Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Is WRONG With People???

Serious post ahead. Beware.

This is why I blog anonymously. Even my professional blog, to some extent, is anonymous. My first name is on it, but that's it. The people I work with know about the professional blog, but strangers do not know my true identity.

And while I find the mean emails dooce receives unintentionally funny, I'm not sure how I would react if I ever received something like that. I know... grow a thick skin and don't take it too seriously. BUT.

I know things get blown out of proportion. I understand. I just don't have time for hate speech, hateful comments, or any of that horrible, waste-of-time garbage.

That's why my blog posts don't get too serious about any potentially emotional topic.

That's why a picture of my face will never appear on this blog.

That's why I try to teach educators that we can't just teach kids to make spreadsheets, databases, PowerPoints, etc. We need to educate our students about what it's like to live in a "flat"* world... about the ethics of technology... about the dangers of putting too much personal information out there... about responsible blogging, etc.

Much of the hatred spewed about the author, Kathy, of the linked blog was supposed to be somewhat of a spoof on another blog. If you dig deeply enough through all the links (or maybe you know of similar sites), you'll find a few blogs and sites where bloggers create "personas" and act out, through their writing, truly awful scenes. All in the name of "it's not real... just pretend." "We don't really mean what we write here... we're just doing it for entertainment/fantasy."

I'm sorry, but that's just not an excuse. And it all makes me really step back and take a look at what we accept as entertainment or fantasy. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in the freedom to write or direct whatever you want, as long as it's not truly threatening or physically harming someone else. With that said... do some of these items of "entertainment" really serve us as human beings?

Not to pick on any one movie or genre, but I'm going to go with the bloody/gory movies that seem to keep popping up. Believe me, I LOVE a good horror movie. Not the ones where we watch someone's innards being removed in full view, but a good, suspenseful horror flick where you don't have to see the evil to know it's there. Have we gone too far in our horror fantasies that we really need to see a woman or a child violated to know that it's happened? Do we need to see someone's brains splattered all over a windshield to keep us engrossed in the movie?

Are blogs-- or even comments on a post-- that perpetuate a similar theme as those gory movies necessary?

I know that a person could defend almost anything, given the "right" justification. I KNOW.

I'm just... I don't know.... I'm... sickened. I hate that I have to work with people who think the internet is such an awful place to be, only to find that flamers, misogynists, and hate-spewers have given them another notch in the belt of reasons-we-should-keep-kids-away-from-the-web.

I've also been stalked before... it started out as emails, and then escalated into being followed around in the city where I worked. He sent me flowers. He sat in the parking lot of my office building and watched me through the windows. He called and hung up a lot. I don't want anything like that ever again.

All of this leaves me with such dismay. I cry all the time at happy things, sad things, cell phone commercials... you know. But this time, I cried for US. I'm sad to think that anything like this could suddenly happen to our little community, and then things would never be the same. It's a similar feeling as the one I had shortly after September 11. I was sad for all the families of the victims, but I felt despair when I realized the impact of those events. I don't expect things to stay the same forever... but I always hope that we're able to grow from events. Not shrink and hide and let fear rule our lives. I'm not comparing what happened to Kathy (in the linked blog) to 9/11... not even close. I remember feeling a sense of hopelessness about the future after 9/11. Kathy's experience has me feeling a little hopeless about where we are as a people.

Leaving the world in a better place than I found it is always my goal. I hope that we're able to find a way to make that happen in Bloggy Land, too. Sure, I'm still going to zing a celebrity for saying/doing something stupid. I'm going to continue to harp on adult women who insist upon dressing like teenagers. I'm even going to gripe about how stupid people piss me off. But you won't find pure, unadulterated hatred here. That's not what I'm all about. And I know it's not your bag, either.

Let's put our minds together to see what we can do about things like this... what do you say?


Gabrielle said...

Yeah, I was reading about this whole thing yesterday and it's sickening. It's much more than a joke. People who "joke" like that are seriously angry people, and the last thing they need is someone cheering them on. There are some literary "criticism" sites I no longer frequent because they can be just plain mean. I don't get it, and I don't get why people support it.

Sparkling said...

Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from responsibility. I think that a lot of people think that if they don't sign their real name and don't have to look a person in the eye, that it's harmless. The problem is that there are enough crazies and frightened people in the world who will take those words seriously that posting on the internet is likely to reach at least a few of them. That's all it takes.

It also doesn't helpt that it's instant. You can leave a comment in as little time as it takes to type it. There's no waiting period to think it over and ask oneself, "Is it really a good idea to say that?" You can spout off in anger, post it on a person't blog, and hundreds of people can see it before you even have a chance to cool off.

I don't think the answer is to "regulate" the internet (if that's even possible) or to take away the right to post anonymously. People need to understand the importance of posting responsibly in order to protect themselves and how to deal with the myriad types of feedback they could receive. It won't make all internet interaction all happy-lovey-rosy; meanies and dangerous people will always exist, but at least they won't overrun our lives.

metalia said...

Oh my god; I have nothing to say; I think you said it all perfectly, and this whole situation is just so incredibly disturbing. There was an article on recently about this; how people have this veil of anonymity, and get all "brave" in their communications online. This is seriously frightening.

Jurgen Nation said...

I'm so upset over this. It's awful. I know this sounds so childish, but why are people so mean? I don't understand why someone would enjoy treating people - people on the internets are people, too - so horribly. I'm sort of looking at my own blog with unease - I've been lucky so far, but what if? It would literally make me sick. I couldn't handle the hate as wittily as Dooce, and I sure couldn't handle it at all if I were Kathy. I don't want for this to be our undoing. I get so much out of this. I don't understand.

Ludicrousity said...

Preach it sister! I'm with you!

mjd said...

Oh yes, I agree things have taken a sinister turn. There are so many fine blogs in the blogosphere that do not spew hatred and bitterness.

Now, what can we do? I am not sure. A plan of action might be just to never visit the blog again or to post a comment about the negativity. You have taken a step by your post, "What is WRONG with people?"

don't call me MA'AM said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. After having a few days to digest it, I'm less freaked out and more determined to keep doing what I do. Additionally, we can keep supporting those who are positive and shunning those who are so mean-spirited.

You've all made good points, and I appreciate your taking the time to check into Kathy's story.

You're the best!

Stinkypaw said...

It's sad that people have to push it that far, and it is frightening to think that it can happen even in Blogville.

How I would deal with such hatred, I honestly don't know.

No matter what we do, I believe that there will always be dumb, mean and envious people, no matter how we try to look at it.

This re-confirm my decision to be anonymous as much as possible... ...just in case. Good post.