The second discovered-while-looking-for-something-else event today revealed that suddenly this blog is getting heavy traffic by a couple of people who have come in for criticism. I find them insensitive, irritating and wrong (three areas where I've had some practice, so I know a bit about them). I also find them to be chronically addicted to celebrity ass-grab, which I have not pursued.
I am not impressed with people's ability to change. Consider myself, a person who has often recognized the counsel of friends and strived to understand the world. Still, I remain a stick in mud, prone to the same blindness and occasionally lapsing back into know bad habits. It's been a long time since I socked someone (the first of two inebriated drivers who crashed into me to date). It disgusts me, and I think I will never do it again, but I don't regret doing it. So there is a danger.
It's hard. So is life generally, which many people have trouble reconciling with a desire to be happy, leading them to deny the horrible, unenlightened condition of humanity, and challenging people to grow out of bad behaviors.
Rather than let any harsh news spoil the buzz, people tend to gang together and attack when criticized. We can expect a diatribe against my failures, or a tiresome, bulleted list of rebuttals, or mockery. The most emotionally satisfying reactions are the exact opposite of what the PR team recommends. There are a number of sites, some by lunatics and some by people who just don't handle their emotions well, dedicated to attacked me, though some have pulled down the flag. I enjoy these sites, because though they are crude and mostly brainless, sometimes I can extract some truth from what they say. If it wasn't so darn hard to change, I'd be a better man for it, but they may have taught me some things. In particular I have noted that defensive people who have felt excluded most of their lives will exhaust an impressive amount of energy trying to repudiate you.
Sometimes just suggesting that they are behaving like trolls is enough to cause a snap heard 'round the world. They've been noticing you. They've read your posts, and they don't like your tone, or your education, or lack of it. You brush them with a little negative opinion, and they detonate.
I wonder if we shouldn't distribute internet -- sans anything rated R or worse -- to terrorist birthing regions, so they will finally have a way to express themselves other than wife-beating and blowing things up. But so far, these characters seem pretty dumb, and I think their tantrums would cause a meltdown. It could explain the repeated failures of that big trunk line off the coast of Egypt. (You're not politically aware if you haven't cruised some of the propaganda sites already online.)
It's interesting that the John Solomon rant site, which drew a lot of traffic, didn't attract a cogent response by any thinkers or the Axis of Meme. It was a cinch to expose the logical snafu.
Anything that sounds highbrow-- where the author thinks and reads, has a college vocabulary, or simply does a good job of refining posts -- is much more likely to attract attack than something lowbrow -- and Solomon was lowbrow, despite his flair with language. His central flaw: reasoning that comics he disliked could be denounced in a barrage of negativity and insults. The facts: the majority of comics are in between bad and great, and are too dynamic to repudiate wholeheartedly. It doesn't matter how brilliant you are, you look like a buffoon dismissing entire portfolios with a bucket of cuss words.
The fellows scavenging for ammo, trading email pats on the back on every hopeful-looking bit of scat, would probably do best if they said, "Yeah, thanks for the points. Some of them are right. We'll have to work on them, and we'll have to think about the rest." Only a few people, closely in tune with their behavior and weaknesses, will smell the truth. They can go on doing as they've always done.
The only problem is history. It's not so much that the winners write the history books, it's that the losers don't.
P.S. Fellas -- Take your time, use your heads. Be glad that someone has pointed out your weak spots. That's how we grow. As for calling one or the other cowardly or a meme gecko, just be glad you were moved to deal with your critic before he concluded you did not care how you behave. (I'm actually still not convinced, given the track record, but I don't want to make anyone jump in the gutter on my account.) And if you have to print an emotional reaction, make it a full-page extravaganza that many people will see. They'll be interested to see how that strategy works, and it could be informative.