Basic Activist Manual For Becoming A Great Communicator With Online Social Media!
Written by Ryan D. Hall
(Revision 2, February 23rd, 2014)
This is but just a smattering of thoughts I’ve collected regarding how to be extremely effective at online activism … no matter which platform you come from, or topic or issue you are passionate about, this list can help anyone (so, myself being biased towards my own ideals, I fully realize that I am giving out to everyone, even double-edged swords to use against me. Nevertheless, all of the “tricks” and techniques I have always learned how to use, all these years … are now yours).
Illustration 1: The Lincoln and Douglas Debate (sculptures)
For many years now, though, I’ve actually been feeling extremely compelled to compile a list like this, and I’m sure I can give far more advice than just 14 items … But I figured I would just finally get the job of writing this done and out of the way, because it is beyond time for people to learn how to know and do these things! And, it is very possible that all of these ideas can also be carried out into the real world, as well, via signs, banners, stickers, promo TV commercials, audio soundbites, etc… Pick your poison!
1. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!
This is the first place any “debater” or activist should start. And let’s be realistic: depending on the issue, this process honestly can sometimes take all of our lives for us to get anywhere in understanding. But the more you learn, the more body of knowledge you will possess to later communicate what you do know, as this is a growth process.
Nobody but you can tell where or when you will be ready to finally start vocalizing, teaching, arguing, or debating what you know, why, and how … but this is the most important starting point. And if you never get the place in your life where you’re comfortable enough to be able to express it, whether well or poor, at least you will be informed on something.
At any rate, try to be very original in your viewpoint, and never cater to other points of view simply because those are “popular”. Think independently, always “outside of the box”. Work smarter, never harder. In short, surround yourself with tons and tons of resources! And avail yourself of them at every opportunity, if you truly wish to be informed and able to stand with pride as a philosopher king in the Areopagus forum of world ideas.
2. A Well-Thought Out Argument Goes A Long Way.
Try to involve your awake, conscious mind (and even your unconscious mind via lucid dreaming, if possible) into meditating over an issue as much as possible, every day – even if it takes years to do so – to be able to foresee all the ins and outs, and every angle of an issue – especially so as to predict, or virtually “war game” how every situation might play out, or how every attack vector from an opponent might come … in order for them to attempt to defeat you on said issue. Learn where they are coming from, and why, and always find the right exploit or weak links in their position. Always try to find and keep the classic, historically undefeatable positions on anything, and you will never fail.
Think, before you speak!
3. A Well-Worded Argument Goes Even Further.
Learn the art of language, and the linguistics of a well-versed English (or your language of choice) speaker. The skill of Homiletic Rhythm is also just as important in speech writing, as formulaic melody is in music composition. Taking just basic High School-level English Composition courses, I.E.: speech- or essay-writing classes can drastically improve your efforts at this!
Otherwise you get those stupid foolish trolls, who, being thus unarmed or disarmed, and having nothing better to argue back at you with, they resort only to lame ad-hominem attacks (a.k.a “name calling”, character slurs, or slander / libelous claims) about your lack of spelling or grammar. These silly attempts do not exactly make you look bad, but on your part, it is neglectfully leaving open holes (as to the polish (as in shoes) of your presentation or approach) and will lessen any debate! So never neglect the finer, “finishing” details!
Try to avoid over-complicated language or terminology when debating – make your wording or language publicly palatable. And sometimes (unfortunately, but if you are seeking a wider-audience…), with the wording of your debate points, you must “dumb it down” a little, so that the average person can understand it. Most world media and newspapers purposely dumb their language down to that of a 7th-grade reading level. If you can manage that, and use terse headlines or key points, then it will work out best for you, in the long run!
And (if on a computer), for God’s sakes, do use spell-check and grammar-check on everything, first, and save it to a named file (using the option to produce backups of previously-saved versions), before you ever utter, or post anything!
4. Combine More Points, For A Greater Synergy of Communication!
Example: in bio-chemistry, in the body of most any animal creature: When 2 or more drugs either work-together or counter-act, it either multiplies or exponentiates the power of all drugs in-use. In the same way, a well-researched position that is well thought-out, and later well-written, tends to be somewhat convincing. However it can be sometimes difficult to stay focused on your points depending on your own discipline, or the character of who you’re interacting with.
