my quarrels with SJWs, I still don’t like anti-SJWs either.
Given how much of this post involves my brushes with “SJWs”, you might think, at this point, that I’ve become an anti-SJW. Well, truthfully, I haven’t, not at all.
Ultimately, I don’t like people who try to manipulate others and allow themselves to be manipulated. That applies to anti-SJWs quite well. Look at the reaction to Anita Sarkeesian. She wouldn’t ever have gotten any attention or acclaim if anti-SJWs had just ignored her instead of completely flipping out. But no, they had to act completely crazy and give her all the attention she wanted. Essentially, they allowed themselves to be manipulated.
Same thing with tempests-in-a-teacup like DOAX3 not being released in the U.S. They didn’t bring it out because it didn’t make much money, but all they had to do was imply “evil SJWs” were keeping it from being localized, and they got hordes of anti-SJWs importing (which is more expensive) the game just to show up the SJW boogieman. Once again, anti-SJWs allow themselves to be played and fleeced, fattening the pockets of people shamelessly manipulating them for a quick buck. I don’t get along too well with those who allow themselves to be exploited, so I don’t have much truck with anti-SJWs, despite my discomfort with their opponents.
I suppose that leaves me alone in the center of the culture wars between left and right. But I have to admit, it’s not as lonely as it seems at first. Seems like I’ve actually found more than a few friends who agree with me—on tumblr, wordpress, all sorts of places. And I suppose that, too, may be the greatest lesson of all:
I’m not alone.
See you again on Friday, friends 😉