Godwin was a Nazi
I got a cold a few days back, so I am pampering myself even more than usual this weekend. Yesterday I barely did anything, and today has not been much different. I have been amusing myself by posting on Internet forums.
Forums have been very useful to me in exploring my admittedly probably pointless hobbies. I will provide an example.
In about 1985, I was interested in machining, so I got a piece of steel and a drill press and made a fool of myself, and that was as far as I got. I had no one to advise me. In around 2006, my interest returned. I joined some forums, got advice, bought proper tools, and THEN made a fool of myself. On a much larger and more satisfying scale.
That’s what forums can do for you. Huzzah.
They come with a price, however. Forums are like blog comment threads: they’re full of microbullies.
I just made that word up.
Forums are full of people who would never dare smart off to you in person, due to extreme cowardice, yet who are willing to do so from behind keyboards, due to the questionable protections of distance and Internet anonymity (and in some cases, the sturdy chickenwire enclosures in which their parents keep them).
You may comment and claim I’ve done this myself. Shut it right now, or I’ll flame you.
Hmm…that almost sounds hypocritical.
Everyone gets mad on the Internet once in a while. It’s inevitable. It would be abnormal to remain completely calm while reading The Daily Kos or Perez Hilton. But a microbully turns on his computer HOPING to get mad, and he resists all efforts at pacification, because peace is the denial of the exact thing he thinks he pays for when he pays his broadband fee.
That’s a hallmark of abusive people. They start hitting you or yelling at you over something, and then you prove they’re wrong, and they cite a new reason for hitting or yelling at you, which is just as good. Or you apologize, but they decide it’s too late for that, or they don’t like the format of the apology or [blah blah blah insert rationalization here].
Internet microbullies will pick arguments with you, and then when you respond calmly and win, they criticize you for being argumentative. You can’t please abusive people. They like telling you they can be appeased, because that makes you look like the bad guy; it puts the burden on you. But the only way to appease them is to let them beat on you until they get tired.
Some of these people just have to be right. It’s their driving purpose in life. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. They have to be right, and more importantly, someone else has to be wrong. And it has to happen in front of other people.
I call them microbullies because they usually pretend they’re the reasonable ones, and until you really turn their burners on, they use insinuation and sarcasm instead of cursing and death threats. Microbullying is like microaggression, in that it’s covert and passive-aggressive, but it’s unlike microaggression in that IT ACTUALLY EXISTS.
I run afoul of these folks all the time, for a number of reasons.
For one thing, I think for myself, so I say things that seem novel. To a microbully, that’s chum in the water. WRONGNESS, right in front of them, and it’s easy wrongness to attack, because it goes against what everyone else says! It’s like a mugger watching a sick midget cross the street with thousand-dollar bills pinned to his shirt. GAME ON! MOM! HOLD THE HOT POCKETS UNTIL I’M DONE HERE!
Also, I try to get along with people. It may not show, but I really do. I sit on all sorts of things I COULD say. I let all sorts of wrongness pass without comment, because a long time ago, I realized it is not absolutely necessary to correct every wrong thing you hear. I also learned that most people do not think correction is helpful. They see it as a threat to their previously unquestioned imaginary position at the top of the global food chain.
When I was in the sixth grade, my teacher tried to spell “aspirin.” She got it wrong, and she asked for help. The other kids gave her various versions to try, and finally, after she had settled on “asprin,” I told her how it was actually spelled. She was furious! She demanded to know if it was REALLY that important. She asked if I wanted to get out the dictionary (evidently she thought this would be a bad thing). She went on for quite some time, and in doing so, she fulfilled her mission as a teacher. She taught me she had a screw loose and that teachers don’t always like smart kids as much as they pretend to.
Sometimes letting people be wrong is a good thing, and it can also be just as effective as punching them in the face, with none of that bitter accountability aftertaste. “Have it your way, Bob. Only sissies use the table saw guard.”
I try to get along with people, and bullies interpret that as license to abuse. They stay away from people who like to fight, because being abused in return is not part of the bully agenda. They are more into the suffering of other people than their own.
A third reason microbullies hate me is that I’m smart, and I’m usually right. I’m not Stephen Hawking, but most of the time, I’m the smartest person in the room (if the room isn’t too big), and I have generally put some thought into whatever I say, so your brilliant objections are likely to be things I considered a long time ago. I remember that, and I remember why I ruled them out, and if pressed, I can repeat it for your benefit. In front of the people you were hoping to impress. Then you lose an argument you should not have started in the first place, and it’s your fault, but you’re even madder at me.
I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but people are what they are. Beautiful people are beautiful. Tall people are tall. I am smart. I think it’s okay to admit that. It’s a fact of life, like having blue eyes or being left-handed.
