None of what follows is novel, original, new, or unsaid countless times before. And please let me preface it by saying: there are wonderful people
online, including on this website, who are a credit to humanity and to the internet as a communications medium with as yet untapped potential in my
opinion, for making the world a better place. This is just me getting some feelings off my chest, and should not be interpreted or construed as a
wholesale dismissal of the internet as a horrible, toxic environment, because in my opinion at least, it isn't.
Also please bear in mind that none of this is specifically inspired or provoked by anything or anyone on ATS. Although this does happen here, this
particular rant was triggered/inspired/evoked by something that took place on an entirely different website. So please don't infer from this any
relationships to any posts or persons on ATS.
I'm just ranting... which is the point of this forum, after all. And I fully expect it to garner precisely the sorts of replies I'm talking about,
so please know I will ignore any such responses. Just some rambling thoughts and musings.
The internet is strange. In real life, someone could say, "That looks cool, I like that. I plan to do that myself, I think." And a friend sitting
with them and having coffee could respond, "Really? I guess I can see that. Personally I don't think I'd like it so I'll probably pass because
(insert reason.)" Then they'd talk about it for a while and then laugh and joke and everything would still be cool.
Or they might say, "In my opinion, X is true." And someone might respond, "I disagree, because X, Y, and Z." And they might casually and civilly
discuss that difference of opinion. (Or not. But it seems more likely in a face to face scenario then on the faceless interwebs.) But on the internet,
instead it becomes about reading hostility into what was said, or getting people's backs up.
Somehow on the internet every time someone just offers an offhand observation, critique, or opinion that disagrees with someone else's, it's
interpreted as some sort of criticism of their own choice to do something different or a call to arms warranting ad hominem attacks and denigration of
the person's character, far beyond the bounds of their opinion. Even when that isn't said or implied. And even when it's expressly stated that
that's not the case or the intent, that seems to be how everything anyone says gets filtered and interpreted through the lens of inference and tonal
Then people fight about it, usually passive aggressively and cuttingly. Sometimes viciously, in fact. It's very weird, and very specific to the
internet in an interesting but disturbing psycho-social sense.
And that's not even touching on how women are treated online!
The overt sexual advances. The trollish demeanor, harassment, and bristling at
the mere suggestion that perhaps - just perhaps - this might not be okay or acceptable to them. As if those who harass women routinely are somehow
victims themselves due to the faintest hint that ladies might have a problem seeing, "Nice boobies," every single time they show their faces. Of
course, if you're male and say anything about this, you're a "white knight," or an "SJW."
Then you have people like myself who don't have the emotional capacity to endure contending with all of this for very long.
I have a severe
anxiety disorder, I tend towards clinical depression, I'm on the autistic spectrum so stimuli of all kinds - which includes emotional stimuli - tend
to affect me disproportionately. I get overwhelmed very easily and no, no amount of "thinking positive," or "having the right attitude" can
ameliorate that enough to make persisting for very long in any contentious environment - online or off - a tenable proposition for me. (Before you
tell me otherwise, please understand you're talking to someone with decades of cognitive behavioral therapy, medication regimens, and counselling
under their belt... all of which has had only marginal impact on my ability to deal with conflict or stress.)
But if you admit these things or try to explain to people why you have no interest in arguing or debating, you get called a coward. You get told to
"toughen up." "Grow a thicker skin." "If you can't take the heat, get our of the kitchen." You get called "weak." You get told, "Maybe you
shouldn't be online." Which is just what someone with those feelings needs - to be told for the millionth time in their lives that, even
, they don't belong or shouldn't try to participate. And you attract trolls like flies to fecal matter, or sharks to blood in the
water, because there is a certain element online today that enjoys nothing more than to kick people when they're down, and revel in people's
discomfort. Indeed, on the internet, schadenfreude has evolved toward outright emotional sadism in some sense.
I saw this online one day, and it very much sums up my feelings.
Anyway... I'm rambling now and my words are likely to also be misinterpreted as some sort of desire to fight, so I'm going to bed now. I expect to
regret saying any of this by the time I wake up. Oh well.
End of semi-teen-angst-like ramble, despite my being 34.