Fighting With Fools- Message boards

I have been involved in a number of different message boards. At one time or another I have been part of forums on CNN, the NY Times, ABC and a number of other places. And any time the topic of discussion was something that people feel passionately about the tone eventually grew quite ugly.

I can’t think of a single place where flame wars didn’t didn’t spring up. And to those who know me it will not be surprising to read that I have been involved in some of those wars. I like a good debate. I like to challenge and be challenged, but all the same in time each one of those places went from being a placed I liked to frequent to something ugly and nasty.

The negativity and ugliness always began to wear me down because the dialogue just wasn’t that interesting. It turned into something dull where ideas were no longer being exchanged, just insults.

Don’t get me wrong, I admit to kind of enjoying that. I admit to being a button pusher and shitstirrer, not every time or in every instance, but I have had my share of fun making getting a rise out of people. And many have done it to me.

But the thing that really got to me, the one thing that just consistently bothered me were the racist views that would come out in these places from people I had thought were more thoughtful and moderate.

The outright racists were easy to deal with. They never hid their position, never dissembled or disguised their hatred. It was easy to handle that. But those closet cases were something else, they did bother me.

They did make me wonder how many people actually believe some of the crap that I was reading. And it made me wonder if there was any point all in debating with them. Was I accomplishing anything by trying to engage with them, trying to convince them to look at things a different way.

I am not sure that it was. I am not sure that it made a difference for them or for anyone who was lurking. Or maybe it did, I just don’t know.

What I decided was that I would turn my focus from some of these venues and go elsewhere. And from time to time I would poke my head in and try to steer the conversation in different directions, I would try and correct misinformation on some topics. But I always reminded myself to not get caught up in these holes for too long. Too much negative energy.

The world can be so bright and so beautiful, but it can also be so very ugly.

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  1. Jack's Shack June 26, 2005 at 6:28 am

    Hello Rav,

    So I sound “Level headed and decent” do I. You are officially hired as my new spokesman. 🙂

  2. rabbi neil fleischmann June 26, 2005 at 4:16 am

    I was going to rant about what a terrible post this was and how you don’t know what you’re talking about, etc. – but Morris beat me to the joke. So, I’ll just write the part that was going to come after “just kidding.” You sound level headed and decent. Well put post.

  3. Jack's Shack June 25, 2005 at 7:54 am


    Sometimes it is good to be one of the loons. 😉

  4. Anonymous June 25, 2005 at 3:26 am

    Reinventing history is good for the soul, aint it?

  5. Workman Chronicles June 25, 2005 at 2:40 am

    Oh yeah? Is that what you think?

    Well your mama (fill in favorite insult here)!

    I think all of you (fill in favorite racial slur here) should go back to wherever you came from!

    That’s what’s wrong with all of you (fill in favorite skin color here) folks!

    See, if you believed in MY God, the only REAL God, instead of that stupid (fill in favorite deity here), you might amount to something.

    But I guess we can’t expect any better out of people from (fill in favorite region or country of origin).

    After all, how can you think straight with that big (fill in favorite prominent body part here)!

    Does this make you feel more at home, Jack?

    It’s amazing how adults who are marginally intelligent (they managed to find their computer’s “On” button, didn’t they?) can degenerate into raving loons in the space of three paragraphs.

    (As a recovering loon, I have been guilty of intermittent raving on occasion).

    Personally, I’d like to post this at some of the message boards for the bigots who are too stupid to come up with original insults.

    Kind of like a fill-in-the-blank hatred.

    Good post, Jack. Reminds me how grateful I am for blogs like this, moderated by rational folks who have a delete button, and aren’t afraid to use it.

    *Morris Workman

  6. michelle June 25, 2005 at 12:43 am

    That is so true…
    It’s hard to deal with people’s opinions when they just don’t want listen to anybody else. I have a hard time dealing with ignorant people but I still try to see their views.

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