Avoid mud-slinging at all costs. The very first moment you jump for the low road, and lob any bombs like this onto your opponent, then you have already lost the debate, and may just as well just quit, right then! Just stop. Don’t even pass “Go”. Do not collect $200! :(
If, for any reason, your audience ever finds itself slacking in attention, or failing to actively listen (whether their minds start to wander off, or, God forbid, some seem to be seen “falling asleep”), a method for quick resuscitation or “jump starting” their minds to pull back out of the ether, is often the employment of a little humor, to lighten-up the mood.
These sort of “saving throws” when a debate is starting to become ugly or develop a sour mood, can quickly save people’s attention span from the awful curse of sudden disinterest. :) You never want to allow people to develop any sense of apathy for your issue. You want to keep your presentation smooth and fluid. This calls for balance.
Anger makes for a great “carrier frequency” with which to modulate the long enduring thrust of your point, to carry it over time. Anger can be a great vitalizing tool to enliven a speech or debate (when used occasionally). But sometimes people need the periodic punctuation of humor to jump-start their attention span, and to offset any growing monotone in your delivery.
5. Arguments With (Very Big!) Photos … Are Incredibly Effective!
This is where your debating starts getting “sexy!!!“ Concerning point 3 above, RE: synergy, this is also true of how we express ourselves via multimedia or via “visual aids” to help our presentation. The overall impact becomes much more than just one or two simple read paragraphs.
And, videos are good too, if they are short, and to the point! Never rambling or endlessly boring! Some of the biggest wastes of time by well-meaning activists I have seen are videos in which they are seen rambling or carrying on about nothing at all – useless, nervous delaying words like “umm” and “uhh” and stupid mistakes that people often make. For God’s sake, people! Learn how to cut all of that crap out of your final video presentation by learning how to produce with some basic video editing software, like Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere. Or any number of other free software solutions along those same lines, like Handbrake!
The most compelling reason why you should always include at least one big, main photo (if not many photos) that prove your point, is, that socially and statistically speaking, people are not as likely to give your post or argument even a second look, if there is nothing visual with which to immediately grab and hold their attention. Words always take time to ingest into the psyche, whereas a post, meme, or argument, which includes a visual aid (photo, video, or other graphic illustration) can be (at least partially) immediately absorbed, just on the shallow level of mere perusal … in seconds. It is not as effective to rely only on words (to not have, at least some sort of graphical compliment with which to assist the immediate mental intake of your point), when you have ample opportunity and ability to take advantage of other media to help push your point. Period.
6. Documentation! Always Prove Your Points By Including Supporting Data
Types of arguments like I’ve already listed above, with photos, links, documents, pasted quotes, and any clear examples … are hard to argue with. Arguments, with not just supporting links, but also documented evidence in photo or pasted quote form, are even more amazing! And make even greater impact! You must be able to prove your point!
7. Arguments Which Are Meditative, Pungent, Bibliographic, And Well-Placed … Go Even Further
Know your audience, employ some rudimentary demographics or market research for who is most receptive to your points of view – find out who those kinds of people are … and then avoid them. That’s right, I said avoid those who are most receptive to your point of view! Avoid them entirely! Activism is never, ever about “preaching to the choir” – you must always venture out, and leave all of those familiar, “receptive” crowds behind. Go where no activist has ever gone before! Always hit the opposition hard where the ambient levels of intellectual light are actually darkest. Where the typical reception to your particular point of view is least known. Go to the ignorant! Become a “missionary” of sorts. Carry your message forward!
Conversely, another point to remember is to learn which location offers the most effective mode of delivery or forum in which to engage in your argument (whether among the ignorant or those who come to see you for your views), either alone, or paired in a real debate. Whether this be an amplified auditorium equipped with a Public Amplifier and microphone system, a simple gymnasium with just a good interior echo, or even a public square downtown in some city near you, where people are often known to frequent in mass numbers.
8. Tact: Having The Wisdom To Employ Smart Timing For When To Well-Place A Particular Argument (Spoken Just At The Most Appropriate Instant…) Kills Most Opposition!
This can usually result in a serious death blow, or an “alpha-strike” of all weapons blazing! This is one major way of taking all of the wind out of an opponent’s sails … and leaving them floundering. In other words, “tact” is not always when to be polite, but also when to be the most impolite! Want to expertly end a debate? Master this! This is not to say that ending a debate need involve rude yelling or other outrageous behavior, but it can and should need involve a piercing “shock and awe” approach either before a debate begins, or in order drop the final hammer-swing / master-stroke in order to end one. Learn how to climax an argument!
