Ever felt as though you’re constantly getting brushed off during heated arguments, or just want your writing to be more persuasive? If so, then look no further, as this guide will acquaint you with some strategies that can help you manage and get the most out of online discussions about anime.
For those of us who enjoy actively participating in discussion boards and forums, there will eventually come a time when we find ourselves amidst a clash of opinions with others. Whether it’s something as trivial as arguing over the coveted “best girl” position in an anime or an entire discourse about postmodernism, online battles can escalate rapidly. Before long, you may find your feathers too ruffled for your liking and decide to enter the fray – pencil in one hand, paper in the other (or I suppose keyboard in this case). Now this is where things can get messy. It only takes a single match to start a fire, and without realizing it, the other side is now throwing insults in your face, attacking your credibility and most importantly of all, veering way off topic. This is a boat I’m sure many of us have been on before, and although some won’t mind the temporary spike in blood pressure, others would much rather jump ship.
With that said, avoidance isn’t always the best solution as sometimes it’s the most heated discussions that are the most enlightening. Additionally, participating in a battle of brains can really push one’s limits as a writer – you may be surprised at the incredible ideas you’re able to conjure up while undergoing all that rage. Despite the somewhat negative connotation, an argument can actually be a positive experience, so long as it’s a productive one! The key is remaining in control, and that’s primarily what this guide is aimed at.
1. Pick your battles
If I were to take a wild guess, I’d estimate that a good 70-80% of unproductive arguments on the net could be prevented altogether simply by people knowing when to take up arms. Obvious troll threads aside, not every topic will be conductive for discussion and there’s usually a few quick ways of checking this.
For me, I find the best method is to lurk a thread beforehand and get a sense of the quality of discussion. In most cases, this will give you a rough idea of where the topic is and more importantly, how people are exchanging thoughts. If you find there isn’t much activity beyond a few one-liners or people are resorting to excessive profanity to get their points across, it’s probably not a productive environment. Unfortunately, there is an element of timing when it comes to online discussions, as sometimes being late to the party can make it difficult to get your thoughts across when everyone else is firing shots at each other.
Another method is to be proactive and start your own discussion topic. This is often the best way of directing the topics you’re interested in talking or arguing about. Best of all, being the topic starter will directly influence how the subsequent replies play out. Posing a thought-provoking question in a professional way will generally cause people to adopt a similar mindset when replying…most of the time at least. There’s still going to be a couple bad apples, but at the very least you’ve reduced the chances of unproductive discussion occurring right off the bat.
2. do your Research
The only thing worse than someone talking about something they know nothing about is someone arguing about something they know nothing about. This can become frustrating when one party makes a false claim due to their lack of familiarity with the subject, but still insists that they are correct.
So what can you do to avoid being this person? The simple answer would be to just swallow your pride and take the time to become well-acquainted with the subject by reading up on it. In the case of arguments centering on a specific anime or TV show, going back and re-watching key episodes or scenes will refresh your memory and strengthen the clarity of your points – pulling specific details to support your stance is usually the way to go. This is especially important for titles that you want to go on the offense against, since in most cases these will be the ones that you weren’t very fond of. The last thing you want to do is make a fool out of yourself because you paid minimal attention to a show, missed a couple key plot points as a result, and then mounted a faulty case. We’re in an age where information can be instantly accessed at the click of a button; making it easier than ever to obtain valuable material (I’m totally not promoting piracy here).
Of course, there will be times in which everyone makes mistakes, whether honest or not. If someone has called you out for getting your facts wrong, it’s best to take a deep breath, confirm if this is true or not and then respond accordingly. In the event that you have in fact made an error in judgement, quietly acknowledge it and move on. Although it’s never easy admitting that you’re in the wrong, it will usually lead to a better outcome than acting all hostile.
3. it’s all in the Language
Oftentimes, the key factor in getting your point across isn’t what you’re saying, but rather how you’re saying it. As such, your tone is crucial in how people will respond to you. For instance, making your points in an inflammatory manner or resorting to excessive profanity may instill a wave of hostility from onlookers. Even if you are very heated due to how you feel about the subject, it’s best not to let an antagonistic tone take away from the quality of your own argument. It’s unfortunate, but it is usually the case that people are more affected by the tone of a piece of writing as opposed to the actual content – it’s really just a part of being human.
One of the best ways I’ve found to prevent hostile responses is (people are going to call me old-fashioned for this) to simply remain as fair and professional as possible. Wording your response using more academic language and weighing both the pros and (where applicable) cons of your side will help people understand where you’re coming from – and that’s really what a good discussion should accomplish. Additionally, taking the time to structure your points in a way that is both clear and concise usually goes a long way in articulating your thoughts.
4. maintain proper Conduct
This can be a tricky one, mainly because it’s difficult to act completely composed when someone has either posted a stance that you completely disagree with or is launching a personal attack straight at you. In these types of scenarios, there are many things that can go wrong, a great deal of which stems from improper conduct. Thankfully, there are a couple steps you can take to remain in control during these tricky situations.
The first is to take a good look at the text you plan on replying to, and read it over a couple of times. First and foremost, you want to make sure you aren’t misunderstanding anything that the other party has written, since that can lead to unnecessary chaos further down the road. Likewise, try and avoid committing any logical fallacies. Oftentimes, people aren’t consciously aware when they’re doing this, since it’s far too easy to take someone’s points out of context (possibly due to not reading over their entire text) and straw man it to oblivion. Not only will this likely knock the entire discussion off the rails, but it will cause the other party to respond quite defensively to you, potentially halting further exchanges. As such, it’s sometimes best to just ask the other party directly if there’s something you aren’t quite clear on. At the very least, it shoots them the signal that you’re not out to get them.
However, what if it seems as though the other side is out to get you? There will undoubtedly be times where regardless of how well you’ve conducted yourself that you’ll be met with hostility. In these cases, it’s best to ignore inflammatory messages altogether and just focus your energy on responding to any reasonable points the opposition is making. Some people just like to be a bit aggressive when arguing, and they’ll puff their chests a few times after responding to your points, possibly in an attempt to intimidate you. The key is learning to differentiate between a harmless personality trait and a legitimate, hostile attack on your core being. You always have the option of walking away from an argument if you feel it has run its course or is no longer productive.
5. Find the environment that suits you best
Ultimately, you want to find the environment that works best for you. A lot of the tips I’ve provided above will probably click for certain personality types more than others, so it’s important to take into account what you as an individual want to get out of a discussion or argument. Perhaps you weren’t fond of the community in a specific forum, or you prefer IRC for being able to talk to multiple users in real-time. Wherever you decide to reside on the vast realm of the internet, it’s important to never feel boxed in by one environment, and explore other possibilities.