We feel strongest behind the keyboard
No matter what becomes of the conversation between commenters, the outcome is the same: nobody wins.
It’s happened to everyone. Your eyes catch sight of some inflammatory Facebook status, and before you know it your fingers are flashing across the keyboard with vigor. Feeling satisfied with your sound rebuttal, you sleep easy. Justice has been served on the great plains of social media.
Then you wake up. That small inflammatory status is now a full-grown forest fire.
Scanning the comments, you are faced with two options. The first is to close the browser and be done with the conversation—there’s a good chance the original topic is irrelevant now anyway.
The second? Fill your gas can and fan the flames.
One would hope that a person pursuing a college education would drop the mic and walk away. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.
What many of us fail to realize is that no matter how many great points we make, our arguments rarely change anyone’s mind. This is where the backfire effect comes into play. When our strongly held views are criticized, either by accurate facts or strong opinions, our views grow even stronger.
We all have passionate beliefs, but that doesn’t mean others share or accept them if we shout them across the internet in a way that is unintelligent and argumentative.
Next time something online irks you, take a lesson from the sage-like wisdom of John Mayer: “Belief is a beautiful armor/But makes for the heaviest sword/Like punching underwater/You never can hit who you’re trying for.”
Kyle is a senior studying language arts education.