These words completely poison online discourse, and destroy the credibility of the person using them. Cut it out.
I’ve been online since 1993. I’ve seen the best and the worst of the internet, and innumerable arguments on every subject under the sun. I’ve seen some argument tactics fall out of favor, from gratuitous Nazi comparisons to the venerable “lurkers support me in email”, though both linger on well past their expiration dates. There is, however, a continuing strain of ugliness I see used all the time, even among people who damned well ought to know better, and it is long past time this nonsense was exposed for what it is.
I never want to see anyone use the following words or phrases in an online argument again, period.
- Mom’s Basement
- [any questioning of a person’s sexuality]
What sets these pointless, stupid slurs apart is that they do not, indeed they cannot, have any bearing on any point anyone could conceivably be making about anything. They are the definition of that oft-abused phrase, argumentum ad hominem: they say nothing about the person’s point or argument, merely attempting to cast the arguer as in some way undesirable, usually physically.
More than that, these are bully words. They’re something insecure eighth-graders call slightly more insecure eighth-graders in an attempt to make them cry. They are that level of maturity, and if you’re using them, that’s what you’ve become. A pubescent bully whose response to something you don’t like is “Well… you’re ugly!” Is that what you want to see when you look in the mirror?
And nobody’s interested in your defense that oh, you only use those words to refer to those bad people. If they’re that bad, you should be able to say so without cheap junior high school cracks. If you can’t do that, then maybe you need to rethink some things.
Likewise, if your visceral reaction to this list is “Awwww, someone doesn’t like getting called names!” I want you to do the following: say that out loud. With the proper inflection and everything. Take a good listen to what you sound like. Ask whether that’s who you really want to be, as a human being. If it is, well, this would probably be a good time to start being ashamed of yourself.
Spread the word. Anyone who uses any of these phrases or concepts in an argument is just a bully. No matter how good their intentions or their cause, they are just bullying. Maybe you’ve done it yourself in the past; I’m pretty sure I have. We all make mistakes, but the mark of an adult is that when someone points out a mistake, you stop making it. Start pointing this one out, because it hasn’t been okay for a long time.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.