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Politenmaint


The real news is miserable, who wants to constantly hear about the suffering of the Palestinians, the Congolese, the Mexicans, the Americans, the Russians, the collapsing economies.  The news outlets had to make it fun, mixed the wacky, or made the hard news wacky to keep our attention.  That is how “Infotainment” was born.  I see a need for a new word, Politainment.  Politics as or through entertainment.  The participant gets the good feeling of being political, without any of the nasty tawdry bits.

Who wants to think about the intricacies of tax policies when O’Donnell”s talk about masturbation is available.  Who wants to consider the implications of high  unemployment rates, when a silly man is busy making up stories about conspiracies and making up bad guys that are way more fun than the real bad guys.  Who wants to understand the mortgage crisis when you can go to a rally in DC and get some laughs and get your sign on a blog.  Who wants to really commit to change when all one needs is to be “inspired” to want change.

I am a spoil sport, I know it.  I was always a spoil sport.  I remember in high school at the peak of the Vietnam war, blowing my lid in Social Studies.  We had a great teacher, who made us think.  Made us ask questions, but one day, the class ganged up on him and accused him of not being fun.  Honestly, I went off on the word “fun”.  I had a meltdown.  Never liked the idea of serious things having to be fun.  For fun, I go to the Real Housewives, Top Chef, Project Runway, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I love fun and yes, I laugh all the time.  But like the Germans say, work is work and schnapps is schnapps.

The idea of making things fun, spawned the notion of Politenmaint:  Politics as fun, sport, or entertainment.  A constant clash for clash sakes, with periodic matches (the days we vote) where one side declares victory and then starts to prepare for the next match.  Meanwhile, the citizenry, blogs, talks, tweets, friends, likes, youtubes and watches as the sides talk about the past match and the next match.  The actual act of politics, getting your team to have some say at the table, is completely avoided. The polls the prognosticators, calling for tsunamis, waves, storms and the jokers of the news industry, adding more and more color commentary to the upcoming match.  To the joy of the plutocratic oligarchs, we sit in a miasma of thinking we are political.

It’s all perceptions of the issues that matter, I heard one pundit say.  The real issues do not matter, is how you manage to get the issues perceived.

As the matches come up from time to time, you would think we have two teams, two teams that have their given players.   But, now we are in an era of free agents.  The free agents, have to be lured, seduced and beguiled by fun.  So, this is where the Politenmaint comes in.  The political parties, have to be willing to create a story, a narrative and to get the free agents on their side.  The ward boss who delivered the voter, is now anathema, Facebook is tasked with that now, ” Commit to vote”.  Honestly, you are telling me to commit to vote?  Shows how much you know me, read anything I wrote or even friggin care:  “Unfriend”.

The citizen, the free agent, has only one ace, one card to play.  To be the spoiler and change teams.  No need to commit when there are better offers and better promises of entertainment.  Politics, in the age of Politentainment, is who can give, or promise, more fun.  Back to Roman times, how bloody will the gladiator fights be and how much bread are you giving out.  Damn, at least the Roman oligarchs gave out bread, now the promise of bread as a possibility is enough.  The Greeks used to have theater competitions with meat as the offering.  And you thought Aristophanes was culture, it was American Idol.

My alleged side on the left, got a big crowd out  yesterday, yay us.  It  was fun seeing Cat Stevens/Yusef, heh, compared to Ozzie, maybe the clean Muslim life has something to say for it.  But, the kicker for me was the Kidd Rock song, the lyrics went something like this:  ” I cannot stop homelessness, or the war, but at least I care”.  Really, this is politics?  This is the sentiment?  I care therefore I am.  I will not act, I will not work towards, I will just click on the “like” button on Facebook, then I am done.  Back to the fun.  That was not us, that was some group of people.  Who are they out there for?  What is their unified voice?

I cared and got entertained, Politenmaint.  I went to a rally, I got inspired, but what did I do after that?  What was the political action that I took?  Did I learn anything about people who are hurting in America?  Yes, the 40 Million plus in poverty and the working class Americans that are on the way to join the ones in poverty.  No, but I promise to be nice and care.

“Nice is a babies butt” an old politico used to tell me, politics is not nice.   It’s dull, it takes hard work, it takes loads of commitment and unity.  You have to join a real group that will serve somebody.  Serve somebody beyond your desire for “nice” and fun.  To be surprised at the Chamber of Commerce now, is really silly, back in 2008, Donahue the head of the chamber said:

“We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed,” chamber President Tom Donohue said.

