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Jerks Abound on the Internet


By Danny Davids(13,494) Danny Davids

Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by Danny Davids


I don't know if it's because I'm growing more observant as I age, or if it's because I'm growing less tolerant.  Either way, it's a rare day that I don't witness some ignoramus showing the world around him just how asinine he is.  I'm not talking about the occasional social gaffe that all of us are guilty of.  I mean big-time displays of big-time stupidity, ones that make you realize that the human gene pool does need to be cleaned out on a regular basis.

When these imbiciles take their antics to the Internet, they open up a whole new audience in front of whom they can act out their idiocy.  And quicker than you can say "YouTube", their stories are linked and e-mailed around the globe.

There's the story of the young attorney who was offered, and accepted, a job with a lawfirm.  Upon further reflection, she decided that the pay and benefits were not suitable.  So she sent an e-mail to her soon-to-be-ex boss, explaining that she was refusing the offer and going into business for herself to "reap 100% of the benefits".  The lawyer who received the e-mail responded...and the ensuing conversation degraded to such a point that the entire conversation was forwarded to inboxes around the country.  ABC's "Nightline" eventually picked up on the story and published it for the rest of the Internet world.  I'm wondering (a) why she accepted an offer she really didn't want, and (b) why she thought she was so intelligent that she could one-up an experienced lawyer via e-mail.  Remind me never to hire this lady as my attorney!

Then there are blogs.  You know what those are--you're reading one right now.  Like everything else, blogs have gradually changed in function.  Initially they were meant as a way for individuals to express opinion and feelings and initiate debate.  Now many of them inform (gosh, like, oh, I don't know, maybe THIS entry!).  And some have found a way to turn blogs into moneymaking opportunities by writing about products and services that earn the writers cash.  Nothing wrong with that, but it bothers me (and many other PC professionals) when that "review" of the "Next Great Software Package" is written by the guy who wrote the program, or owns the company, or owns stock in the company, and yet pretends not to be connected to the product.  For example, a recent endorsement of hosting services on the Web site Everybody Go To was nothing more than a paid advertisement, although it was written as though Mr. Everyman had just discovered this incredible program and wanted to share it with the rest of his readers out of the goodness of his heart.  If this guy called you on your phone to tell you about this amazing software, you'd call him a solicitor, tell him to take your number off the list, and hang up.  Even in the 21st century they're still trying to sell snake oil.

The idiots seem to pop out of the woodwork when it comes to on-line role-playing games, or RPGs.  Many such games have the option to create guilds, or communities of users who share common ideas and goals.  In one instance, a guild was grief-stricken when one of their members died in real life.  To honor her, the members decided to host a memorial service on-line, agreeing to gather at a certain place and time and leave all weaponry behind.  During the "funeral", a rival guild decided to take advantage of the situation and massacred the cybermourners.  They recorded their escapade and posted it on YouTube.  (WARNING:  The video contains graphic language.)  Community reaction was overwhelmingly against the attackers.  While I understand the sentiment involved in wanting to remember a real-life fallen comrade, I can't help but wonder about the wisdom of the mourners in advertising the event ahead of time and asking people not to interrupt the service.  It's like wearing a red suit in a bullfighting ring.  Some would say that the opposing guild simply took advantage of a situation; others feel that a cyberfuneral is just as serious as a real one (especially when a real person dies) and the guild crossed the line of decency by staging the unprovoked attack.  You decide.  Either way, these people need to realize something very fundamental about the entire scenario:  IT'S JUST A GAME!  I play on-line and I don't live my life in Neopia!  (At least, that's what I keep telling my wife.)

Death on the Internet is nothing new.  But when a death occurs in real life as a result of attacks in cyberspace, there's something wrong.  In 2006, a 13-year-old girl commited suicide after she was repeatedly harrassed on MySpace by an 18-year-old boy--except he was neither 18, nor a boy.  The harrasser turned out to be the mother of one of the girl's former friends.  She had created the persona in order to find out if the girl was saying anything negative about her daughter.  The woman started out by becoming friends with the girl, but later turned on her, bullying her and assaulting her verbally.  Because two other teens participated in the deception, and since stories vary about who sent the derogatory messages to the young girl, no charges were filed.  However, officials in the girl's home town passed legislation to make Internet harrassment a misdemeanor, punishable by fines and jail time.  Protecting your daughter's reputation is one thing, lady.  Causing the death of a child by pretending to be somebody you're not is definitely pushing the envelope.  Act like an adult, not a teenager!

Eight years into the new millennium, you'd think we'd learn how to behave, even on the Internet.  Yet story after story reminds us that even with new technology, some people feel it's okay to let their barbarian out (and I'm not talking about Worlds of Warcraft characters).  Don't expect this to go away any time soon.  As one respondent on a blog site observed, "In other words, I guess it can be said that there are just as many jerks in the world... but moments that would have gone unnoticed and forgotten, no longer do."  So much for growing up along with our toys.




This Blog Post has been read 295 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2008
View other posts by Danny Davids

Comments on this blog post:

Comment by Creative(54,965) Creative (81 days ago.)
Excellent well written article. I have been harrassed myself a couple of times on the Internet, I assume by jealous obsessives. If the comments are slanderous action has to be taken or the remarks remain public for everyone to see.

Sadly the admin for the forums where these remarks are often made may be unwilling to reprimand long standing members who abuse others as so the victim (as was the case with myself) becomes villified for fighting back in the absence of proper forum moderation.

It makes writing on the Internet a lions den at times.

Mike fak: (80 days 17 hours ago.)
Great points Danny. I shake my head at the RSS feeds under stories in the newspapers where idiots go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the original article. I also love people who decide to chastise someone else and are so strong in their convictions that they sign their diatribe anonymous or Cleveland Joe or the like. The internet is starting to be like a diamond mine almost played out. It takes a while to find something of worth. Mike Fak


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