Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mountaineers of the Information Age

Hello, folks! Sometime back, I tossed up a post in response to a hateful (and, naturally, anonymous) comment this blog garnered. Generally, I'm all for free speech but speaking your mind doesn't entitle you a Get out of Jail Free card from consequence. Thus, the troll in question found him- or herself appropriately spanked and later (also anonymously) apologized via an undoubtedly false email account.

I can hear you now: What's your point, Gudmunson? You're rambling! Get on with it already!

The point is, we've come to a sorry spot on the ol' timeline, folks. In eras past if people felt the need to confront someone on an issue they did it face to face or, at worst, over the phone (e.g. in real time with the identities of both parties taking responsibility for their words and actions). Now a big bloody chunk of confrontation--real or contrived, the latter of which seems to be cropping up with greater frequency--is channeled through the wonderful cybersage of the Information Age: the Internet!

Yes, the Internet, that insular filter which ironically serves to remove all filters. Through the 'Net, and specifically social media, individuals are now able to hide behind false faces to lob their insults . . . and the best part for them is they can do it without threat of retribution! They feel safe throwing stones because there are no glass houses online.

But what happens when the identity of a cyberstooge sockpuppet floats to the surface like the stinking carcass of something lying decades at the bottom of a cesspool? 

What does one do when one realizes the person is someone without the benefit of a social life, someone whose upbringing included stark oppression under an inflexible belief system? What happens when you find out the person behind those pitched stones is only pitching them from out of the pit of a pathetic existence?

Well, you kind of feel sorry for them, that's what. You realize you're a target because they've been a target. Because they feel pain. Because, just maybe, they feel jealousy and are seeking some form of vindication for perceived slights.

Then you kind of just want to give that person a hug and tell them everything's going to be okay. Because you're not like them. You don't want to hurt, you want to help. Sometimes life can seem a lot like climbing a mountain--let's call it Mt. Motherfucker. And Mt. Motherfucker is one monstrous son of a bitch whose apex is lost in a fleet of thunderheads veined with white lightning. Climbing to the top is far easier if there's someone beneath you to scurry over, to drop the tread of your Pacific Trail size 9 onto, to leave behind in the grit.

But one thing's for sure. It's far more difficult to climb that fucking mountain alone than it is without full support of fellow climbers. You brave mountaineers of the Information Age, all limping alone into the terrifying stormy future ahead of you, might do well to remember that before dropping your little stones into a sling and flinging them for all you're worth.

Which, let's be honest, isn't much.