Don’t know about you, I will continue being nice to the other side while my butt is bleeding, this is why I wonder, where all the smarts of the Obama people went when they knew, this was the plan?  There is a vast right wing conspiracy and it’s not secret.

Now for some fun: 

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Memo to the Sane and Moderate


Heh, I love Jon Stewart as a satirist and comedian, but, frankly, comedians and corporate lackeys should not be telling me, or anyone else, how to think and act about politics. This will be fun for his fans, but this is just the same as the Glen Beck stunt.  Our politics is not Entertainment.  It’s hard work and commitment.

The last time anyone talked about the sane and moderate class, it was Richard Nixon, with his Silent Majority.  Did not like that then, don’t like it now.   There is nothing insane about me complaining that the President and his team dropped the message.  We had the goods, we had the story and somehow, the right wing switched the protagonists, the conflict and the message of the story.

Do not equate my lefty politics with the fringe on the right, that was legitimized by the mass media.  Do not equate my holding to a real Democratic agenda, yes the actual platform of the party, as being extreme.  When was the last time that lefty rallies got any air time?  Are any real lefties on the air?  The only real lefty show we have is Democracy Now and it’s not on any major network.  The MSNBC crowd is not lefty, it’s another corporate construct.  Blathering in the same way their right-wing counterparts act, following the 24 hour news cycle of outrage and never really dealing with the issues.

Equating the left to the mangy, nutty and obstinate right wing is another one of those false equivelances.  It’s like comparing creationism to evolution, giving equal time to nutty scientists who deny climate change, continuing to give air time to dead economic theories like trickle down and free markets being sane.  The moderate voices have let that boob head Guggenheim, demonize the teachers unions and teachers so that they can privatize and obliterate the public school system in America.

So, Jon, you just have some fun, make some clever signs, and when your crowd does not feel entertained, or “getting their enthusiasm gap closed”  and we need people to do the real work, call me for the march on Washington.  Call me when we need to save Social Security from the hands of the greedy bastards.  Call me when we need to fix the Republican Healthcare bill that was an act in moderation.  Tell me when we really gonna do a stimulus, instead of a stimulus that is 60% tax breaks then complain cause some people got some jobs.

When the clowns and entertainers take over politics, while the Chamber of Commerce and the other corporate interests dig their boot into America’s crotch, don’t tell me to be sane and moderate.  If you have no conception of the true power of each side, how can you ask for moderation?

 

 

 

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Right Wing Critical Thinking: A Delusion


If you have one hour, watch as Jonathan Alter, conducts a one hour interview with Dinesh D’Souza, author of a novel, oops, a so called non fiction book called The Roots of Obama’s Rage.  Alter does a great job of chopping up D’Nesh and the fantasy book he created.

The C-Span interview is here :

D’Souza’s  story telling and so called intellectual thinking in his book :

Mr. D’Souza asserts that President Obama poses an existential threat the United States, because he is heavily influenced by his father’s anti-colonialist ideology. Using several biographies of the 44th president, Mr. D’Souza claims to have evidence of a presidential agenda that includes economic policies designed to make America poorer and attempting to make the country’s status as a superpower a thing of the past. He discussed his theory about the commander-in-chief’s policy motivations with Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise, which provided an inside look at President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

It is a lesson in the twisted ideas and alleged critical thinking of the right wing. Already they have started pimping this theory, a theory based on invented story.

I cannot embed, but you must devote the one hour and watch how Alter takes down point by point, D’Nesh’s scholarship.

What I find amazing is the notion that somehow, being anti colonial is bad.

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Bitter Knitters Always Vote


President Barack Obama shares a laugh with, fr...

Image via Wikipedia, (while the Pelosi was fighting for healthcare)

Rahm Emannuel, during the 2008 Presidential campaign, called the women who supported Hillary “bitter knitters” .  Somehow, cause we lost, us women of a certain age, would take our knitting, sit around and be bitter.  Dearest, Rahm, take that back.

Rahm , Axelrod and Obama, lost the new flock they brought to the Democratic Party.  It seems that the inspired are not feeling the Mathews’ thrill up their legs, Tom Hayden’s  girlfriend treadmill epiphany nor Arianna’s moment of transcendence.  The thrill is gone and they don’t know where to find it.

