For good or ill, David Anderson occasionally gets me to think. Quite often, it’s done out of irritation, but sometimes he’ll ask a question that actually prompts a serious answer — I owe him my piece on the genocide in Darfur , among others. I guess it comes from having a “reactive” mind — I think best when prompted by something else.
Last week, David got fed up with a few fights he’d been having online and posted this piece, asking “Why are people such Richards?” (title slightly sanitized for your protection). I answered him in a comment, but I thought the topic deserved further attention.
I’ve noticed that many people view cyberspace as an opportunity for role-playing. It’s a chance to set aside your day-to-day self and become someone else. Some people (and I include myself in this group) see this as a chance to be seen as more than we are in meatspace — smarter, quicker-witted, more assertive, more clever, more thoughtful. We can rise above our nothing-filled daily lives and stand tall (some taller than others — thanks for the pedestal, Kevin!) and shout and be heard and listened to by countless other people. It’s a truly heady experience.
Others, though, take a different tack. They take all the frustration and anger and venom and bile and hatred they are forced to repress in real life and give them vent all over the cyberspace. They spew vitriolic attacks on others, tossing around baseless accusations and vile slanders and strings of vulgarities in hopes of getting the attention they crave while not having to actually face the consequences of their words. Every time I find myself angered at these people, I end up more angry with myself for falling for their games.
I freely admit that on a few occasions, I’ve fallen into the second category, and regret each and every one. I strive to fit into the first category, and hope to actually move my “real” self more towards my “WizBang!” self. (This could be a challenge. On WizBang, I’m 3 inches taller, 30 pounds lighter, and have a full, luxurious head of hair.)
And then there is the third type of online persona — that which is completely divorced from their “real” selves. I have it on good authority that my WizBang! colleague “Paul” is actually a genetically-engineered dwarf hamster in a lab in New Jersey who posts through a cybernetic link implanted into the base of his skull…
(See, I am my same quick-witted self online as I am in the real world.)
J don’t feed the trolls, it only encourages them.
Oh, I thought Paul was from Virginia
Mmmmmmm. Luxurious head.
Thanks JT. I have been dealing with a lot of personal stress lately with my youngest daughter being sick and a big project on the horrizon. I may have as a result been a little too sensitive at times. The project has come together to be I think a huge success, will know for sure in a week or so, and other than Apollonia refusing to sleep, and therefore my wife and I not sleeping much either, things are more or less back to normal.
I admit to getting a bit passionate at times about my ideas and beliefs, but I do try to keep it civil, prefering sarcasm over nastiness at times. Anyway, I really appreciate your friendship, and all the other “wingnuts,” who visit my blog and contribute to the fun. I just woke up to a bunch of delightful insults from my favorite Texas Nativs, and I love it. He, you, Kevin, are all true friends in my eyes, and we can sling at each other with impunity, knowing that there is no nastiness intended or taken.
By the way, the most interesting thing is that the person who helped me the most during the last week is a conservative who posts regularly to this blog.
Now, after a night of debauchery, that will live in legend here in Costa Rica, I must go post to my own blog, lest I fall victim to the thing you have said many times on my Blog…. Posting more here, than at my Blog.
And I will ignore any annonomous or otherwise, “Richard,” comments today and henceforth.