Couple of interesting passages here. One on shame, from Megan McArdle…
Like many people who have been writing on the Internet for a long time, I find that the minute you make human contact with someone, they often get rather sheepish and apologetic about the terrible things they’ve said. A polite note written back to an intemperate diatribe, or an in-person encounter, often elicits sheepish apologies that all run along the same lines: They weren’t really thinking of you as a person much like them, whose back aches in the evening and who worries about the price of breakfast cereal, but as a sort of cartoon figure of great and malevolent influence.
By the time I started writing regularly for the national media, I’d long since learned that there are things you simply don’t say in public, many of which would be innocuous in a better-regulated world but are nonetheless far more controversial than they really ought to be. In addition, I started blogging in 2003, three years before Twitter came along and sufficiently ahead of the curve to permit me to fully internalize the inescapable but easily forgotten fact that you own everything you post on the social media, now and forevermore.
Couple thoughts on that, in order. First off, like Megan I too have encountered the phenomenon where a person can somehow take the online position that you and your family should all die in a grease fire, while at the same time be a person who is perfectly civil to your face. Note that I didn’t use the term ‘in real life’ for the second example there, though. That’s because online is real life. I don’t really care if the person who just threatened me will never actually go through with that threat; I want him or her to stop making threats. In other words: if you’re going to be horrible, at least be consistent about it.
While we’re on the subject of people being wretches in the service of their ideology, there’s something that I’ve been meaning to point out. While controversies and problems may in fact have more than one successful solution to them, and while those solutions may be mutually exclusive, and while those solutions may be tied up in one or more philosophical and/or ideological worldview… it does not follow, then, that one ideology or philosophy is just as good as another. Sometimes people are simply wrong about things – and because they’re wrong, they’re also failures*. Screaming wildly at people is usually seen as being diagnostic of being a failure.
But I digress. Although Terry Teachout’s point needs less commentary on my part: if you haven’t figured out by now that social media is forever, do your cause a favor right away and get off of social media. Heck, get off of social media anyway. Most people honestly don’t really know how to do it properly. And if you’re in politics, trust me: you really should measure twice and cut once when you’re doing social media activities. Or, again, not cut at all…
(edited image via Shutterstock)
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*This is, by the way, the major reason why you always strive to be as precise as possible when you’re insulting someone. It’s easy to justify the argument that, say, the Black Bloc militant wing of the antiwar movement is made up of animate scum that talks and wears clothing, because the aforementioned animate scum delights in behaving precisely that badly at any opportunity, or none. Say it about Democrats in general, and it comes across as crazy talk: everybody knows a sensible and perfectly decent member of the Democratic party.