In the current political climate, discussions on social networks such as Facebook can be a little... let’s say “Heated.” But what definitely doesn’t help is participants who use bad techniques to get their point across. Here are three common bad forms you’re likely to see a lot of when arguments get out of control online.
Whataboutism. This technique supposedly has origins in the Soviet Union and happens when someone counters a point by bring up a completely separate thing to invalidate a point in a way that suggests the speaker is not being consistent in their thinking or actions. For instance: “I want to volunteer to help dogs.” “What about starving children in Uganda? Why aren’t you helping them too?”
Sealioning. Inspired by the webcomic “Wondermark,” this argument involves using willful ignorance and asking for proof (which often doesn’t exist), and then asking for more proof when in fact no proof will ever suffice.
Gaslighting. Perhaps the most intentionally harmful, this argument is about making someone question their own sanity or reality. It can involve manipulating facts, lying, and involving others to present a skewed view of something.
If you find yourself engaging in any of these kinds of arguments, you should probably stop! If you are the victim, consider using your “Unfriend” or “Block” options; life’s too short to be dealing with terrible people.
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