Dear Internet: U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi
Note: This post was written at a time I was defending someone I should not have defended. I must own the content, but I do wish to point out that the people contained herein have been misrepresented by me. I sincerely apologize to each of them, because they did not deserve my hurtful words.
I haven’t decided what I want this blog to be yet. I don’t know if it will be a place for personal thoughts, or political rants, a place for humor, or just a hodgepodge of everything. I just know that right now, I’m frustrated.
I have been online since about 1992, back when the ‘Net was overrun with BBSs and the modems were louder than a chorus of one thousand chainsaws. I have met some amazing people online over the years, I have learned a buh-zillion things about topics I never knew existed, and now rely on it to keep me in touch with my friends and family back home in Australia. It’s a wonderful thing most of the time…but holy fuckballs, it can be an ugly place. And it’s days like today that I just want to kill it with fire.
The story of a Dickileaks sympathizer group hacking the PBS website broke overnight, and then a friend of mine received a ridiculous email threat last night shortly after posting a blog piece related to Manning grifter, David House. After witnessing the obnoxious gloating of those behind the PBS website attack, and the bizarre apologist behavior of others in relation to the email threat, I went to bed feeling disillusioned, sick to my stomach, and just plain horrified at the state of human nature.
When did this type of thing become acceptable? When did people become so disaffected, so irresponsible, and so tolerant of what is essentially the social media-based equivalent of Girls Gone Wild? People seem to be so blinded and consumed by vendettas, grudges and general perceived butthurt that they’ll sit back and excuse a stream of individual ethical wrongdoings, not
caring realizing the compound effect of their tolerance over time.
It brings to mind a quote widely (but disputedly) attributed to Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
I ask you: Are you a good man doing nothing?
“You are my creator, but I am your master. Obey!”
The PBS website hacking thing bothers me. As @brandibax (my second at Thunder Road) so aptly put it, it’s chilling. Why? Frankenstein is outta the lab, people. I repeat: Frankenstein is outta the lab. Now what? Any time someone disagrees with the Anon kids, or doesn’t do a piece pandering to St. Julian, they’re considered a target? So much for Wikileaks‘ “broader principles…[of] the defence of freedom of speech and media publishing, the improvement of our common historical record and the support of the rights of all people to create new history.” FYI: Wikileaks and sympathizer groups were for freedom of speech before they were against it.
The concept itself of providing a platform for truth and transparency is a very noble one, and one I generally support. However, as time has passed, I am becoming increasingly skeptical of where this will all lead. Wikileaks claims to be a non-profit organization, but is owned by The Sunshine Press, a privately-held company of which St. Julian is the Chair. It accepts private donations in order to cover the operating costs of the business – something I find completely reasonable. What I don’t like is the idea of an entity like Wikileaks holding auctions (even failed ones) and selling off documents to the highest bidder that they themselves have obtained at no charge. I don’t like reading stories referring to St. Julian’s “revenue raising” from media appearances. Beyond covering the operating costs of the business, where is the money being spent? The money seems to flood in, and trickle out.
From an ethical standpoint, Wikileaks makes me feel uncomfortable. I have a problem with the astronomical amount of power being amassed by one individual. I have a problem with packaging documents targeting specific bodies, and announcing their impending release in a way that causes speculation and therefore manipulation of the stock market. I wonder if any of these documents are false and being deliberately planted by foreign governments or other firms with dubious intentions. I wonder who is buying and benefiting from the manipulated stock prices. I wonder if my mother’s retirement fund is being impacted by this stock market manipulation, giving her less income that she would otherwise have.
I wonder how this “truth revolution” will impact corporate behavior. I wonder if it will improve transparency, or drive activity further underground. I wonder if it will create an unprecedented environment of distrust and paranoia. I wonder if more mistakes will be made because fewer things will be documented. I wonder if insurance premiums for service providers will explode to cover these mistakes. I wonder how it will impact my pocket, and yours. I wonder why this feels less like a truth revolution, and more like a hostage situation. I wonder how much this will truly cost us in the end.
