Chat boards and weblogs really took off in the late 1990s, although the tech for them had existed since the early 70s. Those early chat boards tended to be pretty gentle places inhabited by computer geeks. By the late 90s, the furious arguments and name calling that we now associate with chat boards and weblogs had become standard.
After Myrna died in 2004, this internet chatting and arguing became a source (a mostly horrifically negative source) of companionship. There seems to be no topic to chat and argue about on a day to day basis except for politics.
So, I speak here as a sinner. It is only since I retired that I've mostly let go of ferocious internet arguments with long standing enemies. Why did I let go?
First, I wanted peace of mind. Fixating on the next argument with one's internet enemy leaves very little mental space for doing anything else. You just can't let that bastard who insulted you on some doofus weblog win!
Second, the reasons for intense fights on the internet faded away with each successive year of retirement. Political fighting is really a turf battle over who gets what, and my status in that regard is not going to change for the remainder of my life.
One of my most ferocious long term enemies was a hothead named Ritmo, who still continues to say the most awful shit he can imagine on Althouse's weblog. He, I think, originated the tactic of announcing in his opening comments that he considers himself a brilliant intellectual, so that anybody who disagrees with him is obviously an idiot.
"Go read a book!" is one of his favorite jibes.
Ritmo's quickly shifts tactics once he's challenged and loses ground. Then he resorts to the great internet atomic bomb... "You're a bigot!"
I particularly enjoyed baiting Ritmo and setting him off in a frenzy. For all his self-announced intellectualism, he flew off the handle and started raving with very little prodding.
Watching him explode was amusing, but even that got boring and took up too much energy I could spend doing something else, like playing music.
Another long term enemy was a former editor of Time Magazine who, inexplicably, loathed everything about Christianity but had a weak spot for Islam. And, this guy grew up near Springfield, Illinois. The editor was another manic bigot hunter. Every disagreement with him was one sort of bigotry or another.
I kept arguing with this guy for a long time out of sheer amazement that somebody that crazy could occupy such a prominent job. But, that got old, too.
One of my siblings even volunteered to be a fierce internet enemy. Her life has been destroyed by drug arrests, failure of her children and failure to figure out how to make a decent living. So, she needs a scapegoat. She's tried out various members of the family. I've tried everything I can do to shut off access to any of my websites, Facebook account or weblog. She's resorted to using fake names so that she can get through to rant at me about how I'm responsible for the mess of her life.
I take the Sabbath off from internet discussion now, partly to observe God's day, and partly to stop the long running arguments and name calling. It works, too. Say nothing. Don't respond. Don't be baited.
Pay attention to what's really important in one's own life.