Recently I posted a couple cartoons that upset some people and they left comments on Facebook and Twitter saying so.
My first impulse was to reply to those comments because I thought their arguments contained more horseshit than a team of Budweiser Clydesdales, but I refrained because past experience has taught me nothing ever gets settled on the internet.
When I started “Judging the Royals” – a Kansas City Star blog devoted to explaining baseball from the ballplayers’ point of view – I mistakenly thought baseball fans would love it.
But a larger-than-expected group of fans were upset because I was telling them that a lot of what they thought about baseball was wrong and it didn’t make any difference that my information came straight from big league ballplayers.
For the most part, the players liked what I was doing because I was taking the time to explain what they were doing and why they did it. At one point, Ned Yost – no fan of the media – told me every team needed someone doing what I was doing. (Hold on…gotta take a break...I think I just pulled a muscle patting myself on the back.)
I thought every baseball fan would love to hear the inside story from big league ballplayers, coaches, managers and front-office executives, but if what those insiders said contradicted what some fans believed, those fans didn’t like it.
Which brings us to my second mistake: I thought every comment deserved an answer.
Stupid is way easier
As the “Judging the Royals” audience grew, the number of comments increased and because I tried to respond to every comment I was spending hours and hours replying to readers.
And if someone believed the Earth was flat, a photograph from space wouldn’t change their mind.
If someone says something dumb – like the moon is made of green cheese – that’s easy; clearly no thought was required. But putting together a rational argument proving the moon isn’t made of green cheese takes some work.
You need to look up articles on what astronomers have discovered and what they found when they visited the moon and then despite what NASA and everybody who knows something about the moon says, the green-cheese believer will question your sources.
If someone has decided to be a dumbass, a mountain of evidence won’t convince him or her they’re wrong.
Which reminds me of a story.
A reader once accused me of being biased because I drew something negative about George W. Bush, which means the reader didn’t understand the “opinion” part of “opinion page.”
Here’s a logical question: why read an opinion page if you don’t want to hear what other people think?
While I admitted I wasn’t a fan of W. (little did I know how much worse things could get) I pointed out that I’d also drawn negative cartoons about Bill Clinton when he was in office. If the president is going to bang interns and people who come to fix the photocopier, that’s pretty good political cartoon material and I didn’t pass up that opportunity.
The reader responded that he’d never seen a negative Clinton cartoon from me and challenged me to send him some. So that means he somehow missed hundreds of cartoons drawn over eight years and it was now my responsibility to educate him and no matter how many cartoons I sent him I got the feeling he was going to find some reason they were inadequate.
At that point I gave up and told him to do his own damn research.
Getting the last internet word in
If we’re having an argument we all love to get the last word in even when our side of the argument has taken such a beating any competent referee would step in and give it a standing eight count.
I was having one of those tit-for-tat (a really weird cliché that makes me wonder where I can get some tat) getting-in-the-last-word internet arguments where the other guy would say something like “so’s your mother” and I’d write the Magna Carta in response.
This went on for a couple days until my internet debate opponent let slip that he was in eighth grade.
So I was grown-ass man having a two-day argument with someone who had never driven a car, drank alcohol or gotten laid, although if he had managed that last one in eighth grade I would have been much more respectful of his opinions about baseball.
At some point it dawned on me you couldn’t win an internet argument with someone living in his mother’s basement and here’s why.
The best way to win an argument on the internet is to be lonely, unemployed or retired and have a giant axe to grind and nothing better to do than grind away. People with jobs and friends and stuff to do will eventually give up and go on with a life that doesn’t involve arguing with strangers on Facebook.
The crazy-person room is down the hall
Like most of you I’ve been in a lot of arguments in my life and like most of you I’ve never won one. When people have decided evidence doesn’t matter they’re not going to change their minds no matter what you say.
So I’ve stopped trying.
I’ll show you what I think by drawing a cartoon or writing an essay and if you like it and say so, I’ll say thanks. If you don’t like it and say so and I think I can get away with a single response, I’ll probably say something that amounts to everybody has a right to their opinion.
But if you’re looking for an argument, the crazy-person room is down the hall.
Maybe there you can find someone that has nothing better to do than argue with a stranger who used to stand on street corners and shout nonsense, but now has a social media platform.
So good luck with all that – I’ve got more cartoons to draw.