Friday, March 28, 2014

You Are No Good to Anybody

Conor Friedersdorf:

In the aftermath of a gun tragedy, there isn't anything wrong with proponents of gun control trying to persuade Americans to change their position in light of what happened. But after Newtown, many gun-control advocates tried to shame rather than persuade, as if the "correct" position was obvious to everyone save retrograde idiots.

On guns, that strategy has never worked. 

How often has it ever worked on anything, basic psychology being what it is? Eh, whatever. Convincing people to change their minds was never the goal anyway. The sorts of snarky social media performances he's talking about are entirely for the benefit of the performer's peer group. Proud gun owners in this case might as well be pantomime villains or pro wrestling heels; they only exist to make the hero look better. Which brings us to the main point I wanted to make: Friedersdorf, like a lot of people who spend their professional lives online, seems to be making the mistake of treating the effluvium in his Twitter feed as representative of anything other than the useless chattering class that produces it. Some people recognize that true sociopolitical activism, especially for unpopular causes, requires patience, tact and a massive amount of exhausting, thankless, anonymous work, to say nothing of time spent actually engaging with people who disagree. Other people, well, they write anguished blog posts bitching at Madonna and maybe retweet some snark about gun owners and their sexual inadequacy. The latter aren't "advocates" of anything but their own righteousness; they aren't interested in anything but the usual insular status-seeking.