People on their own tend to find time and space with which to form opinions.
In a gathering, people can perhaps present opinions developed by themselves, but there seems to be a need lately to come to a forced consensus in group settings in the name of winning or being declared indisputably right.
What does that mean?
Imagine you’re at a party and someone says something off-base, or simply unexpected. The actions of just one other person can determine the reaction of others, or the party as a whole. The tone may shift as a reaction to the something.
Imagine also that there are 2 individuals in that party of what we’ll assume is 30 people whose body language or attitude becomes negative as a response to the reaction.
One person says, ‘hey, that thing wasn’t actually cool, because X, Y and Z.’
Another responds to this by suggesting they’re talking out of their arse, consciously or subconsciously preserving the overall tone of the party. This is what some call a derail.
The internet can be a lot like that.
How often have you witnessed a thread on a forum or social networks where one idea forms and from there, through others, begins to take off?
Largely due to the internet, we live in a world where instant gratification is prevalent and is something to be expected, even in some of our daily lives in offline aspects.
Two people who say A is equal to B while another says no you silly persons, A is clearly equal to C hold more power than the one who is presenting an argument by themselves. This behaviour suggests that ‘hey, you’re only one person, no one here agrees with you, how could you possibly know anything of value?’
Granting audience to dissenting opinions is discouraged in certain places, as that takes extra time and energy, drifting apart from the flow of a crowd interaction. We may end up with That Thing, an accord about a behaviour/attitude for the sake of brevity and moving on, which leaves some feeling lost, confused and hurt.
Why the urge to gang up on one or few?
There could be a number of factors for this. Many people are reticent to acknowledge or accept change, and so resistance to much outside their comfort zones may seem natural to them. Might be as simple as having a bad day.
Justifications seem insufficient for shutting people out of dialogue simply for views being new and strange. It may take practice, and all involved may not agree, but taking a moment to consider another perspective may be worthwhile to the masses.
A great deal of internet arguments are emotionally charged. Competition appears almost immediately, and with it the desire to one-up each other to declare superiority.
It’s a destructive cycle of attack or be attacked that has gained popularity in shared spaces, but no one really wins anything for that brand of effort long-term.
Folks do have the stuff to collectively decide on something in a productive manner, but there appears to be a rise online of people having knee-jerk sort of reactions to unpopular opinions, and thus thrusting their One Twue Magnanimous Way forth.
Arguments don’t always have to mean that people are enemies, or that one side is absolutely correct while the other has erred. Keep that in mind for the next time you participate in any kind of heated debate, whether on the computer or off.
Part I in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.