Internet tensions are a vacuum of your time
Six months ago, a friend announced on her Facebook feed, If you plan on voting for Biden, unfriend me now! Sometime later, she popped up in a comment section, arguing with people about election-related issues. Each comment got more corrosive and personal than the next.
We live in the key swing state of Florida, where tensions are particularly high during elections. With her, and others, Ive seen the dissolution of friendships that went far beyond clicking the unfriend button.
John Stuart Mill, one of the fathers of modern utilitarianism, argued, So long as an opinion is strongly rooted in the feelings, it gains rather than loses stability by having a preponderating weight of argument against it.
Mill was a proponent of building opinions solely on facts. He saw, one hundred years early, the futility of internet arguments. Our rationales are dangerously burdened by our emotions and sense of identity. I have yet to see an internet argument end with two people saying, Great! Im glad we had this discussion. We learned so much.
I made a rule when I began writing online: no internet arguments. The mask of incognito is an enemy of civil discourse. I redirect that energy to other things. Is it really worth going through your day, angry about what a stranger said to you online?
They say the lottery is a tax on people who cant do the math. I would say arguing on the internet is a tax on people who dont value their time.