But here I am, a lefty, real lefty, verging on socialist, who will still vote for the Democrats, give them money and continue to participate.  A few things to understand about boomer women, aka, women of a certain age:

  • We commit to things and follow through.
  • We found inspiration in our youth, on our own ,and managed to keep the flame going through many obstacles.
  • We don’t need to be reminded to vote, we always vote.
  • We will not shut up.
  • We will not be marginalized.
  • We never think the job is done and that others will take care of our interests.
  • We changed our roles as women, mothers and wives and we will change our roles as “women of a certain age“.

Another election, another night of get out the vote efforts that will be filled  with women of a certain age churning out the calls, wo-manning the stations.

I wonder were the newly inspired are, the ones that saved the Democratic party?

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Republican Job Creationism Mythology


The Republicans and their little magical friends, the Tea Party little people,  promise that if they win, they will create jobs. How will they do that?  Well, they have invented a new economic theory :  Conservative Job Creationism (CJC).  Like the creationist mythology, in the realm of the sciences, the right wing has imposed a creationist theory in economics: creation of jobs through the alchemy of tax cuts for the rich.

These two creationist theories have been given equal airing and now we have reached the point where millions of Americans believe in this cosmology.  Both are not questioned,  because they come with some theological blessing, one the Bible, the other from the Supply Side Economics as told by the Apostle Ronald Reagan.

If all these anti government  people get elected, they promise us, that they will by some magic– aka tax cuts– use government to create jobs.  What escapes the discussion is that we tried this during the Bush years without success.  Also,  sprinkled and diluted the Stimulus  through the Senate amendments to the House version, plenty of tax cuts and in the end, we got a less effective Stimulus.

Before President George W. Bush left a deep financial crisis and economic collapse on President Barack Obama’s doorstep, he presided over two terms of laissez-faire supply-side policies that yielded the weakest expansion in recent U.S. economic history, marked by tepid job growth, weak private investment, stagnant family incomes, and a host of other ills that mounting housing and financial bubbles helped partially obscure. That President Bush took no action to address the fundamental weakness of the American economy and protect it from financial collapse was a tragic failure—but it was a tragic failure to be expected by a conservative president practicing conservative economics. The Consequences of Conservative Economic Policy, A Tried and Failed Approach that Should not be Repeated

How does government create jobs? One sure way is by direct job creation, paying to build things, fix things and save existing services.  The Obama administration created jobs, but you must remember that all the Republican tinkering with the stimulus, way too much went to tax cuts and not enough to jobs.  In the end, no Republican voted for the Recovery Act.  In the Senate, they would not vote for it if not for the tax cuts.  For all intents and purposes, our current job deficits are the result of the Conservative Job Creationism, a promise to believe, with no susbtantive results.  We really have not had a true job creation, just version of the mystical CJC.

The other way is via incentives. Incentives can have two forms, buying stuff from the private sector, or offering direct incentives for job creation, like tax cuts, or tax credits for actual job creation. The Republicans say, let us in, we will create all these incentives, mostly tax cuts for the very rich and through some alchemy, that will create jobs. It’s the alchemy that is not working for me. This alchemy, the tax cuts to the rich, was in place through the Bush years and the last two Obama years, has not created the magic.  As Robert Reich points out:

Unfortunately for supply-siders, history has proven them wrong again and again. During almost three decades spanning 1951 to 1980, when America’s top marginal tax rate was between 70 and 92 percent, the nation’s average annual growth was 3.7 percent. But between 1983 and start of the Great Recession, when the top rate was far lower – ranging between 35 and 39 percent – the economy grew an average of just 3 percent per year. Supply-siders are fond of claiming that Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cuts caused the 1980s economic boom. In fact, that boom followed Reagan’s 1982 tax increase. The 1990s boom likewise was not the result of a tax cut; it came in the wake of Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increase.

Neither creationist theory is based on empirical evidence.  It is a belief that somehow, jobs will be created if people who make over $250,000 after deductions, will go out and create jobs.  Right now our corporations are sitting on large gobs of cash, why are they not creating jobs with that cash?  The rich have all this money, why are they not investing in American jobs?

The other element of the Conservative Job Creationism theory is that tax cuts are revenue neutral, that they don’t cost money, that somehow, they don’t add to the deficit.  Extending the existing tax cuts for the upper classes, has an estimated cost of 4 trillion dollars with a doubtful job creation prognosis, whereas direct job creation, with elimination of the tax cuts for the rich will cost us less and have more predictable outcomes.  Do we have time to rely on a magical promise?

