One of the great things about the internet is the availability of information at the push of a button, and the ease with which people from around the globe can communicate. While this can be a powerful tool to help minority voices (including libertarians) publish their views, it has contributed greatly to the prevalence of the 24-hour news cycle. And with so many outlets competing for views, you end up with sensationalism, or what is now called click-bait. When social media is added into the equation, you end up with manufactured news, i.e. news reports about tweets and other posts on social media, and libertarians are not exempt from this either.
There’s an old saying, “you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.” And this is the reason I’m writing this letter. Stop! Yes, I know that arguing on the internet isn’t a new phenomenon and has been happening since the internet existed; I also know that libertarians have been arguing with other libertarians for decades. As Mark Twain once said, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
I know, someone was wrong on the internet. Let it go. Whether you argue online for the sake of arguing, or you’re actually trying to convince people they’re wrong, there’s a very good chance that whomever you’re arguing with isn’t going to suddenly change their mind because of your comment or post. Research actually shows, “individuals who receive unwelcome information may not simply resist challenges to their views. Instead, they may come to support their original opinion even more strongly – [in] what [is] call[ed] a ‘backfire effect.’”
Believe me, there is life outside of social media and facebook drama. I’m not going to tell you how to spend your time, however I am going to suggest that maybe arguing on facebook isn’t the best use of your time and energy. If the goal “is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime,” then maybe you want to consider: volunteering in your community; attending and speaking at legislative committee hearings; running for office with a goal of educating voters about your beliefs, or volunteering to help such a candidate. And above all else, enjoy life. Go for a hike, go to the gym, run a 5k, watch a TV show, go to a sporting event, etc. Because at the end of the day, what’s the point of having a world set free if all you’re going to do with your freedom is argue on the internet?
Darryl W. Perry
Originally published on Free Press Publications