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Sean Beckwith: How to win an argument

Sean Beckwith
The Lit Life

You can find all kinds of things on the internet. Looking for a pair of Nike Air Penny IIs that, last time you had them, were in kids’ sizes? Or how about an assortment of alligator appetizers, or hell, even a whole alligator? Want a toe? I can get you a toe.

Basically, what I’m saying is if you look hard enough you can find pretty much anything, save for a singing beer koozie that you accidentally lost on the disc golf course. We’ll always have the memory of your music, beer koozie. *Melancholily sings “It’s beer o’clock and we’ll never stop drinking beer.”*

While being able to find the answers to the universe’s questions with a few taps of your thumbs is undeniably useful in everyday life — think finding restaurants, writing research papers, getting the weather, etc. — you still have to analyze the information.

Picking the first restaurant in your search for “Italian food” could lead to the closest Italian restaurant, which could be great or could give you food poisoning. Chances are if the lobster special is sold out, the backup “seafood medley” pasta should be treated like a reserve and left on the bench.

But let’s focus on what 95% of people use Google for: Winning arguments. Are Monte Carlo and Monaco the same place? (Technically, Monte Carlo is an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco, whatever that means.) Is a hot dog a sandwich or its own food category? (Internet still out on this one.) How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? (I don’t know, man. Google it.)

However, when the arguments turn serious, people can’t handle being wrong. And with issues as subjective as politics, you can find validation on some corner of the internet for any argument, which is why “The Biden crime family is stealing the election!”

If you believe random people shouting on the line because they’re shouting the same thing you are, then science fiction turns to science fact, right? While I don’t think the intention behind that thought process is fiction turns to fact, I do believe there are gullible people who don’t know how to determine the difference between the two.

I don’t want to go full ageist, but y’all are making it very hard not to go “Apocalypse Now” napalm drop on the way you get your “news.” (Also, regardless of how legit it seems, you didn’t win a free iPad.)

Say you watch a news program and find yourself so triggered by a segment about “America becoming socialist” that you want to research this phenomenon. The last place you should go is Facebook or Twitter or really even Google.

There are a number of news outlets you can peruse not named MSNBC, CNN or Fox News that offer well-researched, fact-checked news. There’s even a media bias chart (adfontesmedia.com) that will tell you which way certain organizations lean and how accurate they are.

Personally, I think the U.S. would be better served with news outlets being as transparent about their stances as possible. I don’t care which way you want people to vote — well I do, but I’m not going to get into that right now — as long as you’re upfront about it and, here’s the kicker, your argument is factual.

If all you do online is look for evidence that your way of thinking is the correct one, you’ll never be wrong. People no longer listen, they just wait for their turn to respond because the internet has given us a rebuttal for everything.

One example of that is the Michael Jordan versus LeBron James GOAT question. There are endless memes that “prove” one is the GOAT over the other, and it’s annoying but it’s not dangerous.

There was actual smoke to the Russian investigation but there wasn’t clear evidence despite the masses lusting over impeachment. Donald Trump isn’t Dick Nixon; he’s just a dick. If he was Dick Nixon, Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic nominee.

President-elect Joe Biden has a very checkered political history as all lifelong politicians do, but the guy isn’t capable of electronically rigging an election. He doesn’t even write his own tweets. He probably doesn’t have Twitter on his cellphone. But, yeah, he barely campaigned because he was too busy writing an algorithm to steal the election.

I never thought the apps I once used to try to spit game and complain about coaching decisions would turn into volcanoes that spew so much scorching garbage that they’d skew not only news but the democratic process. Might as well update your status to “Dumb ass” and give the Kremlin your SSN.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at sbeckwith@aspentimes.com.


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