Friday, September 2, 2011

Internet Hive Mind: Almost....hived out!

Well, it's been a hellacious last 4 days for my youngest brother, Pastor Mike. Who would have thought that one of his (typical) blog posts left from LAST September would have incited such internet fury and outcry currently? I mean, talk about delayed reaction anyone! But it just goes to show that the optics of the web and internet are often different from reality. While in reality if I found a sealed letter from a cousin with a postmark from a year ago, and on opening found he'd written that he thought I was a candidate for the looney bin, I wouldn't NOW call him up and pile on...sending it hither, thither and everyone I knew. No, the very fact of extended displacement in time, would advise against that. Hence, nonreaction would be more rational than losing it.

But on the net? Hell, no way! Time literally stands still and doesn't pass. Talk about "time dilation" in special relativity. Time dilation effects on the net are even more impressive since they occur and one isn't even traveling at light speed!

Anyway, what the "Pastor Mike" incident also reveals is a kind of human hive mind at work on the web. One atheist blog (I believe from PZ Myers) just happened to turn up a one year old blog of Mike's about a "national registry for atheists" and all hell breaks loose as the diffusion of the meme ("this hillbilly crazy pastor's out to get us') goes to work.

And so, even today, four days after the net-based memetic diffusion commenced, I'm still reading comments on it by everyone from Amy Alkon to jurisprudence expert Jonathan Turley - and viewing several entertaining Youtube performances as well. (Including from a limey who really does a good impersonation of a fascist out to get "gingers").

There are also still some of the over top comments being left on atheist blogs, not quite, but approximately of the same tenor as the hateful, threatening emails sent to Mike.

Look, I have a kind of love-hate relationship with my pastor bro. I believe he does have a bully complex and this probably evolved from being beaten up all the time as the youngest, by three older brothers. That was how it was with us! That was how we showed our "love" when we weren't ganging up on Lutheran kids walking the streets of Milwaukee in the 50s and pounding their heads into the sidewalks. (Hell, don't blame us! We were brainwashed by the nuns to convert Lutherans else they'd face eternal fires. Since most resisted we resorted to some off hand techniques...and we were only 6, 7, and 9!)

At the same time, as family and blood, I haven't been able to abide the outrageous email attacks on him...over a freakin' year old blog. Reading some of those (that he sent me), the first thought that came to mind was "Can't these fuckin' people get a LIFE?"

Are they so tied to their blinking monitors that the monitors become their confined reality? How about instead of firing off an email on how you want to slash open his belly, you go outside, pull some weeds, grab some fresh air and get back in touch with NATURE?

And then there was a thread about Pastor Mike on one freethought -atheist blog that questioned (obviously re-posted emails from him) that they were real as opposed to examples of "Poe's law", and debating sophisticated manifestations of this "law" and whether Mike's criteria met them (about the dumbest ass things I ever read). Others also questioned that the hate he reported was really as bad as claimed. When I posted examples, with a link to my earlier blog:

One clueless bozo replied conceding the hate, but then - in response to my call for a higher atheist standard - saying one ought not use "retard" either. Obviously referencing the few occasions I did use that for assorted numb nuts who deserved it.

As I replied to him, that may not be the "highest standard" but it was still a damned sight different (and preferable!) to employing violent speech in which words are expressed concerning actual physical retribution such as: "stomping" a person "on the back of the head", leaving him "to die in horrible, agonizing pain" or vowing (to Mike) to "have your stomach sliced open and your entrails spilled out"

As I informed this nitwit (who complained about the use of "retard"), that was a clear example of a syndrome too widespread on the net: conflating extreme violent speech with merely generic ad hominem and pro forma snark which is as ubiquitous on the net as emoticons. And anyone who doesn't see that is blind, stupid or both.

My point? Yes, in the ideal world of human social networking and commerce we would refrain from referring to each other as "retards", "assholes" and "ass wads". But given the intensity of much debate today, that's like asking most of us to sprout wings and become angels.

However, despite that failing - which I admit to freely - it does not warrant using violent speech or rhetoric merely because one violently disagrees with another! People, to get schooled on this, can go back and read my own responses to lots of Pastor Mike's previous claims - which while it does get vehement, never ever crosses over the line to threaten bodily harm, or even imagine it for him.

Would that my atheist brethren could learn that too....and maybe they can when this storm in a net teacup finally blows over and they gain some perspective.

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