Yesterday, it came to my attention that Steve Shives had, at some point between my posting this criticism of one of his videos and now, blocked me on Twitter. I was also made aware of the fact that he’d blocked many people who hadn’t so much as said a single word to the man, ever.
Preemptive blocking. Now, that is hot, Stevie.
Of course, I’ve seen this happen lots before. One lovely atheist lady took exception to a post I wrote, called me an idiot for writing it and when I calmly asked for clarification (sans attitude) on what she objected to, she promptly blocked me.
Because fuck arguing your points, right? The cunty tantrum looks so much better on you.
I have probably been blocked by more atheists than I have by religious people. Now, maybe it’s because religious people have a goal to save my soul; maybe it’s because atheists get it all day long from theists and have little patience left, or maybe it’s just because some atheists are little bitches. Who really knows for sure?
I figured maybe it’s time for a little lesson from mommy, though, because much more of this and the theists are going to start looking like the ones who use reason and logic more often than atheists.
Here is a refresher course on how not to be a little bitch:
Lesson one: Don’t block people unless they are threatening violence, or being utterly relentless in their online harassment.
You have a mute button. If someone is annoying you, or their dissenting opinion makes your blood boil, that’s easily solved with the mute button. Blocking people ensures that you never hear from them again. Even if they make a great point. Even if they do something you might be supportive of. No matter what they do, you’ve blocked them, they’ve likely noticed and there is probably no room for reconciliation.
Lesson two: Leave room for reconciliation.
As an adult, I try to always leave room for reconciliation, unless someone has violent tendencies. You see, the value I see in people is not diminished by one differing opinion, or one instance of name-calling. You don’t know that person. You don’t know the day they’ve had, or the life they’ve had. You don’t know what they’re dealing with or how they came to believe the things they believe. You don’t know any of these things, and the person you’re disagreeing with could end up being a great friend down the line. I can’t count how many times I’ve disagreed with someone on the internet, then argued my position politely and earned their respect. This is how adults are supposed to behave.
Lesson three: Not every insult needs to be taken seriously.
The other day, I got a comment on one of my videos asking if I’d been eating a lot of ham lately and suggesting I go on a diet. Now, I have a choice at this point. I can block that person and switch to little bitch mode, crying into my pillow while clutching my security ham, or I can look at it logically. Why do I care what a stranger on the internet thinks of my desirability? I’m not looking for a mate, or a fuck or a boyfriend. I have someone already who thinks I’m more beautiful than anyone on the planet. The rest of you can think I’m a hobgoblin and it wouldn’t have any affect on me whatsoever. You can choose to take an insult to heart from an anonymous person you will likely never meet, and who probably has homework due in the morning and look like a sniveling little bitch, or you can be reasonable, shrug it off and go about your day. I can tell you right now, if you choose the sniveling bitch option, I’m going to have to object to you calling yourself reasonable or logical or even skeptical. As for the ham comment, I laughed. I couldn’t help it. It was funny. I do love ham…
Lesson four: Argue your position with reason.
When you disagree with someone, argue with them. Don’t pull a Shives and pre-block anyone who you think might potentially disagree with you – that just makes it look like you won’t be able to defend your positions should they ever be challenged. If you feel you hold a strong position in any debate, then the position should be easily argued. Running from the confrontation only makes people think your positions are weak. Ultimately, you ensure you’ve lost the debate before it even happens.
Lesson five: People who disagree with you are your pay dirt.
If you’re here to promote conversation about a topic, or to build awareness for something, or to have people think about new things and see things in a new light (which is the case for many outspoken atheists), then people who disagree with you are fucking gold. You want them. You should be happy for them. They are a godsend, #NoHoly. People who disagree with you prompt discussion in a public forum. That discussion will have an audience if you’re engaging in it out in the open. Your position is not just being argued against theirs, but your points are being heard by people all over the world. You are getting your message seen. You’re creating that awareness; you’re making people think about things in a new way. Shutting it down with an instant block, does nothing to promote the conversation.
Lesson six: You will not make the internet conform to your comfort zone.
There will always be assholes. There will always be name-callers and racists and misogynists. There will always be people we don’t like, ideas that make us uncomfortable and conversations that are difficult to face. These things will never change, no matter what we do. We can’t make a blanket rule that applies to everyone on the internet. It’s too vast to police. What we can do, however, is confront those people we disagree with calmly, rationally and with great arguments, and attempt to change minds one at a time. This, of course, is difficult to do if all of those people are blocked.
Lesson seven: Don’t engage in the behaviour you abhor.
If it hurts you when people call you names, don’t call people names. If you don’t like it when people block you for disagreeing, don’t block other people for disagreeing with you. If you don’t want to be doxxed, don’t dox. It you don’t want to be harassed, don’t harass. This is what we like to call the golden rule… straight out of the preschool curriculum, ladies and gentlemen.
Lesson eight: An idea ain’t worth shit if it can’t stand up to detractors.
If you find that your only recourse when someone disagrees with one of your ideas or opinions, is to run away and hide, perhaps it’s time to assess whether or not the idea itself holds any weight. Maybe it’s time to truly hear the criticism. If you can’t stand your ground, your ground is likely an illusion.
Lesson nine: You have the ability to leave at any time.
You’re not stuck here in the matrix. You can sign off and go snuggle with your puppy at any moment of the day. If you find that people are pushing too hard, and you’re overwhelmed with negativity online, take a fucking break. Go be with your real-life family and friends. Crack a beer. Admire Scully’s amazing tits while you watch the X-Files. No one is forcing you to be here.
Lesson ten: the only people who should have the ability to make you cry by saying hurtful things, are people you know (and care about) in real life.
If you find yourself disturbed emotionally by anything faceless people on the internet have said, well, you need to stay off the internet for good. You’re simply not cut out for this shit.
Lesson eleven: Remaining calm and respectful, even while your debate opponent melts down and hurls abuse at you, ensures you look like the better person.
Atheists in particular have something to gain from this. Atheism as a whole will always benefit from a situation in which a theist is being abusive while the atheist remains calm and respectful. You come out looking like the one with a solid set of morals and the theist looks lost, bitter and unhappy. As you know, this slaughters preconceived ideas a lot of people have about atheists.
To conclude our lessons, here are some inescapable facts about the internet:
You will be disagreed with. Guaranteed. Even about things that seem like a no-brainer to you.
You will come across people who will call you names.
You will be exposed to ideas you’ve never been exposed to before.
It is not a safe space.
It is a place you can leave, any time you want. It is your fully conscious choice to be here.
These facts about the internet are precisely what makes it so great. If any one of these things changes, the internet becomes something vastly different than it is now. In order for our internet to go on being the best place in history for the free exchange of ideas, each of these facts must remain true. Trying to change any of them, will ruin it for all of us and future generations. If you find yourself unable to accept these facts, sell your computer, your tablet and your smart phone and get yourself a fucking tutu, you little bitch.