As an aspiring researcher of visual culture – with a particular emphasis on cartography, comics, cartoons, and Awesome Things – I try to stay hip and current with the ongoing discussions in areas I find interesting, like COMICS!!! So I joined a mega-awesome Comic Studies list serv and it has already proven to be fascinating and profitable in many ways.
One of those ways is that Jeet Heer, whose work I first encountered while writing my MA research on Nevlana of the Northern Lights, sent out a call for academic opinions on the new Captain America movie, and I got to say stuff in The Globe & Mail! Now I can check that off the list of things to do before I die.
The flip side of this totally awesome and amazing thing that I was so excited about was… getting into an Internet fight.
The Good Thing about getting into that Internet fight was that I got lots of advice from my parents, my partner, my advisor, and my wise friends about how to behave in such a situation in the future. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, whether you are a burgeoning academic, an intrepid journalist, or just a fellow Internet-user, here are some suggestions for how to proceed in an Internet fight:
1) Check this chart. It will help you gauge your interest in self defense vs. blissful, and sandwich-full, ignoring-ance. Maybe you are just starting out your career in academia, and there aren’t a lot of rules for how to respond to things that aren’t worthwhile critiques. How much do you care about the thoughts of the peons that troll comments forums? Do you want to try and foster a meaningful dialogue? Do their comments warrant a response? Are you just mad?
2) Depending on your answers to Step 1, go ahead and fight the good fight! In the summarized words of one professional journalist and a fine confidant, Susan Delacourt:
Some journalists have an in-bred reluctance to enter the fray. It’s because we were trained, back in the olden days, that readers absolutely had a right to the last word. But these were in the days when one had to go through a bunch of hoops (such as submission, review, editing) to get that last word (for example, in a published letter to an editor). Nowadays, anyone with a functioning mouse clicker can say anything that is on his/her mind. So it is often (but not always!) useful to rebut, refute and argue.
Rather than punching back with “I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I LOLZ,” make sure your response is brief, factual, and relevant. Proof read it. Ask others to proof read it. Then post. However, ye post not with impunity, which is why Step 3 is so important.
3) Know when to give up. In the words of one professional life coach who shall go nameless, but is adept at communicating in one of those romance languages: “Ils peuvent tous aller ce fair foutre!” If your exchange is going nowhere, and Internet fights often do just that (you can tell that no one is learning when the comparisons to Nazis begin), it’s okay to step away from the computer, ignore future posts, or flag inappropriate comments for removal by a moderator.
The Globe & Mail does just that when they remove inappropriate personal attacks from their forums. I wish you equal success in your Internet fights and other endeavors.