• Member Since 4th Nov, 2012
  • offline last seen Feb 18th, 2014

SmutAnon


More Blog Posts25

  • 552 weeks
    Getting off the ride

    As most of you probably realized from the title, I am indeed getting off the ride. With the exception of Starswirl Academy, I will be making no further pony content. No short stories, no long stories, no quests, nothing. I enjoyed my time as a fan of the show, but I'm moving on to other things.

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    29 comments · 1,005 views
  • 561 weeks
    Every time I hear this I want to strangle someone

    For a good portion of my time as a pony fanfic writer (woah, doesn't that sound prestigious?) I was a reviewer as well. I still review some things, and still take questions from aspiring writers. One of the questions I hear, especially from newer writers, is thus:

    "Is it okay if I..."

    No. Stop. STAAAAAAAAHHHPPPP.

    "But what if—"

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    3 comments · 658 views
  • 570 weeks
    Arguing on the Internet

    I've decided to make this post not about writing specifically (though you can certainly apply this to writing) and instead focus on something else that you may find useful:

    How (I think) you should argue on the internet.

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    5 comments · 637 views
  • 576 weeks
    Looking back and some thoughts on dialogue


    Greetings this fine Sunday morning. There are a couple things I want to talk about in this post. The first being a little self-reflection and the second being about something a bit more educational: dialogue.

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    2 comments · 606 views
  • 576 weeks
    Writing Sex Scenes

    You want to give clop a shot, but don't have any idea where to start? Sure, writing a story is one thing, but getting really into the hot and heavy, especially when it isn't your thing, can be confusing or otherwise difficult. Fortunately, you follow my blog and here I'll give my thoughts on writing sex.

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    6 comments · 986 views
Jul
19th
2013

Arguing on the Internet · 4:31am Jul 19th, 2013

I've decided to make this post not about writing specifically (though you can certainly apply this to writing) and instead focus on something else that you may find useful:

How (I think) you should argue on the internet.

And I'm not talking about arguing as in rage-filled, drastically-long, caps-lock cruise control, hate-spewing fights. I mean arguing as in: you have a point, the other person has a point, and you're both trying to convince the other person to change their thoughts/opinions to be in line with yours. It happens ALL THE TIME about EVERYTHING. A lot of the time, anger doesn't even come into it! If you're trying to convince someone Celestia is a great princess or a terrible one, that's arguing. If you're trying to tell someone the most fuel efficient way to get from A-to-B isn't what they thought it was, that's arguing. This post is about arguing in the broadest sense.

"Wait, SmutAnon, how is this any different from arguing face-to-face?"

It's different from arguing in-person as 1) you're not physically next to the person (which does affect your demeanor and emotion, like it or not), 2) you have as much time as you want to articulate an argument and even look information up, 3) you probably don't know the other person. Sure, you may know their online persona, but that's only part of them.

I'll start out by mentioning what I think is the #1 mistake people make when arguing: making it about pride.

Now, it's an incredibly easy mistake to make and difficult to avoid. Opinions are, 99.9% of the time, tied to pride. So how does it happen? Let me put this out there:

If, at any point during an argument, you've said, "You're wrong," you've lost.

That's right, lost. It's that simple. When you say "you're wrong," you've made it about pride. It doesn't matter the position the other person has taken, because they won't interpret "you're wrong" as an attack on their position as much as they will consider it an attack on themselves. At that moment, it becomes about pride, and any chance you had of convincing them to your way of thinking has disappeared (with some very rare exceptions—some people are actually open-minded enough to consider your argument after this point or never took it as an attack on pride).

You are arguing a person just as much as your are arguing their position.

"But how can I argue without saying that?"

I'm glad you asked. There are a few ways to continue the argument without using that fatal phrase, the most obvious, and typically my favorite, is to present your side. So, instead of attacking them when they present a differing opinion, you instead give them yours. It's constructive, and it avoids stamping on their pride (unless they're unreasonable and will take the mere existence of differing opinions as an attack).

