Friday, November 4, 2011

Childish Tricks that Appear Responsible - Guilt Trip

   YouTube trolls can be so frustrating! (Which is why I try not to spend a lot of time on YouTube comment boards.) I got the "There are real/more important issues to worry about" tactic pulled on me today. This is more commonly used in the form of "There are starving children in Africa" tactic. It is such a frustrating one as it is difficult to respond to. The tactic makes the user appear to be the "better man" because they are (supposedly) more worried about the serious issue while the victim (me, in this case) is made to look petty. Googling this, I found a few sites that refer to this as the guilt trip fallacy.
Most of us are familiar with the concept of “guilt-tripping” someone. This is a fallacy. If you try to make someone feel guilty to get them to do, or not do, something, then you are committing this fallacy. Let’s say you are out to eat and someone with you doesn’t finish her food. If you say, “You know there are starving children in Africa so you should finish your food” you are trying to guilt-trip the person into eating the food. Guilt alone shouldn’t be responsible for making someone accept a claim or course of action.
   Mr. YouTube Troll was essentially trying to guilt trip me into no longer arguing with him (or maybe it was a her, so Ms. YouTube Troll - stupid English language needs more gender-neutral terms), and thus they "win" the argument due to me abandoning said argument...which I eventually did since I realized I was dealing with a troll (and nobody ever wins an argument with a troll). The signs of a troll were obvious from the comments he/she had left when I entered the board, so I don't know why I didn't avoid confrontation from the start. I must remember the golden rule...

   Back to the fallacy, though, anyone have suggestions for dealing with this one? I don't think I handled it well. I basically asked who defines "real," which I think is a legitimate question, but fails to expose the troll's insincerity. In hindsight, I was thinking a better response might have been, "You're right! So why are you arguing about it?" possibly adding, "Why don't you go away and let us petty people bicker about this?" That would at least turn it on the head of the troll. Of course there is the option of not feeding the troll any further. Unfortunately, as pointed out above, that seems to be the goal of the troll, so that plays right into their hand.

Your suggestions?

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