It could just be me, but I've noticed among those I follow on social media an increasing tendency to refuse to engage in Twitter debates with others. Given that the medium's character limitation greatly restricts your ability to fully develop sound arguments, it's a move that makes a lot of sense to me.
I stopped engaging Twitter debates a few years ago, and even took the added step of going back and deleting previous ones I'd had in years past. My reasoning was (and is) three-fold:
- It's not real life. Every day there seems to be another indication of how the outrage mobs generated on Twitter are astoundingly unrepresentative of the general population. That means the trend that seems so dangerous and so powerful to me online is likely a mere blip on the radar screen of what my fellow human beings are thinking about at any given moment.
- It's never fruitful. Perhaps never is too strong of a word, but I am quite confident I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen someone legitimately persuaded politically, religiously, or philosophically by a smart-aleck meme or pithy post. On the list of most effective ways to influence people, a well-crafted tweet ranks very low.
- It's a waste of time I can't afford. We don't need the high-profile passing of celebrities like Bob Saget to know the fragility of life. We see it ourselves in our own lives. A family member, a friend, a child – all dying long before they should. James wrote in the New Testament that our lives are like a vapor, here one second and gone the next. Since that's the case, I don't want to waste a second of mine in pointless Twitter fights.
But for those who do, those who see Twitter bickering as an effective tool of ideological outreach, those who feel spiritually or philosophically compelled to engage hashtag wars and favoriting feuds in order to move the masses – especially my fellow believers – I'd like to recommend a wiser approach than the time-consuming, novel-esque threads.
Let's see it in action. First, the offending tweet.
Admittedly, any person with a sound mind and reasonable approach to contemporary issues would be tempted to respond and point out how ignorant that is. After all, we are doing the cause of racial reconciliation no favors when we segregate our movie plot lines in the type of manner Justin recommends here.
Multicultural folklore is one of the best and most effective ways of introducing new perspectives, new thoughts, and a different way of seeing the world to people. Indigenous folk stories, painstakingly handed down by generations of native families, are not being disgraced when they find their way onto the silver screen; they are being amplified.
But if you have ever spent more than five minutes on Twitter, you know that engaging Justin and pointing all that out to him, particularly if you are a white male like myself, would be playing right into his hands. It is the nature of an online activist to attempt to provoke exchanges where they can exhibit their superior inclusiveness.
So the far better approach? Don't engage the fool according to the rules he establishes for you.
Turn his own rules against him and reveal to a watching world how absurd it all is. That's precisely what an intrepid little group of internet trolls did to Justin's nonsense, and the result was a thing of beauty. Behold:
Moral idiocy is sometimes hard to notice when we ourselves are the perpetrators. But the moment moral idiocy is wielded against us, we are likely to become defensive and appeal to a common sense and rationality we were - for our own sake - pretending didn't exist. Let's hope Justin and a cyberspace full of his clones have such epiphanies sooner rather than later.
And for those of you still crazy enough to engage them, Godspeed.
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