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.

28 Responses to “Dear Internet: U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi”

  1. OpinionatedGift Says:

    I don’t always agree with Shoq…or a lot of fellow progressives. But dude is spot on about a lot of things and deserves defense from intelligent people.

    As there are on the Right, many on the Left are simply nihilists..”Tear it down…tear it down” no matter the consequences.

    The rest of us prefer to do some thinking. You’re not alone and you are also appreciated.

  2. Matty Says:

    I’m glad I saw this! Good on ya! :-D

  3. serr8d Says:

    @Shoq’s a punk. That he still has teefs is a damned miracle.

  4. vdaze Says:

    Well this is productive, isn’t it. *eyeroll*

  5. Shaitan Pyrik Says:

    Too fucking right.
    I don’t know that I’m a nihilist, but honestly, after watching political discourse and the media disintegrate and degenerate to where it’s at, well.. you could say I have lost hope. I cannot say that I see any future for this country.

    Huh. Guess I am a nihilist after all.

  6. vdaze Says:

    It’s depressing, to say the least. I remain hopeful – perhaps stupidly – that we can save it. But being the pragmatist that I am, I feel like the best we’ll do is delay the inevitable.

  7. SherrieGG Says:

    Believe it or not, girlfriend, this actually gives me hope. There are more and more people who are getting educated on the actual lay of the land, and this is a primo example of the education they need. Thank you so much for this.

  8. vdaze Says:

    Thank you for your kind words – they mean a lot :-)

  9. ABL Says:

    damn, girlfriend. i finally get to read your written words! and well-said, i say! also, i’d like you to get out of my head; i wrote a similarly-slanted post last night. “it’s just the internet” doesn’t cut it anymore.

    also, too: fact that it has come to this means that the pragmatists are winning, and the purist asshats — who dance with flowers in their hair to the rhythm emanating from this or that drum circle whilst weeping about peace and love and goodwill towards all — leave their “peace, love, and harmony” principles at the door once they enter their computer dungeons, strap in, and take their place among the 101st Chairborne.

  10. vdaze Says:

    Holy crap, ABL. You just complete me. !!!!11one.

    Love.

  11. I was going to rant Says:

    [...] just sick of it all. Truly sick of it. There’s bunch of lunatics and liars out there, full of hubris and venom.  And those are just the ones taking aim at my [...]

  12. vdaze Says:

    I hear you. This whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. There’s no justification for “Louise Thurber’s” behavior, and the people involved in it are disgusting human beings. I don’t see how they they can claim to be any better than the absolute worst of the RWNJs.

  13. jkarsh Says:

    Well said. And the other problem is that what were once just cliques that would defend themselves if provoked are now groups that take the offensive.

    Think of the poor high school girl in New Jersey who challenged Michelle Bachmann to a debate only to start having her inbox and social media accounts flooded with threats of everything from beatings to rape. Those kids who learned how to be Internet bullies in the very first generation of social media, some of them never got over it and are now plugging their ‘talents’ into intimidating both adults and kids for sport.

    Good times.

  14. vdaze Says:

    Agreed. It’s becoming a hobby, a game. The most vicious ones are almost always the adults. Sigh.

  15. Jennyjinx Says:

    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.

    This isn’t something new to the Internet. This isn’t even something new to humanity. The difference between now and 1992 is the rate at which information is disseminated. What is happening to PBS and to Shoq has happened multiple times online over the years; and for reasons far less political. I’ve seen people targeted simply because they thought someone else’s website looked like someone was dropping acid when they designed it. Years ago a racist site targeted me and just about ran me off the Intertoobz because of their threats against my daughters and myself. People are violent, irrational beings. The Internet makes it that much easier for them. That goes for our side, their side and those that are just happy making other people miserable.

    Anyway, no, it’s not acceptable. Ever. But irrational people have no sense of acceptable behavior. The Wikileaks thing may be run by adults, but those adults used to be the kids on UseNet who caused so many problems and who would have happily infected a computer with a virus because someone had the audacity to disagree with them. They’ve grown up and become more skilled.

    And, no, this isn’t me saying this shit is ok (because someone, somewhere is going to claim that). But it is what it is. Eventually someone will find a way to keep the script kids out and they’ll have to find another way in. It’s a never ending game for them and for those who are keeping them out.

    I like the idea of more transparency in our government and the idea that the government isn’t all powerful. I don’t like the idea that one man is profiting off of that. The fault with that, though, lies with those that would pay the price he’s asking.

    These are also reasons why so many people began online with pseudonyms (and many continue to use them). Because of very serious and very real threats against them. I see people who are obviously quite new to online discourse call the use of pseudonyms cowardly, but that’s not fair. If someone faces are real threat because of whatever type of online dialogue in which they engage, then they are being sensible hiding their real identities– not cowardly.

    *Side note: I’m quite aware that the above has zero to do with the conversation, but I had a thought and decided to express it.

  16. serr8d Says:

    Look, ma’am, I’m sure you’re a great person, and I’m positive you’ve come to believe in your political ideology from deep study and meditation (and maybe after smoking a few lids of Hawaiian Haze between classes at Columbia) but know this: everything you believe is a lie, and a damned lie at that.

    This Republic is on a razor’s edge of complete economic collapse due to the excesses of mostly Democrats, starting with FDR, accelerating with LBJ’s ‘Great Society’ and greased by the freaks (and their kids) growing up in the ’60′s and ’70′s. We are not the same nation as the one we were when we became a superpower; and with the far-left having taken over the once-proud Democratic party, promising ‘free’ goods and services to moochers for their votes, we are in a decline that will culminate in the same sort of breakup that happened to the Soviet Union, only a thousand times more violent and deadly. This will not end well, by my extrapolations. TANSTAAFL, &c.

