Musings from a high school Teacher
Disclaimer: This is entirely my opinion and I welcome debate. I used the terms they/them so as not to be binary or gender discriminatory.
I try not to be offended by other’s opinions and actually encourage debate about all topics, as it promotes growth for individuals and society. I am often the first to play devil’s advocate and to try to expand my horizons by viewing concepts from a different perspective. I find that “debate” has turned nasty on the internet. People don’t see, or maybe care not to see, the impact that their words have on others.
It's very easy to be a keyboard warrior who slices through issues with the deftness of a hot knife through butter. I imagine that the warrior feels righteous and justified in their thought patterns, and likely harbours a little narcissistic need to share their “enlightened” position with the ignorant masses (those individuals who believe, or are, something completely different from enlightened warrior). Here in lies the crux of my issue with keyboard warriors. Living as a minority in society, I regularly view the ill-informed enlightenment of others; I am often flabbergasted at the cruelty and mean-spirited evisceration of any and all individuals who are different from the so called “norm”. In the warrior’s pursuit to educate others, they reveal their own ignorance about issues. I have used the word ignorant/ignorance a lot here. Maybe I should define it, because I honestly feel that it captures the keyboard warrior's true status of subject matters they feel so entitled to discuss.
Definition of ignorance (according to Meriam Webster Dictionary)
Warriors attack their victims with vehemence and vigour, while hiding behind the shield of freedom of speech, thought and expression. They hide behind the front line defence that is the virtual anonymity of the internet and the screen from which their skin glows blue. There is an idiom that says “the pen is mightier than the sword”. In the digital age of social media, I think that idiom is more relevant if we change the pen to a keyboard. We are bombarded by the written word in small 140 character bursts. We feel well informed from shared unvetted information passed around like notes on a crumpled piece of paper, written in haste and circulated in malice and obtuseness. The seeming revolutionary access to infinite information has been rendered to schoolyard bullying.
The digital age of enlightenment has manifested itself in pockets of societal evolution; however, as a human race we continue to perpetuate the very principles that have, throughout history, brought civilizations to extinction. Racism, bigotry, sexism, and phobias of all kinds related to humans and the human existence continue to plague our globally connected society in increasingly polarizing and violent ways. Napoleon's manifest destiny today would be a numbered list, in bold, over a gradient background dotted with emojis and worded to reference the pop culture memes associated with the cultures he intended to destroy. Our modus operandi has not really changed; only our delivery has. I am reminded periodically that history does indeed repeat itself.
The keyboard warriors of today spewing propaganda and bias from a seat of perceived superiority is beyond frustrating to me. It is often down right desultory in its expansion of phenomena. It lacks true investigation and understanding. The question I often ask myself is: “From what place of woundedness does the keyboard warrior derive their vehemence?” In my experience the traumas of existence often fuel the fire of oppression for others. It is an intellectual conundrum to metacognitively understand the source of a keyboard warrior’s bullying, and simultaneously allow your emotional brain to have an aneurism over the intense hurt that it conjures.
I will continue to struggle with the dichotomy that occurs through interactions with keyboard warriors. I will use the online platform to spread positivity, love, and empathy. I will try to further my understanding of the primal need to create hierarchy amongst ourselves in order to feel whole. It occurs to me that this very exposition may, to some people, seem condescending and like the verbal mudslide of a keyboard warrior. The irony of sitting at this keyboard typing my thoughts is not lost. My intention is only to ask my questions and articulate my frustration. I hope that rather than incite pain and disgust, it incites thoughtful and investigative discussion around our use and misuse of a very global platform .
Striving to explore flip: explain in order to engage!