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June 2, 2006 9:56 AM   Subscribe

"For half a nanosecond I was tempted to join in the discussion. And then I remembered that all internet debates, without exception, are entirely futile. So I didn't." - Charlie Brooker on Internet discussions.
posted by Artw (67 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
i disagree.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:00 AM on June 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


it's obvious to me that charlie brooker has the same mentality as hitler
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 AM on June 2, 2006


meh. (That's to either the post or the first comment, you choose.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on June 2, 2006


Not every internet discussion breaks down into petty bickering. These people all agree that this wolf shirt is the most amazing thing ever.
posted by mullingitover at 10:03 AM on June 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Me too!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2006


Because real-life debates are completely reasonable and everyone agrees at the end.
posted by skallas at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


truly west of the beb
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:05 AM on June 2, 2006


the heady combination of perceived anonymity, gestated responses, random heckling and a notional "live audience" quickly conspire to create a "perfect storm" of perpetual bickering.

That applies equally well to talk radio, political tv shows and newspaper editorial pages.
posted by vacapinta at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2006


Metafilter: Would make you pop bubblewrap till Doomsday if it ever got its way
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2006


Is it just me or is Charlie Brooker running out of stuff to say with his G2 column? I used to enjoy Screen Burn as well but that too is looking very tired nowadays.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2006


Just who in the hell do you think you're calling a Nazi?!
posted by cows of industry at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2006


The only thing more futile than debating on the internet is blogging about debating on the internet.
posted by StarForce5 at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2006


Hitler was a wolf. Bite me. I think Nigerian money scammers and Viagra scammers should join forces. Wow, that would be awesome. Free Mumia. Kick butt in Iran. Feminazi. Delete this thread. Hey, meh yo mama, OmieWise.
posted by kozad at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2006


Someone clearly needs a hug.

"There's no point debating anything online. You might as well hurl shoes in the air to knock clouds from the sky."

Or, you might realize the particular forum you're in was never designed to host educational and productive discussions. But many forums are, and when that succeeds it works wonderfully. For example, AskMe is a great place for educational and productive discussions.

The "I'm standing in pig shit. Why is the whole world covered in pig shit?" approach to the world is the problem, not online forums. Take a couple steps and get out of the pig shit. Have a cookie.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2006


.
posted by jouke at 10:11 AM on June 2, 2006


Too bad he doesn't understand what an educational experience internet discussion can be, how it can develop one's ability to reason, writing skills, etc. Because perhaps he could use that sort of education in his line of work.
posted by orange swan at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2006


Indeed.

Though some idiots continue to fool themselves that they're actually accomplishing something.

Usually the frustrated ex-highschool debate club circle-jerkers.
posted by HTuttle at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2006


Arguing on the internet is like challenging a baby to a fight to the death. Even if you win, you'll wonder why you ever did it in the first place.
posted by Raoul.Duke at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2006


That's not arguing! That's just contradiction!
No it isn't.
Yes it is.
No it isn't.
posted by fungible at 10:17 AM on June 2, 2006


Though some idiots continue to fool themselves that they're actually accomplishing something.

posted by HTuttle at 10:12 AM PST on June 2


And what does a long history of trolling accomplish?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2006


Arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win, you are still retarded.

/retarded sounds much better than 'Differently Able' in this context.
// Yes I know that most of the athletes are not mentally challenged, it is just a quip. Take it for what it is worth and move on to the next snide comment.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2006


Yours is thinner than mine. Mine is more substantial than yours and I can go to great length to prove it.

Obviously, I'm talking about arguments.
posted by Shave at 10:23 AM on June 2, 2006


For a perfect example of futility, please see thread 51500.

*sigh*
posted by zoogleplex at 10:26 AM on June 2, 2006


In my experience, he's exactly right.

But then maybe I'm just bad at debate.
posted by moonbiter at 10:27 AM on June 2, 2006


For example, AskMe is a great place for educational and productive discussions.

Yes, but he isn't talking about online forums, he's talking about online debates. I'm sure you've noticed by now that once an AskMe becomes subject for debate, it's usefulness drops precipitously.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:28 AM on June 2, 2006


Every once in a while some smartass announces that arguing on the internet is futile and doesn't accomplish anything.

Well, so what? Whoever said it was supposed to? Whoever said it needs to?

Up next: Institute of Statetheobviousology announces that listening to music and appreciating are activities bereft of utility!
posted by slatternus at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2006


oops. Appreciating art.
posted by slatternus at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2006


With the exception of a few hot button issues Metafilter isn't cursed by debates as much as some other sites I can think of, the late Plastic being a particualy bad example. That's part of why I like it.