The uncertainty with government policies, makes these guys nervous, they don’t want to expose themselves, hire people if government is gonna take away the tax breaks for the rich, they say. Now this seems like a leap in logic. We are not talking about corporate taxes, these are individual taxes.  They did not have that uncertainty during the Bush years, what kept the magic from happening?

My fellow Americans in Ohio and other parts of America who are considering joining the GOP magical job creation mystery tour, wake up. If you want a job, we need another stimulus. If you want to keep your job, we need another stimulus. Jobs, in this recession, are not gonna be created for you by your magical corporate friends, they found other elves to do the work for them.

The other elves are cheaper and they have no regulations. We can eliminate all our regulations, cut all our taxes, slash all the labor laws, and these guys are not gonna give you jobs as you knew them.  In fact, they found other children who buy the toys.  They don’t really care if your children need toys, they replaced them in other markets.

It’s simple math.  Whatever we do to get the economy going, will involve a cost.  The Republican method, involves cost and some suspension of logic, facts and common sense.  The Democratic option, will cost money, but at least some regular people will get a pay check, pay some bills, buy some cars, eat at some restaurants, buy a toy or two, pay tuition, pay some medical bills, get some health insurance.  The GOP version will cost money but, with a potential magical outcome, that the lawyers, doctors and other professionals after their first $250,000, will choose to somehow make a job for an American.  How they will make that job, it’s not clear.  It’s magic.

We, the dopes, have to wait around, while that stranger, that imaginary prince, sits around and  weighs his/her options:  An Hermes bag?  A condo in Aspen?  A face lift?  Another 25 year old girlfriend, or boyfriend, or both?  Or creating a job for an electrician, a programmer, a truck driver, a heavy machine operator, a planner, or any of the hundreds of jobs that it takes to build or fix our infrastructure.  A real investment in our future?  Or another toy for the rich with a vague promise of a job?

Creationism based on a mythology and never empirical evidence.  Based on an orthodoxy of beliefs that have no room in praxeology.  An orthodoxy that promises to deliver without ever having delivered, yet, the narrative of the fiction dominates.

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Tryptophan: Eat Turkey and Lose Weight


 

Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008

Image via Wikipedia

 

Since when does a medical study with a cohort of ten make a conclusive medical study?  I am not a doctor, scientist or researcher, but I do look a bit deeper than the hype when “studies” are released.  Particularly  studies that offer insights into our behavior, health, or psychology– since they seem to become scientific quoted fact in short time.  Because we have the internet, yes, you can find the abstracts as well:  Annals Of Internal Medicine,

Last week the news broke out on the radio, television, newspapers, magazines and blogs: Sleep helps you lose weight.

A quick Google search and everyone now is taking the study as fact; all the major media outlets carried the story.  Who does not want good news on the weight loss front?    Here it is the easy answer, the silver bullet we all look for in weight loss, and yes, the media is eager to give us the news.  Just throw out the news of “a study” with the answers we want and you get readership.

On NPR’s   Science Friday,  Dr. MICHAEL LACEY (Neurologist; Director, The Atlanta Sleep Medicine Clinic, The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology), twice made mention of the small sample size.  I had read the actual abstract earlier and was curious if at least on Science Friday, the sample size would be an issue, it was.  But, I don’t think many people paid attention.

Quote #1 Dr. LACEY: Yes. In this cohort of, as you said, only 10 people – so one always has to be cautious about drawing grand conclusions from such a small sample -but everyone lost weight….

Quote #2 Dr. LACEY: Well, I think we need to have larger cohorts of different kinds of controlled subjects, you know? Because if you take a group of people that basically, they’re healthy, they are not sleep deprived people, and for a very short period of time you look at them with the lone variable that you’re changing being sleep, it’s very interesting, the conclusions that are drawn.
Quote #2:
But I think it just falls short of being a sufficient study size or different kinds of – coexistent medical conditions and things that would allow us to be able to more accurately make recommendations to people who have sleep apnea or who have diabetes or who have other conditions and things like that in terms of what the optimal way to manage their sleep, and what things we should be measuring in those kind of people. And you know, that’s – this is really just kind of a jump off.

How soon will we start seeing products selling sleep gimmicks for weight loss?

