How to avoid writing stupid comments on the internet
One of the problems with the internet is the lack of normal social inhibitions that help us moderate our own behaviour and language. I’m sure we’ve all seen people write the most outrageous things that they would almost certainly not say in ‘real’ life. There is also the kind of urgency that online dispute can engender.
I came across this comment over at The Friendly Atheist, and I thought it was a pretty sensible thing to do when you want to flame someone out online:
Type out what you want to say to the offending party. Get it all out there. Vent and blow and have a fit. Don’t submit the comment and walk away for a few minutes. Grab a drink, let yourself get distracted by something, heed the call of nature if you’d like, but the important thing is to walk away. When you come back reread your comment. 9 times out of 10 you’ll tilt your head and say, “Wow, I sound like a total douche-canoe,” and delete the comment and move on.
Recently I managed to get involved in a discussion about the historicity of Jesus, in which some objectors began to argue very fallaciously (not only were they simply wrong in terms of historical methodology and sources etc., they were relying on ad hominem for rebuttal). I used this method – I typed out a very long reply, which helped me clear my head and work through the objections, and then I realised that it was a) too long and b) wouldn’t make any difference to their view anyway, so I just never posted it, and moved on.