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Essay on invisibility incivility in online communications

R.I.P. Civility, 0000-2012
April 27, 2012

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Luckily, we now live in a world where we can type out anything about anyone, living or dead, hit “enter” … and anonymously, the words of The Greatest Truth Ever Known can ring out loud and clear throughout the land. 

Hell, the universe.

Hurt the person I’m writing about? Who cares. Hurt myself if it goes public? I’ll sue. Hurt anyone who happens by? What are they, wusses?

I’m the victim! I’m the bully! I’m the wounded party! I’m the one who will set the world straight!

I can type in a bath towel; I can sneer at the screen; I can toss the trash out the window while I drive. For that matter, I’ll shout “fire” if I want, anywhere and everywhere. And you can’t fire me for doing that. I’m inextinguishable.

I’ll eat fried chicken in the movie theater and leave the grease on the leather seats -- keeps them supple anyway.

Cut the crap. People suck. Life sucks. It doesn’t matter that these used to be bad words. All the words that once were bad, are now good. As far as bad and good goes, it’s all relative anyway. And as for relatives themselves, who needs them. Any thinking person knows that.
 

 

The death of  profanity preceded that of civility — some blather about that. Don’t they know: Anything, everything goes. You think my choice of words is vulgar? Ha! I’ll just put them on the screen. I’ll wear them on my shirt. You don’t like them? Tough.

In my heart, I know that I’m smarter than everyone, anyone else. How do I know? I just do, that’s all. I can type it all out – whatever is in my mind. I can think and type and send it really fast. And if you don’t know what I mean by it in that sentence, it’s your fault, you idiot, you fool.

And no one cares anymore about nuances of rhetoric, or about patience, or about common ground. Why should we? It’s faster to type, hit send, and then go hide.

And if you don’t know what I mean by the tone of my posts  that’s your fault, too. Here’s a thought: Print out a set of angry emoticons, close your eyes, and point to one. That’s right. The raging one with a green face and horns and steam coming out of its ears. That’s what I meant.

We’re all going to die anyway.

Maybe I’m smarter in this raging argument because I finished school first. Maybe I’m smarter because I finished school last. Maybe I dropped out. I wasn’t taken in.

Texting while driving? I can do that. Typing without thinking? I can do that too. What counts? My opinion. At this moment in time and forever after.

One thing I did buy along the way: and that’s the part about “technology being the future.” It better be. So when I die, I don’t want anything near me except my laptop and my phone. That’s where my community was anyway. Wait: Maybe that was technology buying the future.

I can pay for my time to write things that don’t amount to anything later. And while I type and vent and blurt it all out, other things will spiral my irises – and yours -- all more colorful than human eyes. Pop ups. Surveys. Clever ads.

And you won’t get mad at me for too long.

In case you’re not hearing me, I can still add exclamation points. As many as I want without extra charge. And I can hit CAPS LOCK. That way you’ll know I’m yelling.

I can insert typos to prove that the conventions of grammar don’t apply to me anymore. Only the finicky correct mistakes; ha, proof they’re out of date.

There’s nothing that separates me from Shakespeare, MLK, Plato -- any writer or speaker or thinker. We’re all equal in this world. That means I’m as important or you. Or maybe more so. My formal logic ends here. Over 500 logical fallacies available?

Who cares.

I’m right; you’re wrong; it's that simple. Who needs all those boring niceties anyway? And the greatest sin is boring me. I thrive on impulse. If something isn’t popping up on the screen, dammit, I can’t even read!

I can pop right up on your desk, heck, your palm, without even having to share the atoms of inhale and exhale with you.  I am much more subtle than human; I am… subhuman.

I’m invisible, I mean invincible. Whatever I can’t do, the computer can.

Why bother with names, identifying myself? This can show the true me, wants and all. Your read that right. I don’t have warts, just wants. I want to be heard. I want to yell. I want to set you straight without talking to you or the labor of compromise or even revision. Above all, I don’t want to look into your eyes.

I want to state my opinion without having to read anything.

Three hundred comments above mine, maybe -- twenty after,  still going. All drivel. All heart-racing, palm-sweating, blood pressure spiking drivel.

Behind this screen, I can be truer than true. Mad as hell. Mad, a shell of a human being. Who needs words when one has a sword. Same five letters, aptly arranged.

Push me too far, and I will explode. It’s called free speech. It’s the First Amendment. I’ve never opened the constitution or even pointed at it, but I have real finger power.

You know what I mean.

Sometimes I might be vulnerable, show that side. Quick: you missed it.

But mostly I want to rage, you know? There used to be road rage. Now: it’s web rage. No one can stop me. I can spread it, too. Rage goes viral, an e-pidemic.

There are three I’s in civility. That’s why I’m glad it’s gone. There is only one me.

And even with all of those i’s in incivility, I still can’t see what I’m doing.

 

 

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