How irresponsible is the media hype?  How  irresponsible are the Universities and researchers who release the data for publicity without any of the education necessary on the merits of a study?  I am sure now people will start selling sleep aids like melatonin, valerian, chamomile, or simply turkey dinners, yes, tryptophan.

“I lost twenty pounds eating Thanksgiving Dinner every night for three months, you can do it to.”

Excuse me, I have to go back to figuring out how to spam everyone with my new “chamomile weight loss treatment”, my ” sleep tapes” and my  “turkey dinner in a pill form”.   Care to invest?

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The Modern Day Idiot


An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private–as opposed to public–affairs.[1] Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education.[1] In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary).

9/11 anniversaries have become a playground where we  elevate all personal experience, just the fact of being alive on 9/11, to the same level of suffering and pain of the families and the people involved in the tragedy that was 9/11.  We trivialize the real suffering.  Time for a media blackout if you want to mourn and think about 9/11 and the outcomes of 9/11.

How dare you allow your hang nails and spats interfere with the memory of the people who were the direct hit of the airplanes?  The families who are still in pain?  The many who were wounded and their lives scarred for ever with your personal narrative?  The magnitude of the outcomes after 9/11 are all diminished to the point of a farce.

In our desire to join the world of sufferers and victims, we abscond with other people’s suffering and we elevate our minor discomfort into a false equivalence with the people who did experience the pain.   We bask in the empathy and sympathy that they should have.  We turn away from the bitter outcomes of 9/11:  wars, civil rights and human rights issues, jingoism, economic collapse, just some of the larger outcomes, into a competition of how we were “hurt”.

This is all part of the cultural sport of achieving moral high ground through the narrative of personal suffering.  All human discomfort and experience is not the same.   Not understanding the political and global implications of 9/11 through the suffering of the true victims, we dilute all the lessons that we should have learned.  Each time we reduce such matters to ourselves and our lives, we march closer to being idiots and not understanding our political responsibility as citizens of a democracy.

Enjoy the media enhanced carnival of idiocy.

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Preachers, Clerics, Imams and Rabbis: Oh My.


Cults and new religious movements in literatur...

Image via Wikipedia

In the churning urn of burning funk we call news, there is always some imam, cleric, preacher,  or other holy man who is given public recognition.   Typically, they are minor players, representing some fringe element of the religion.   In the same way that fashion models are the freaks, sorry about that, the outliers of how we look.  How many women are six feet tall and weigh 115 pounds, we all know the average woman is about 145 pounds and about 5’4″.

Yet, the average woman, the average preacher, cleric, imam or rabbi, are not fun.  It’s the freak who issues a fatwa about unrelated men must be suckled by women if they are to be in mixed company; the rabbi who says that musicians should be lashed for playing in mixed groups; and now we have the southern preacher who will burn the Koran. Oh, this game is not just played by us, this is a global game.  If there is one thing that is truly global, it’s taking the freak and making him the symbol of the other.  And here I thought globalization and the world wide web would humanize us.  Pffft.

Why was he given so much attention?  Why was he given such importance?  Well, toxic populism needs to make enemies.  What better arena than the demonization of other religions, of symbolic acts like burning?  Now, somehow this act of vengeance and idiocy is being twisted into an expression of free speech. So, this nimrod will burn the Koran, what satisfaction will he gain?  Does he get power over other nimrods who strap on a vest of dynamite cause a nimrod in Florida burned the Koran.

The Generals, the Secretaries of State and Presidents now want moderation and to quell the preacher cause his act will bring doom upon America.  How naive do people think the world is?  You think the preacher is the cause?  Think Iraq, think the settlements, think Gaza, think not helping the Pakistani flood victims.

As the politicians and their cohorts, the media, churn the images of the sideline freaks, we move into a collective hysteria that ignores the real crimes against humanity.  We focus on medieval acts of symbolism, slight and insult, while the real issues get obscured by the daily freak show of imams, clerics, preachers and rabbis of the grotesque manifestation of their religions.

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Aggressive Consumer


the Really Really Free Market, Mayday weekend ...

Image via Wikipedia

Modern capitalist democracies have given their populace two  illusory powers: citizenship and membership in free market enterprise.  We all know that our power as citizen is reduced to the vote, a system that is manipulated and gives us little power beyond the lever. Our free market role is given a mythic power, that we choose how the market functions through our purchasing choices.  The customer illusion is not limited to every two years, it is a daily exercise that seems to involve choice and power.  No wonder we talk about it more often.

