Tag Archive for internet

An Internet Analogy via the Futility of a Horny Spotted Towhee

I’m sure they have a word for this, the rest of the birds that litter my yard post-sunrise must have seen this kind of obsession more than once, Spotted Towhee.  Repeatedly flinging yourself at an imaginary enemy, ignoring any and all actual challengers in favor of this one, true nemesis. Your development has been stunted, sidetracked by a challenger of your own making, by your inability to simply turn your head to see that there is more to do in a day than just batter the glass.

When you arrived, you had a girl.  I saw her. Shy and dim-colored, you told her you’d be right back, didn’t you.  That you just had to prove this one guy, this one imaginary foe you saw through your pane of glass was wrong.  Then you would be free, then you could be together. But every morning, every time you look, there’s another one.  And another. It’s like they don’t hear you, like they don’t understand that you’re right. There’s always another bird in that little window.

Where is she now Towhee?  Did she get tired of waiting while you ranted and raved at your glittering screen?  This perfect specimen of opposition that exists only because you keep going back to call it out, rather than stretching your wings and considering the rest of the world.

I’ve blocked you from the object of your obsession more than once now.  Chased you off, spent time and energy, erected barriers of tinsel and fabric to keep you from seeing that imaginary enemy. Tried to get you to see that your time would be better off spent building your bower, on paying attention to that shy lady bird who waited every night for you to finish your screed.  Instead you flung yourself at an illusion until panting and spent, energy poured out in a tirade that feels like a real fight, that feels like a defense of that idea you hold most dear.  But your dear has left, flown off with another bird who was more interested in being there than in being the victor over an imaginary foe.

And at the end of the day, when that shining pane of glass finally goes dark and you pick and pluck at the remnants of cheese puffs and bits of bread the other birds felt beneath their notice, you feel strangely unfulfilled.  There was no victory. There was no triumph. There was only a null response as the other bird vanished due to a change you couldn’t comprehend. Look up, Spotted Towhee, look out into the larger world. Forget the glass, forget the enemy that cares not for winning or losing.  Go find another shy bird and be free.

Through a glass

It’s surprisingly easy to forget that, what you are seeing through the glass of your computer monitor, or smartphone, or tablet, is only one viewpoint.  It’s skewed viewpoint, inhabited by a broad range of people that, for one reason or another, have the time to put their thoughts, hopes, dreams, hurts and fears out into the ether where anyone can see them.  And that what lots of this stuff is.  People’s inside voices (even professional peoples, who are being paid to speak in this medium, are lured to say things they might not consider something to say aloud).

You are looking at the world through a distorted lens.

I’m not using distorted here as a negative.  There are Good Things to be viewed through this lens, just as there are Bad Things.  But it is human nature to focus on the Bad Things, those are often important things, the ones that can take you and your whole group of somewhat advanced primates out of the picture if you don”t LEARN from those bad things.  And because of the way linking and page ranks and all those nifty tools we use to drive traffic work, it’s very easy to drop down the rabbit hole.  To spend your entire day going from Bad Thing to Bad Thing (or Good Thing to Good Thing) so, by the time you shut down your screen for the evening, or morning, or whenever, those Things are going to color your day.

The point is, and it’s something I have to remind myself of, because I spend a lot of time in front of Screens, that it’s a tiny window onto the world, like trying to see the world only through the peekaboo in your front door.  In order to retain perspective, you have to look out through other windows as well.  It’s the difference between viewing a snapshot and a movie.  One shows you the overweight lady at Walmart, whose kid in the shopping cart has a plastic bag on their head, the other shows you the full 30 second sequence of the kid playing with the bag, putting it on their head, then the mother taking it away and putting it in the bin.  Two different lenses, two different reactions on the part of the viewer.

To Assume means to make an…

I was thinking about assumptions today. Back when I first started on the Internet (back when alt. was the only way to chat and MUDs were causing people to flunk out of school) your username and your finger file were what people had to go by. When I used a female username, I was treated as date bait and when I used a male username, or even an indeterminate one, I was treated as one of the guys. That sounds a bit unfair, and it is. Even if I IDd myself as female, and used a male name, I was treated reasonably. I came to the conclusion (supported by my male friends) that it was presumed, when using a female name, that I was a guy acting out a bad stereotype (or that I was possibly some sort of technohooker).

But dong let me get sidetracked, the discussion here isn’t a boy versus girl one. Rather, it’s a case of presumption on the part of the participant. I’ve been mistaken for male, queer, libertarian, democrat, what have you and in each case it has simply been because the person I was interacting with had made a presumption that we were
the same. A person who had never met me, outside of an online chat room or comment string or other semi anonymous format had, barring additional proofs, decided we shared the same opinions and background.

Now, I know the Internet is a great equalizer, it allows people to transcend appearances and interact on a presumeably purer level, without preconceptions. But what I’m seeing is that preconceptions seem to be there *anyway*, that the mind fills the void left by the absence of face to face contact.

Is that better? Instead of assigning social stereotypes, were making an ever greater leap by assuming someone is just like us (and committing social faux pas like making social or racist or political comments we might not otherwise speak aloud).

It also speaks to responsibility on the part of the online user.  If you choose a username like “Baambi” or “A**munch”, that’s a deliberate choice on your part, that impression is one you are sending deliberately.  Is it really fair, therefore, to get pissed if someone treats you in a fashion that suits the identity you are imparting?  The socialy and crimminally minded do this all the time in reverse (or so the media would have us think).  They deliberately give the impression of nice, upstanding, harmless citizen while behind the scenes thier motives might be something far less harmless.