What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

This is the exact reason you never get into an argument with strangers on the Internet

Steve Bailey

Sometimes I get caught up in a moment and do things I shouldn't do. I think everyone who's honest with themselves will have to admit they do that from time to time. My vice, in this situation, was getting into an argument with commenters on a YouTube video I watched recently. Shortly after that, I had a deep conversation with my son and he asked me a very simple question that I often forget in the heat of the moment: "What are you trying to accomplish?"

I don't read many books. I can probably count on 10 fingers (or less) the number of books I've read, cover to cover, in my lifetime. This is a situation I plan on correcting in 2022. However, I read some fantastic books in 2021 by Austin Kleon. His most memorable book, for me, was a book called Keep Going. Page 138 of this book had an infographic that really hit home with me and one I struggle with. It reads, quite simply "I will not argue with strangers on the Internet." It is written over and over again just like the opening credits of a Simpsons episode.

And it's the mantra I need to adopt more and more into my life. In this particular video, the content creator shared a video game trade that he had made. He traded a Nintendo Switch for a large collection of GameCube games. Being a reseller and a video game collector, this video resonated with me (probably why YouTube recommended it to me). The comments quickly grew toxic with things like "This was a horrible trade for the seller. He could have easily sold these games for three or four times what he got for the Switch."

I spent the next several days trying to "convince" these people that both people involved in this trade felt like they got what they wanted so why are we trying to demonize one person for making a trade that seemingly took advantage of the other guy?

Let's oversimplify this with an example.  Let's say I have an apple.  I don't want the apple.  It means nothing to me.  I plan on selling the apple anyway.  Someone else sees that I have an apple and they want my apple.  And they have a television set that they don't want.  They could easily sell that television set and take the money to buy 10 apples.  However, they reach out to me and say "Listen, I don't want this television, but I do want that apple.  Would you be willing to trade?"

Both parties feel as if they are getting something of value. Why does an outside third party who has nothing to do with the transaction get to demonize me for taking the television or call the other person a moron for not doing what they think they should have done?

So I tried explaining to these people that both people were happy with the outcome so why not just be happy for them? And that's when they turned their rage to me. So now I'm in this battle trying to justify and rationalize proper human behavior between two people and getting ganged up on by more and more people as a result.

That's why Mark said to me "What are you trying to accomplish?"  He was right. There was no reason for me to even go down this rabbit hole. Austin was right. "I will not argue with strangers on the Internet."  And a metaphor I heard many years ago was right "A man convinced against his will is of the the same opinion still."

Deleted the comment and moved on with my life.

Recommend everyone reading this take this advice to heart.  There is nothing to be gained by arguing with people you don't even know on the Internet.  You aren't going to convince a total stranger they're wrong and you're not going to feel better by saying what's on your mind.