Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Internet Trash Talking

For whatever reason, it seems like people enjoy upsetting each other. Maybe everyone is just so bored with kind and thoughtful behavior that they just want to see some action but can’t pop a DVD of “Random Violence” into the player and are tossing around for something else to do. Whatever the reason, it seems that when people are in a bad mood, everyone else will descend on them and try to “yank their chain.”

And then there’s Derek Smart.

According to some scholarly sources (wikipedia and everything2), Mr. Smart is or was an avid participant in one of the usenet’s longest running flame wars. Much of it centered around some game that Derek wrote way back when that according to some people was a complete train-wreck.

Being the old fart that I am, I did post to the usenet back in the day and it was fairly easy to get sucked into a flame war. They could start out innocuously enough, you know, asking for an opinion or whatnot, but there is only so much logic you can use before you just reach the point of “I believe X because it’s my opinion.”

That is where most people seem to just let it drop. That’s where you sort the men from the boys. All the pansies and pretends fall away leaving the hard core. The crazy. The freaks.

Ya see, once you have reached the point that logic ends, then it’s time to start attacking the other person. It’s all well and good to have an opinion, but if the holder is a twit then that opinion isn’t worth much, is it? Thus the conversation would inevitably turn in that direction; at least all the entertaining ones would, and turn into a game of “the dozens.”

Once again you reach a point where most people call it quits. All you have to do is claim that you won, loudly and constantly, and you will have achieved about as much as you ever hope to in such a waste of time. But once again you find the truly hard core players amongst the wanna-bes. The ones who are willing to take the next step to…psycho-hood.

Such people waved “bye-bye” to logic long ago. Attacks on a person’s style or personality are childish. These wackos threaten all-out violence. Such threats are not quite what they once were. Back in the day, you could threaten to “beat the living shit” out of someone and nothing would come of it. These days, however, there is some chance that The Man could get involved.

Thus the more cunning psychos use oblique threats against one another like: “Gee, it would be just terrible if a soda vending machine were to beat the living shit out of you.” Another good one is “It would be just awful if, say, a Mac, 18-wheel rig where to run over your pet dog Foo-Foo while you were out walking him, say on the corner of Centre (note the hoity-toity spelling) and 3rd street, at 8:15am tomorrow morning!”

Now one might ask: what does all this have to do with Derek Smart? Why are you blathering on? Did any of those pick-up lines from that one post work? The answers are of course, nothing, no reason, and yes (I got my face slapped 3 times). But the point of this is the same as the point of arguing on the internet in general: even if you win, you’re still a loser.

technorati: Derek Smart, flame wars

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