Communication Breakdown: The not-so-fine line between insulting and informative.

(Shutterstock/Christos Georghiou)

A while back, I joined UniteBlue. It’s a website and a Twitter group founded by Zach Green to connect American liberals. While I wouldn’t call myself a Democrat, per se (personally, I’m up to my ears in frustration with all established American political parties), my views are generally just left of center, and I love debating politics with those who know how to have an ethically sound debate. So I figured why not?

As is usually my way, aside from following everyone I can (until they don’t follow back), I’ve mostly just lurked, testing the waters. “Lurking” on Twitter, for me, is following interesting conversations back to the very first tweet. This can take all day.

I rarely make it to the first tweet, because there’s almost always something that catches my eye, and I end up veering off in a different direction. Which also can take all day. This is not as counterproductive as it sounds, because I’m a freelance writer, and following other people’s conversations often gives me topics to write about. Like today.

Yesterday, while stalking my fellow UniteBlue members, I came across a marriage equality debate during which some guy said homosexuality is a behavior, therefore it is not something the government should regulate.

I responded. I shouldn’t have. I knew what kind of response I would get, but I couldn’t help myself. So, I poked the troll.

And the troll didn’t let me down.

Unfortunately, the liberals did let me down. Because obviously, if you’re against same-sex marriage, you’re gay…

…or a homophobe…

…or racist.

And once upon a time, I would have brushed it off. When dealing in opinions, feelings get hurt. Tempers flare. Debates devolve into emotional conversation. And this is especially true when someone questions or contradicts someone else’s way of life.

But this exchange is not the only example of liberals resorting to dirty tactics to try to bully conservatives to their side. I mean, didn’t you know? All conservatives are greedy…

…or stupid…

…or parroting their party’s beliefs without actually considering them first.

I have a real problem with this for a number of reasons.

First, it makes us hypocrites. We’re trying to stop Rush because instead of making real arguments in favor of his beliefs, he chooses to call women on government-funded birth control “prostitutes”, and use racial slurs. And a lot of us believe everyone has the right to be whoever they want, so long as they’re not hurting anyone else. Yet, here we are, all over the internet and the media, calling conservatives names and attacking them personally, rather than focusing on the facts. What the hell, liberals?

Second, it kills the effectiveness of our arguments. The best way to win someone over to your side, or at least get them to open their minds enough to consider your opinions, is to stay calm, maintain a respectful tone, and present them with solid facts. The second you start to get angry, they start to question the validity of your ideas. And if you resort to slinging insults instead of facts, most people will discredit your opinion entirely.

Third, it shuts down the lines of communication completely. All this name-calling is reminiscent of the schoolyard bully sticking his fingers in his ears and yelling “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!” after throwing a fistful of dirt in your eye. Nobody likes the schoolyard bully. Not even his friends.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I disagreed with everything the schoolyard bully thought because who wants to admit they might be similar to someone who’s mean and nasty all the time? So even if he had the most concrete evidence behind whatever he was going on about (like how Mommy and Daddy really made my sister), I’d tell him he was full of it, and refuse to listen.

And that’s how intelligent conservatives react to liberals who devolve to name-calling and insults to make their points.

So…not being one to hold my tongue when I have an opinion, I pointed out that the hate being flung back in the troll’s face was hurting more than helping.

I really hoped I’d be heard. But as I expected, the name-calling was excused with “calling a spade a spade”.

I don’t care how many times you say, “every person who opposes marriage equality is a homophobe,” it doesn’t make it true. I know plenty of people who have no problem with homosexuality. They’ll even agree there should be some sort of “institution” for LGBT couples that is of equal rights and value to marriage. They just believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

Just like us liberals, conservatives have the right to make up their own minds about every topic we, as a society, have deemed politically relevant. And we’re assholes for trying to bully them into changing them, all the while crying about them bullying us.

They call us “liberal pussies”. And ya know what? If we can’t open people’s minds without demeaning and insulting them, then god damn it…they’re right.

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