so...there's this thing...called the interweb. Obviously you know about it, because you're reading this (I realize I'm assuming others read this).
But aside from providing insanely easy access to objects of modern-day gluttony. It actually does some good. For better or worse, it appears to be the collective knowledge base of the Human Race (For you youngsters, before it was called a 'wiki' it was called a knowledge base. Before it was called a 'knowledge base' it was called an encyclopedia. And before that it was just a bunch of smart dudes shooting the shit).
And that's the relatively good side of the internet. There are, of course, the darker sites with porno, gambling, lolcatz, and the like. But I'm not really thinking about them at the moment (although a cheezburgr would be good right about now).
What I've lately been fascinated with (and maybe I've been fascinated with this in the past and this is just one big re-run), but what I've been fascinated with is how people just slam other people with little or no provocation (i.e. over stupid isht).
I read several blogs on a somewhat regular basis. Most are just written by (not so) average blokes (most of which are friends or relatives). I also read sites like boingboing, lifehacker, slashdot, tech republic and the like.
Now the first group is usually pretty friendly as far as comments go. There's some good natured ribbing, maybe a few 'your momma' jokes in there for good measure, but for the most people, people are civil.
In the second group is where you find people that exhibit traits that I like to call 'Anonymous Sh*thead Symptoms.' The comments section of those posts on a site like tech republic,for example, usually goes something along the lines of.
"First!" (apparerently getting the first comment in, even if it's only indicating your place in line, is a big effing deal, whatever).
"This article was right on the money...Linux DOES kick PC's arse" (this was a little shot...but there's still time to bow out with dignity).
"No WAY @ITguru-Linux is retarded and looks ugly" (ok...still somewhat civil..but getting on dicey ground now).
Now someone usually tries to put out the glowing embers.
"Now...Linux isn't that bad. And you can really get the UI to look great-look at Ubuntu" Still a chance to end this peacefully.
"Yeah. Linux can look awesome-it's called BUY A MAC!!" OK. This one could go either way...sarcasm or serious..not too bad.
"Mac?? For the price of a mac I could have a whole server farm of Linux boxes that (edited for geekiness)"
"Hey dickheads. I think that the author was just trying to say for security, Linux is better equipped to handle threats"
And then it just spirals from there. Name calling and by about the 10th comment thread you are so far away from the article that it becomes annoying. Sometimes I like to start reading the comments from the end first to see if I can figure out what the article was actually about. So far the pencil in my eye has prevented from ever winning this game.
But I think I figured out what causes the ASS to appear. No accountability. If you were out in public, having a discussion about pc vs. linux vs. mac...or...oh...I don't know... politics. As soon as you call someone 'retarded' or a 'dickhead' there's a good chance that an ass-whooping is soon to follow.
Online, though, people are coccooned. In the event that they actually personally know the author (or the author knows the poster), the ASS usually doesn't appear. I've noticed too, that people are mostly civil on facebook, too...with people on their friends list...because usually these are people they knew in real life at one point or another.
Unfortunately, if you join a group (that's not started by someone on your friends list), there's a good chance you'll see someone being a douchebag to someone else in one of the discussions.
I used to think this isolation phenomenon was limited to just online venues....but it seems to be happening everywhere. A family of four (for example) takes a trip to a city on the east coast...they sit together in the air port...they sit together in the plane...but they all have headphones in. So, real conversation doesn't really ever have to happen. Or..people in the same house, all on a different computer...all online...texting or IM'ing each other.
Same with driving. The reason I hate to drive is that most people that piss me off on the road do so because they fail to see past their own steering wheel. I almost got run off the road trying to merge on to an exit ramp today because the lady driving decided that 'YIELD' meant 'drive as f**king fast as possible, and by shit YOU'LL get out of MY way!!!" And, for a split second, I contemplated driving right next to her, matching her speed and forcing her to ride the exit ramp around again. I really thought about it (I could get off at the next exit and have been just fine).
But I didn't do it. Because for the most part, I try not to be a douchebag when I'm in my car. For all I know she was on her way home after getting a horrific call...who the hell knows. But it still didn't stop me from throwing a few eff-bombs her way. And what irked me the most is...through my cussing (through an open window) and honking she never even looked at me or acknowledged that there was a car next to her!!!!!
It's just another way to be cut off from people. And at work I see it, too. In tough times, sometimes it's tough to get excited at work...so people come in to their cubes...pull out the iPods and put the headphones in. And zone out to do the task at hand.
I'm not sure where I was going with this, other than to say while I'm a fan of most things related to the 'net and technology...I'm concerned at how acceptable it is to spend more time in a virtual world than the real world.
Don't worry, I've got no plans to go live out in a cabin in the woods and start typing a manifesto or anything. I just find a subtle hint of irony in the fact that all of these gadgets that are supposed to 'make the world a smaller place' are actually increasing the gap between face-to-face, physical interaction.
And I'm a bit saddened by how easily we've allowed that to become the norm.
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