So, as many of the ramblings posted here have done before, this one takes inspiration from my experiences as well as conversations that crop up between friends. This particular one stems from a couple of different conversations, but the most recent went something like this:
Friend: Yeah, I think people screwing with my plans is about the second or third most rage-inducing thing in life.
Me: I sorta had gave up the rage factor on people messing with my plans about the time Saddam Hussein decided to vacation in Kuwait.
Friend: Never give up your rage, without it, what ever would we do in traffic?
Me: Same @#$% people do on social media, rage impotence from behind the shield of anonymity provided by computers and tinted windows?
Friend: No, that’s for amateurs. The pros roll down their windows and make sure the intended target’s attention is well and truly garnered first.
Me: Funny how so many get super brave and enormous social media balls fueling insults and threats and other bad manners. Yet, in person… they talk behind backs and generally smile and nod when confronted.
Friend: It’s been a while since anyone threatened me on the social medias <sigh>.
From there we considered our mutual bent towards an unusual nature that is willing to embrace erudite vocabulary, intermittent swearing, and colorful metaphors without the benefit of shielding or anonymity. The friend’s observation is that most individuals are generally afraid of one or two things are likely outcomes in those situations: 1) actual conflict and 2) how it will make them look. For me, I tend to pick my battles. What I’ve discovered is that most of the battles in the virtual world aren’t worth my energy to have a truly emotional reaction. On the other hand, the traffic shyte… I still let rip with the best. It’s cathartic, and as long as my phone is on mute, I’ll remain employed and on good terms with my mother.
So, contrary to the behaviors of others, I’m least likely to stir the pot in the social media arena. I tend to avoid the hyperbolic and generally take a wide berth from flame wars and general trollery. Very unlike my behavior in person where my filters seem to be perennially blocked, and I’m likely to just let fly with whatever snark is lurking between my ears. The outcome is frequently unfortunate given any situation where observation will lead to less than complimentary commentary. The results are that my internal dialog choses to make itself externally present… fatigue often weighs into the balance towards a more likely chance of this occurrence. I haven’t decided if it is my general disapprobation of the cowardice inherent in that anonymity and safety of the keyboard diatribe and polite silence or if it is just a basic lack of self-preservation on my part. Given my father’s commentary on my usual modus operandi as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” I’m going with the latter. Whatever the underlying cause, I would be the child at the side of the road pointing and saying “But he’s naked!” Honesty is not always the best policy. I’m learning, and it helps that frequently the overriding indolence will prevent my announcements as much as any prudence. It just simply isn’t worth my time or energy for the most part.
What IS it about humanity that they grow very large gonads when they feel they have the protection of invisibility or invulnerability? And why is it when these same types are confronted with their own flavor of incivility that they tend to run crying to whatever level of protector they can find pleading bullying and crying “FOUL”. Seriously, I’m astounded at the amount of nasty, hurtful, and semi-libelous (it is technically in print) bullpucky people fling at each other on the book of faces or twits. I cannot imagine most of said asshats having the actual (rather than virtual) cahones to say the same to someone’s face.
In the same way, I’ve actually observed people in traffic and on interstates having verbal and nonverbal seizures in response to our fellow travelers on the road. It’s times like these that make me rather wish for installed loudspeaker systems so that the targets of their ire can truly appreciate the creativity (or lack thereof). I would also like to install little electronic scoreboards so that we might give appropriate feedback. “Excellent use of extemporaneous verbiage. I give it a 8.7. Had to deduct points for lack of feasibility.”
What is completely dissimilar about the two different venues of diatribe is that most of our fellow journeymen (and women) on the road are unlikely to be aware or suffer any of the slings and arrows we spew forth in their general direction. Except in the most spiritual of ways, that verbal badinage of ill will hovers in a cloud around our own head and, for the parents in my readership, is occasionally reflected back from the mouths of babes who have overheard. The targets drive blissfully on in ignorance and probably dangerous levels of driving incompetence. On the other hand, the witting or unwitting target of hateful vocabulary flung upon the interwebs of social media and commentary are readily visible. Whether they know from whence the attack arises or not, that person is generally able to read, peruse, and commit to memory every ugly subject and predicate. Additionally, the verbal abuse flung from a car window is momentary, passing, and passes by as the car and the moment. That stuff on the webpage or text screen can be preserved for evah!
Now, for those of us healthy enough to realize that people flinging nasty at each other behind the mask of technology really should not make lasting impact on our self-esteem or psyches, it is possible to ignore…unfollow… block… and move on. But the old thing about sticks and stones isn’t entirely true. Our bodies tend to heal a good deal more quickly than our egos when words scar and threats scare. Lives have been ruined over what seems to be silly online commentary. Freedom of speech (or typing) is not freedom from consequences.
Personally, I do not think that censorship is the answer. I think common sense (which is not so very common) is a better solution. If you wouldn’t say it where someone could actually face or possibly reach you, then don’t say it. If you don’t want it recorded for posterity and possibly flung back in your face like a monkey defending territory, don’t put it on the internet. Seems pretty simple to me; which means that it will be ignored the whole way ‘round, my best guess. So, back to the end of that conversation at the beginning… it pretty much dissolved into the much more important topic of a team name. What do y’all think? Should we be the Slaughter Monkeys or Rioting Llamas? Decisions… decisions…