So here’s something that happens to me a lot on Facebook.
Someone posts an article.
If it’s interesting, I read it. If it’s generally benign, or just has a lot of pictures of puppies, I heart it, and move on.
If it’s uninteresting, and has no pictures of puppies, I don’t read it, and I move on to an article with pictures of puppies.
If it’s interesting and provocative, and I agree with it, I might comment about why.
If it’s interesting and provocative, and I don’t agree with it, I might also comment about why.
When I do so, I generally strive to make fact-based arguments. Often, I cite to statistics and sources generally acknowledged to be authoritative, like the National Institutes of Health or the CDC.
I do this in part because I was raised by a father who used to say to me, “that’s an excuse, not a reason,” and in part because I’m a lawyer, and it’s my job when advocating for my clients not to rely upon things I read on the internet.
Often, those who don’t agree with my comments respond not by supporting their own positions with facts and data but instead with ad hominem attacks against me and groups with whom they assume I associate myself. When I urge these people to articulate the bases of their arguments, or what parts of mine they find to be untenable, they just yell louder that I’m an awful person, or, as happened yesterday, a “rude child,” which, I guess was appropriate since I said I thought the laws of our country should apply whether or not one is a Christian.
Maybe I am rude and awful. I sure know I am a pain in the neck to people who don’t like to be asked why they think the way they do. And also to Michael.
Here’s the thing: You don’t get to say you support Position X and that Anti-Position X is BAD unless you can articulate why Position X is meritorious, with facts and rational arguments, unless you’re willing to admit you’re a Mindless Facebook Lemming, in which case I will know not to bother with your Mindless Facebook Opinion and you won’t have to deal with my rude childish statistics.
And, finally, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I feel compelled to add this very informative link about lemmings, who are neither suicidal nor – surprisingly – prone to spontaneous combustion.
Also, they’re very cute.