The presidential election of 2016 had disastrous effects for both the Republican and Democrat parties. The aftermath left several people from both parties disenfranchised and looking for another option. What followed was an opportunity for liberty-minded people to reach out to those in exile and educate them about the liberty movement. Here we are in 2018, and liberty still has not advanced. The disenfranchised may have gone to the liberty movement to see what it is all about. The ones who didn’t stick around likely were turned off by it. They weren’t necessarily turned off by the concept of liberty. The thing that potentially drove them away — edgelords.
An edgelord, according to urban dictionary, is someone, especially posting on the internet, who uses shocking and nihilistic speech and opinions that they themselves may or may not actually believe to gain attention and come across as a more dangerous and unique person. The libertarian community has its fair share of edgelords.
Libertarian edgelords can be found making shocking posts in political groups, replying to someone whose worldview they don’t agree with a meme or an “edgy” comment, or just blatantly insulting someone. Edgelords might find some kind of personal satisfaction in doing this, but it does nothing for the overall goal, which is to forward the liberty movement. Outsiders who become the victims of these edgelords are only driven away.
People need to understand that those who left the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have not abandoned their own ideals. It isn’t ideology that drove them away. What drove them away was the people in charge and the way they conduct business.
Some people on the Left may have exited the Democratic Party because they saw how the Democratic National Committee treated Bernie Sanders while showing favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. Some people on the Right may have exited the Republican Party because they refused to board the Trump Train. Ending their affiliations with either party does not mean they have abandoned their liberal or conservative ideologies.
While they still hold their own beliefs, remember that they are going to the libertarian community because they want to know what it is about. They are not there to infiltrate the libertarian community. Libertarians believe in freedom of expression and insightful discussion. Edgelords do not reflect that. Instead, edgelords seek to offend, to one-up, or to embarrass. Edgelords do this for attention. It drives people away.
If anyone reading this is a disenfranchised liberal or conservative, edgelords make up a tiny minority of the liberty movement. A majority of libertarians just want to mind their own business and live their lives the way they want. Most libertarians are capable of respectful, intelligent conversations. Memes are another story, but the main purpose of memes is to make people laugh. Memes can also be a subtle way to make a point.
If someone decided to “walk away” from the Democratic Party and they share their opinions on taxes and social security with libertarians, the proper approach is not to make helicopter jokes or call them a communist. If someone left the Republican Party and they share their opinions on the importance of authority within the government, the proper approach is not to call them a bootlicker. This happens way too often in internet threads.
They way libertarians to grow the liberty movement is through education and insightful discussion. Listen to people and respect their opinions, and then cordially explain why you think they are wrong. Explain what you believe and provide evidence to back it up.
It’s time for people to drop the edgelord persona. It might bring people personal satisfaction. It does nothing to advance liberty.
You can read more from Mike Ursery on Think Liberty here.