And yes, I'm as guilty of entering pointless debates as anyone else.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on June 2, 2006


For those who don't know or remember, Charlie Brooker was behind the frequently brilliant TV Go Home - check out the archive to see what I mean. I don't know that his style fits longer pieces as well, the longer bits in the TV Go Home book weren't quite as good as the listings pages either.
posted by teleskiving at 10:33 AM on June 2, 2006


I'm wondering if there's anybody who made some meaningful commentary on those who feel compelled to debate political issues at imdb.com. They always seemed the strangest to me.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2006


slatternus - 90% of music and art are shit though.
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on June 2, 2006


seriously, i haven't seen a lot of productive debates between republicans and democrats ... it seems that part of having a good debate on the net is a willingness of the participants to actually consider the other person's point of view and think about it ... even if it means changing one's mind on a viewpoint

of course, when it comes to politics, most people aren't into doing that ... they're not there to seriously weigh the issues, they're there to show off their skills at rhetoric and sophistry, not to mention insults ... or just to annoy sensible people with their silly arguments and stubbornness
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2006


kozad, don't start none and there won't be none. Which is the same thing I said to your mother.
posted by OmieWise at 10:39 AM on June 2, 2006


I've had some fantastic discussions on internet forums, which started as disagreements.

The key ingredient is for both parties to be pursuing truth, rather than proving themselves right.
posted by spacediver at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2006


Charlie Brooker was behind the frequently brilliant TV Go Home

From whence famous cunt Nathan Barley sprang. So it's possible Brooker is using the word futile in the positive Barley sense - keep it futile!. He isn't, obviously, but it's possible.

Do you engage in pointless debate on the web? The Kilroy team would like to talk to you. Call 020 765 2765.
posted by jack_mo at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2006


slatternus - 90% of music and art are shit though.

Again, so what? Looking for the good stuff is fun! And finding it, is....funner.
posted by slatternus at 10:51 AM on June 2, 2006


My favourite Brooker tv listing on TvGoHome was Wanking for Coins. Thinking about it now makes the page filler stuff now seem even drearier.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 10:52 AM on June 2, 2006


What a blow to the netroots activists!
posted by LarryC at 10:56 AM on June 2, 2006


My favourite Brooker tv listing on TvGoHome was Wanking for Coins

I have a soft spot for Mick Hucknall's Almighty Brown Winker. But don't tell the wife.

I agree, the Guardian column is not flattered by the comparison.
posted by teleskiving at 11:01 AM on June 2, 2006


"Arguing on the internet is futile and pointless." = "No one's listening to me. I'm outta here".
posted by slatternus at 11:04 AM on June 2, 2006


So Charlie can't stand not being the center of attention ? Big deal ! Don't like not having your points argued without a "your momma stinks" here and there ? Bigger deal !
posted by elpapacito at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2006


I oppose all those who oppose opposition.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:11 AM on June 2, 2006


Internet debates are only futile when you lose them.

On preview: Damn you, statternus!

And don't sell yourself short, HTuttle!

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 AM on June 2, 2006


Let me know when you find that internet debate Mona Lisa, statternus.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on June 2, 2006


I think he hit rock bottom when he wrote this column in G2 about how he couldn't think of anything to write before his deadline. Reasonably well-written, but quite desperate.
posted by reklaw at 11:18 AM on June 2, 2006


I'm glad the Usenet days are over -- back in the 1990s argument was not only a way of debating a point but it was also a way of putting arrogant community members in their place (on the few occasions that it worked). The advent of Web-based forums has been a godsend for online discussion. Not only are forums moderated to keep the kooks off, but forums are so popular that you can often choose a site that has the personality and style of moderation you like. Usenet has largely become the Internet's dumpster.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:29 AM on June 2, 2006


My favourite disagreement that was by turns a flamewar, a pointless argument, a bunch of truly offended bloggers, and then, finally, a truly genius bit of collaborative sleuthing: The Great Kaycee Nicole Caper. Metafilter rox.

Guy who wrote the article (whatisname) is clearly not cool enough to be part of truly interesting online debates that change the participants' minds about things. I've definitely been part of a few. A few pointless ones are worth living through to make it to the ones that really make you think.
posted by Hildegarde at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2006


Internet debates are to real life what the morning run is to the rest of the day - a warm up, a work out, a preparation - but not the real thing. Bitching about the quality of the debate is a bit like bitching about the scenery while jogging.

(I apologise for regarding you all as mental scenery).
posted by falcon at 11:33 AM on June 2, 2006


Ooooh...there's a falcon!

