When is “Winning” in Social Media Going Too Far?

reed sea

Then Moses and the Children of Israel chose to sing this song to Hashem, and they said the following: I shall sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.

Exodus 15:1 Stone Edition Chumash

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took her drum in her hand and all the women went forth after her with drums and with dances. Miriam spoke up to them, “Sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.”

Exodus 15:20-21 ibid

“How can you sing when my people are dying?”

Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b

I quoted from today’s Torah Portion and from Talmud as much as a lesson to myself as for others. I’m not speaking so much about celebrating or cheering when our enemies (or people we just don’t like) die, even a very deserving demise. I’m addressing how we cheer when we think we’ve trounced some else’s opinion particularly in the realm of social media including the blogosphere.

Believe me, I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.

But it occurs to me that at some point, when we attempt to champion our own cause at the detriment of someone else’s, we are trying to harm the other person.

Recently on Facebook (clicking that link will take you to an image some would find offensive so choose wisely) I engaged another person, someone in my local community who I used to work with, over the matter of women dressing up in vagina costumes for the national Women’s March of a weekend or two ago. To me, it looked incredibly degrading and seemed to be communicating that these “progressive” and “liberated” women saw themselves as nothing more than their genitals.

I believe they were actually responding to a comment attributed to Donald Trump which he made some years back (and which was recorded) about grabbing women by their “p*ssies which I indeed do find highly offensive.

However, I’m not sure that responding by dressing up as the object of Trump’s interest (as suggested by his comment) is the best way to protest and I said so.

Of course, I was accused of misunderstanding the symbolism involved and maybe even somehow denying these women the right to choose their own symbols.

We went back and forth a few times and then I dropped it (not everyone else did) figuring I’d made my point and people were free to disagree with me.

Did he “win” and I “lose” because I didn’t continue the “battle?” More importantly, if I had continued the exchange and if he became silent, should I have celebrated his “defeat?”

Just so you don’t misunderstand me, I do believe in standing up for morality and I believe vagina costumes and some of the language used by the women and men (yes, some men dressed up for the occasion as well) involved was offensive.

Now I know I can be accused of supporting the “Patriarchy” for that comment, as if I, as a religious male, have some sort of right to control the behavior of women. No, it’s not about control. I don’t “control” the behavior or dress of my wife and daughter (they’d explode if I even tried) and only exercise some control over my granddaughter’s choice of apparel because she’s just two-and-a-half.

Women are free to wear whatever they choose and to behave in any manner they desire (short of breaking the law or otherwise causing harm), but in this nation of free speech rights, I can choose to express my opinion on what I think is acceptable and unacceptable behavior from men and women based on my moral and ethical values. I would also object to men protesting while wearing “penis” hats (my friend said somewhere on Facebook that the Washington Monument is a giant penis symbol which I find kind of ridiculous since not everything that is taller than it is wide is a penis).

women's march 2018
Photo: Carolyn Cole, TNS – Found at Detroit Free Press

If I were a better person, I probably wouldn’t get into these debates at all since long and bitter experience has taught me that they do absolutely no good in changing anyone’s mind.

And yet, if no one objects to offensive and ludicrous imagery and symbolism, that amounts to tacit acceptance and agreement.

How far can we go in objecting before we find ourselves driven to metaphorically “kill” the person with whom we disagree?

For more, read Mrs. Lori Palatnik’s article When Evil Falls. It doesn’t directly address my point, but it is illuminating nonetheless.

5 thoughts on “When is “Winning” in Social Media Going Too Far?”

  1. Something to bear in mind is that debate may not alter the views of either of the opposing participants, but that it may enable other non-participating observers of the debate to evaluate and perhaps to alter their own views. Of course, one may celebrate if one should actually succeed to convince an opponent to consider the merits of one’s own position and alter their view accordingly. However, it is not because of an opponent’s “downfall” that one should celebrate, but rather their “uplift” if they have been convinced to accept a superior logic or fact. Such an opponent should be encouraged to enjoy the honor of self-improvement rather than to feel dishonored as if they had been defeated in a contest.

    Perhaps discussions in social media ought not to be viewed as metaphorically reflecting a model such as the defeat of the Egyptian pursuers who were drowned in the sea. The newly-freed Jewish former slaves were justified in celebrating the miracle that destroyed their murderous former and would-be-again oppressors. The Talmudic gloss on the story depicts HaShem as rebuking *angels* who were about to join in the singing, emphasizing that even the bad guys were still HaShem’s creatures and worthy of compassionate consideration. One might note also that these angels did not have a personal stake in the event. They were merely observers who thus had no justification at all for any celebration. We might apply such an observation to social-media discussions, to suggest that folks who likewise have no personal stake in the outcome of the discussion should not gloat if superior logic or information successfully overrules a faulty argument.

    1. I think that latter bit to your comment is what I was shooting for, PL. Personal experience has taught me that a lot of what goes on in social media isn’t about imparting information or discussing differing points of view but about trying to “win” in a Charlie Sheen sense.

  2. I went to the photo link and finally saw what I had heard referred to on the news…apparently the news clips that I access from time to time on YouTube don’t cater to the costume designers!

