Post-Modern Drunk: Signs that You've Lost Your Argument on The Internet You've been giving this Internet thing a try. You've maneuvered through the series of tubes, and found a group of people who you think deserve to hear your point of view. It seems to be going good. You said some things, and they responded with some other things, and one of them called you a raging buffoon, and you need some objective judge of exactly who is the idiot manchild who never should have been trusted with a keyboard. Is it you? Is it him? Is it the guy pretending to be a thirteen year old girl with fantastically pert breasts?
Well, wait no longer! The following checklist will tell you who is at fault. Until Google comes out with Google Argument, this will be definitive judge of who won your argument on the Internet.
Signs that You've Lost Your Argument on The Internet
You've mentioned Hitler (unless the discussion is on the end of the Weimer Republic or who was leading one of the belligerents in World War 2). This is known as Godwin's Law.
You start typing in ALL CAPS.
You use Comic Sans as your default font.
You find yourself typing the phrase, "Last time I checked, this was a free country, and I'm just stating my opinion according to the First Amendment..." or anything remotely related.
In fact, you should never bother up bringing up that it's your own opinion. It's pretty obvious from the complete absence of facts that it's just your opinion here. But we're looking for truth, sadly, and not the ravings of a subliterate.
Your village has called. They're missing a youtube commenter. Also, your mom misses you.
You begin engaging in ad hominem attacks.
However... The differences between an ad hominem attack and an argument.
You may believe that everyone who insults you is making an ad hominem attack and that you consequently win your argument-on-the-Internet. Sadly, this is not the case. Far too many people making what you perceive as an ad hominem attack are actually just accurately pointing out that you're a goddamn moron who never should have been allowed to log into AOL and access the web. Here's how to distinguish the attacks.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Your argument is ridiculous, and you frankly must be retarded if you think what you just said is at all persuasive." This may initially seem like a personal attack and a collection of insults, but it is in fact a perfectly valid response. Someone judging you because your argument is terrible is not responding to you ad hominem--it is the only rational response when someone says the stupid shit that you say, in fact. Some people, you just can't engage in character assassination against. Think of it as character assisted suicide--letting their character die with dignity away from such a wretched piece of shit.
If someone says your argument is wrong because you're an idiot, then they might be making an ad hominem attack. They might not be wrong, though. You might in fact be an idiot making an idiotic argument. Pay attention. Your stupidity might in fact be keeping you from recognizing how stupid you are. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. You may lack the metacognitive ability to recognize your mistakes. The person calling you an idiot may just be helping you out with your blind spots.
Quick way to figure it out. "You're an idiot because what you just said is stupid," is an argument. "What you just said is stupid because you're a goddamn idiot," may be an ad hominem attack. Any person worth his salt will attack your argument first, only eventually getting around to attacking you. Watch out for anyone who leads off with the personal insult and never bothers to get around to attacking your position.
Thank you. Now go forth and stop sucking so much on the internet.