Keyboard warriors

October 1, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

“The pen is mightier than the sword” was first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

It’s still true today though no one uses a pen anymore.

Most of what we read is presented to us not by paper but via a video screen with a keyboard attached: an iPad or computer. Chances are excellent that’s exactly how you’re consuming these words at this very moment.

And unlike days of yore where pen, paper, envelopes, stamps, and lots of time were the mean by which we expressed our considered thoughts, today it’s more like a conversation. If something we read fires up our emotions we can instantly respond (and often do).

The good news is the written or spoken words of one person often morph to an ongoing dialog.

The bad news is the written or spoken words of one person sometimes morph to a fight.

Today’s challenge seems to be one of timing.

If we can find the space to let settle the words that stir our emotions before dashing off an angry retort, perhaps a new age of civility might be just around the corner.

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30 comments on “Keyboard warriors”

  1. The problem is that too often people tap away before engaging their brain. It’s not the fault of the medium, it’s the fault of the users. Dialogue is a good thing, as long as each response is more than three syllables or an emoji.

    I do not read or post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc., but my wife gets annoyed that I do not use WhatsApp, as we have family and street groups, I was forced to join and I am expected to read messages.

    1. Steven,
      ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Instagram’, etc. are just vexatious &
      problematic platforms that I have absolutely no use for either.
      ‘WhatsApp’ is just a much cheaper way of messaging &
      sending photos, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. I’ve been informed to that effect by my wife. Unfortunately I never got into the habit of reading texts. I currently have 294 of them awaiting my divided attention.

          1. I once opened my Facebook account and found two birthday greetings from the same person, one from a few weeks earlier and the other one from the previous year. Shew knows me well and understood.

            I’ve done a couple of warrior posts here, addressed to CtA, I was mainly trying to out-CtA FatRat, I think it was something to do with those fug-ugly pro monitors that everyone on ASR thinks audiophiles should use so that their interior designed houses look like science labs.

  2. The keyboard & screen is just another venue for the liars to lie, for the frustrated to vent & for the angry (life owes me) to sh!t on others to make themselves feel just a little bit better (superior),
    usually with complete impunity.
    One has to use one’s God-given intelligence to judge the content of emails that one receives.
    I yearn for a world where people, businesses (companies), communities & nations are actually
    held accountable for their actions; where the good & honest are rewarded & where the liars & the deceiptful troublemakers have their arse’s well & truly kicked HARD…maybe in the next life.

  3. I’m not sure that timing is the difference in maintaining civility as much as time itself.
    We’ve created a world of instant communications, thus we expect instant responses.
    Back in the pony express days, or even snail mail days, there was plenty of time to ponder what was being written and how it was written. Face to face communications is where emotions ran high.

    Take a posting site like this. The design is to provoke thoughts and responses NOW! Not for us to mull things over for a few days and then get back to someone. This technique in itself is much more prone to emotions and outbursts.

    This area is as close as I get to social media.

    Most of the other electronic forms of instant communications weren’t designed for conversations but rather snippets or brief points of information.

    Just got a text – later

  4. Common Core education standards dictate that cursive handwriting will no longer be taught in elementary schools. I have perfect cursive handwriting but some younger folks can’t read it, so for them I have to write handwritten notes with printed letters.

    Doctors’ handwritten prescriptions are uncommon these days, which is probably a good thing. I wonder how many people have died because a sloppily written prescription was misinterpreted. Electronic is better.

    God twice wrote the Ten Commandments with his finger on stone tablets. Today he could just send everybody an email. Subject: Thou Shalt Not

    1. He wouldn’t unless he lived in 17th Century England. He/she/it would start with “Woaahhh, I’m the daddy”, or something similar.

  5. Hmm… don’t know what to write, and since timing is of the essence, whether I should write it today or tomorrow.
    Fortunately I have some time to mull it over.

      1. No I don’t think I could JosephLG. My stream of thought is way too fast. I couldn’t keep up.
        BTW., good idea, God sending us emails.
        But are you sure it’s not too technical for God and He knows how to work with a computer/tablet…?

