Summary: I have come to a point where I need positivity in my life. The Internet has that potential, but certain steps need to be made: turn off the links to schadenfreude sites, avoid reading comments where possible, get out more and enjoy the company of others, and keep wearing my damn fedoras.
BLOT: (20 Sep 2011 - 02:45:32 PM)
Avoiding Schadenfreude Sites, Eschewing Comments, and Deciding to Keep the Fedoras
[Note: this post will be more vulgar than normal. I need catharsis. If dirty words offend you, then to sum it up: I am off to find less negative things in life, and I encourage you to do the same.]
I have decided to stop visiting most Schadenfreude websites. There should a word for those. No bother. I have long visited several of them—the Engrish.coms, the FailBlogs, the Texts from Last Nights, The Ugliest Tattoos..s—but I no longer want to see them any more. I want to see their opposites. Where people complete amazing jumps, get amazing tattoos, where translations make beautiful wonderful sense and expose the power of both languages, and where people talk about how awesome life was for them. No more Fuck My Life but something like "Thank the Universe for My Life". Not sappy. I hate sanguinity. I want sites where five geeks with glasses sit around and figure out how to make music out of junk. Where guys in wing suits fly the Grand Canyon. Where people find a hidden message in Ulysses, or where some woman builds a program that dissects poetry. That sort of thing.
The reason? Plenty of different ones but I'll give you three. (A) We'll all be dead in 100 years, most of us in less, and in a million years there will be nothing left of our empire but dust. Screw being ugly all that time. If that sounds sappy and trite, fuck it. If you want to live your life continuously in the despair of others then fine, go and have your joy. I'll find mine. It is the glory of diversity, is it not? (B) I think my inner being needs something purer now. Edification may only be masturbation but you know, masturbation feels good. That's why we go to Hell for doing it. If Onanism sucked, we'd all be Heaven. It gets a bad rap but masturbating teens are not teens with STDs or, you know, babies. Wait!, I...digress.
And (C), most of those Schadenfreude sites are Skinner Boxes designed around the random reinforcement mechanism. People try to get on the front pages, submitting tons of pictures and quotes, pictures and quotes that they have effectively ripped out of context and/or stolen, that add nothing to anything, that are desperate attempts to float to the surface of the great Zeitgeist, an attempt to become a briefly talked about meme. Then, for moments, they sit there and idiots, lots and lots and lots of idiots and people who are not idiots but manage to fool us with their lack of sense and the very few reasonable who only half act reasonable there because why be reasonable when you are surrounded by idiots, comment on them and join in the hate, in the game. Then it is gone and you have to do it again, post again, try again, get that feeling that others appreciate you one more time. Except "you" have nothing to do with it. You are a small tiny quantity of bytes as a user name. What they care about is the chance to comment and share. All the while, the websites that are sitting back and hosting other people's pictures and quotes with watermark added to lay claim to something they had no part in creating, they do nothing but keep the votes running, keep the comments churning, and sell you shit tons of advertisements. If that's your idea of fun, then fine, have a good one. For me, I'm tired of being part of that experiment. I have an even better solution than AdBlock: simply don't go.
90% of everything is crap goes the maxim, and that is true, though it seemed like there was a time where a man could say, "I'll take part in crap today but tomorrow I'm going to avoid it." How does one do that now? Well, besides avoiding sites that irritate and vex the soul you can also avoid comments on all those who do not tend to attract real, good, and fine comments. Which means I'm going to do everything I can block comments, avoid them, not read them, on all but the small handful of sites that I know have good ones. I'll take the chance on those. Lately I've watched people say stupid, ignorant things and when called on it, act as though they have been wounded for being called it. "Welcome to the Internet" is a grand slogan of the mouth breathing, basement dwelling, semi-functional asshole who has climbed up on top of the free-for-them service and taken a big dump. It's the Eternal September's Eternal September. The very opposite of the best of humanity and yet not not-petty and not not-small enough to be the worst. It is just the whimper of humanity. The pleading that somehow, somewhere, someone can be better than someone else by acting lesser.
One response is a thick skin, and I am pretty thick skinned to be honest. I embrace fully the idea that you have to have a thick skin. Don't feed the trolls. Don't flinch at their passing. They are small and pathetic and are the equivalent of SPAM, trying so hard for a single hit out of thousands. That's all the need: one, or two. Let them call you names, it doesn't matter. Really. Honestly. Truly. It doesn't matter. The only way it matters is when you let it matter.
If you need, repeat the part of the Desiderata about loud-mouth idiots, as well as the joy of respecting others and keeping your own silence and truth, over and over to yourself:
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you prefer, you can go for the Harold and Kumar version, from the scene where they are in jail:
Look at me. I'm fat, black, can't dance, and I have two gay fathers. People have been messing with me my whole life. I learned a long time ago there's no sense getting all riled up every time a bunch of idiots give you a hard time. In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should. Plus I have a really large penis. That keeps me happy.
Another response, though, is what I am talking about here. It does you no good to go down into the pit, to hunt the beast, because it most assuredly will follow you home. Nothing is gained by joining in the gnashing of teeth except you get to spend time in the outer darkness, and nothing is gained from bathing in feces and trying to lecture it besides you begin to smell like shit.
In that light, I am going to keep wearing my damned fedora. Heh. I have been hearing some random, often foolish, talk about guys in fedoras. I guess some pop stars and douche bags have tried busting out the Frank Sinatra. And fat guys at cons wear them to look like George R.R. Martin or something. Oh well. I've had my fedora for longer than most of the loudest mouthed cretins have had their pubic hair. I have got better things to do with my time than listen to mewling babes. Besides, in about a year anyhow, they will have moved on to complaining about people who still wear watches or whatever. Sarah is right, I don't have to give a damn what they think. And I don't. They have never given me a reason to care.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe...
...keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
In closing, one important lesson that I should repeat is this: get out into the world. The Internet seems to bring us together, and I do have friends from all of the world that I would not without it, but after a day of feeling down and confused by all the anger and stupid things I had read, I went to work and I talked to people and they smiled and they were gracious and they joked. Those same people on the Internet might have snarled and complained and tore down. I do not know what it is, but for some reason, people really do let some of their worst shit out while online [article is about a small town that has gotten in a bad habit of talking lots of shit online about each other]. It is not even the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, some people are asses under their own name. Whatever it might be, it violates my (and apparently Wil Wheaton's, who came to the same conclusion) most important, and effectively only, rule of morality: Don't be an asshole. "There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."
I'm off to read good literature.
Me Versus the Internet
OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: September 2011