Once you put a label on something, it ceases to have much effect. I remember one of the ﬁrst phenomena that was labelled for me on the internet was trolling. Once it was identiﬁed, then it was easy to recognize the behaviour.
Recently, someone on a gamer site—not the sort of thing I usually frequent, but Miss Universe New Zealand was being discussed—sent me a diagram of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory. I immediately sent it to Jennifer Siebel. And then I found myself recognizing the behaviour after “debating” (as in I would advance my position, and anonymous posters would attack me back at a personal level or resort to name-calling) on Sophie Evans’s pageantry blog after getting (intentionally or unintentionally) called out about the judging.
I wouldn’t say it was a delight to ﬁgure out that many people are unable to put forward arguments and rebuttals. If anything, it’s a sad fact that the Theory holds some water. It also reﬂects the general population: my friend Ron, when I wrote about the internet having changed last month, is very, very right with his comment. One conclusion that stems from what Ron wrote is that among the human race, civility is not the ﬁrst thing that comes to mind with a certain part of the population. And that is very sad, when we live in an age of so many fundamental human rights being recognized. We would choose to abuse them.
Given these last few weeks, Laural Barrett must be the blonde du mois for me in terms of blog-defending. There are no real victories while people hide behind anonymity and act without a sense of personal responsibility. I have no idea of the ages of the posters, but the writing skills and coherence of some seem a bit low. (Pyrrhic victories, anyone?)
Still, there are middle-aged people who are less coherent and it would be wrong to presume the least able debaters are young. Look at the blogroll at the right and there are plenty of young people there who give you a sense of hope about the future, but as with any age group, visionaries do not form the majority. Our best hope is to maximize the proportion of the population that has a chance to do some real good on this planet.
I still lament the days where the internet was a forum for exchanging ideas freely, but these days, there are certain people who think they are the only ones with a right to free speech, and everyone else should shut up.
Reminds you of politics, doesn’t it? Posted by Jack Yan, 02:59
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