I had made a Facebook post about the former Chelsea player, Diego Costa sharing a striking resemblance in looks and temperament with the fictional comic character, Captain Haddock of the Adventures of TinTin series fame. It was an epiphany I thought to put out just as it hit me. A few minutes later, I got a notification that someone had responded to my post. It was a random Facebook friend. He commented with something along the lines of asking me to leave Chelsea alone since I was a Manchester United fan.
You see, it would have been amusing if it was the usual football banter. But, it wasn’t. His comments had no bearing on my post. He had gone off on a tangent. My little observation centred on a single player and had nothing to do with his skills as a player or his club.
My “friend” reacted speaking to the rivalry between two English football clubs.
Anyone who had never read or seen TinTin would have no idea who Captain Haddock was, and anyone who did not know Captain Haddock had no business commenting on my post.
But because this individual was more interested in a knee-jerk reaction than he was in understanding the context of the submission, he committed a gaffe.
People like this human abound in the online community.
If you have hung around the social media space long enough, chances are you’d have witnessed a few skirmishes. These days, they are a biweekly occurrence.
A plethora of subjects that could trigger these online conflicts: politics, religion, tribe, a random person’s misadventures, feminism.
Sometimes, the topics are far more mundane; anything from food to side chicks could produce the meltdown on a million-member app.
The furore generated when personalities clash in the virtual community records a few victims.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to ignore what dominates the space for days especially when the discourse focuses on an issue you have strong opinions about. But I’ll advise you should resist the urge to engage in the back and forth (which often culminates in insult exchange) that’s sure to follow.
You’ll be doing yourself a favour to remember that the internet welcomes an eclectic mix of humans. Divergent personas—some of whom thrive on controversy.
We call it “chasing clout”.
The insatiable need to be contrarian or a rabble-rouser just for kicks is a fad. This category of people hold an unpopular view regardless of how inane it is, and seeking to reason with them is tantamount to attempting to wake someone who’s pretending to be asleep.
It will end in frustration because they know the truth, but they’ll rather choke on bile than admit it.
Next, are the clueless. The ones who do not know better.
Their primary problem is the inability to comprehend. Whatever they spew is borne out of entrenched ignorance. They do not mean to be oblivious of basic things, but they cannot help it. Their lack of knowledge is a product of poor formal and self-education and the lethargic reaction to this debilitating defect.
The commenters who suggested that veteran journalist, Dele Momodu be arrested for holding a virtual birthday celebration amid the COVID-19 pandemic were not trying to be mischievous, no.
They had no clue what “virtual” meant and never bothered to find out before publicising their ignorance.
Imagine getting into an argument with someone who has no inkling what the discourse is all about? Where do you begin to educate them, especially when they are ensconced in their intellectual innocence?
For all your brilliance and mental progression, you’ll find yourself rolling in the exasperating waters that reasoning with the uninitiated represents. Again, it will end in frustration.
There’s also the uncouth. The worst of the lot.
Cantankerous, irreverent plebeians whose sole purpose in the virtual society is to rile others up. They do not grasp the concept of “agreeing to disagree” or welcoming differing perspectives. They are all about savagery and chaos. And so even when you feel the need the correct an erroneous notion that may mislead others, you may find yourself drawn into an unforetold war of words.
You must do your best to avoid this kind.
Your insistence on returning any (perceived) insult with one of your own may see you as the next subject of entertainment on the numerous story-hungry blogs.
Besides, why would you, in all of your respectability and decency allow yourself to be drawn into senseless squabbles with strangers? People who are only too glad to knock you off your pedestal so they can boast that they succeeded in seeing you burst a vein.
Do the right thing—if someone disturbs your peace—block them. Let them go.
If you must argue online, do it with your kind; your tribe.
People who share similar core values with you and can separate the person from the issue.