This isn’t going to be one of those posts where I take something mildly inconveniencing and turn it into the world’s most traumatic event™. However in light of a Youtube comment I made a few days ago that I wasn’t anticipating a response to, I wanted to blab a little bit about the weird world of internet ‘debates’. I put ‘debates’ in quotation marks because from a formal standpoint a real debate would involve two people with at least some key facts arguing about an agreed upon topic, which online is hardly ever the case.
I’m not calling myself the worlds most intelligent person, nor am I trying to make an assumption about the human (presumably) on the other side of the screen, but I am stating for the record that I am college educated, read for fun, and 99% of the time I don’t comment on something that I don’t really have knowledge on. Even when texting friends or posting on Facebook I tend to use complete sentences and only really use shorthand if I feel like I’m getting to wordy. I also know just how easy it is to google things, and having had to cite almost all my papers am aware of some pretty good resources for research.
This is why I tend to not comment on other peoples comments or posts, because I don’t seek out arguments. In spite of that fact, if someone is replying to something I wrote I feel the need not only to defend my statement, but to not leave anyone who could learn something hanging. A few weeks ago I left a comment on a video about Vogue and the photoshoot where they used a white model and placed her in a faux Japanese setting. Said model was also dressed up like a geisha (kind of, it was inaccurate) and the whole spread was supposedly a celebration of other cultures. The person who made the video agreed that it was cultural appropriation and my comment was essentially co-signing that. I am not Japanese myself, but I follow people of Asian decent on twitter who expressed their distaste for the photoshoot which is why I felt this wasn’t a case of a non-asian person calling something a problem when it wasn’t. To say that you’re celebrating/respecting a cultures beauty and then put your own face on it is a little disrespectful, especially since that model and the magazine are getting money that isn’t going to help anyone but themselves.
Three people responded to me, one who agreed, one who claimed confusion, and one who asked me what the problem was. I replied to the two who didn’t agree with me and while I don’t think I fully reached one of them, we parted on civil terms. The other person however stubbornly refused to offer any sort of factual basis for their claims and seemed to believe that their opinion alone was enough to make them right. I’ve known people like that in person as well and honestly the best thing you can do is to just drop it. There was no give and take, there was only me listening and responding accordingly and the other person continuing to be obtuse, therefore it was not a debate. They also assumed I was Asian based on my profile picture which is pretty much when I knew it was a pointless conversation.
The incident a few days ago I put a stop to much quicker, mostly because I had other things to do, and the person responding to me was not always clear grammatically*:
For context the video was about racism and how it affects people’s sexual/romantic choices. Now for the record I tend to operate on the sociological definition of racism which is about power structures. However even if you are completely married to the dictionary definition and the dictionary definition only, my argument on that video still stands. People don’t like to talk about race clearly, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. As a black women even when I’m trying to enjoy something it always ends up coming up. It’s always a part of my life, and even I can admit I used to have dating preferences that geared towards white guys. Then I grew up a little and realized on a mental level there are guys of every race who are funny and nice, and on a physical level every race of people has guys with long hair or who are tall. I didn’t really think about women in that way until recently so by then I wasn’t silly enough to think that only one race of women had the specific traits that I like.
Of course my experiences alone don’t prove there’s a problem, but I know that, which is why that video and countless other sources that I’ve watched/read from have also pointed to this phenomena being real. The person went on to argue that the offensive term used in Dr. Doe’s video was ‘racist’ which I’m going to dissect really quickly. I don’t consider racist an offensive term. If I call you racist and you are, then it’s a descriptor of you whether you like it or not. If I call you racist and you’re not, then it’s my bad I made the wrong assumption. Either way it’s a shoe that fits a lot more people than who realize it. If it bothers you to be called racist that to me says more about you than the accuser.
In any case eventually it got to the point where even my sister didn’t understand what the person was trying to say after I read her their comment, so I checked out, told them to do some research, and to have a good night. All in all it was pretty much a waste of time, though it is good to stretch your mind every once in a while and re-examine your beliefs. I doubt I really changed ladyunicornejg’s mind, but I was able to defend what I believe without resorting to name calling and keeping on topic.
To bring it home, most internet fights are worthless. Particularly if you are up against someone with little to no facts and/or no desire to really listen to what you have to say. The same can be said for in person arguments as well. We as humans need to do better at listening to each other in general, but at the end of the day don’t waste your time and energy on people who aren’t worth it. Stay informed and I’ll recommend more junk to you on Wednesday.
*I try not to attack people for bad grammar (even though the english major in me is pissed) because I know I still make mistakes, and class issues can dictate a persons level of knowledge. I’m don’t consider myself a member of the wealthy elite and if I can understand what you’re telling me there’s no need to be an ass about spelling.
***Featured image: clearly it’s in my nature to defend my positions even if the battleground it Youtube!!!! Gryffinclaw for the win!