Trolling and Triggering Online – Freedom Philosophy


“Social media has made you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson

Libertarians are a contentious group. Since there are very few of us, we tend to congregate over social media, where people have become acclimated to harsh conversations. Several weeks ago, I wrote about the cancel culture within libertarianism and the bizarre notion that libertarians demand pristine doctrine from one another.

I’m not sure why the internet lends itself so neatly to a diminished conversation, especially triggering concerning slight disagreement. I’ve hosted philosophy symposiums, and if I were to transcribe any one of them they would produce a book or two.

However, I’ve never done the hard work of transcribing them, likely for the same reason internet discussions are little more than a sentence or two, a laugh react, accompanied by an ill-witted meme.

Thoughtful responses don’t seem to garner attention. This is largely due to time constraints. I don’t transcribe the philosophy symposiums because it would be laborious and no one would read them.

Thomas Hobbes taught us that we think of ourselves as wise because we view others’ intellect at a distance and we view our own at hand. Typically, after I read a book by someone, I don’t usually walk away thinking they’re unintelligent (there are exceptions).

I’m reasonably well-read in free-market environmentalism. Via social media, environmentalists scoff at the concept with one or two lines of dismissal, with a laugh react accompanied by an ill-witted meme. While running for office, I participated in a debate on the topic. Afterwards I was surrounded by environmentalists, professors, and students alike, eager to know more about the subject. In-depth dialogue garnered more respect.

In-depth dialogue doesn’t generate the level of hostility that superficial dialogue does, because we view the other person’s intellect more at hand, rather than at a distance.

A further consideration is that many people aren’t capable of in-depth dialogue, and only capable of a few sentences of attempted reasoning. Those who are capable of it participate in it and those who are not, participate in superficial conversations about issues that impact them.

Charting a course for a more prosperous society involves individuals methodically reflecting on issues of the day. We ought to ask ourselves whether or not our thoughts on some particular subject have been derived from rigorous intellection or organic memetics.

The propensity for leftists to derive their thought processes from late-night comedians, Hollywood, CNN, and thoughtless organic commentary is astounding. The propensity for conservatives to derive their thoughts from radio and now podcasting rhetoric rather than substantial excogitation is equally problematic. Their ideas are likely derived from a one-liner from a man looking to have his mind changed rather than peer-reviewed research.

Libertarians are hardly exempt. Our thoughts are largely taking place via online discussions that seldom lend themselves to excellence, and are often accompanied by an ill-witted meme.

My solution is to urge people to engage in dialogue with those they disagree with. Libertarians should talk to an economist who believes in fiat currency. Read books by people we disagree with. This is a call to rise above the current culture of dialogue for our day.

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Brandon Kirby

Brandon Kirby has a philosophy degree from the University of New Brunswick and is a current MBA candidate finishing his thesis. He is an AML officer specializing in hedge funds in the Cayman Islands, owns a real estate company in Canada, and has been in the financial industry since 2004. He is the director of Being Libertarian - Canada and the president of the Libertarian Party of Canada.

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