Stone Cold Steve Austin is an Allegory for the Internet

You can watch that video to see Stone Cold Steve Austin yelling “what?!” in the face of basically everyone he ever came into contact with in a professional wrestling setting. That was his trademark, at least as much as I can remember it: he was incredibly difficult, sand in the gears, and he used that to get the rhetorical upper hand. He made you play his game.

It’s weird to me that this is the MO of contemporary internet discussions in a lot of ways. Think of GG, the Internet movement par excellance, in which every assertion of verified evidence of abuse and harassment is met with “prove it.” This “prove it” is a form of “what?!” and its sole purpose is to drag the conversation down to basic levels of argument in order to start over, as if the terms of the conversation haven’t already been accelerated for months.

It’s important to note that it doesn’t stop and start with GG. They learned it from others–the Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly interview segment is wholly based around the forceful “what?!” They take issue with a single presupposition, always resetting back to a single start point where they have the upper hand.


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