Since the days of Plato, people have used the power of rational argument to make themselves seem smarter than other people. Recently this passion for astute dialectic has spread over to the internet and social networks. Here we have generously provided ten tips on how to win at debates on Facebook.
1. USE ALL CAPS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Using all caps makes you seem loud and shouty, which exudes confidence. If people believe that you’re confident enough in your opinions to proclaim them loudly in public then they will assume that you must be right. This is a tactic that has worked for religious preachers and the mentally ill in London’s public spaces for centuries.
2. Remember to press enter between paragraphs to make the comment thread really hard to follow.
Doing this will make your comments extra confusing. And a confusing argument is easily mistaken for a complex and nuanced one. People will assume your argument is clever and therefore will take your side. Furthermore, if you keep posting things really quickly after your opponent comments then this will bury all the things they’ve written so that no one will actually see your opponent’s arguments. This completely undermines their ability to effectively counter your points and removes any need for rebuttal of theirs. I call it ‘prebuttal’.
3. ‘Like’ the comments of everyone who agrees with you.
If your side has more ‘likes’ on their comments it will look like more people agree with you than agree with your opponents. This is important because people will agree with whatever most other people seem to agree with. For example, nobody really thinks Kendal mint cake but everyone pretends to like it because they think everybody else adores those excessively minty, mutant after-eights.
4. Make your comments long, like really long.
If your comments are long-winded and rambling enough your opponent may lack the willpower to actually read your comment and respond. In that case you win by default. If your opponent responds so quickly as to suggest they didn’t actually fully read your comment then assert that all of their points were countered in your big-ass monster comment and that they would know this if they had actually read it. This will force them to read your comment really carefully in a vain attempt to find these non-existent arguments. Which brings me onto my next point:
5. Never read your opponents’ comments.
Obviously. They might actually be convincing, and if you get convinced then that means you lose.
6. Make sure you mention plenty of sob stories.
If you mention sob stories, even unrelated ones, your opponent will look like an uncaring asshole for disagreeing with you. For example:
Opponent: “I think policy X would be best for the NHS.”
You: “How can you say that when 50,000 orphans die of cancer on the NHS every day?? Why do you hate sick children?”
7. Compare the other side to a selection of different dictators.
Comparison to Hitler has become too much of a cliche, but there are plenty of other totalitarian autocrats to choose from. Why not go for a Stalin, or a Ghadaffi? Maybe even Putin, if you want to seem more current. One idea is to compare them to someone really obscure, like Alfredo Stroessner: in the time it takes them to Google the brutal, Paraguayan anti-communist ruler you’ll have written a load of new super-long comments that will take them forever to respond to.
8. Get really upset whenever your opponent makes a point.
This will make them feel awkward and throw them off guard. Plus, if you appear emotionally involved in your opinions people will respect that. Your calm opponent with their unemotive, rational arguments will seem uncaring and cold by comparison.
9. Keep telling your opponent to “calm down” at random intervals.
Even if your opponent is perfectly calm telling them to calm down will make them seem unhinged and you will appear to be the voice of reason. If someone tries this trick on you just say “I just care about <disadvantaged group> so much” and see 8. above.
10. Make sure to scoff and chuckle at the absurdity of your opponent’s reasoning.
If you appear contemptuous of your opponent’s arguments onlookers will do likewise so as not to seem stupid. Remember to throw in phrases like “Ha, do you really believe that?” and “Oh come on, really?”. Note that Facebook comments do not allow for italics and so you should write “imagine that the word ‘really’ was in italics”, after those sentences, just for clarity. Remember: sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit (narrowly behind dick jokes and fart noises), but it is the highest (i.e. most effective) form of rhetoric.