*runs into telephone pole*
posted by everichon at 12:44 PM on June 2, 2006


99% of internet discussions after 10 posts:

"You're a troll!"

"No, YOU'RE a TROLL!"

"NAZI FASCIST!"
posted by HTuttle at 12:52 PM on June 2, 2006


You want fries with that Heisenberger?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:00 PM on June 2, 2006


Uh, well, aren't most debates by definition, futile, whether they're Internet based or not? In a debate you're meant to argue over something and present points for and against. There is generally never a defining conclusion to a debate, and most people leave with the same opinion they had as when they went in.
posted by Zinger at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2006


It is addictive though, he's got a point there. Long after I've gone past the reasonable point of debate I'll get stuck in stupid arguments just for some protoean reason.

In the flesh discourse changes because you don't get to tear apart every little mis-spoken word, and you don't get to check facts. Those debates aren't as addictive, and they don't help you learn as much, but they do come to conclusions and action far faster, I find.
posted by bonaldi at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2006


Though sometimes that action is a brawl, heh.
posted by bonaldi at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2006


Exactly. In person, when you start with the name calling and the curse outs, people can and often will punch you in the nose. The further away people are, the braver they get.
posted by Gamblor at 1:25 PM on June 2, 2006


Or the drunker they are the braver they get... combine booze and the internet and... oh boy!
posted by Artw at 1:35 PM on June 2, 2006


Gabe's right though: shitcockery is all about the audience. Two drunk guys sitting alone end up fighting far less than two drunks with a crowd. Especially a crowd of women.

It's like when you take something to email: it either suddenly gets very polite, or it fizzles out after one mail.
posted by bonaldi at 1:42 PM on June 2, 2006


No I disagree
posted by zouhair at 2:12 PM on June 2, 2006


heu? NO I AGREE
posted by zouhair at 2:12 PM on June 2, 2006


agree
disagree
agree
disagree
agree
disagree
agree
disagree

pffff have to eat some brb...
posted by zouhair at 2:13 PM on June 2, 2006


Brookner's right, you know.

Usually the frustrated ex-highschool debate club circle-jerkers.

HTuttle has posted ... 1692 comments to MetaFilter
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 PM on June 2, 2006


Thanks Artw for the interesting article. I thought Charlie Brooker made some excellent points re point scoring, random heckling and perpetual bickering. I appreciate his examining cyber communication. I found people online, like people enclosed in the isolation of their cars, may be quick to lob an insult or expression of rage or perceive offense and react to that with rage. There are those with Flamer Personality Disorder and other Flame Warriors, who make it really difficult to have a sane cyber-group conversation.

Offline, I'm not that comfortable with confrontation and learned a lot about conflict observing cyber disagreements. I disagree with Booker that all online debates are pointless or only about who is bigger and do not find that to be the case on MetaFilter at all. Decent conflict can be a time to detail differences, include evidence, point out bs. In MF, I haven't read a conflict in which I didn't learn something interesting or enjoy at least one bellylaugh.
posted by nickyskye at 7:41 PM on June 2, 2006


Is it just me or is Charlie Brooker running out of stuff to say with his G2 column? I used to enjoy Screen Burn as well but that too is looking very tired nowadays.

I liked his series on BBC Four; shame it was only three episodes.

As an aside, it was pretty clear to me from the start here that most people are missing the point of Charlie Brooker's piece (or for that matter, Charlie Brooker in general). But it's like explaining why a joke is funny: if I have to...
posted by macdara at 1:27 AM on June 3, 2006


Arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics, even if you win, you are still retarded.

/retarded sounds much better than 'Differently Able' in this context.
// Yes I know that most of the athletes are not mentally challenged, it is just a quip. Take it for what it is worth and move on to the next snide comment.
posted by TheFeatheredMullet at 10:21 AM PST on June 2 [+fave] [!]


You are absolutely horrible. Please leave and never come back.
posted by jimmy at 2:36 AM on June 3, 2006


These people all agree that this wolf shirt is the most amazing thing ever.

That's the funniest thing I've read in at least a week.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:13 AM on June 3, 2006


maybe it's cuz i'm just a dumb kid, but i've learned a lot from watching and participating in debates on mefi and even had my mind changed about a few things.

vacapinta has it...
posted by es_de_bah at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2006


macdara, You made me curious, so I went to read up Charlie Brooker's articles, see what he was on about. He's hilarious! Now I feel like a total idiot for taking his article seriously .
Thanks for the wake-up.

posted by nickyskye at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2006


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