Worse still, I have stealth intelligence. Some people who are smart run out and join Mensa and put a sticker on their car, and they dress the way they think intellectuals dress, and they use gigantic words all the time. They make sure you know they’re smart. I wear work shorts, I have a huge vocabulary I barely use, and I have a slight Southern accent, so everyone assumes I’m a moron. Maybe it’s not really fair to let them walk up on what is essentially a duck blind, but I’m not going to turn into Dick Cavett or William F. Buckley for anybody.
So anyway, forums can be a challenge. I have been known to quit forums abruptly, essentially telling everyone else to jam it, because of the microbully swarms. Another tactic is to come back with a new username and only say the bare minimum in order to get the answers you need.
Me: “I need to know what spices to use in pie.”
MB: “Nutmeg, you retard. Google is your FRIEND. It’s your F-R-I-E-N-D. Can you have mommy read that to you? ”
Me: “Okay, thanks.”
MB: “Oh, really? Please cite sources.”
Click for highly relevant Dilbert strip.
I ran into some real beauties last week. I joined an electronics forum last year, and they were pretty rude, so I didn’t spend much time there. Last week I went back to ask a very quick, simple, clear question about DC circuits.
The first person to tell me I was stupid was a MODERATOR. I said I was writing some notes on circuit analysis in hopes of synthesizing the useful stuff and discarding that which was stupid and useless. He said maybe it wasn’t the discarded stuff that was stupid and useless.
Who do you go to for help when the forum moderator is mentally ill? It’s like being mugged by the police.
Back in my blogging days, I used to give it right back to people. Sometimes I was really harsh. I had trolls leave and never come back, and eventually I realized they were afraid of me. I made them look so bad, they didn’t want any part of me.
I can’t do that now. I am a Christian. I do not wish to add to the rage in the world.
I got the dumbest responses in the DC circuit thread, and I just sat there and let it go. I marveled at the other members. What kind of relationships could they possibly have, with attitudes like that?
A member asked me to describe all the things I thought were useless and stupid, and I said that I was not ready to do something like that, and that it would be full of errors, which would just start arguments. I have no idea why anyone would want a list of useless and stupid things to begin with, but I did not ask. I was trying to tell them I was not an expert (hence studying basic electronics?), so I was not qualified to write things like that.
The moderator came back and started complaining about me thinking I knew everything about what was useless and what wasn’t.
I admit, I kind of let go on that one. I said something like, “Exactly the opposite of what I said, but thanks.”
Forgive me. I was weak.
One of them put up a big long response, saying I was clearly young (!) and had no appreciation of what was useless and what was not, yada yada yada. Really crazy stuff, and it showed that he had not read my personal information, which said I had a degree in physics plus some grad school. I just stared at it. I decided to respond with this: “OK, great. Thanks.”
Then I got a personal message which was equally patronizing, telling me not to be afraid of the math, and that I needed this or that book for simpletons. I have a whole pile of good books, plus the web. And hello, physics? You can’t get a physics degree without getting a math minor as collateral damage.
I feel like I set off a stink bomb in a nuthouse.
I fixed the forum so it will no longer send me alerts on that thread. Those guys are probably over there now challenging each other to street fights over my DC question, and of course, none of them can actually fight, because…”the force” doesn’t really work. But that doesn’t matter. The point of challenging people to fight on the Internet is to make them back down, not to arrange a real fight. If people really backed up their smack, people on the Internet would be even more polite than mildly irritated Canadians.
I also annoyed some people on a machining forum. I bought an old American lathe long ago, and it was a bad deal, and there are various reasons to consider buying new Asian machinery instead of old American rust. Because I had a bad experience, I try to warn other people, but a lot of machinists have a weird emotional attachment to American machines. They get angry if you disagree, and then they think you’re the problem.
Hey, I just want to prevent someone else from wasting three grand and two years on a piece of junk. Good idea, right? Of course right.
When I got that lathe, Og from Neanderpundit told me to get new Chinese, and I should have listened. He was a real resource. Unfortunately, I had dozens of biased, irrational voices in my ear, telling me I would regret it. I mean, I’m sorry, but some were real numbskulls.
I said it was hard to find good old machines locally, so someone suggested I drive to New Jersey or Georgia to see machine dealers.
How do I not respond to something like that?
A trip to the middle of Georgia and back is 1500 miles. Jersey is 2800. I would need a hotel. Meals. Diesel. Pet boarding. To go see something I might not even like.
This is a great example of the kind of “correction” you get when you’re smart. And I know the guy who made the suggestion. He will keep “proving” he’s right until they put the tag on his toe. I guarantee you, he has come up with what he thinks is a great argument for driving 2800 miles to see a hobby lathe. I guess I’ll go back, read his response, and say, “OK, great. Thanks.”
