How do you talk to people online when they've already made their mind up?

Avatar image for sombre
#1 Posted by Sombre (510 posts) -

Hey gang,

So, I was around online in its inception. I've used multiple message boards, AIM chatrooms, all sorts. I remember back in the day, online, when you could routinely have a thoughtful, indepth discussion with people online. What changed? I guess it was exacerbated by a discussion I tried to have a moment ago. We were talking about stories in-games on a discord, and I was faced with this

"Oh is the story in your JRPGS to **** a schoolgirl", to which the entire discord agreed, with an ensuing discussion about "Weeb games" and how they're all the same.

And this isn't the only place I see this sort of discourse. What changed about the internet that made everyone turn into armchair experts, where their opinion is objectively right, and there's no changing their minds?

Avatar image for bonelessspirit
#2 Edited by BonelessSpirit (53 posts) -

I don't know if much has changed, I feel like that's been the case ever since the old days of Usenet newsgroups.

In fact, I would even say I remember old message board and chat discussions being more negative and shittier than what I experience now.

Avatar image for nutter
#3 Posted by nutter (2394 posts) -

Yeah, I don’t recall a ton of intelligent early 90s Internet discourse, either...but thinking about it, there’s a lot about modern Internet norms that could make it worse.

It may be worse today because of people’s history/timelines/brand (ugh). History really didn’t feel like it followed you through AIM or AOL chatrooms, for example.

Today, you have jackasses who will try to destroy you for disagreeing with them, and those you agree with will abandon you if you don’t tow the line. It adds to tribalism and hive-mind mentalities, I think.

Avatar image for someoneproud
#4 Posted by someoneproud (668 posts) -

Yeah I don't remember it ever being any better either tbh. Sometimes folk see things different than you, sometimes they're wrong and sometimes they don't care about discussing it. I know it can be frustrating but they're entitled to their opinions and they don't have to justify them or listen to you.

All you can do is make your case and see if anyone engages in good faith imo, if not probably just move on. If it's good, polite and open discussion you're after that may be hard to find but I've seen some good examples here that don't get too tribal. Echo chambers are ten a penny and most of the users in them are there for validation rather than discussion, it's just a matter of finding the right place.

Avatar image for christoffer
#5 Posted by Christoffer (2378 posts) -

I don't know if it's true that there are more "armchair experts" today and I have no way of finding out. But since the explosion of social media and online personalities I guess it's more important to have an opinion and to appear knowledgeable than to actually know what you're talking about. Saying "I don't know enough about that topic" makes you look boring and dumb.

But I have a lot of these issues in real life too, not just online. Yesterday I spoke to someone who thought Podcasts were just a bunch of young influencers and media people talking meaningless bullshit for hours. I mentioned a few educational and informative podcasts I follow, but those should apparently not be counted as "podcasts".

You could ask them to name a few specific JRPG games that they were referring to. But I bet they couldn't name a single one and they still wouldn't change their mind because they don't care. Don't waste your time with that discussion.

Avatar image for gunflame88
#6 Posted by gunflame88 (398 posts) -

The "weeb" insult and extreme stereotyping of Japanese entertainment is not exactly new. People are prone to getting all bent out of shape over that stuff and acting dismissive like that makes them feel superior.

Avatar image for themaniacsgnome
#7 Posted by TheManiacsGnome (346 posts) -

I kinda feel we've also reached an inflection point with the internet and the people who use it. Someone born the day the Xbox 360 came out will be 15 this year, they've never known a world without everything and almost everyone being connected to the internet to the point where the notion you're discussing video games with people is so normalized. Growing up having a larger group of people to discuss video games with on the internet was always an eye opening experience, and at least personally I always felt keenly aware it was another person on the end of that connection.

I agree 1000% that discourse has absolutely changed, it's not necessarily that everyone is an arm chair expert it's that; "I've been playing games my whole life so X" can mean a lot of different things and indicate a lot of wildly different levels of experience. Look at the discussions surrounding singleplayer games that EA made, lootboxes in r/gaming or any discussion of "SJW" type behavior at N4G, none of that will go well if you don't tow a very specific view point.