Just as citizenship has its romantic flourishes so does free marketism, we are labeled customer and we have convinced ourselves  that we “are always right”.   This romantic vestige of our power as customer now is only exercised in some kabuki theater where think we have power.  The only places we get to “act out as customers” is through some low paid  service employee, the euphemistic customer service side of the enterprise.   We all have stories of encounters with airline, banking, insurance and retailers; stories that have a common frustration and shared sigh.   In truth what we are usually sharing is  just a temper tantrum of delusional entitlement.  The entitlement that was never and will never be delivered.

We have confused individual assertiveness with line staff as some kind of power over the bureaucratic juggernaut of capitalism.  A juggernaut that rolls over its workers and over its paying customers.   In our attempts at being assertive, we end up being aggressive.   The size of the system cannot stand the chance that we will not consume, that we may make free choices.  Free choice and the power of choosing with where we spend our dollars is well managed, the system has invested a great deal to rely on our whims of free market choice.

His appetites have to be constantly whetted, tastes have to be manipulated, managed and made “predictable”.  Man is transformed into the “consumer”, the eternal suckling, whose one wish is to consume more and “better” things. (Erich Fromm, On Disobedience)

But, still I read the daily rant against the “stupid help”, the “ignorant line staff”, the” bad service”, the inability of “them” to see the value of “me” the customer and finally the lament of better times, when service was “better”.  I cannot help but notice the futility of such acts of ill placed rebellion.   A demand of servility and obedience from the poor dolts that serve us, the front lines, the ones with the least power.  Then you have entire virtual arenas, such as Yelp, where people will express their anger at a wait person, or manicurist.  They will berate that person, often times destroy a small business, because the “service” was not up to a standard.  We have transferred our anger towards the system, to the low grade badly trained employee.

You say, but if we do not have demands or expectations, how will we make it better?  Well, maybe it will not be better cause the corporate bureaucrats don’t give a damn.  They are insulated from your aggression.   The long time fear of American society of the bureaucratic managed society,  materialized in the trappings of capitalism, with lovely Orwellian names such as:  Sales Associate, for clerk; customer care for the collections office; technical support for the complaint department; customer feedback form, for the suggestion box.

So, we end up with the nasty customer beating up on some hapless employee via telephone, or in person and the corporate bosses are insulated by layers of systems, procedures, policies and legal requirements.   I say admit that you are cog.  When speaking to another cog, or interacting with another cog, humanize the other cog.  Break down the set up and make it pleasant for you and for them.  You are set up for conflict, I say, fight the set up.  Go around it, cheer up the cog, give them a kind word.  If they do not reciprocate, take it on the chin, try again next time.   Keep doing it, till we all stop the warfare among ourselves and we can start breaking down the charade.

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The Dangers of Online Community


Someone I truly respect, was asking some questions about the culture that has developed at Open Salon– the Salon site with user generated content .  The closest that I could come to was the  pyramid scheme.  If you blog in a small community, there are so  many readers and so many raters.  If you want to be popular you have to participate in a certain quid pro quo of commenting and rating.  In time, the small community, the ratings and comments have no value.

Of course, you can manage to disregard all the comments and the ratings and just use Open Salon for the traffic.  You will get way more reads on any random day than on other sites.  But in the end, does that matter?  Why does it matter?  Part of the challenge as a blogger is to get your own readership.  For two years, I guess Open Salon was a good place for me to get some blogger legs, now I need to do it on my own, away from the noise of the “community”.  I still love to read my favorite bloggers and partake in some of the discussions.  I was grateful for the tool that Salon gave the users, but I have to ask myself what now?

I have walked the internet, the web, whatever you call it from the beginning of time, somewhere in the late 80’s. In that time I  noticed a mythology  take hold, the mythology of the online community.  A Utopian fantasy that still prevails, of all that is good in humanity, with the negative aspects conveniently discarded.  A place where sweetness, kindness, love, generosity and support oozes out of every human involved.   When in truth the dynamic aspect of human society:  dissent, disagreement, confusion, anger, challenge are denied and maligned.  When of course any of those perfectly human qualities manifest themselves, the crowd with the shared utopian fantasy dissolves into despair and condemnation.

Why is that?   It’s because we imagined, that somehow online we humans will leave behind our complex, messy human parts.  That we will transcend the emotions, the character flaws, the deceptions.  The internet is not an escape from humanity, it is humanity.

