There’s someone I know, an older man, about sixty, definitely in the Sixpack category of computer users.
The other night, he asked me, “Is it true that in any blog, you can’t go ten posts without [someone insulting someone else, though his words were far more profane and profound than that].
I had no choice but to tell him, “Yes.”
Why is that?
I’m no novice to flaming. I remember, a decade ago, what it was like at the old Tom’s Hardware forum. I remember getting multiple F-bombs just for saying, “Merry Christmas.” I also recall one kindly soul who cheerfully suggested one day that everyone fornicate with my mother. After all, it was Mother’s Day.
For a long time, I didn’t think anything could match that place, and for a long time, I never saw anything that did.
Maybe I’ve just started hanging out in bad neighborhoods, but over the past couple years, I’ve spent considerable time looking at non-computer sites/forums/blogs. I hope to find some signs of human intelligence, but too often, I find myself grading papers for Insanity 101.
Back in the eighteenth century, if you lived in London, you could go slumming at Bedlam Asylum and be entertained by the antics of the insane. Here’s a famous painting showing just that.
In the early twenty-first century, there are places I visit for exactly the same reasons and purposes. The only real difference is that today’s lunatics post and blog.
Sometime back, a cartoonist named Mark Stamaty once described a book called, “Learn Three Facts and Start Yelling.”
He did this back in ancient times, about 5 B.I. (Before Internet). It’s completely different nowadays, of course. Today, no one knows three facts.
Back in the old Tom’s Hardware days, I certainly didn’t like the lack of civility and decency, but I consoled myself with the thought that the participants were mostly young men working off their hormones. Remember, this was B.G.T.A (Before Grand Theft Auto).
What I see now, though, is a perpetual rage, just as adolescent in its own way, from much older, experienced, allegedly accomplished people. It’s one thing to see a kid go ballistic in some computer forum; it’s quite another to see his grandma go into low earth orbit on the webpages of the New York Times.
People of course get angry in the heat of the moment, but too many don’t seem to live in any other kind of time.
It’s funny that people are so concerned about computer privacy when they reveal their inner selves in their public posts far more than if they were monitored by all the data miners and the NSA combined.
Again, why is that?
Tomorrow, we’ll go into that and suggest some possible reasons besides the usual suspects. I won’t complain if you send me your (calm) thoughts on the matter.