Technological Ruminations: Webular Etiquette

One of my esteemed colleagues wrote a great piece on texting etiquette. I recently wrote a biting piece about Papa Joe. This piece is about etiquette, too. After reading my Papa Joe piece (hopefully they read it in its entirety), a commentator, named ‘Haha,’ quipped, “you’re just a jealous peon,” to which I replied (in two posts) “nope, Haha, sure ain’t . . . I’m glad [the Simpsons are] rich. That’s great for them. But their father is a tool. Oh, one other thing . . . I LOVE the word peon. It’s great fun, conjures up great images . . . thanks!”

First, I do love the word peon. It’s nasty. It’s blunt. It’s cutting. People don’t use the word peon a lot, so I liked the reminder that the word peon exists. Reminds me of my old father (he’s a judge). He calls people peons and ninnies all the time – those words are funny, and I always chuckle when he coughs them up. BUT I digress (you’re probably getting used to that).

Now some of my fellow bloggers might wonder why I waste my time responding to remarks, whether good or bad, and why I’m even bothering to write this piece. Well, first off, I wish to thank Haha for inspiring me to do so. Because I’ve spent a lot of time (yes, it’s true) thinking about internet etiquette, how people are quick to insult (yes, I’m just as guilty, stirrin’ up crap, criticizing Mr. Simpson, etc.), name-calling, and even verbally terrorizing others on web posts.

As far as webular insults go, I’ll be the first (or the zillionth, haven’t checked all blogging sites to confirm this claim) to admit it bothers me when people insult me via websites. And you guessed it, I don’t have thick skin. Like I said, I’d be a hypocrite to bemoan their webular rudeness. Although I’ve done similar things, and said far meaner things than Haha said to me, I decided long ago that I would stop berating people on websites.

A few years ago, I got into a heavy Internet debate with a bunch of joggers about consuming alcohol vis-à-vis running. I was pro-consumption, while the rest of them were anti-consumption. It got pretty ugly, and what had been a jovial webular conversation about our mileage, our cross-training, and so forth, soon gave way to a whole lot of intra-webular mud-slingin’ – it was dirty and cheap. I mean, who knows if the other mudslingers felt dirty and cheap, but I sure did. That’s when I swore off the trolls as well as the nasty responses that they tried to beat out of me.

It’s not easy. And many trolling types think it’s harmless. I mean, I suppose it is, but I find it disturbing. When I think about the person I am, I generally consider myself to be nice, kind, an overly-compassionate human being, almost to a fault. So, if that’s true, if I am a nice person, as I claim to be, why would I sit down at a computer and start shootin’ off insults? Haha (et al.) could totally attack me for my pieces about Papa Joe, arguing that that’s exactly what I did. But let me highlight the difference between hurlin’ insults at nobodies (like me, you, etc.) and criticizing a person like Papa Simpson.

There’s a HUGE difference between the two things. Namely, Papa Joe, along with his ilk, chose to become celebrities. Of course, that’s not to say that it’s fine and dandy to say libelously things about them (mind you, my pieces are based upon surmising – that’s it). But there’s a cost when you become a “public figure.” You are (freely) entering a sphere in which you’re persona will be scrutinized under a microscope. You accept those terms. You are not just some peon – as Haha called me – but instead an INDUSTRY with a face. You make money as a result of your celebrity, and therefore you offer yourself up to various forms of public criticism. Hell, I’d take that any day if I could vacay in Italy, hang out at the hippest bars in Hollywood, and drop thousands of beans at designer stores. But let’s not delve into my vanity.

BACK to webular insults on websites. Look people, it’s all too easy to forget that human beings are busily typing off responses to this subject or that topic. And maybe what they have to say is vapid, incoherent, or lame. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of being all three of those things at the same time. But before you shoot off some nasty reply, call somebody fat or ugly (bloggers who diss on celebs are ALWAYS excused of being fat slobs – can’t figure that one out, cuz most of them are anything but fat or slovenly. So before you shoot of an insult like that, think about your next door neighbor, you know one . . . the hottie; they might just be a blogger too, who “hides” behind a computer). I mean, you wouldn’t dare call a classmate an idiot or a fat ass to their face, so why do it via websites?

Just remember, play nice. Who knows, you might, just might, come face-to-face with that blogger you lambasted. Weird sh*t happens, so you just never know . . .

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