A Helpful Guide for Fighting With Teenagers Online
If it’s something you must do
A lot of people make the mistake of assuming teenagers are just large children. While teens have many characteristics in common with smaller children, such as eating insane amounts of macaroni and cheese and leaving dirty clothes all over the floor, a few key elements set them apart. Underestimating the effect of these elements can be deadly for adults who go into an online argument unprepared.
But, before I launch into this guide, I must first warn you… teens are a slippery, tricky group of humans. If there’s something else you could be doing, like watering some plants or learning how to bake a quiche, that other thing might be a better use of your time and energies than trying to “pwn” a teenager online.
But, if you must, then continue.
One trick teenagers use is to write their tweets and posts with questionable grammar, lulling you into a false sense of security. “They can’t even use capital letters in the right places. They couldn’t possibly smoke me in a debate,” you might be thinking, as you adjust your monocle and make a reservation online for a restaurant with the word “mercantile” in its name.
You are very wrong.
Those misplaced capital letters and inexplicable acronyms are a trail of breadcrumbs leading you straight to the witch’s house, where you’ll be dipped into an oven, then forced to change your religion and set your twitter account on fire. All of this will happen so quickly that you’ll still be gasping, still believing that there’s some way for you to win, even as you dye your hair and start googling methods of changing your name.
Don’t let them fool you.
It’s also important to remember that, if you really have to do this, as an adult you’re always going to be at a disadvantage. Suppose you and the teenager exchange barbs. Suppose those barbs would normally rate at exactly the same level of devistatingness.
Well, sucker, you just lost. Because you’re an adult.
Thinking of reaching for a meme to defend you? STOP. Your weak memes can’t save you. You’re already in too deep.
Posting a meme is a confession that the conveyor belt of words running through your brain hit a snag. You know it and the teenagers know it. Plus, adults are terrible at memes. Remember when your dad used to listen to your music and say things like, “Wow, that’s super dope!” Yeah, that’s you on memes. Avoid.
Perhaps you’re one of the adults who still remembers your teenage years, who keeps up on popular music and has a snapchat account, living in a comfortable shroud of denial as a “cool adult”.
“Sure,” you think. “Other adults can’t pull this off, but I’m a cool adult. I can totally decimate this teenage with my witticisms and shade.”
I see you.
Fellow adults, our hubris is our downfall.
You must understand.
Teenagers are creatures sharpened to razor points by the desperation that comes from bearing the full weight of their parents’ dreams on their backs while navigating the jungle of societal expectations, where they live without power and without authority, but only the cudgel of sarcasm to defend themselves against the crushing darkness.
You better believe they’re going to swing the hell out of that cudgel.
Might as well go up against a Spartan in a battle for a grilled cheese sandwich.
It’s just not worth it. Find another sandwich to eat.
As a matter of fact, there’s only one thing you can do when you’re fighting with a teenager online. It’s a tool I’ve perfected through long years of hard-won teaching experience, where every day was like walking into the arena of a Roman colosseum and facing a pack of lions intent on feasting on my gizzards.
Write the following words:
“I’m going to tell your parents.”
You’ll still lose.
But it’ll feel better.