You just can't win on the internet

Sometimes you just gotta accept that the internet will be how the internet will be and trying to change that is an act of futility.

I listen to this fairly popular podcast, Blocked and Reported with Jessie Singal and Katie Herzog. Both of the hosts have gotten in their fair share of controversy and cancellations over pieces of journalism they have published on the transgender youth subject, with Jessie receiving the majority out of the two due to his incessant responses on twitter, trying to respond to people as if they are rational actors. Well following a recent twitter blow-up, Jessie decided to deactivate his twitter, which naturally got a huge response because the twitter trans activists viewed this as a victory over one of their favorite enemies. Jessie and Katie were discussing this on their most recent subscriber-only episode when the two came to a point of disagreement. Jessie viewed his departure from twitter as a ultimately insignificant and personal decision that would have no real impact on his career. His reasoning was that no matter how careful he was about what he said or what actions he took, it would always be used, twisted, or fabricated to paint him in the worst light possible. He admits that he has a negative relationship with how he uses twitter and compulsively tries to defend himself and others from the drivel in the form of arguments that spurs from the toxic environment of twitter. I, as a fan of both his journalism and his show, can attest that this man should have left twitter a long time ago because it poisons his mind. Katie disagreed and said that Jessie was doing exactly what his detractors wanted him to do, to back down, shut up, and let them get the last word. She said that his presence on twitter was at least somewhat beneficial as an archive showing exactly which tweets and replies got twisted and amplified through a cruel game of telephone that resulted in false rumors being spread about him online. Furthermore she said that with a large percentage of journalists and editors being active twitter users that it in fact could hurt his career by not being brought into the spotlight every few months in the form of another twitter pile-on.

Ultimately I see what Katie is saying, but truly when I heard Jessie left twitter I sighed to myself in relief. I think it's true for a great lot of people, myself included, that when someone negatively responds to something I say online, I have an immediate urge to respond, to point out how they characterized me, to try to show that they are wrong, and to "win". I've learned you can never really "win" in this style of internet debate. Sure there are plenty of great, civil discussions online, but they are by far out numbered by the countless emotionally charged name-calling matches in the comments of a thread. I've tried responding rationally and giving my "opponent" the benefit of the doubt, in hopes that they would see my humanity and try to have an actual, meaningful discussion, but alas it never really works out that way. It just drives me up the wall in frustration, infusing self-doubt inside me, that I'd be viewed as so lowly to not even warrant a reasonable response, to be continuously mocked. That's why I feel so sympathetic to Jessie's decision, because I only experienced a minute fraction of this frustration compared to him, even now just thinking about the fights I would have with idiots on reddit gets me upset, and he has to deal with it daily with a worse enemy: twitter users.

With my new server I've been spending a lot more time browsing Gemini, which led me to do a foolish thing: looking up my own username on one of the search engines. I found a response to one of my old posts that got a bit under my skin. While reading it I just kept thinking about how they were totally misunderstanding what I was saying and straw-manning my arguments along with blatantly just insulting me. Now I don't want to misrepresent this response, it was far more thought out and reasonable than your average interaction on the web, but nevertheless is still started that inner responder. It made me want to "win" the debate in a big piece detailing why I was right and they were wrong, but then I stopped and thought "why?". Why should I go through the whole process of working myself up into a tizzy, keeping myself up late into the night ensuring each sentence I wrote would carry exactly my point across and couldn't be twisted? There will never be an awards ceremony where I was awarded victory in this ultimately pointless internet debate. I said what I said, they disagreed with a flawed version of my points and hurt my feelings, but nothing can be done to change that. Responding would only keep the wound open for longer, to deepen it. I've interacted with this person before and clearly we don't see eye to eye on a great deal and that's ok. I don't want to be a Jessie Singal, constantly creating headaches for myself by trying to "win".

You can't win, but don't let it get to you. You have better things to worry about.

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