Arguing on the Internet

There’s nothing I find more irritating about communicating on web sites than the ramblings of people who think they’re going to set me straight.

One of my friends has a sister who, of all the people in the world, I find to be the biggest waste of oxygen (ordinary-type people, not Hitler-type people). Without going in to all the gory details, which aren’t really mine to divulge, let’s just say that you would agree with me that she’s a horrible human being. It’s entirely possible she suffers from some kind of personality disorder because, after 50 or so years on this planet (I’m not exactly sure how old she is), she has yet to recognize an error she has made and everything is someone else’s fault. EVERYTHING.

Recently, their brother, who I am friends with on Facebook (I am not FB friends with the crazy one), posted something that was factually incorrect. I corrected him, he acknowledged that he looked it up later and discovered it was not attributed to the proper author, and we became involved in a discussion about the quote. A week later, I got a FB notification that their sister — the nutty one — announced the brother was the “winner” of the discussion and went on a tirade about welfare and people leeching off her.

One bit of information about her I will give you is that she has never held a job in her life. She was hired by one or two places in the past, but never showed up for either position. She makes a living by marrying men, getting them to adopt her daughter, and then divorcing the guy in a state that pays alimony. So when she went off about her income taxes, I couldn’t help myself but to respond, “Let’s define ‘income.'” Because she isn’t paying any income taxes, so she has no reason to complain about where her income tax is going.

Last night, another friend posted about Bikini Atoll in the ’40s and ’50s. Since I just finished an analysis of John Hersey’s piece on Hiroshima, I made a reference to the bombing. One friend of hers came in and said “That is aweful but it’s better then speaking Japanese.” I found this hilarious and pointed it out, along with a brief explanation of why the US chose to bomb those two islands rather than a ground attack on mainland Japan.

This morning, I woke up to a 17-paragraph diatribe from a second stranger about what an idiot I am and how I’m an asshole for correcting that other guy’s spelling. He went on, in all caps, of course, about how he’s spoken to hundreds of survivors of WWII and both Japanese and Americans and how I need to get my head out of my ass and I know nothing about the war. My first reaction was, “Jesus, dude. Calm down.” But I realized that wouldn’t go over well, so I deleted it.

Instead, I just said I didn’t want to get involved in an argument on someone else’s Facebook page, especially considering he was incorrect in his assumptions of my understanding of the war. There’s no way this guy could have any clue what I really feel based on two sentences about an atomic bomb. My best guess is he thought I was saying Japan is great and we shouldn’t have done it? I did mention, “Saying human beings suffered is not the same as saying Japan deserved to win the war.”

But it still gives me this nagging, annoying, hot little feeling in my ears when someone starts picking at me and trying to correct me when they either have no idea what they’re talking about (my friend’s sister), or because they have no idea what I was talking about (the dude). What I find especially infuriating — and I get that’s is why people say stuff like this — is the attacks on my intelligence. Like, I must be stupid for saying this or that or the other. This guy “would just love to read [my paper on Hiroshima] because it would be a laugh riot.”

It wasn’t even a history paper – it was an analysis of a piece of journalism written about six survivors of the bomb. But, of course, he assumed I was a 20-something undergrad, he assumed I was taking a history class, he assumed I was given incorrect information, and that I didn’t know what hell happened. I guess?