Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Whispers on the Digital Winds.

Last night I was reading through the archives of a blog that I'm planning on adding to this year's Roll Call when I ran across an old controversy* that had taken our community by storm a while back. As I was reading this blog's archives I was amazed at how quickly lines were drawn in the digital sand by the author, and it occurred to me that maybe this wasn't an isolated thing. So I started reading through the time lines of a random sampling of my contacts on Google+ and Blogger. For those of you wondering about the sample size I looked at 62 people on Google+ and 40 on Blogger, going through their public postings (and postings shared directly with me) during the time period when the controversy was at it's most fevered.
 
What caught my attention time and time again was how quickly people tended to array themselves along these imaginary battle lines. For some you were either with them or against them and if you listened to them long enough it was easy to fool yourself into believing that the entire internet community was just as militantly divided. Only it wasn't. Most people just wanted the entire thing to go away. But here's the thing that really got my attention: for people who were passionately involved in the conversation, and who were making allegations regardless of their side, it seemed that anything they said against their opponents was considered fair game. At times it seemed as though they were taking the opinion that their side was filled with angels who have never told lies and could be believed implicitly because they said something was so; while the other side could never be believed, no matter what they did to disprove the allegations.

I'm truly left wondering why. Why do so many of us engage in this sort of absolutism in our arguments and this almost tribal mindset of us versus them? Why does it seem like unfounded claims, based solely on hearsay and not on actual proof, seem to find greater purchase in this day and age? Why is it okay to manufacture claims against a person you don't like because you're having a disagreement with them? 

You know what, these sort of thoughts just piss me off and put me in a terrible mood. So I'm going to go play in space instead.

Space, where even the nice looking girl in the one piece is going to kill you.

* it's not the one you're thinking of. No, not that one either.

19 comments:

  1. It's the same thing when I talk to anyone about waterboarding. Terrorists bad, freedom fighters good. It pisses me off to no end when people assume that i'm a hero because I served in the military in Afghanistan. I know some down right criminal dudes that served in the military in Afghanistan. It think it takes less obvious mental effort to simplify the argument and ignore the murky grey areas. Perhaps it is based in some sort of survival instinct we have to classify things as threats or not. Just a quick off the cuff idea.

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    1. "It think it takes less obvious mental effort to simplify the argument and ignore the murky grey areas. Perhaps it is based in some sort of survival instinct we have to classify things as threats or not."

      You might very well be right there Matt. Simplifying things is definitely a part of it as the overall effect is to take complex arguments and put them into simple slogans that we can all get behind. Definitely food for thought there.

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    2. This article seems, at first, unrelated, I think, but it my be an interesting read regarding that topic.

      Also, it has hilarious, very NSFW pictures and captions.

      http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-ways-to-keep-terrorists-from-ruining-world/

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    3. I do, too. I also love playing in space. Everybody wins.

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    4. I kind of would argue, re: the rapist scenario, it isn't rapist:2 society:0, since the rapist decided to not take part in society when he raped someone. 8 )

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    5. Well, to be accurate, in the text it's not a score for "Rapist", it's a score for "Rape". And one could indeed argue that the concept scores in both events, and even more so if there is no participation in society in the process.

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  2. It is amazing, frightening and sad how quickly we demonize others.

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    1. No joke. Remind me to tell you some time about the day that I was a misogynist and bigot because I thought people should be judged by what they do and not by their skin color, gender, or who they let get sexy with them when they let anyone get sexy with them at all. It was surreal to say the least.

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  3. As much as I'd like to ad something constructive to all this, I cannot. I'm much too busy trying to source food to supplement my gardens that is free of Fukushima radiation. Oh, and building orgone generators to help neutralize chemtrails and harmful electromagnetic radiation, conducting research to help sufferers of Morgellon's Disease, searching for a bottom to the Rock Wall and doing my best to End the Fed. Hey, if I carry my d20's in my pocket do you think they will roll higher or just cause irritation on the days I ride commando? I may have to ban the former practice as it wouldn't be allowed in a MLB game, now would it? Maybe Congress will hold a hearing next time it comes up. Fuck it, bring the cheddar-horseradish pub cheese and a bag of pretzels and you can carry your dice in any sack you like.

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    1. Andrew, stop doing meaningful things with your life and come back to the frivolity of the internet! Come back where people can call each other Nazis without blinking because they don't like the same video games! You know you want to!

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    2. "Why does it seem like unfounded claims, based solely on hearsay and not on actual proof, seem to find greater purchase in this day and age?"

      Because unfounded claims and hearsay are quicker to break down into bite-sized pieces and digest by the masses.

      We've always been at war with East-Asia and all that.

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    3. That's exactly what a liberal would say. ;)

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    4. Shush! You're making this weird.

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  4. I came for the cogent argument against internet tribal absolutism but stayed for the space girl in the one-piece.

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    1. Don't be fooled by her pretty face, for she is an alien and has no interest in you other than for eating your brains with a nice red wine. Other than that, she's also an awesome dancer and I hear she loves punk music.

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  5. Anyone is allowed to use a keyboard, even those that do not have the capacity to partake in a debate with an open mind. Tempers fly off the handle and they type as they think... sad to say I might have been there myself some times, often because I was baited by said behavior to begin with. But such people cannot be talked/typed with, they will turn anything constructive you type into some base insult instead.

    in part I suspect that it is somewhat the same thing as when a meek shy little man calls customer service and suddenly turns into a thundering giant demolishing everything in his path. There is no consequence... you don't have to look another person in the eye when you type, there is no real confrontation.. and some will type anything just to bait you without giving a flying.... I think that's a big part of it, the debates are dehumanised and they partakers are usually not people that would normally take part in a serious debate.

    I also see this with non-gamers on a news site and there is no age group here, everyone young and old can be seen doing this. It feels to me like a newbie playing with the internet for the first time and here the "no-consequence/no confrontation" is really prominent in such people.

    in all my years on the internet i have seen both young and old behave very poorly and some wont just stop with direct name calling in a debate, alot will go about it behind peoples back too trying to undermine and turn the rest of a community against those they have set their sights on even as far as harrassing each other.

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    1. How do I give this comment a plus 1,000?

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