Today is a 2 for 1 special. What started with a thought on commented spiraled into a whole set of thoughts I never saw coming. And this is going to be one of the times I go off the beaten track, that is venture into a topic that doesn’t really have to do with tech, driving or gaming. But in an odd way they do connect in some weird ways.
Last week when I was interview by Jason Kahl for the Reading Eagle, we had an interesting side discussion about online comments. I found myself having to bite my toungue to a certain degree but I did what I found hard to do: I listened to him. Yes me the great “thinker” does find it hard to listen to people, I struggle with it. Especially when I get a feeling like something is wrong with a thought. See I had told Jason that I was told that some people were posting negative, trolling, comments on stories about my brother’s death. And what I was told these comments weren’t very nice to say the least. To be honest I hadn’t seen the comments nor do I have a care to. And maybe to the surprise of many, I don’t care for them to be monitored or deleted. As I said before about commenting, what exists in the world of the Internet exists in the real world.
As Jason expressed to me that his paper would not let negative comments be posted, as they monitored them and used Facebook to stem the tide of negativity. While it sounds in practice a thought came to me later last week that even surprised me, a thought I was surprised I hadn’t thought of a while back, especially when I wrote the first article on the subject. Sites of the old media, like Newspapers, Magazines, etc. in coming to the online world of things are having trouble adapting, not only is there loss of control, but lack of understanding of how things now work. Now at the same time I say that, I also understand the reaction to the modern world is an attempt at control in itself. In addition, I’m not talking about Spam, I understand wanting to control Spam. To further add I myself employ my own form of moderation on this blog. Therefore, I understand both sides of the fight.
The thought I had was this: Old media fights so hard to control others thoughts, but would be the first to cry First Amendment violation if they were controlled.
The problem is while I understand that you have to setup ground rules with a community, the line must still be walked carefully, especially when you want the same protections this country offers people. In addition, as I noted before, the key to success online involves commenting, even that which we consider bad. Moreover, as I expressed in Thoughts for a Cell, my question is how far do we take this.
Which brings me to the unlikely second part of the 2 for 1 deal today and that is the crusade (more on this later) on Bullying today. And for this let me give a little background; every decade in this country we go through a period where some “thing” becomes established as “evil” destroying our children, and the cries of “for the children” soon begin. Rock ‘n’ Roll, Dungeons & Dragons, Music again, Video Games is just a few hits on the list some group said was destroying the youth. Years ago I got to thinking of what the new crusade would be and what object of “evil” would be named. Then I deemed it to be Technophobia, that is that technology gadgets and things like the Internet would be that new “evil” destroying the youth of today. Moreover, for a while my thought was playing itself out true with the bans on technology at schools and comments (ironic ain’t it?) from parents saying that kids shouldn’t be glued to Facebook and Smart Phones.
Then the movie Bully was slapped with an NC-17 rating, and I saw the light.
Let us step back once more. Years ago when I first entered college and was told I needed to take the “well rounding of a person” courses, in other world liberal arts courses, I chose to use these courses to my advantage. I had some choice to what general courses I could take so when it came to History I decided to learn something about the Medieval Ages and the crusades. What I had been told about that period of history was not true and over-exaggerations of the truth of those time periods. As it turned out the Witch Hunts were not about evil women doing evil things with nature, but towns that did not want to shoulder the costs of the elderly. In addition, the Crusades were not about the promotion of Christianity, but that of power, money and control. What may be looked as legitimate concerns by a vocal few, soon becomes manipulated towards the end of the few. And eventually the issue reaches a point where the means can’t justify the ends.
And the same is true of these things people claim are “evil.” Legitimate concerns become manipulated for the few to have a grand stage to promote themselves and the real issue that probably cannot be solved in the first place takes a back seat to the “Crusade.” Moreover, this is why it became clear to me the new “Crusade” of the decade was Bullying and not Technophobia. Bullying at the core is similar to an issue like smoking, while you can get most of the people to find the idea of smoking wrong, but at some point, you cannot stop it. The only way to stop it is to ban it, and as we know with prohibition, that does not work. And again the scary thought I have is where does it end, do we lock people up for having bad thoughts for verbal tirades?
And the insidious thing about the whole sorry mess is how the “Crusade” of Bullying allows certain people to look good and have platforms to act good. It is not fair to blanket the whole movement as wrong, but after the point of saying it is wrong, what good can be accomplished by doing more than having society say we do not accept it. I have to ponder then if these things are such “evils” why do they fade into obscurity and become a non-issue when people are tired of the movement. It is not like Dungeons & Dragons is not still played and The Beatles are not listened to still. So I have to ask do the means justify the ends and who truly benefits from a movement after it reaches the point of no return.
The final blow comes in the form of legitimate issues that lose meaning and become pawns for other’s means.
One final thought – If the movie Bully is so important; Why is it not released on the Internet for free?