9. Save Time – Make Your Work Easier By Filing All Your Pre-Scripted “Text Weapons” In Long Form, In A Neat, Ordered Text Document or Database.
Whether on paper or computer; for future use, ahead of time! Save yourself the time and work of always having to “reinvent the wheel” or to remember how the hell you came up with that excellent, working argument, beforehand!
This idea is sort-of like an “argument arsenal” complete with supporting photos and links, to be “whipped out” anytime some dumb-ass fool smarts-off about an issue. This allows for super fast, machine-gun type posting (whereas you have already thought about and written about such things, the “slow reading” is no longer necessary for you, but you can paste these “word weapons” out with intensifying speed and, considering enough time for your audience to read them, wait for any reactions.
This is basically called “organizing your research” so as to be better prepared the next time someone “comes at you” regarding something you have already talked about or a discussion you have already participated in. And the more you do this, the more often you can swiftly execute points 1 through 8 above. Death from a thousand cuts!
10. Think Big! Go Epic! Wage True Intellectual War With As Many Weapons As Possible By Preparing Such Various “Textual Tool Belts” (As In Point #9 Above) By Isolating And Categorizing Each Set Of Arguments Into Their Own Separate Files Or Databases According To Each “Field Of Interest”
Arm yourselves to the teeth with as many doctrinal destroyers as you possibly can! Sort of like a programmer, who typically works with many different text files – all at once – basically because you become a programmer (of sorts) … but a programmer of minds! Learn how to organize documents so as to quickly pull-up that well-thought out aphorism or pre-formulated argument that never fails … from any categorical list or collection of anecdotes.
Thus it becomes: death from ten thousand cuts … with an inter-changeable ammunition magazine, or warheads of mass destruction / with varying effect! :D
11. Learn How To Do Proper Analysis Of Someone’s Speech, Writing, Or Other Expressions, And The Art Of Logic (Or How To Dynamically Argue, On-The-Fly, In Real Time)
Why do people use certain expressions? Which ones are good? Bad? Or most effective? Perhaps least effective? This is especially useful to counsel people against speaking many a faux pas during a debate:
a) common and typical illogical phrases and euphemisms,
b) empty morés (pronounced ‘mor-ays’) of modern civilization,
c) Obsolete social “norms”,
d) False axioms,
e) silly superstitions,
f) stupid slogans,
g) ignorant mottoes,
h) Tired comebacks,
i) old wives’ tales,
j) any “logic fails” (a.k.a. fallacies),
k) passages of any literature which is ever taken out of it’s own native context,
l) illiterate suppositions about a topic which someone (thinks they’ve) read, but which they never truly studied all that closely or in any depth (this is actually very common!),
… with which they often tend to wield broken arguments.
Learn how and why various kinds of arguments, and certain modes of speech, as listed above … are intellectually broken. And more importantly, discover which are the solutions to those positions – whichever arguments have never (yet) been broken. Have as much 20/20 hindsight as possible. Gaze back into the history of ancient times and learn from minds long past. Stand on the shoulders of giants and cite their positions as your own foundation, then build your own dialectic from on top of theirs.
Learn how to disassemble these people’s broken arguments, to be able to toss your opponents’ own broken arguments back at them, as shattered pieces of their lousy crap flying everywhere, right in their faces! This is how “The Masters” of Forensics (a.k.a. “Spoken Debate”) do it!
Oftentimes, debaters will keep insisting on always trotting out those same old tired lines (the types of which, I just listed above) to which you must just keep dragging them back to keep facing the same issue they are trying to avoid (either consciously on their part, or subconsciously).
Always keep a debate on-pace and restrict it only to the issue currently in question – to only one topic at a time. Patiently steady yourself to be able to work for victory only one issue at a time! The typical misbehavior of a losing debater is always to deviate off-topic onto another issue entirely different, or to branch-off onto a tangent issue in order to take the heat off of them which they actually perceive is coming from you! This cannot ever be allowed. Stay solid on them like glue! Keep both of yourselves focused at all times!
Learn how to redirect their concentration or focus back to the original topic which you were just discussing. Never allow any distractions which end up serving the usefulness of your opponent, whether purposeful or accidental. Always attempt to reel-in any stragglers during an argument so as to keep control over all dialogue.
