A little while ago, I was reading a thread on Twitter, and a guy in the thread dropped this little nugget of gold. There’s a lot to unpack in that post and I’m not going to go into it too much. Suffice it to say, it got me thinking. I’ll let you guys read it for yourself and do your own unpacking of it.
Here’s a few thoughts that I had about it though:
A beef-only thinker is someone you cannot simply talk to. Anything that is not an expression of pure, unqualified support for whatever they are doing or saying is received as a mark of disrespect, and a provocation to conflict. From there, you can only crash into honor-based conflict mode, or back away and disengage.
I’ve encountered a lot of people on the Internet of Beefs, which is pretty much all of social media these days. You can’t have a conversation with them, you can’t talk to them unless it is in support of whatever their beef is. Think about binary thinking and lack of nuance here. Everything is black or white, everything is us versus them. The beefs that people have range from the large scale, global type of stuff, such as climate change, down to the absolutely ridiculous like, if you don’t have kids, your opinion counts for less to society at large.
I swear sometimes that people have nothing better to do in their lives except try and stir up outrage. Imagine that your life is so great, so absolutely “normal,” that you have to go out onto the internet and pick a fight over nothing. Beefing for the sake of beefing.
To continue operating in public spaces without being drawn into the conflict, you have to build an arsenal of passive-aggressive behaviors like subtweeting, ghosting, blocking, and muting – all while ignoring beef-only thinkers calling you out furiously as dishonorable and cowardly, and trying to bait you into active aggression.
This is one of the parts that drives me nuts. The fact that you have to literally duck your head and monitor what you say, just so that you can avoid a conflict with someone who literally has nothing better to do than stir up conflict.
The article goes on to describe what are known as Mooks and Knights:
A mook is an involuntary anonymous, fungible, angry figure desperate to be seen as significant. I was a mook over a year ago. I’ll admit it. I was raging for the sake of raging. Being a mook is mostly about taking sides in somebody else’s fight, whatever that cause may be. It’s mostly opt-in, which means you get to decide if you want to participate or not. You get to choose if your stress levels go up or not. You get to do this every time you engage.
Knights are the guys who have the cause that the mooks fight for. Here’s the thing though:
The conflict is happening for the sake of conflict itself. The goal isn’t to end the fight, but to keep it going, ideally without end. A war without end. A beef that never ends. Fighting for the sake of fighting. This is outrage culture.
The only reason for the fight is to sustain the fight, there really isn’t a strategy to all of this except to sustain and stretch out the beef. The knights are the instigators for the most part and the mooks are the cannon fodder and combat soldiers.
Why the beefing?
The mark of a knight of the vast round table of the Internet of Beefs is the relentless pursuit of the Holy Grift. A mercantile mission for the end of history…..
[P]ush come to shove, that the grifting motive will rule behavior rather than ideological ends. The grifters keep the culture war going…
It’s all about making money and getting the clicks basically. In many cases I think it’s all about trying to remain relevant. Especially when you are a knight of the Internet of Beefs and you need to make sure that the cash keeps flowing in.
While the mooks fight, the knights make money.
And there it is. Have a knight write a tweet or a post of some beefy outrage, whether it’s “real” or not, whether it truly matters or not, (in my experience, it usually doesn’t matter) add a link to the knight’s latest course, book, or seminar, click send, and there you have it. Agitate the mooks and get them fired up so that the dumpster fires get started and then bystanders as well as other mooks join in the foray and links to products and services get clicked. Money is made.
Get people agitated and they want to buy something to alleviate their agitation. It’s one of the oldest sales tricks in the book. It’s similar to creating a problem for someone and then selling them the solution to the very problem you created for them.
I’m not shitting on guys who want to make money, by all means, make your money. Do your thing. I’m just choosing to opt-out of the Internet of Beefs. I’m choosing to not be a mook anymore.
I don’t need to engage in the ‘rage. I don’t need to buy another course or book or whatever it is that is being sold. I’ll be fine without it.
Opting out is a great thing:
Your stress levels fall dramatically. Life tends to “slow down” somewhat. Colors, sounds, and the taste of things has become more vibrant. Maybe that last one about vibrancy is only something that I have experienced, it may not apply to you, but hey, you can always find out for yourself by trying the opt-out route. At a bare minimum, it won’t hurt you to try it.
Please give that article that I linked to at the beginning a full read. It might be one of those “aha moments” for you like it was for me. At the very least, it allowed me to see what was going on around me on the internet and it gave me a way to literally predict what is or was going to happen next.