PSA for any readers suffering from emotional incontinence
A reminder of my commenting policy & rules of engagement after banning my first unhinged comment-leaver
Over the last decade I’ve spent less and less time online. The more that the internet becomes commercialized, walled off in platforms, and used to entrance the least common denominator of The Public with spells cast in high-def video, the less appealing I find it.
Every year it gets a little worse, less useful, more invasive.
I love interacting with people who are good people. By that I don’t mean relentlessly positive thinkers with fake smiles. I mean calm, even-keeled, sincere, good-natured, mostly reasonable people who can discuss ideas and have a little fun, without turning the exchange into emotional hysterics. People who bring good healthy energy.
Not everyone is capable of this. As Substack has opened up to The Public, more and more of that bottom-tier reactive negativity and dysfunction shows up. I’ve made it clear in my commenting policy that I won’t have that around here. Read for yourself:
I have an almost zero-tolerance policy for comment angst. I do give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Expression in writing is always walking a mine-field. Way I see it, once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a triangle, and I won’t tolerate any geometric shapes of awful behavior.
I reserve the right to ban for ugly personalities.
I don’t talk about this much here because it for the most part it isn’t relevant, but with a doctorate in philosophy (ethics and moral, with a healthy interest in philosophy of science on the side, if you care), teaching all this stuff to students, writing about it in professional contexts, and earning many punches on the chin from people brighter and more capable than I, I’m not a turnip-truck refugee.
This isn’t horn-blowing. I mention it so that you understand where I’m coming from. The things I talk about here, while not scholarship, are a tier or three above the usual recycled social media insights.
I have no fear of serious, reasonable criticism. I welcome sincere engagement. But I’m aiming for a little more here than “NO UR DUMB!” from broken people with an entitlement complex. With so much of that conduct available online, I don’t think it’s much to ask to have one small place without it.
When a drive-by rando brings low energy like this:
Oh noes someone dared question your 19th century reductionist ideas that deny conscious ideation to animals, sob. How dare anyone question your ideas without the proper deference sire.
Anyone who is high minded in the low art of squashing debate of ideas is an automatic unsubscribe for me.
I’m not impressed.
If he hadn’t rage-quit, I’d have done it for him.
Debate of ideas he says? Let’s talk about debate then.
I’ve attended many talks given by professional philosophers and colleagues. Never once, not even in the most heated Q&A session, did I see anyone behave like this.
This person does not know what he is talking about. That’s not exaggeration to score a point. He is unleashing rage about a few remarks he doesn’t understand, toward a person he didn’t bother to understand, to no clear purpose.
That’s a reliable pattern among these disagreeable comment-leavers. They blend ignorance — of the subject matter and their own behavior — with stunning arrogance and inexplicable hostility.
I call it emotional incontinence. They have no control over what comes out of their psychic orifices.
When the emotionally incontinent make noises about “squashing debate”, this must be understood as a form of blackmail.
If you believe in FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS you have to put up with my awful attitude and sloppy thinking!
I’ve taught critical thinking and done real scholarship on formal logic and the origins of rational argument and let me tell you:
No. No, I don’t.
Tolerating emotionally incontinent tantrum-throwers is not a prerequisite for debate. Not only is it not necessary, the bad faith, lack of charity, and inexplicable hostility are destructive to the very idea of dialectical argument aimed at truth.
In Plato’s day they stabbed people for acting like this.
Using the words “debate” and “reason” without the sincere intent behind them is not free inquiry, it is manipulation.
I don’t understand this phenomenon of tantrum-throwing adults, or why it is so common online, and won’t try to explain it. It does seem like it’s gotten much worse in the last decade.
Could be that people were always unhinged and they’ve got a medium to express it now. It could be that the internet’s corrupting influences on mind and spirit are worse than most of us ever imagined.
All I know is a simple formula. The fewer personalities like this in my world, the better my life goes.
Thanks for reading.