These days, a little unreasonable silence of the world actually sounds kind of nice! With apologies to Camus, I think a 21st-century Sisyphus would have been condemned to endlessly respond to annoying internet comments.
I'm not talking about outright trolling or doxxing. That's 21st-century Prometheus.
Sisyphus isn't tormented by trollish insults, but by the compulsion to engage in ambiguous forms of effortful and frustrating dialog that he knows won't lead anywhere but feels like he has to participate in anyway. He's responding to comments full of ill-informed overconfidence, self-righteous activist monoperspective, and the crappiest of drive-by criticisms, which I call PONDS ("prickly, opaque, nitpicky, disengaged, and shallow"). He himself, at some point in his life, has written a comment that's just as bad as the stupidity he's responding to, and he angrily empathizes with the other person's state of mind while wishing they'd just listen and learn! Every time he perfects his reply and hits "submit," the conversation rolls back downhill again.
Stopping Out Loud is a way of wedging the boulder of a bad conversation in place. Sisyphus declares that he will no longer be reading or replying to responses to the comment he's about to post. He's leaving the boulder halfway up the hill. Anyone trying to drag him down into a pointless fight or fruitless back-and-forth is, well, S.O.L.
Stopping Out Loud helps Sisyphus avoid the perception of social defeat that comes with letting the other person "have the last word." It also avoids disincentivizes further attention-getting and nastiness, and helps him feel like he's in control of his actions.
Sisyphus sometimes includes extra information when he Stops Out Loud.
- Why he's stopping.
- A clear, final statement of the point he wanted to make.
- Conditions under which he'd revisit the thread.
- An invitation or disinvitation to get in touch when he and the other person have had a chance to cool off.
- A suggestion to continue the debate via PM, where it's sometimes easier to speak freely without feeling like the whole internet is looking on.
This is also helpful to the other person, who might just be engaging in Socratic Grilling. It allows them to avoid wasting further effort in crafting a reply, and informs an immature but good-faith debater that they should consider approaching conversation differently next time. The audience also gains information about the way the conversation had on Sisyphus.