If you are right now (at this very moment) reading an article on a comedy website, then chances are you've been in at least one argument on the internet. Arguing on the internet is a high-stakes battle of the wits between two anonymous combatants and anyone else that feels like typing a whole bunch about a TV show or a video game. As minutes turn to hours, and a single refresh turns into a constant pounding on the F5 button like the low, hungry beating of the drums of war, internet arguing can become a uniquely stressful and thrilling pastime in which you will probably lose.
The fact is, nine times out of ten, the other person will either back you into a corner with irrefutable logic, or, more likely, keep you at it until your fingers give out from the strain while he has been secretly using a deadly combination of voice recognition software and cough drops to outlast you. At this point, you face the inevitable: losing an internet argument.
But the inevitable doesn't have to be the unenviable! Everyone respects a really good entrance or exit. You're already too late for that first one, but here, just your luck, is a chance at that second one. Losing an internet argument with grace can put you so far ahead on the secret internet score sheet that not even a direct order from Bill Gates himself could keep you off the internet high score board.
How do you go about doing this? I am so glad you asked:
You've spent the last three hours feverishly checking the thread on Playstation 3 sales figures and responding to every criticism, and at this point even you have to admit that they have you backed into a corner. Think twice about that, champ! What you have to remember is that anyone who argues about stuff online is a nerd. And by anyone, conveniently enough, I mean anyone but you.
It's time to remind them what giant nerds they are, and also that you are not a giant nerd. You are an internet superstar, one of the few and proud, and you have simply briefly stooped to their level in order to lead them up towards yours. Kind of like a saint, or one of those Buddhist people who teach white guys kung fu.
Bad: God, look at how nerdy we're all being. Including me. I'm nerdy too.
Good: Nice post about video games there, nerd. I copied your post and pasted it in Word and then I ran word count and found out you had 300 words in your post. Three hundred whole words about video games. Ha ha. Great job there nerd. Is it hard to play video games through your thick glasses that are constantly being broken by jocks? I know how that is…for the jock. Because you're a nerd and I'm an awesome jock.
2. Post lots and lots of words about something trivial.
The more trivial the subject, the more words you are going to have to post here. If you're discussing the recent firing of several federal attorneys, for instance, you can get away with a paragraph or two with no swearing. If you're discussing whether Chrono Cross was a successful game on its own merits despite clearly not being as good as Chrono Trigger, then you are going to have to pull out the internet forum's equivalent of War and Peace, except you aren't allowed to put paragraph breaks and you have to swear a lot and put the swear words in CAPITALS so it reads like you said the entire thing in one breath and shouted every few words.
This shows that you have passion. Passion is a manly trait, and men are basically cool. I'm talking about a man's man here. A man willing to break it down and get emotional about Shadow of the Colossus. You know who you are. Give me a pound of your fist on your monitor. If you break it, it's ok. That just means you don't know your own strength because there is too much testosterone pumping passionately through your bloodstream.
Since it's all about length, a bad example would be anything short and a truly good example would pump this article's length up by about 1000-3000 words.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.