Monday, October 14, 2013


Matthew Kunes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone is wrong on the internet.

I was recently trawling through a long series of comments on a fan blog, when I came upon another epic-sized argument concerning morality, religion, and God. Naturally, the argument quickly became heated, with nearly all so-called sides using dubious logic and dogma to prove their points.

Of course, they all billed themselves as friendly, aloof, and respectful, but the content they produced seemed to belay their claims.

What is it about internet communities that fosters this kind of backwards, illogical arguing?

One of the causes is, I think, immediacy. The writing process is, well, a process, for a reason. Taking time away from writing, and then coming back for revision, helps reveal weak spots and strengthens my writing.

Members of a forum don't have that luxury; in order to stay relevant, they need to post replies within hours, if not minutes; if they wait too long, the conversation naturally moves on, or rages on, to other topics, or dies altogether.

Another cause may be the culture engendered in the internet to shoot first and ask questions later. Many posters in such an argument tend not to really read up on opposing points of view, and even when they do it is only to find more ammunition for their argument. Education is all about asking questions, but most internet flame wars are fueled by the kind of naïve simplicity that does not question it's own base assumptions. In the above argument, for instance, the following assumptions were asserted as base fact, in no particular order: Morality cannot exist without religion, religion has only caused harm to the world, science cannot prove anything and is therefore not as useful as religious truth, evolution as a theory cannot be proven by the scientific method, and so on.

(I specifically have no comment on what particular side I agree with).

In any case, this particular argument was very amusing to read through, especially since I can sympathize, to a degree, with all sides of the debate.

The internet may not be the perfect forum for discussion, but it sure is fun to watch, isn't it?


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