26 March 2009

a rising flood of ugly

The internet is great for spreading information, but it seems truly awful for spreading civility.

I say that based upon an experience just now of skimming through no fewer than a half dozen sites dedicated to pretty serious aspiring screenwriters. On every single one of these discussion sites -- every one, no exception -- I was turned off and chased away by the pervasive ugliness and nastiness I saw being spewed upon other contributors and posters.

I understand that pissy snark is the coin of the realm online. That to make any name for yourself in the seething hive of humanity swirling about in the virtual world you often are encouraged to try to be a bigger badder mofo than the the reigning champ. That you have to come in and challenge the local gunslinger to meet you in the street to pull leather against one another. It's the hyper-juvenile "my dick is bigger than yours" nonsense which at first blush makes the internet seem so charming and "pure" but which eventually winds up ruining the experience you first claimed to enjoy.

Someone praises something? Then shit all over it it. Mock it. Deride it. Spend two weeks hurling ad hominem attacks at the poor boob for having the gall to have a slightly different take on some trivial issue of zero relevance.

Someone disagrees with some arcane point in a discussion of yours? Well, then that paste-eating gaboon deserves to die, and so do his parents, and pets, and the OR staff which helped deliver him into this world, and so do his postman, his neighbors, and anyone sharing more than two common letters of his first name.

Someone manages to succeed at something you claim to have been aspiring to? Well, rather than redouble your own efforts, why not just hide behind an anonymous online handle and launch a slanderous campaign of lies, innuendo, and falsehoods to try and make this other person seem somehow unclean and undeserving.

Yeah, yeah, I enjoy some good natured smart assity as much as anyone. And yes I have on occasion crossed the line and moved from the world of "snark" into the world of "outright meanness" (and more often than anyone here would ever believe have then gone back and personally directly apologized when I've recognized this behavior). I'm not claiming to be without sin here. I'm just wondering if I am alone in wishing that there was less encouragement and reward to so frequently commit the same sin with such childish indifference.

As I said, the end result of all this is a sad and totally needless distancing of people who might well share 97% overlap on most views and interests and opinions and goals. Rather than enjoy the cool things we might share, it's easier and more dramatic to stir up a shit storm over some idiotic minor point of difference ("Lettuce goes OVER the meat!" ... "No, lettuce goes UNDER the meat, you inbred child-molesting jackass!"), especially in an online world where there is basically never any price to be paid or risk to be sweated.

Had a bad day at your unsatisfying real world job? Hey, rather than work to improve that real world situation, why not just hop online and shit on a stranger! It's easy and requires no investment of time or emotional capital! Share the misery! Make someone else tired and annoyed! Tearing up shit is far easier than exerting a few calories to fix shit, right? Sure! Let's all be pissed off little two year olds, throwing a tantrum and hurling our toys! "Make me happy or else I'm going to make you unhappy! Waaaaaah! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!"

More and more I look around and wonder if maybe there's not a more interesting and noble crowd to play with. I miss that feeling of excitement and hopefulness that I once got when I would hop online -- that flicker of optimism when I realized there were other people out there who were genuinely interested in interesting things, interesting ideas, interesting differences and comparisons and views and dreams and plans and successes and setbacks.

Somehow, a great many of those folks seem to have been replaced by bored chimps, all hell-bent on seeing who can hide in the trees and win the ribbon for hurling down the most or biggest turds at passing strangers.

And, no, that's not "a good thing."
thoroughly gruntled B


sordie said...

It's all about balance, my friend. Balancing the massive wellspring of cynicism, vitriol, contempt for humanity, and general nastiness that permanently resides deep in your gut (oh wait, that's probably just me) versus the realization that you are dealing with real live human beings who frequently do not merit the release of same upon their personage.

Just as the infinitely sage Nigel Tufnel once opined that there is "a fine line between clever and stupid", such a balance exists in online interaction as well. There is also a fine line between tempering inherent propensities for nastiness with a modicum of civility versus disingenously posing as some syrupy sweet vision of faux civility and bowing to the whims of every PC guru's wet dream -- daring not to ever utter any word, phrase, or idea that might, HEAVEN FORBID, cause anyone even one small iota of discomfort or emotional distress.

Blandness vs. spice, honesty vs. decency, "can't we all just get along?" vs. a good, old fashioned, LAPD-style nightstick-pummelling.

It's just not as easy as it looks!

aggiebrett said...

I guess I disagree that this is a "this vs that" set of balanced dualities.

The question as I see it is not "is this one of those times to be ugly or is it instead a time to be nice," but rather "am I ever bringing anything to the party beyond just a half-consumed carton of bile?"

As for "as easy as it looks"... pissing one's self is easy, but that doesn't mean it's very often the best or most useful course of action. More often, the situation is better served by the application of at least a smidge of decorum, intelligence, and maturity.

FINALLY, I just want to say that your comments would mean a great deal more if they were coming from someone NOT rumored to be a cloven-fisted gravy-sucking diddler of underaged guppies.

Chesher Cat said...

What dens have you been trolling and why didn't you shower before showing up here after 25 days of wallowing in this internet slag you speak of, instead of offering something positive up on your very own corner of the shithole?


With hugs,
The Chick that loves everybody all the time...including you.

aggiebrett said...

I serve up pure unfiltered love all over this miserable rock. That I do so under cover of darkness and while wearing a clever disguise in no way diminishes my awesomemousness.

Thomas Crymes said...

Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

Learn it. Love it.


Emily Blake said...

As soon as I turned on comment moderation, those kinds of posters virtually disappeared. Anybody who's actually making a point will make it anyway, knowing I'll moderate it. Those saying it just to be assholes tend to go away if they know nobody but me will see the comment.

aggiebrett said...

I wasn't talking about blogs or comments. I was talking about public discourse of a wide variety of writing sites I tend to frequent.

MoviePen said...

Maybe I'm too much of a wallflower, but sometimes the net is more like a lecture that turns into a frat party.

Since there's only one game in town, I tune out the noise and look around for the other wallflowers having a quiet drink in the corner, usually behind a large potted plant. Everyone else means diddlysquat, which is as much regard as I give them.

IMO, pissy snark is not the coin of the realm online. In the end it buys you nothing but a bad rep. I bet you know who of the online world you would (and wouldn't) reach out a hand to in this biz.

Unknown said...

Come and play with us at TwelvePoint.com. In the eight months since we started, we haven't had a single flame war and no name calling. Why? Possibly because many of the members are professionals, not wannabees. And also because they pay a small fee to join (£29, and with the UK pound riding so low, membership has never been better value). Come and plaaaay...