"Oh you enjoy Battlefield or Call of Duty? Well MP games are for casuals you're ruining MY hobby and have you played this unknown game called The Witcher 3?"

"Oh you dont have an almost violent opposition to lootboxes if they're done right and very optional? Well you're ruining my hobby!!!"

"Oh you dont think female soldiers in BFV are virtue signaling, retelling of history?! Well you're ruining my power fantasy and ruining my hobby!!!"

We've all experienced these comments in one way or another. While I believe they're wrong, I also have to believe most of these people are kids with either narrow viewpoints or narrow context when it comes to games. Your example of someone's summation of JRPGs makes a tonne of sense if you've only seen JRPGs from the last 10 years. If I was born in 2003 maybe I would feel differently about representation of games, not having the context of the 90s gaming culture would probably change my mindset a lot.

So I dont know bro, I just stopped discussing games with people online. Conversations about games in person are generally far more relaxed and easy going with the benefit of knowing who you're talking with.

Avatar image for onemanarmyy
#8 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4582 posts) -

I think it takes time & a genuine connection with people to be truly willing to listen to them explain something and challenge your own position on that afterwards. Especially when you have 0 love for that thing. If someone i respect a lot and have spent quite some time with tells me to listen to a new song, it's far more likely that i will listen to that compared to seeing a random person recommend a song. Many of us that have spent 0 time with anime, followed Jeff & Dan's journey through DBZ because we have that connection with them. Same goes with politics talk. I'm not really engaging with that stuff unless it's with people that i have a genuine connection with and know that we can bounce ideas towards eachother with the understanding that there's respect in that interaction and there's room for both to come to their own positions.

Sadly, when you're out there on the internet being one of many, there's often no connection and no real chance of truly changing someone's mind. Especially in a chatroom where the dominant position is well established and you're the one that presents a new idea. Most of those people probably don't really feel like accepting this new idea and rather stick to their own position. Well, it might have an effect, but the ego would always prevent someone from telling a nobody that they have profoundly impacted someone's views. `I used to be really into indie arthouse films, but then i met this random person on the internet that showed me the way of low-brow action movies and now i can't stop watching those!` is not something you'll hear a lot.

Avatar image for facelessvixen
#9 Posted by FacelessVixen (2702 posts) -

My "solution" the the "problem" is to care enough to post an opinion when I've got nothing better to do, but not care to the point where I'm bumbled out when I see an opinion that's less than flattering. People will use anonymity to be annoying. Recycling the same snap judgments for either humor or as a legit belief is par for the course. And more often than not, trying to have a thoughtful and in-depth conversations about any given topic is at best few and far between, and a foolish crusade at worst. So with all of my 12 years worth of pessimistic and pragmatic wisdom in mind, I just go in expecting the worst, try to see the humor in the situation if I'm faced with someone who is being cantankerous, be a part of the "problem" by egging him or her on for some shits and giggles, and just move on with my daily life when the interaction becomes boring.

Avatar image for humanity
#10 Posted by Humanity (19039 posts) -

You changed.

You are now, I'm guessing, older and more thoughtful and want to have more in depth discussions about things that interest you. Online you are engaging with a wide range of people of varying ages. When I was in high-school I remember online discourse very much looking like a sparring match rather than an exchange of ideas. It was important to come out on top because my teen brain deemed this so.

It can definitely be deflating to run into people who are trying to deflect and destroy your every opinion without trying to find some middle ground. I know I've often started typing something out and then just closing the tab midway through because I didn't want to bother with the back and forth. Thats not great, to feel tired by the mere thought of what terrible thing someone might reply with, but thats the internet. It's always been this, there are just more people on it from an even younger age and with even easier access.

Avatar image for ajamafalous
#11 Posted by ajamafalous (13821 posts) -

I think you should go back and read some forum archives if you think things were somehow better in the 90s/00s.

Avatar image for efesell
#12 Posted by Efesell (4632 posts) -

I started most of my internet posting on Gamefaqs when it opened up a thousand years ago. Even today I sometimes have to try very hard to resist the knee jerk reaction to just snipe at people or be as snide as possible in any given discussion. Because that was the level of discourse no matter what you were talking about.

