Lyn Alden on Aikido and Online Conversation

Aikido is the Japanese martial art of using your opponent’s momentum against them. I find that it has relevance for online communication. A brief thread.


Aikido is admittedly kind of a shit martial art if you want to regularly win UFC. Investing time into some combination of kickboxing, submission grappling, and Muay Thai gets you a lot further. Offense, aggression, breaking things, with rational defense as well.
I personally also preferred the aggressive striking style or submission style where possible. It’s practical. In my 12 yrs of fighting and a few years as an assistant instructor, I preferred striking against large opponents, and used grappling mainly against small opponents.
The practical problem was that my co-ed martial arts school was like 80% male, and thus basically 80% larger than me. It’s awkward leading a class of people as big or bigger than you. I was usually the smaller one in a given sparring match. An uphill battle every time.
Due to how frequently I fought larger people, for the small percentage of time when I instead fought against other women or smallish men, it suddenly felt like Goku or Rock Lee taking off his training weights.
Against men tho, I found Aikido helpful. My grappling tactic was to push them, until they push back and overpower me, at which point I quickly grab them and pull them towards me and down, dropping them off balance with their own forward momentum. Then I choked them out.


People online are often weirdly aggressive, like in their basement tweeting against random avatars they don’t know to support their existing worldview. It’s better to treat it as though you are conversing with other people, because you are.
Even professionals or other high-profile accounts can often go after each other aggressively. It’s often due to pent-up frustration, large egos, and dealing with other people online without the full context of their actual humanity.
If you ignore aggressors, or acknowledge them and discuss with them, rather than insult them back, you often make progress. Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe they developed a false perception of you. If you get aggressive back, it only fuels it. Instead, explore it.
Sometimes you can fix their perception of you and sort it out, assuming you are honest. Or if they are irrational, you give them rope to hang (embarrass) themselves. Nothing is more awkward than attacking someone who is kind and rational in return. It’s like verbal Aikido.
Acknowledge their concerns, ask for clarification, point out their contradictions or incorrect statements, and cheerfully defend the truth. Maintaining aggression against that is hard. Internet aggression is often like that: diffused if one side drops it or pulls them in.
People who get butthurt about internet aggressions, get mad at memes, have large egos, and get angry at negative comments: They fail to learn from the feedback, and instead fuel more viral aggression against them. People dehumanize them, and they dehumanize back.
The internet is simpler when you do the really weird and shocking trick of just like, treating it as talking with neighbors and other people in person. Because at the end of the day, this is just a medium between people, despite illusions to the contrary.