12. Practice All Of These Tactics More Often In Reality (Without The Internet – IE: In-Person!)
Studying other famous or notable public speakers’ forms of powerful oratory is the key idea, here! Learn how to reactively answer (from intellect) with a quick, creative rebuttal at any moment’s notice.
Don’t be afraid to vocalize how you think about an issue.
Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.
Stick to your guns, and be ready to respond to any rebuttals by already having studied your opponent before a debate.
Be, seem, sound, and act professional … when you debate with someone.
Try to keep on the high road, if you can. But never forget that those who embark on the low road, who even momentarily refuse to behave civilly during a debate, will never stop to make you look like a fool – either during the debate, or after! Never afford them any of those opportunities!
Maybe take classes on how to do public speaking? “Toastmasters” is a great way for those who wish to become better public speakers (whether any given club or forum offered as an extra-curricular public education class, or as an extra-ecclesiastical service in some churches or other social organizations).
The proper use of inflection, tone, timing of words, emphatic word pronunciation, tact (knowing when and how to deliver each point), level of power, varying of volume, and add in a sweet dose of passion… makes for an amazing verbal fireworks display!
13. Live Your Arguments
Avoid hypocrisy! Walk the talk. The most important tip: Allow other people to see that you are not just a believer about something but that you actively guide your life around those principles and that you stick to them, even when you are not talking about them. I am still working on this one, myself. And I fail all of the time. I feel that I have made hardly any progress here yet, but we are all human beings, and most of us may never reach this height until we are older.
Or who knows? You could be a natural! I’m not. But I realize that this is a worthy goal for my own life. Because of this factor alone, public speeches have also always tended to be real world changing events. Always. And they have often been known to save (or damn!) real lives.
People whose very lives model their own words, in fulfillment, rather than only a shallow counterfeit of empty, meaningless words propping up a fake view of their supposed lives … serve to be better debaters than whatever words they say, alone. Example is king. Living it, is power.
14. Never Stagnate. Aspire Higher. On Whichever Ideologies or Standing Arguments You May Already Have, Keep Abreast Of New Discoveries in Past, Current, or Future Trends Which Offer Alternative Thinking.
None of us are ever perfect, nor do we all have the full grasp of all knowledge or wisdom on any issue, as we are no more than mere mortal men and women. People who are highly educated about some issues tend to let their egos run rampant and carry them away is if they stand any bit higher than the other person. But nothing we have to say is ever going to be fully 100% “concrete” or “gospel truth” in this lifetime (unless we ARE preaching the Holy Gospel! :) ).
Always strive to keep abreast of developing news or other discoveries which you may use to either further add to, refine on, or repair any arguments you make or have already made in the past – to either rebuild, repair, or refine, or even to rehabilitate … any arguments where you now find yourself lacking in an area. “The More You Know”, equals the more you grow. As you become a better communicator, this will gradually trickle out into others in the populace.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear any comments!
LORD willing, May you be a gentleman and a scholar.
– Ryan David Hall,
(Revision 2, dated 02-23-2014)
(NOTE: this note can also be read on my own Facebook profile page, here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/ryan-d-hall/ryan-d-halls-basic-activist-manual-for-becoming-a-great-communicator-with-online/10151856883686222 )
 Note: by “meditating” here, I mean only as in: day-dreaming, using imagination, zoning out on, or deeply pondering of… an idea. As in: only the biblical kind of meditation. Research the Old Testament book of Psalms to see better examples of King David engaging in this kind of “meditation”.
 It should be noted that successful political meme creators on the internet (and to some degree, even http://www.4chan.com/b/ or http://MemeGenerator.net/ can be counted among them) have already learned some or most of points 1 through 6 as listed above.
This article first appeared on facebook here >>> . It is reprinted and shared in its entirety here for R3s (except for many great graphics for which you will need to visit his facebook link) with Ryan’s permission. Ryan currently lives in Leavenworth Kansas and came there from Michigan. He is in his own words – “AWAKE since 1993, I’m a Freedom Fighter, Jedi Master of the InfoWars, Bard of the Nth American Revolution, honest sinner, Spiritual Warrior, 9/11 Truther… MY EYES ARE OPEN, and I, TOO, am CHANGE! “Be Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves”<IXOYE><”
Posted by Sandra Crosnoe for R3publicans