Tag Archives: internet

“I’ll geolocate your ass!”

23 Oct

Conversation moves to the extremes because it gets the most attention; it’s the most interesting. After all, who wants to listen to a reasoned debate on water storage when “You’re killing the delta smelt!” But it has a secondary effect: people hide their true feelings in the face of extremism.

I was going to write a post about trolls, after I heard a radio guy say, “I’m gonna geolocate your ass!” jokingly, but upon reflection, trolls dominate the conversation in many situations. Or at least, we don’t call them trolls when we agree with them.

BTW, this is what a Delta Smelt looks like. It’s an endangered Californian fish.

Take something banal – “Next Generation is the best Star Trek of them all!” I’m actually a huge fan of Deep Space Nine. I also know I am in the minority. Most Trekkers hated that show and I know why. For most of them, Star Trek is gleaming spaceships, boldly going, and science solves all problems. For me, DS9 rings more honest to me. Everything gleaming falls apart eventually, people DON’T get along, and you can’t just technobabble your way out of this one (although, let’s be honest, they still do). Because they were in the same place, they had the best recurring villains, and the more interesting plots.

I might say that in a small group of Star Trek fans, or even a small group in a friendly conversation, but I’m not going to get on social media or in front of a group of Trekkers and say that. Why? Because I don’t like conflict. With my ADHD, I feel emotions more. I think this makes me a better listener, but it also means that strong emotions bother me, so I try to avoid them. So if you profess a strong stance on something, most likely, I’m going to stay silent, even if I completely disagree with you.

What’s scarier to me is not the “silent majority,” but rather the “wannabes.” The people who disagree with someone’s strong opinion, but pretend to agree with them because they really don’t want the argument. They figure the best way to avoid it is to agree with them. It’s effective, but it gives the trolls power. More importantly, it gives the false illusion that everyone thinks the same as you. We create the bubbles we live in.

And the trolls want us in those bubbles. There’s a debate theory called the “motte and bailey,” which are the two parts of a castle – the strong fort inside and the walls on the outside. You start out with an easily defendable premise and then expand on it. If someone questions you on the expanded premise, you retreat to the easier point. For example:

A: “I believe that every child has the right to education. So we should instill mandatory attendance for all children in public schools. That means raising property taxes to have the best schools, and of course, to keep them safe, we need to have mandatory vaccination…”

B: “Hang on, parents have the right…”

A: “What! You don’t believe children have the right to education?!”

This is why I’m seeing people being more willing to be vocal. Because you can only be stomped down with debates so long before you crack. You will either then become the “wannabes,” or you’ll embrace the blatant “wrong.” It’s never been a better time to be a racist because when the trolls put the “racist” label on everything not theirs, you start to think, “#*($ it! I am a racist. Deal with it, brown boy!”

Is that better? No, but inevitable. But I could be wrong. What do you think? Are the trolls winning? Are we becoming more troll-like? Or will the silent majority surprise us all? Let me know in the comments below!

“It Costs You Nothing To Be Polite.”

4 Sep

The full quote is “When you kill someone, it costs you nothing to be polite.” Winston Churchill was great at the quip, but the point is, even when you have nothing to gain, in modern society politeness means more.

This is my Maxim #4 – and part of it, I’ll admit, is that politeness is one of my defense mechanisms. It’s hard to be angry at someone whose being polite… it’s even harder if they’re standing in front of you. However, it tends to defuse a lot of explosive situations in life, and in the end, might get you a little better treatment at a time you’re not expecting it.

Recently I took my kids out to a restaurant and the waitress brought us drinks. I had to remind them to say “Thank You,” which annoyed me – they should know better than that. Again, it’s their job to bring out drinks… you’re paying for them, but you want that waitress to come back out and check on you more than every 15 minutes? A “thank you” goes a long way in ensuring that.

When I used to work at a call center doing tech support, I realized that it was far easier for people to get angrier on the phone than in person. It’s the same reason the stormtroopers in Star Wars have masks–you can’t be sympathetic to a mindless, faceless drone, so blast away! So it wasn’t enough to be polite on the phone, you had to be sympathetic. You had to go that extra step to avoid stepping on people’s toes. They were hurting, they were vulnerable… and people don’t like to be either, so they’re gonna lash out.

If that’s how it is on the phone, it must be doubly so on the Internet. No face, no voice… you’ve just taken away 70% of communication! So I use emoticons a lot… because as much as I feel they’re stupid and vapid, they convey at least some of that non-verbal communication which translates a statement that they could interpret as aggressive to one that’s neutral or friendly.

Some people think that getting angry online makes you powerful, or snarking someone gives you strength… no, it just makes you angry and snarky. I’ve muted so many folks on my social media feeds because I don’t want their negativity (and… let me be honest, their political rants) in my life. Yet rarely do I unfollow or drop someone unless they’re interference in my online enjoyment (usually raiding my comments) becomes too much.

Am I just deluding myself? Is the world just a world of shadows and pain and I need to toughen myself more? Or does civility still matter in today’s society? Let me know in the comments below!

Pyramids Don’t Roll!

26 Aug

In the early days of the Internet (~1995), there was a massive bulletin board called UseNet. It looked more like Reddit than forums today and it was all in text, but it had the same effect. However, someone brilliantly came up with a forum called the “Best of UseNet”… and these were gold!

Because let’s face it, even back then, no one really wanted to sort through the thousands of forums to find the piece of gold in the trash. However, since the Internet has proven the “infinite number of monkeys can produce Shakespeare” principle, by the same nature, if you found an incredibly funny post, you could copy it to the Best of UseNet forum and share it with the rest of the world. This made for frequent checks by a young Marcus.

So one of those stories that stuck with me was originally on the Babylon 5 forum (which JMS actually commented to while the show was happening) where one people goes on a rant when someone else makes a mistake about how gravity works: “When an orbiting ships are borrowing gravity from the earth’s rotation…”

This led to this man running with this idea. “My God! The entire Big Wheel industry must be shut down YESTERDAY!” Which led into a Babylon 5 digression. “Why do you think the Minbari are so hooked on that “tri” thing? Simple – pyramids… don’t… roll!”

I liked that phrase so much I used it in the first chapter of Fatebane. Let’s face it, I’m not that original…

Then there was the guy who was thinking of “pimping out his ride,” unfortunately, his ride was a rusty VW bug. So he thought of the most outlandish things he could do with it. “So yeah, I can paint it rainbow colors and get a personalized license plate called DETHBUG.” But the brilliant part was the idea of putting a megaphone with yellow and green lights (perfectly legal for a civilian) on the top of this monstrosity. So when he got to a stop light, he could turn it on, flash the lights, and call out “Citizen! It is legal to turn left at a red light!”

“Well, if the guy with the megaphone says it’s all right…” the folks in front of him would say and drive off. And as he concludes, “And I get to my destination 15 seconds faster!” 🙂

Gee, I miss that. Sure, you can have friends send you stuff, and memes on Facebook, but it’s not as much as fun as this long-form gems. But I can’t be the only one – what’s some of your favorite early Internet stories? Tell me them in the comments below!

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