So I don't have a very high opinion on bygone days.

Avatar image for imhungry
#13 Posted by imhungry (1148 posts) -

Maybe it's shitty of me to say this, but my answer to the question more often than not is "I don't".

If I happen to be the right combination of invested in a topic, bored, and have free time to post/say something then I do but will generally exit the conversation as expediently as possible as soon as I identify such a person.

In my memory at least, internet in the 90s wasn't very different at all. It might just feel worse today because there's just so many more people online, and so many more of them are 12.

Avatar image for tds418
#14 Edited by tds418 (523 posts) -

@imhungry said:

Maybe it's shitty of me to say this, but my answer to the question more often than not is "I don't".

Yeah, this is correct.

@efesell said:

I started most of my internet posting on Gamefaqs when it opened up a thousand years ago.

Oh snap, same for me! Well, I wasn't posting on it when it first opened, but it's the first internet message board I used.

Avatar image for zeik
#15 Posted by Zeik (5239 posts) -

The internet has always been bad, but there is definitely something about modern internet discourse that regularly rubs me the wrong way to an extent it never did before. I know part of that is because my patience for all the bullshit is at an all time low, but I do think there is actually more to it than that.

But since I have so little patience these days my solution is to just disconnect from those conversations entirely and go about my day. If I have gained anything from all my hours wasted on the internet it's the knowledge that some conversations with certain people are just not worth having. No one comes out the other end feeling more fulfilled or happy or like they learned anything to make their life better.

Avatar image for efesell
#16 Posted by Efesell (4632 posts) -

@zeik: It's also much more the case of..there's really no escape unless you shut everything down. I could leave an old shitty thread on a forum and never look back but if I wanna use Twitter for anything at all it means I also have to accept that the Discourse will find me no matter where I hide.

Avatar image for zeik
#17 Posted by Zeik (5239 posts) -

@efesell said:

@zeik: It's also much more the case of..there's really no escape unless you shut everything down. I could leave an old shitty thread on a forum and never look back but if I wanna use Twitter for anything at all it means I also have to accept that the Discourse will find me no matter where I hide.

You can never really escape, but you don't have to engage with it. Getting wrapped up in it just makes it so much worse. Not that I'm some kind of saint myself, since I still occasionally get wrapped up in that nonsense without thinking. But I try my best to just to walk away and not say anything, even when someone says something outrageously stupid or infuriating, because I know that conservation will end up the same place as it almost always does.

Avatar image for norm9
#18 Posted by norm9 (65 posts) -

It's been about being "meme"-y and over the top takes since the 2400 modem bbs era.

It just has a bigger pool of participants nowadays.

Avatar image for adamalc
#19 Posted by AdamALC (302 posts) -

I don't. If someone has their mind made up and are unwilling to see any other points of view there is no point in having a discussion. People with middle of the ground opinions or undecided are demonized by folks that have to pick a side and have to be right.

Avatar image for craigieboy
#20 Posted by Craigieboy (124 posts) -

My main assumption of people's stubbornness online is one of attention seeking, they share what can be interpreted as a controversial opinion on something as a way to reel in an audience and proceed to aggravate through responses that are essentially "you are wrong".

Most likely a somewhat unfair generalization of everyone who's ever stated an opinion on a game or some other form of media but I find sometimes it's just really obvious what someone is trying to do and the best thing you can do in that situation is don't engage.

Avatar image for berserk007
#21 Posted by Berserk007 (325 posts) -

you don't... people are more self-centered than ever.

Avatar image for shiftygism
#22 Posted by Shiftygism (1126 posts) -

best thing you can do in that situation is don't engage.

Which is not only the best advice to give and follow....but man, that is so easier said than done.

Avatar image for craigieboy
#23 Posted by Craigieboy (124 posts) -

@shiftygism: That's a fair point and 99% of the time it's usually simple to avoid but some people will know what kind of buttons to push to elicit a reaction.