    I was sickened at the crass vulgarity of the costumes and wondered why they objected to Trump’s locker-room crudity in a space assumed to be private. After all, it is unlikely that the statement by Trump would have been made had it been in the expectation of being made public.

    The protestors wearing the costumes, on the other hand, were going public with a visual aid that is unnecessary to any argument (whatever the argument was), and which was only useful for be making it quite clear that these people cannot have a rational conversation without the visual equivalent of screaming at those viewing them.

    Consequently, I do not know what they are for or against politically, nor am I sure what their argument was since the costumes block out rational thought and thus impair my memory, but I have to assume that the protestors involved were parading their grotesquely cartoonish costume vaginas because they wanted them grabbed? Or they perhaps felt marginalized because that portion of a women’s anatomy was not a key element in some political discussion? I realize the costumes are a symbol of something important to those wearing the costumes, but it remains very unclear to me what they are to represent.

    I am not interested in the point they were trying to make because it is being held on terms I do not consider to be civil discourse between adult persons. Yelling and screaming at people visually or auditorily, is not conducive to being heard. My resultant lack of interest has to be my only response, as my expression of distaste cannot be seen in between the letters I am typing. Those wearing the costumes have the right to parade around in such crass attire under the illusion that silliness and vulgar acts are civil discourse under the First Amendment, but they win no argument.

    As to slamming people line by line in order to win a conversational point…the people that appear to win such arguments have to be content with a doubtful trophy. Their success in beating people up verbally in order to win a conversational debate wins them no friends and less respect. It can only gain them a transient glow of victory and the reputation of being a cow patty on the pages of whatever forum they are writing at. Under those circumstances, silence is the best response for anyone unwilling to jab their pen into someone else’s jugular.

    1. I can certainly see why people would object to some of Trump’s statements, but the wearing of genital costumes seems to be more self-demeaning than they are a rebuke to Trump’s infamous statement which he made before he ever dreamed of running for President. In my opinion, Donald Trump’s biggest fault is that he has no filter whatsoever. Whatever thought enters his brain pops out of his mouth. Imagine if everyone lost their internal filter for 24 hours. We’d all probably say at least some offensive things.

      In responding to your comment, I wonder if the embracing of genital costumes and some of the language used by those who wore them as well as their supporters can be attributed to a “social media mentality” that’s leaked into the real world. In social media, people tend to say things they’d be less likely to utter to someone’s face, but perhaps that social barrier is being eroded, at least for the younger generation. If that’s the case, then maybe in a few years, a lot of people will be operating with a limited filter or none at all, ironically becoming more like Trump while still trying to protest against him.

  3. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Thank you James for allowing our letters be posted, for it will help others in a little way that really seek the truth. But the problem, the world did not see and knew that they were confronting much gravest problem as we are about to finish reporting these whole information truth of the God Will Knowledge of the Plan, when God have informed it already before. And this is all because the world believer almost totally lost their faith believe to God and just only put all their trust to their affiliated religion without checking the scriptures, that all religion were already condemned ever since the foundation of the world. But Yeshua Messiah have already adviced to this problem in Jn. 5:20-31, by calling out those people in their graveyard or religion. But this only to those that have done good, will have ressurrection in life. And to those that have done evil, is in to the ressurrection of damnation! And this is also true today!

    Anyway, here is another information truth which the world needed to know! And this is about the 2nd Coming of Christ, that this is in the parable prophetical prophesy in within the prophesy terminology, with a complicated dual and multiple means of application use. Which only puzzled the many readers of this Gospel Plan. And what for to the concealment made by Yeshua M. to this Plan of God in Mt. 24:36.. Which resulted to those world major religion and even to those unqualified Israelites (leftseeds) to the Covenant of Yeshua M. that were all blank to the full knowledge of the Plan of God, making their faith believe knowledge only into the literal prophesy on the 2nd Coming of Christ. Which A. Paul prophesies it also as those people waiting or looking for to the 2nd Coming of Christ. When the truth of this 2nd Coming of Christ have already happen applied or was already fulfill ever since in the Messianic Covenant of Yeshua Messiah. And this is the secret, of how the 2nd Coming of Christ have already occurred or happened to all the lifes of all the Chosen Call Out Israelites, but were forbidden to kept it in secret to their selves. And this is how it was applied it in secret, in the the format order of the recieving the complete spiritual ritual baptism of the water (that is by knowing his name) and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (by knowing his Father name), which analogically means to know all about the Ultimate Covenant in the Plan of God, which was referring to the knowing of the Whole Plan of the 2nd Coming of Christ. So, from this spiritual ritual format of recieving the baptism of the Holy Spirit or while in their (personal) deep studies of God books, God bless them by giving or rewarding this 2nd Coming of Christ knowledge as gifts to the father promise of salvation, read Rev. 14:1-5.. And thou can visualize here, how it took so long of period of time to acquire this gift knowledge by the chosen people of God. Thats why, this 2nd Coming of Christ is well already prepared plan and completely written in the Gospel Book and even unto the End of the World. So, who is really now the Christ to come which the world is waiting?
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE: New Jerusalem – Holy City

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