    But you sit on the gentle sidelines of the Left, just above the spray of Class-5 River KOS, decrying the furor that this decline’s causing. “Why”, you ask, “can’t we just all get along, and those EEEVIL! Rethuglicans just do what we ask of them, because we are so SPECIAL?”

    Hmmmmph.

    I’ll wheel out a fainting couch, and some nice smelling salts, if you like.

  17. vdaze Says:

    What does this have to do with my post? This isn’t about Left vs. Right.

    Thanks for coming though.

  18. serr8d Says:

    It has everything to do with your post! The deep difference in ideology is the reason for the ‘ugliness’ of the internet. ‘Bluebirds, Sunshine, and Happiness’ can’t be achieved without everyone thinking alike, something that’s never going to happen. I will never be one to embrace the neo-socialistic direction Dems are going (and I voted for Jimmy Carter and Al Gore for US Senator from Tennessee, twice), if such Party ideology means I must now hate the rich and envy the successful and I must become enslaved to the Democratic Party, their unions and the various bits of human debris who speak for them.

    Each and every one of us now has a voice. Your friend @shoq uses his voice in polar ideological opposition of how I use mine; but you lament that fact that he’s taking flak, as a specific example ‘internet ugliness’.

    Here’s an @Shoq twit from yesterday:

    @Shoq: And there’s Chamber tool Marcia Blackburn, blabbering the anti-tax mantras. I hate these fucking people. I really do. #p2

    http://twitter.com/Shoq/statuses/76043328814198785

    Marcia Blackburn represents TN 7; I campaigned for her.

    With such open expression of hatreds, do you really not understand why @Shoq is a wanted man?

  19. vdaze Says:

    No, it doesn’t. The point of my post is not to point out that there shouldn’t be pushback, debate, or rebuttal to people’s opinions. It’s that we should not tolerate the use of methods such as threats or acts of blackmail, sabotage, etc as a means of silencing those with dissenting opinions.

    You seem to be of the “well, fuck that guy” camp, and that’s exactly the attitude that lets atrocious behavior like that described above slip by and eventually become acceptable.

  20. vdaze Says:

    Jenny, you raise some really good points – particularly when you talk about the rate at which information is shared. I’m not trying to suggest that this stuff *never* happened online (or offline) before now, but just that people now seem more willing to excuse it more frequently. When you brought up the rate at which information is shared, it made me think that perhaps that’s one of the major differences – people have less time to think carefully about their reactions. Perhaps people who normally wouldn’t participate or otherwise aid those driving these actions are now doing so because there’s no longer an opportunity to “sleep on it” and think about the bigger picture. They’re able to act in the moment, at the height of emotion, and they do.

    Additionally, I’m so sorry for your experiences online – but I’m glad none of it ended up driving you away. The internet is a better place for having you here :-)

  21. Mike P. Says:

    Good grief. And here I thought everyone was involved in honest debate, but just happened to disagree. I’ve disagreed with Shoq before, and been proven wrong, too, when facts were involved :-)

    But, all this other crap? Sad… (meaning the threatening emails, etc).

    Anyhow, there is much work to do, and all this talk about Shoq and how he does or does not treat women is kinda silly. It’s pretty obviously a silly little mind fuck.

    Now, when a friend comes up to you, and says “Hey, I heard what you were saying about X, and I disagree”, well that’s a little different. But, I know exactly who person X is. And that’s the difference. When people are talking about you, it’s not really that hard to figure out who it is. The rest is just lame.

    SB-167 generates heated conversation in Maryland, these days. OMG! The illegal alien CRIMINALS are going to OVER-RUN THE STATE AND STEAL OUR TAX DOLLARS. Sigh. I digress. Sorry.

  22. vdaze Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Mike.

    The meme that Shoq deliberately targets and bullies women is simply false, and is something that is pushed consistently by the same “political” re-blogger and her clique of friends. It is not based in fact. Shoq treats everyone the same way, and anyone with an ounce of sense can see that. But it’s easy for a woman to accuse a man of targeting and bullying women, whether it’s true or not, and have people automatically be on her side because women are seen as the weaker sex. The people doing this are calculated, manipulative, and above all, pathetic. You’re right – it is nothing more than a silly little mind fuck.

    I agree with you – we have much work to do. The people engaging in this behavior are self-centered fameseekers who are much more concerned with their own success than they are with saving the country. It’s shameful.

  23. bmull Says:

    Shoq’s a fortune cookie narcissist, not a progressive.

  24. vdaze Says:

    Your comment speaks volumes about you, bmull. Pointless replies like this are not welcome on my blog, and will not be approved going forward.

  25. splashpinkfifi Says:

    Jessica, I admire you greatly; your intellect, your POV, your unshakable loyalty. Thank you for standing tall. It becomes more and more a risk to do so, it seems. Yet, to keep silent and let the pointless-yet-dangerous hate go on and on, to allow that hole to be dug deeper and deeper until it is The Pit that swallows us all…. Well, too many of us just stand back and let that happen. You don’t and for that you have my respect and admiration.

  26. vdaze Says:

    Thank you so much :-)

  27. My1BlueEye Says:

    Wait, @Shoq bullies and demeans women? goddamnit! He and I are going to have words over this! I thought that was *ME* that did that. Or am I @shoq now?

    This whole business is out of hand, and something needs to be done. The lunatics need to be put back in the asylum. You saw the insanity that was launched against me earlier this week. It just. Never. Ends.

  28. My1BlueEye Says:

    Oh lookit! There’s bmull, being an internet blowhard, hiding behind his anonymity. I’m surprised he didn’t bring that up about @Shoq yet. *facepalm*

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