"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." - Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 25, 2010


I am not what most would call a 'People Person.'

If you know me at all (and if you're bothering to read this, you probably do), this does not come as a Big Honking Surprise.

I really don't like people very much. I'm talking about groups of people. Specifically, groups who rally around a particular idea. Doesn't matter if it's politics, religion, sexual preference, eye color or flavor of ice cream (Give Me Kahlua Chip Or Give Me Death!), etc.

People are nasty, brutish, violent, uninformed and dangerous. I always think of the torch and pitchfork-wielding villagers in every Frankenstein movie. The whole 'we hate and fear what we do not understand' thing. It's true. With most persons you can usually have a sit-down conversation without conflict. But, you try to reason with a group of like-minded people who are all worked up over a cause or belief and you could find yourself on the business end of a very short rope.

There's an old saying that goes, 'There's safety in numbers.' Very true, but that can also give people the feeling that they can act out on their darker impulses if they are backed by the crowd. Look at the political landscape today. People used to complain about the difference between the 'haves' and 'have nots.' Now, it's the difference between the 'hates' and 'hate mores.'

I usually keep my politics pretty close to the vest, but it's no secret that I am pretty socially liberal on most issues, but I try to be a pragmatist. For example, I am vehemently anti-Death Penalty. Not on moral grounds, however. If you willingly take the life of an innocent human being, I do believe that your own life should be forfeit. For me, the issue lies within the imperfections of our judicial system. Unless you can be 100% certain of someone's guilt, you can't take the chance that even one person could be wrongly executed.

Now, I enjoy a good, well-reasoned debate on the issues like the one above, but you can't do that today. It's all static and any voice of reason gets drowned out among all the noise. So, people like myself, who fall somewhere in the middle of the pack don't get heard because we either get shouted down or simply realize the futility of trying to speak at all. Which is a shame because, when all you hear are the extremes, then the extremes seem like the norm.

The biggest perpetrator of all this nonsense isn't a person at all. It isn't Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. It isn't Bill O'Reilly or Rachel Maddow. It's the Internet.

The anonymity of the Internet* has allowed us all to become those fearful villagers. Instead of torches and pitchforks, they wield their grammatically-challenged vitriolic hate speech against any target without consequence. This, more than anything else, lowers my opinion of the human animal to subterranean levels. Visit any news-oriented website and read the comments and you'll find the written equivalent of a low-budget horror movie; Lots of blood and guts with a generous helping of evisceration, a hint of racism and a touch of misogyny.

I used to believe it was all just theatre. A modern Grand Guignol for the masses. I'm not sure anymore.

In the meantime, I'm having a huge wooden door installed in my castle with one of those giant barricades behind it to keep the villagers at bay. Anyone know where I can get some alligators for my moat?


E-Playgrounds Can Get Vicious

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