The anti-Asian bias is very stupid. I’ll bet 90% or more of my tools are Asian, and I’m not talking about just machine tools. Wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, drills, power tools…if I got it out and looked, I’m sure most of my DeWalt, Ridgid, Bosch, and other American-bought tools would turn out to be Chinese or Indonesian. They make some truly excellent stuff. Yes, there is a lot of cheap Chinese junk, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn your brain off the instant you hear the word fragment “Chi.”
I think Practical Machinist (a forum) is the worst hive of Asia-bashing I’ve ever seen. For fun, I Googled today, and I found some really impressive quotations from the members:
“Get the ____ out of here you dirty little chink!!!
“IE sort of like hardinge but not really.
Otherwise known as chink junk with keyword spamming.”
“I can’t remember the make, but no doubt the bad chink manufacturers outway the *good* chink manufacturers, so be careful who you buy from.”
“He probably builds junk Chink molds by day, & sells junk Chink Teapots by night… :mad:”
“About two years ago, I bought a Charlie Chink brand from JTS machine for about $15 plus shipping.”
“All you guys with shops full of chink equipment have only yourselves to thank when the US manufacturers go out of business.”
“And sadly, Americans that act as brokers for Chink shops, have also lost all ethics and morals.. Part of the race to the bottom..”
“If the idea is good enough to warrant a price of $1000, then you need only sell 3 a week to survive ( until some Chink comes along and offers them for $200).”
“Just another bunch of parasites who normally pollute the country with boatloads of chink s___, who’re now looking for enough stupid Americans to buy into their scam so they can wave the flag and tell everyone what patriots they are as they rake in all the money off someone else’s efforts.”
“This was when they rated them by the actual faceplate that could be swung over the carriage wings, not max clearance on the bed as the slanty eye boys like to do.”
“while i would like to think most of us are better than the slanty eyed folks i gota say i have seen some real junk come outa american factories too unfourtanatly.”
This is the mentality I paid attention to when I bought that horrible lathe.
I try to avoid contentious people these days, which is almost like saying, “I have given up all involvement with the Internet.” Every day I pray for God to show me things in my life that don’t please him, and I ask him to help me get rid of them. Day before yesterday, I dumped Twitter and Instagram, and I realized it was God, coming through.
Instagram is beyond worthless. I don’t get it at all. It offers 5% of what Facebook does, with no clear advantage. I think I had 30 posts over several years.
Twitter…it’s like baboons having a food fight in hell. How can anyone enjoy Twitter? I tried, but it did the opposite of growing on me. Everyone there is at each other’s throat. The things they say are vicious and sick. None of it has any value that I can discern.
I didn’t pay much attention to these sites or apps or whatever they are, so they weren’t big parts of my life, but I feel great about dropping them. I suppose the mere fact that I was part of something as boring as Instagram or as vile as Twitter was a burden.
One of these days, Facebook will get the axe. That will be nice. Facebook is fun, but it can also be a drain, and it’s a great way to surveil yourself for Big Brother.
It won’t be that long before Christians get tossed from social media, including Facebook. We have become addicted to “free” promotion for our businesses and events, and one day social media will be essential, not optional. Then they’ll pull the plug, over homosexuality and whatever the word is for the bizarre conglomeration of gender disorders.
When I was in law school, computer-based legal research was in its infancy. There were two services: Lexis and Westlaw. Law students got free access to every database.
That was great, because these services were expensive. When my dad’s three-man firm got a very small number of Westlaw databases included in a subscription, the charge was $500 per month. Lawyers who knew law students stole research by getting students to do it or share their passwords.
The day we graduated, out came the nipple. We were cut off; 100 percent.
It was a great system for the research peddlers. Young people who were spoiled by computers would be hired by firms. and they would push for electronic research. And it really hurt when the free access was cut off. You wanted it back, bad.
It’s the same thing drug dealers do. Your first crack rock is always on the house.
Looks like the same thing will happen with social media. Newspapers are as good as dead; ask a parrot owner. People don’t know how to promote anything without the Internet. Facebook and the other social media services are free, so we’re making hay while the sun shines. And one day the plug will be pulled. We’ll be shut out, just like the Jews who were shut out of commerce in Nazi Germany.
I was thinking about this the other day, and it made me glad I still have a blog that I pay for. If I feel like saying something on the Internet, I will always have a way to do it. I guess that’s not correct; the Beast will find a way to get at blogs, too. But surely bloggers will outlast Christian Facebookers.
It’s a big mistake to think of a Facebook account as “my Facebook account.” It belongs to Mark Zuckerberg and that incredible cipher in the Oval Office. Don’t glue your heart to it.
I’m up to 61 “friends” right now, and I feel like I let too many slip through. I know people who have thousands. I would lose my mind dealing with that rabble.
I don’t know if there is a message here. I just felt like writing. I will say this much: try to quit arguing on the Internet. It truly is possible to read something stupid and not respond, even if it’s addressed to you.
If BG_Kahuna238462 says I’m a moron for buying a new lathe made in Taiwan, maybe I should be content to let history be my judge.