Bottled Abyss by Benjamin Kane Ethridge
Why Facebook debates are pointless
So, I’m already preaching to the choir, correct? If there is anybody—I mean anybody—who actually agrees Facebook debating is worthwhile, he or she probably wouldn’t have clicked on this article. My job then, simply, is to point out what we already know from these time-sucking, chest-thumping, thousand reply posts, which normally start with an unresolved controversial topic and end with an unresolved controversial topic.
This form of public discourse fascinates me. It’s like trying to lasso a cloud and instead you end up hanging yourself. Every. Single. Time. These debates are an addiction. A curse. A burden. We have the freedom to say how we feel and why, and others have the freedom to explain how wrong we are. This should be a great place to evolve ideas, shake the foundations of Democracy, facilitate empathy through interaction, but we take this idea with us, a very egotistical paradigm, that suggests appreciation for common sense, a misguided notion that a well thought-out argument will inevitably inspire our opponents to an epiphany. We are even more caught up in this medium because it allows for something heated oral argument cannot: time and audibility. You can edit your thoughts, refine them, and best of all, if the other person actually reads your response (20/80 proposition there), they’ll hear you over their own blather. This is great! I can argue something in the exact way I’d like and they must listen to me!
But here is where the pointlessness settles in. Sorry. Storm cloud alert. Torrential pessimism on the way. Your opponent in these debates, you see, is epiphany-proof. You’re not going to make any headway. Know why? Because they’re trying to win, of course. Just as badly as you are, and sometimes, worse. Yup, they want to shut you and your pathetic ideas up. And here’s where it gets trickier. When you feel you’ve made a great point, your opponent’s read alert goes off. They really, really need to contain this menace now. Gloves are off! Can’t have common sense making me a fool! This is not exactly at the ego meltdown though. At this stage, the less articulate opponent will get personal, and the more articulate will attack your sources. Debating sources endures for a while, and then everybody gets personal.
Let’s face it. Nobody is willing to concede anything. I’m beginning to think humans aren’t meant for such surrender. Even those of us who put up our hands and say, “Fine, maybe you have a point,” are only rhetorically stating, “Let’s just shut up and be done with this.” Deep down, they still feel they are correct.
Oh, and those poor, mothy gray folks that inject neutrality in between the five paragraph long replies, I feel for them, and yet I often consider how they’ve gone about winning an argument that isn’t theirs. During this epic medieval hack and slash, they’ve deconstructed the silliness of both sides, and can now point to the chinks in armor, all the while safely leaning over the parapets. They will usually rack up the “likes,” but inevitably be buried in the comments. Despite being objective, they’ve still not managed to evoke a change of heart in either side.
What is the answer then? We will not stop debating. We can’t give up our freedom. So that’s not the solution. I would love to say we should all try to be more malleable and consider changing our opinions and beliefs, but hahahahahahaha. So yeah, that’s not it either.
I have a concept though. It’s a philosophy I think we should all adopt. We may grant ourselves the right to get into these debates, but we must assign a dollar amount. This is a discipline here, so no cheating… Let’s say I charge myself $5 for every reply in a debate I know will be absolutely pointless. I put that money into its own savings account and let it accrue. Every decade I donate that money to a charity or a cause I believe in. I suspect if we all did this, those who don’t care about issues won’t post, and those who really care will see huge numbers for their respective charities.
Or, I suppose the other scenario is everybody goes broke. That’s possible too.
Herman and Janet Erikson are going through a crisis of grief and suffering after losing their daughter in a hit and run. They’ve given up on each other; they’ve given up on themselves. They are living day by day. One afternoon, to make a horrible situation worse, their dog goes missing in the coyote-infested badlands behind their property. Herman, resolved in preventing another tragedy, goes to find the dog, completely unaware he’s on a hike to the River Styx, the border between the Living world and the world of the dead.
Long ago the Gods died and the River dried up, but a bottle containing its waters still remains in the badlands. What Herman discovers about the dark power contained in those waters will change his and Janet’s lives forever…
Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel BLACK & ORANGE (Bad Moon Books 2010). For his master’s thesis he wrote, “CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film.” Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin’s defending California’s waterways and sewers from pollution.