  6. I wish I could be as positive as Paul is, but I am not. I cannot speak for the whole world, but the divisions I see here ( the US ) are just too deep to go away anytime soon.

    1. Unfortunately, the divisions are being amplified (see what I did there to keep the audio theme) by bad people to continue pushing their agenda to keep common folks from uniting. Fortunately, we have a common ground in this forum to escape the madness, if not just momentarily. Good to see you guys everyday.

      1. MR, I do mean to pick on you, but IMHO, part of the problem is the labels “bad people” and “good people”. I’m sure I know people who you think are “bad” and you probably know people who I think are “bad”. And I am sure there are people out there who think you and I are “bad”. Perhaps it would help if all of us could see these “bad people” as different people. I know I am guilty of having a list of “bad people”. I keep reminding myself to think of them as different and not bad. Of course, there are bad people who murder, rape and steal, but just because someone has different political views than I do should not make that someone “bad”.

        1. TP, You are correct, but just to be clear I wasn’t talking about political views. I wouldn’t bring that in here. It’s all good. Enough said (typed). Have a great day.

  7. Part of the problem is the keyboard gives you anonymity and the chance to write what you are thinking but would not necessarily say in a face to face conversation (or if you took the time to ponder).
    Another part is that there is no way to get body language, inflection or context from some rants so they immediately raise a defense posture in your mind and you reply defensively (or offensively) without knowing all of the intent or details.
    Society is not yet ready for fast communication without at least live human voices involved.
    Darwin however is marching ahead at a steady pace regardless and eventually may even things out somehow.
    A good friend always said that civilization is a pretty thin skin and is easily rubbed off or torn.

  8. Dear Paul,

    It seems logical that pausing before responding by typing on a computer should lower the contentiousness of computer-typed comments and the temperature of resulting debates. If someone walks away from an in-person argument to collect his/her thoughts before voicing a response, it seems logical that such person would do the same before typing a response. But it does not seem to be true — hence the birth of this “keyboard warrior” phenomenon.

    Nothing prevents the keyboard warrior from reflecting on his/her typed communication and retracting or modifying the first inflammatory communication. But, subjectively, this doesn’t seem to happen often with computer communications.

    We have going on right now a very interesting social experiment which bears on this topic. On the computer app Clubhouse people talk in groups (from two people to dozens of people) in real time (conceptually similar to amateur radio nets). I have found over the last six months that generally participants on Clubhouse are remarkably civil and polite, even while debating the very most emotionally-charged current events topics.

    Real-time talking to total strangers would seem like a great opportunity for communicating without any introspection or reflection, and for indulging one’s worst keyboard warrior-type tendency to lash out reflexively. But it just does not seem to happen. Speaking in real-time, it seems, even on a high-tech computer app, is a much more personal phenomenon than typing while hiding behind the computer screen.

    I think the “keyboard warrior” phenomenon you describe is real. Somehow the computer’s disintermediation of communication seems to make people feel that they can be impolite or uncivil — even though they would not behave that way real-time in person or, we now know, real-time on voice communication.

  9. Up until about a decade ago I used a fountain pen to write notes and sign snail mail cards to friends and loved ones. And I still use ball point pens to do sudoku and crossword puzzles and to write myself notes.

  10. I still write letters with a fountain pen to a couple of friends at least we like the medium and this has never ended after 30 years. I use emails and texts but to me not in the same category. Its like my Hi Fi not in the same category as some members on here but my LP12 and Prima Luna amp sing to me nightly through my KEFs and I am happy

  11. Special notes I write with a vintage Eversharp fountain pen. I shave with double edged Feather blades. Wear my father’s Omega watch, drive a BMW stick shift, listen to vinyl LPs via VTL. Tube amps.
    Only Paul’s People here would think that normal.

  12. Absolutely. Being able to dispense information weather thought provoking or not is waaaaaay too easy.

    I agree with the post from Paul. The art of a letter and even decent penmanship is a lost art.

    There are, however, definitely pros and cons to how readily we can devise and dispense info so quickly.

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