An Open Letter to Internet Activists


Harrison Phipps
  Opinions Editor

Greetings, Internet Activists!

I know you only have the best of intentions. You have a cause that you wish to further, and you see it as something that deserves to be written, ranted, and reposted about. I do not mean to completely pigeonhole you, but some degree of generalization is needed to address you on a large scale. There are many of you on every side of every issue. I’d very much like to emphasize the fact that you are not special. In fact, what I’m doing here is not special either, but I’ll endeavor regardless; we’re both alike in that sense, but I digress.

It has come to my attention there is actually an incredibly damaging effect to the democratization of ideas through social media. In earnest, it is quite appalling what I look at on social media every day: many ill-formed, uneducated opinions. They have potential, but discussion turns to dogma and ad hominem within a comment or two; thus, the arguments and thoughtful potential can’t be flushed out.

However, I do suppose that, if I wanted something more educated — or at least better-defended — I should go to the news or do the countless hours of research necessary to get up to speed on any particular issue myself. Yes, this is a difficult task, but I suppose it would be worth the effort if I wasn’t willing to settle for much of meme-dribble that finds itself on my various feeds.

By no means am I saying that memes are not funny, but it seems that most people I come across — or even converse with anymore — get many of their political opinions from memes. Seldom do they understand what are supposedly their own thoughts.

When this sort of consumer tries to regurgitate such slop to me and stumble through a possible defense when questioned, I tend to get rather irritated. If this is you, I’ll let you have your way, because I’m quick to say that arguing over such things is not worth my energy.

Nonetheless, most of the opinions I get on social media have very little proper argument to them and rely on assumptions that the author and I simply do not share, whether they be philosophical or otherwise.

This is perfectly acceptable in casual conversation where an audience of agreement is assumed and the reasons why are commonly known. Social media, or any public media, is not such an arena.

You might presume you don’t randomly post dogmatic things, and that’s great. Keep in mind the issue of factuality is also at-hand. I’ve seen you post an argument that’s just factually wrong; you likely didn’t think twice about it. It might sound true, or seem to be common sense—at least your rhetoric might portray it as such—but oftentimes it’s either a gross misrepresentation or a caricature.

I’ll provide an example of this one that I’m frankly sick of seeing: “If you oppose homosexuality because of the Bible, why don’t you also oppose eating pork, wearing clothes of mixed fabric, or tattoos?”

This is probably something you’ve seen before, or possibly posted before. In this example, the person posting the very meme-able question doesn’t understand the Bible in its entirety. There are many factors surrounding this question, but in brief, it demonstrates that the person posting does not understand the distinction between moral laws, civil laws, and ritual laws. The last two of which were necessary for maintaining the distinction of the Hebrew people and the proper worship of God in their context respectively.

You thought it looked cut and dry. However, before you post that, be sure to look at what people who are a part of that group say about their own holy book. If you want to just laugh and say Christians are dumb, you’re free to, but by no means can you claim legitimacy in your argument.

There are some very well-reasoned arguments that are on social media. However, due to the damage of uneducated opinions, they are discounted. I’m sure the logical and decently-formulated opinions are fairly intelligible and maybe sometimes useful, but everyone lumps it into the same category as the meme or uneducated opinion.

It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, or even could have done it better. It’s like the people on the side of the street who ask your opinions on issues. Most of them have been unhelpful or annoying, so you’re likely quick to ignore them. You have no interest in what they might have to say.

It’s unfortunate that this is the case, but you have to understand this is what happens when everyone gains an audience. You’re welcome to keep writing. It will frustrate me, but you’re free to do so. Enjoy yourself.

Yours truly,

Every person that disagrees with you but says nothing.



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