Mark Zuckerburg and the State of Internet Debate

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg recently spoke to CNN in an interview regarding the future of communications on Facebook. His comments were as one might expect, bland, nothing controversial. For example, he said that “there need to be organizations in the world that stand for, not just helping people connect, but really bringing the world closer together.” This statement really doesn’t say anything, it’s just a general comment that anyone would use to promote a social media site.

He did, however, say something interesting when it came to dialogue between people. He said Facebook was putting effort into improving debate between people. He proposed something like this: people unite over a common issue – having a family, a popular sports team, etc. Once people connected over these things the disagreements between them can be hammered out with a debate.

He must be either naive or lying. In the real world of online debate, there is little to nothing positive at all. People constantly fight over the same issue regardless of any evidence to support a position being presented. People simply refuse to look at the other side to determine if it is correct or not. They simply throw arguments at each other. Once they can’t answer someone’s argument they throw insults or accusations of X-phobia. The next step after that is to ban people from a Facebook group for disagreeing with them. What I’m saying is true, we’ve all seen it.
If you ask a Christian or any religious fundamentalist for proof of God you’ll be bombarded by nonsense. Nothing you say can actually make them think about what they’re saying. They will ignore everything you say and just accuse you of “being against God,” or “controlled by evil.” The damage religious fundamentalism does need not be repeated here. We’re all familiar with it. One needs to look no further than the Dark Ages.
The same can be found among pro-prostitution advocates. A mountain of evidence showing that the Nordic model is correct can be presented, but it will be ignored by legalisation advocates. If you show the actual harm reduction it accomplishes, they’ll scream “whorephobia” in your face. The irony of them using a hate word to describe the people they’re supposedly in support of is lost on them. Immediately you’re labelled as hating sex workers and just scream how you’re the villain rather than defending their position. Why? Because they can’t.

I’ve encountered the same phenomena when dealing with “debate” against third worldism. The behaviour of /r/socialism is all I would need to point to in order to make my point. Repeatedly I was called names and insulted when the subreddit couldn’t make an argument against what I said. Appeals to emotion were made and mockery soon followed. When I asked them to demonstrate anything contrary to what I said, they started making memes mocking my request “prove me wrong.” Such infantile behaviour is entirely symptomatic of their inability to do just that, prove me wrong. /r/socialism is no different than any other Facebook group, an echo chamber.

The same is true of internet discussion in general. It by no means can be limited to leftist circles. They’re all dishonest in this same way.

Why is it this way? Such a lack of honest debate is by no means an invention of the internet. But, internet discussion, in general, has massively accelerated it. I think it lies in the very nature of online discussion, anonymity. The ability to be anonymous in what you say, I think, has massively contributed to the problem taking it to a high level. In dialectics, we could see this as quantity into quality.

I think the major factor is the ability to disassociate what is being said from the person saying it. Anyone can just say whatever they want and suffer no consequences for it. Someone can make an argument, and another can reply “lol your stupid” or “this is what X actually thinks.” At no point can you take the person to task for such ridiculous behaviour. That person can’t build up a reputation for such nonsense because no one knows who they are. There is no person to peg with this behaviour to hold accountable.

This goes a long way to explaining why debate is in the dismal state that it’s in. Unfortunately, due to the very nature of our relationship to the bourgeois state, outing everyone is dangerous. This is another reason why I choose to make myself public. You can associate the argument to a face. I don’t hide behind the internet calling people names and hurling insults like /r/socialism, or /leftypol/ does. Nor do pig work like doxxing people like /leftpol/ and Marxist Memes. Most of all, I don’t go around sending death threats to people’s families like Marxist Memes does. I choose to be better than this.

As for the foreseeable future, I don’t see things getting any better. And to be honest, I have no idea how to make things better. I’d like debate to be honest, but I have no idea how to make it be honest. Maybe you do