With the rise of the internet and opinion masquerading as news (both online and on TV), I've grown increasingly frustrated when engaging people in conversations about issues. In a time when we have billions of pages of information at our disposal to review and digest, people seem to have gotten dumber.
What I failed to realize is that people have always been this way. In the world that I grew up in, there were a few primary sources of information that most people consumed, TV news and newspapers. For the most part, the integrity of these sources was considered important by the companies that ran them and their mission to serve the public. Journalists were confrontational, concerned about collecting the facts and validating them, and often unafraid of offending the businesses or politicians they covered. The result was that we had a news that truly comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Even the least educated among us got a mostly fair critical representation of government, politicians, businesses, and the important issues of today.
Fast forward to today. "News" is truly infotainment. The companies that cover the news treat it as a profit center, a place intended to make money first, serve the public interest second. Advertisers are not to be offended. Politicians are not to be too strenuously questioned, lest they deny your network access to them in the future. And rather than present a nuanced position of issues, journalism is now a simple see saw, where "balanced" reporting is giving equal weight to both sides of an issue, even if you have to put ten pounds of facts on one side of that see saw, and ten pounds of industrial grade bullshit on the other side. All the better to turn information into a team sport for people to pick sides than actually provide useful facts. And if you don't like the point of view espoused by reality based press, you can find any number of propaganda outlets online and on cable that will provide you with a point of view about the world that more closely aligns with yours, facts be damned.
Unfortunately, I have been too stupid to acknowledge this reality online. For more than a decade I've engaged in "discussions" with people who bring no facts or real knowledge to a situation, have no grasp of history or quality journalism, and who would rather argue a point with fiction and illogical thinking than to concede a point. Trying to convince them or have them provide you with information about their viewpoint that supports its validity, in short, is like shouting at a brick.
Because of this, I've started stepping away from internet arguments. I'll make a statement supporting my own view with sources, but I've realized there is no point in engaging with idiots who will go after your point of view without even reading it first. it's best to allow them to make an ass out of themselves without them dragging you down to your level. You're not going to change their minds, or the people who feel they're right, and you're just going to irritate the people who may agree with you but get tired of the verbal fisticuffs everywhere you turn online.