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.