Cartoon: Arguing On The Internet


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(Patrons got to see this cartoon months before I posted it in public.)


This cartoon is drawn by my awesome and frequent collaborator, Becky Hawkins. I especially love what she did with the expression and lighting on the character’s face in the last panel.


 

Sadly, this cartoon could be autobiographical for either Becky or I, and probably for some of you as well. (I’ve actually installed a browser extension that limits how much time I can spend on Twitter.)

It’s amazing how engaging and immersive and, if I’m being honest, addictive, arguing on the internet can be. And that can be useful! Nothing motivates me to do a deep dive into researching an issue like disagreeing with someone about it. But I’ve realized that I read books much less nowadays – the time I used to spend on that has largely been taken over by the internet. The internet adds so much to my life (I’m having a zoom with my family EVERY WEEK! I have an online group that watches musicals with me!) that I usually don’t notice what’s been subtracted.


This cartoon is pretty apolitical, as my cartoons go – I hope you don’t mind! I’ll be back soon with another cartoon full of politics and anger, I promise. :-)


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels, plus a tiny additional “kicker” panel under the fourth panel.

PANEL 1

We see a woman with bright purple hair is sitting at a desk, facing a desktop computer, and facepalming. The room looks like an apartment or house, not a place of business.

There’s an open soda can next to her. In the background we can see a window with blue sky, a poster that combines the anarchy “A” symbol with a drawing of a cat face and the caption “Equality! Justice! Naps!,” and a cat lying on a cat bed below the window.

There is a computer-drawn rectangular word balloon, with sound effects reading “tap tap tap tap” leading from the balloon towards the computer, showing what she’s typing on the computer.

TYPED ON THE COMPUTER: If you’d look at the evidence for even a second you’d see tha

PURPLEHAIR (in a thought balloon): What am I even doing?

PANEL 2

The same shot. The purple-haired woman has leaned back a bit and has a hand on her chin as she thinks. In the background, the cat has looked up at her with a little ? floating over its head.

PURPLEHAIR (in a thought balloon): I’ve been arguing online for hours. He’s not gonna change his mind. There are so many better things I could be doing.

PANEL 3

A close shot of her, now with wide eyes and a big smile, looking up a bit in anticipation.

PURPLEHAIR (in a thought balloon): Yes! I’ll organize a zoom with friends I haven’t seen lately! And take a walk! And I’ll finally volunteer for that anti-hunger group. Starting right now!

PANEL 4

The same shot as the first two panels. But it’s much darker now; through the window we can see the moon and stars. The only source of light in this room seems to be the computer monitor, shining on Purplehair’s face. There are now many more empty soda cans scattered around her.

Purplehair is typing, leaning foward, looking angry but also exhausted; her eyes are wide and bloodshot (in a cartoony comedy fashion). Her cat is leaning against her shoulder, trying to get her attention. The cat has a little thought balloon with a picture of a can of cat food in it.

Another computer-style speech balloon has the “tap tap tap tap” sound effect leading from the balloon towards the computer keyboard.

TYPED ON THE COMPUTER: And ANOTHER thing! Why do YOU guys ALWAYS SAY you’re fo

TINY KICKER PANEL BELOW THE BOTTOM OF THE COMIC STRIP

We see Purplehair’s face; she has a huge satisfied smile and is glowing.

PURPLEHAIR: I’ve done it – I’ve proven that a stranger on the internet is wrong!

PURPLEHAIR: Now I’ll never have to do that again!


This cartoon on Patreon.

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6 Responses to Cartoon: Arguing On The Internet

  1. 1
    Corso says:

    I feel personally attacked. (But maybe that’s because this is really on the nose._.)

  2. 2
    Görkem says:

    @Corso: This is how your posts make other people feel

  3. 3
    Douglas Scheinberg says:

    The point of arguing on the Internet isn’t to convince the person you’re arguing with, it’s to convince the people who read the argument but aren’t participating.

  4. 4
    Saurs says:

    The point of arguing on the Internet isn’t to convince the person you’re arguing with, it’s to convince the people who read the argument but aren’t participating.

    Exactly. This is literally how formal or informal public debates work and why they are usually conducted with an audience.

    Participants don’t necessary have to be widely recognized experts. Like Amp says, encountering an idea that feels wrong or counterintuitive enough that you want to discuss or debate it intelligently and responsibly necessitates more research to determine and support a stance, and that does take time, especially for the conscientious. It might prove to impede your personal life or take up too much time, but isn’t that what all hobbies do? It’s unhealthy for the individual if it’s unhealthy, but that is true of every time-consuming, mind-preoccupying activity.

    I get the impression a lot of people think lay debates on the internet represent a unique time suck because the arena is online, as though things online are frivolous and devoting time to them means you are neglecting other offline people. Lacking internet and the access to strangers thousands of miles away it provided did not make old school debates, requiring trips to the library to support your arguments, more “pure.” Also, debate societies exist because people love this shit. It’s fine.

  5. 5
    RonF says:

    Yes to Douglas.

    Also: I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Well… I agree that’s ONE of the points.

    But also, I think that most of the time when people change their mind on policy issues and the like, it isn’t any one argument that brings the change of mind. It’s the cumulative effect of a lot of things (including but not limited to arguments), and it’s usually pretty gradual.

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