The typical reaction to this is something along the lines of “if corporations do the right thing, they’ll have nothing to worry about!” In theory that makes sense. Reality, however, is a different story. In some situations the corporations probably did act badly and I have little sympathy for them. In others, the materials released may not reflect the context and nuance of a specific situation. For instance, you may see documentation suggesting a customer was screwed over and therefore the corporation in question deserves to die one thousand deaths, but you don’t see related documentation showing where the mistake was caught and corrected two days later. If you had seen the follow up from two days later, would you still be as outraged about it?
Let me be clear: I am not defending corporations. I am trying to explain a typical situation that happens all the time, at all transactional levels of this thing we call life. Sometimes context is everything. This is true whether you’re reviewing leaked documents from a corporation, or you only overhear one side of a telephone conversation between two people. Sometimes your initial outrage may be spot-on, but other times your reaction may be different when new information comes to light.
Likewise, I am bothered by those who choose to minimize, mock or otherwise justify @Shoq’s situation. I am constantly criticized and/or invalidated for defending Shoq. Every time I engage those who obsess, smear, and deliberately misrepresent him, I am immediately dismissed as someone always coming to his defense, or someone who must love him forever and ever and ever and ever and want to have 10,000 of his babies. I must only be doing it because I’ve been brainwashed, or I’m a mindless toady. The truth be told, I mostly ignore the usual suspects who just can’t seem to quit Shoq. But if I’m having a bad day, feeling fed up, or I just see something that gets under my skin because it’s being blatantly misrepresented, I’ll occasionally jump in and say something. I do that for people I respect. I do that for people I care about. I do it for Shoq, and I’ll do it for you.
I realize some people don’t care for Shoq. Some find him too chatty, too confrontational, too arrogant, or too [whatever] – and that’s okay. You’re not required to like everyone you meet. I will never try to make people like someone, I couldn’t give a toss if you do or you don’t. What I do give a toss about is basic honesty and integrity in any community of which I am a part. If you want to spend your day debating Shoq about an issue, knock yourself out. But if you start rumors, deliberately misrepresent something in order to convince people to stop following/liking/RTing/engaging him, or threaten him, I have a major problem – and you should too.
Regardless of your personal distaste for someone, there are certain behaviors that are just not okay. There are certain behaviors that shouldn’t be tolerated. People should be able to speak their mind without fear of retribution.
I know Shoq extremely well – most people don’t know that. I know him to be a kind, generous, thoughtful, passionate, incredibly intelligent man with an impressive ability to parse information and get to the meat of a problem. Having had the opportunity to engage in long discussions about various political (and cat-related) topics, I feel confident in saying that not only is his desire to fix this country genuine, but his ideas on how to do it are brilliant. I consider him an extremely important political voice, one I will continue to promote and support regardless of the behavior of those who are blinded by their own hatred of him. I view the people attempting to silence Shoq – and I have no doubt they will be revealed at some point – no differently than I view the hacker groups punishing PBS for not bowing down to St. Julian. The situations are not the same, obviously, but the strategy of threatening and bullying dissenting voices into silence is identical.
The usual suspects will lose their minds over this post and say things like “ZOMG! vdaze actually thinks the hackers defacing the PBS site and Shoq’s lame email threat are the same!! ZOMG ZOMG LULZZZZZZ!!!!” (Update: Did I call it? Yep – even though she’s a bit confused between PBS and NPR) and “It’s just Twitter!!!!!!! Why so serious??????!!!!!!.” The broader thinkers, those capable of understanding the similarities of what’s going on here at the conceptual level, will hopefully appreciate where I’m coming from. It’s not about the individual situations, it’s about what we are allowing to slip by because we can’t see the forest for the trees. Whether we give the PBS website hackers a pass because we think PBS deserved it, or we sit back and stay silent while an immature, paranoid group going by the fake name “Louise Thurber” attempt to harass and intimidate Shoq because “well, fuck that guy,” we fail one another.
Is anyone bothering to look past the end of their nose here? What does it say about us – about you – that we’re allowing this to happen?
Ever flopped down on a bean bag chair, only to have it rip and spill thousands of polystyrene balls all over the living room? What a fucking mess. Have fun trying to regain control of that situation.