If you suspect the person you're talking with is unreasonable or you want to take a different approach, try this: ask "critical thinking" questions that they likely have not considered. See, you've come to (or I'm assuming [and hoping] you've come to) your position through critical thinking. That means you've considered several angles of attack on your own stance and dismissed them for one reason or another. Critical thinking is all about asking questions, especially the not-so-obvious ones.

Let's give an example. Say you believe Rarity is stuck-up. It's certainly not unreasonable to think so after watching a few episodes: she's a drama queen, she speaks in a 'high brow' manner, meaning she might think a 'normal' method of speaking is below her, she puts her own priorities very high (Sweet and Elite - she put off Twilight's dress so she could improve her own reputation), and she all but ignores Spike's affections (but for that moment at the end of Secret of My Excess).

Take a step back and look at that position. Heck, I thought the same about her after I finished season 2. There is decent evidence in the show backing that up. But look at everything critically.

- Speaking in a high brow manner means that and only that. It says nothing about how she views other ponies, does it? Maybe that's just the sort of talking she picked up from her parents or from her environment when she was younger. There is no evidence supporting her having a negative opinion of low-brow ponies.
- Putting her own priorities makes her, well, normal. Just like everyone else. We almost all think selfishly first, and there is nothing wrong with that. We're looking out for ourselves! As long as you don't let your priorities infringe on others, no one should hold it against you. For the most part, Rarity does exactly that.
- Rarity ignores Spike's affections for the most part, that is true. But consider her position. She's a fair amount older than him and Spike is still pretty young. I doubt she's ignorant of Spike's feelings, but rather she ignores them because she knows nothing good can come of indulging him.

Those items, I think, are easier to pick apart. However, there's more to it that I think requires a bit more digging and delves deeper into the realm of critical thinking.

- Rarity is a drama queen because, well, we don't know exactly why. Maybe she picked it up with her youth, maybe she found it was an effective way of solving problems, or maybe she likes attention.
- Sometimes Rarity puts her own priorities above others'. Remember, we said looking out for yourself was a reasonable thing until it started affecting others. Now it is. It certainly affected Twilight's dress.
- Why doesn't she just tell Spike it's not going to happen? Why lead him on and set him up for worse heartbreak later?

Hmmm. We're in a tricky position here if we want to say, confidently, we believe Rarity is not stuck-up. There's no way to simply attack these statements because either 1) we don't have enough information or 2) they are blunt truth. In this case, we must take from her positives and the context of these truths and weigh them against the negatives.

- Rarity also will put her priorities much lower than others'. Friendship is Magic, Part 2, she defines herself as the Element of Generosity by giving Steven Magnet her tail. Secret of My Excess she shows she is conscious of the sacrifices others make and is humbled by it. She doesn't take Spike's ruby gem like she was entitled to it—the act of Spike giving it up really meant a lot to her.
- She is a drama queen, yes, but the consequences of it are minimal. Ponies roll their eyes at her a lot. The worst consequence was likely during Lesson Zero, where her overreaction to everything may have trivialized Twilight's plight somewhat.
- Rarity, much like everyone else, is flawed. That's probably why she falls back on being dramatic and probably why she won't just tell Spike nothing will happen. She's scared of hurting Spike's feelings. She knows it's going to hurt if she told him, and she can't handle that. Also... he's a kid. It could just be a crush or a phase he'll get over.

Well, crap. The answer still isn't clear, is it? I mean, Rarity's tendency to over-dramatize things did affect Twilight, and her weakness might hurt Spike in the future.

WELCOME TO CRITICAL THINKING, ENJOY YOUR STAY.

"What?"

Things are rarely clear, rarely black and white. That's why complex, somewhat relatable antagonists are compelling—because they're realistic. At this point, opinion takes over. This is why some people agree that she's stuck up and others think she isn't. Sometimes, you really will argue someone all the way to this point... and then still disagree. That's fine. Accept it. You can share why your opinion weighs her positives more than the negatives, but after that, just let it go. And that's hard, I know. Especially in an animated argument. Do it anyways.