We forget that the most oppressive places in the world are communities.   Take small villages.  Sure you all go to Greece and places like that and see the beautiful village and imagine this wonderful place of love, dancing and support.   I would rather drink all the poisons imagined in the world than live in a Greek village, any village.  The eyes from the windows, the chorus of criticism.

Well, the truth is that villages  brutish and cruel places.   I take the anonymity of a big metropolis, or American suburb any day.    In small  communities another aspect prevails, a certain notion of civility, or decorum.  A type of civility that mutates into an empty calorie sweetness.   That decorum is a passive acceptance of everything at face value.  The mere act of interjecting a question, or criticism is seen as devaluing the community, an affront.

I achieved a certain level of popularity and I have to say, it felt really good.  But after a while, the community aspect intruded into my psyche and made me angry.  I found that most  people have convinced themselves that good writing is about vulnerability;  a sharing  of personal suffering.  Once you expose yourself, once you divulge a personal trauma, you gain membership into the club.    If you are a victim of anything, you are above reproach.  You are given immediate membership, absolved of all responsibility and relieved of being judged.

Conflating good writing and thinking with personal vulnerability I find distasteful.  If you can make the personal global, then I can see how it is interesting, but if it becomes your red badge of courage, an amulet that you wear to identify you as a person, it is purely pathetic.  I find that this is also something that frustrates me in real society, within minutes, people will disclose personal tragedies to strangers with little self-restraint.  So, if I am such a believer in the open aspect, why does it bother me?  Why does it intrude into my space?
There are a few solid readers and critical thinkers, they will challenge you and they will make you think.  I have had some great conversations with some people who I have later come to have a deep respect, matter of fact, they are the only people who I befriended outside the “community”, my critics.  We have fought on so many issues, but yet, we hold a deep respect for each other and a trust that we are authentic in what we say.

If you do criticize, or challenge, as a reader, you will be marked as a negative and immature person.  If you defend your point of view, you  will be tagged a  “mean girl” if you are a woman, or if you are “mean”  a bitter middle-aged woman,  feminist cow, no, wait, feminist middle-aged cow.  Somehow, women are never allowed to find fault, or to challenge, as a certain blogger at OS, said to me, “it is unbecoming “.  In time you just read and comment less and less.

On the male side we have who I call the  avunculars, or daddies.  Of course, the daddies want to embrace the good girls and attack the “mean girls”.   Mean girls, don’t want a fake daddy, they have one or had one thank you very much.  So, here we are, we recreated the pathology of the middle-aged society in the middle of the internet.

Once you get a victim card you have moral advantage.  Moral advantage then makes it impossible to have real conversations, discussion, or conflict.  That is why, I butt heads time after time with the prevailing culture.  In the end, it does not matter, by the same notion of it being Open, it is open to mutate into regular society.

I, do  not go online for, love, compassion, empathy, sympathy, or nurturing.  If I was I would be a fool.  I am not a masturbatory fool without any connection to reality.  Yet, you will find people who truly need such emotions and you will find those who with a sadistic nature willing to  use the needy ones, for their own need to manifest a certain persona of kindness, generosity and love.  Cause, if you are, or seem to be kind to some poor stranger with a sob story, you must be a good person.  Who am I to want to correct this dynamic?  Why does it bother me?   I should not be surprised.  It’s a natural arc of many online experiments, they become the society that I do not enjoy.

The question is how much power did I give that culture by confronting it?  Did I and those who confronted give them power by confronting them?  I will never know.  Ultimately, the danger is not realizing that online, we bring all our pathologies and our virtues.  We will from time to time find places that we enjoy, but in time, a place will change.

Like a bar, or a café ,   a new crowd moves in.  You can still go to the bar cause they make the best margarita and not talk to anyone.  But, you can also make your own margarita at home, enjoy it in your garden, under your tree and listen to your voice and the voices you choose to be with.

I am neither Don Quixote, or the masked crusader.  I just love to blog and engage in discussion.  Eventually, my voice will annoy others as much as some voices annoy me.  So, we step away from each other and do our thing.  It is the World Wide Web, gatekeepers are not allowed and we have to choose what we wanted to be.

I am not abandoning Open Salon, I just chose to write some where else.  I will cross post at Open Salon out of habit.  But, I officially give up my seat at the bar for a while.   I will watch though to see how the ponsy scheme unravels.

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