"Okay, so I should use critical thinking against my opponent, and I should avoid making the argument about pride. What else?"

First off, you're using critical thinking against your opponent's argument, not them. Now here's the next thing to consider: arguments are almost never won in a single conversation. Or even two. Or three. Or several. It takes time. Why? Because you are not proving or disproving something [With the rare exception of your opponent's argument simply being a denial of clear fact like gravity]. You are attempting to adjust someone else's way of thinking or opinion. If their opinion was like a boat moving through the sea, this is less like adjusting the rudder on the boat and more like shifting the currents beneath it. You have no way of ultimately controlling that boat and you can never touch the rudder. However, you can offer it incentive to move in the direction you want it to.

This means winning arguments requires patience and precision. It also means winning arguments almost always requires avoiding anger and fighting to disprove as opposed to prove.

"This doesn't seem like the best sort of guide to arguing on the internet. I mean, all you've told me is everything I can't do and that there are very few things I can."

It's easy to attack other people. It's easy to try to poke holes in their position instead of guiding them away from it. It's easy to get defensive and be destructive rather than constructive. It's easy to be emotional and feel like you're winning the argument when in fact all you're doing is running in place, going nowhere like a car stuck in sand. If you find yourself rattling off all the things that convinced you in the first place, you might not be getting anywhere.

Now that you're thinking arguing on the internet is the hardest thing in the world to do, let me hit you with the most difficult thing to swallow of all:

You must first accept that you are fallible and the person you're arguing with could be, in fact, the "correct" one.

Only by showing your opponent the respect you want from them should you expect to be capable of winning the argument. And let me tell you, right now, you're not doing it. I'm attacking you, personally. You've become defensive and probably already told yourself you already do this. Remember way back near the beginning of this blog post where I said this?

"with some very rare exceptions—some people are actually open-minded enough to consider your argument after this point or never took it as an attack on pride"

You probably figured you were one of those people—you're not. Neither am I. But I will never stop striving to BE that person. I will always do my best to seriously consider my opponent's position and never dismiss it or the evidence supporting it.

"But you're using techniques that you just told us never to use! You're attacking the person!"

Because the issue IS the person. The discussion is about how you approach arguing on the internet. Also, I'm hardly 'arguing'. This is a one-way conversation. I'm simply presenting information.

Anyways, that's all I have for today. As for an update, I do have an editor working on the first few chapters of my next longer story as well as a few shorter ones I'll post once he's done with them. Starswirl Academy is moving along nicely as well. Look for more on that after Crystal Fair in St. Louis. I'm also fairly far along in my interactive adventure quest I've been running on /mlp/. Once that's finished up I'll have more time to write other things.

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Comments ( 5 )

:twilightoops::twilightoops::twilightoops::twilightoops::twilightoops:
You are totally right

Thought this was rather funny, because this is how I tend to argue.

Present facts, accept other input, then provide my own reasoning and leave them to stew it over. All too often I get the 'but my opinion' opponents, and the moment they start attacking me with 'that's a stupid idea' I tear into them like a fat guy tears into a buffet.

(I can make that joke, cause I'm fat.)

To make a small comment on you black and white statement, which is very true, I have found the phrase "Good is a point of view" to be quite accurate.

"You probably figured you were one of those people—you're not". By saying this your denying the fact and/or the chance that their are people who are actually open-minded enough to consider any argument even after an attack on their pride has been made and are also a reader of this post.You just contradicted yourself "Because you are not proving or disproving something [With the rare exception of your opponent's argument simply being a denial of clear fact". And all this from my view point makes your reasoning unsound on the matter.

People please just take this article as advice and not as a guideline.When making an argument please exhaust every direction that the subject can be looked at.
Now have a nice day/afternoon/morning/night and hopefully the time you spent here improves your future and daily lives.

I wish I could bookmark this to read later. Because honestly, that's a lot of text.

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