I think there’s money to be made – maybe even a book to be written – about the motivations people have for blogging and commenting on blogs. I have to admit that that I enjoy the pleasure of the well-turned phrase almost as much as I enjoy the thoughts of those who would use that construct as a for their own experiences. I write, others comment, we all learn a bit about the world around us – we see a single facet of reality through the prism of a different point of view.
But only slightly different for the most part. The information/entertainment market has become so highly segmented that each of us has a place to go where we know that we’ll be welcome. We tend to congregate there, among others who are mostly like-minded. We are comfortable.
But it’s the differences that make it fun, isn’t it?
Well, yes. Up to a point.
From time to time I’ve had the occasion to disagree with some of those who comment here – I don’t generally go other places looking for a fight – and a few of them are treasured friends even if I have never met them. They see the world in fundamentally different ways than I do, and yet we are able to speak to each other about foundational points of view without ever – or rarely, anyway – personalizing them. It starts I think with a presumption of good faith, that the other person honestly believes what he or she does about the topic at hand whether from experience, education or environment. Once we lay aside Type M argument – that is, where we question the arguer’s motivation for thinking as he does, rather than the idea he puts forward in itself – we can examine the notion against our own biases and experience. We can learn.
Even if it means that we only learn that two well-intentioned people can look at the same set of facts or circumstances and often draw quite different conclusions. Which – although it may sound trite – is something worth knowing, I think. People talk admiringly about those who have the courage of their convictions, but you don’t have to travel far to meet people who are courageously convicted about quite lunatic things – any county mental health care unit should suffice.
At some point we have to decide in order to act, realizing that inertia and inaction is a kind of decision in itself. But for true bravery show me the man that has the courage of his uncertainties. The man who knows that he does not know everything. Who isn’t entirely sure. Put another way, no truly great crime is possible absent absolute moral certitude. There would never have been a post-revolutionary Terror in France, the genocidal massacres of native Americans, the collectivization of Soviet peasantry, the Holocaust in Europe, the Killing Fields in Kampuchea without stone hearted men who knew – who absolutely knew – that they were doing the right thing, that previous morality, the things their parents taught them, the received wisdom of their civilizations was somehow superceded, anachronistic, bourgeois.
Some of those people have the will to power and the means to acquire it. For a time, they make the streets run red until finally someone stops them. For the rest, there are now comments boxes in blog posts. As I mentioned over in comments over at FbL’s place after she got trolled, there is a kind of person who goes to bush league hockey games in order to get drunk and yell at referees. You’ll see them there, hear them there, wish that they or you were somewhere else. You wonder what the rest of their life is like, if that’s what qualifies as good fun on the weekend: Drunkenly shouting at bush league hockey refs.
Some folks don’t like hockey. Some folks only hate.
In my mind’s eye, I know the regulars here by what they love. CPT J is a warrior poet, his heart beats to the ancient rhythms. B2 and Sid saw the world as it once was, and think it still the best. Michelle likes a good sea story, Kris likes plane pr0n, Byron loves ships from the inside, Tim loves the whirl of the blades – prop or helo doesn’t matter – and the thrill of the hunt. Chap loves to think deep thoughts, while Skippy-san loves beer and (asian) women. Sim and Chris both like to fly, and they both love Oz, and who can blame them? unkawill loves heroes and the old ways, Brian and Nose like it when the pilots synch the props and remember fondly the stories of their youth. Subsunk loves the good fight and is a man after my own heart, FbL loves doing good, while AFSister likes to flirt but loves her boys. John Donovan loves him some guns, Buck still loves the Air Force even after all these years as Mark and Bill still love the Corps. Babs loves her young man Tim and would fight for him if it came to it and for my own part I’d never want to stand against her if it came to that, and there are many, many more and I don’t want to leave anyone out, but you get the point: I know you by what you love, and in a way I love you for it.
Silly, isn’t it? But there it is.
So it may seem strange, for I pride myself on being open to heterodoxy in opinion, but when someone comes in hurling flame bombs and casting aspersions, picking apart spelling and questioning motivation, trotting out tired tropes as though it’s all fresh and new and unrebuttable and it all seems a part of some juvenile need to feel superior, then forgive me if I don’t sponsor it on my bandwidth – I am paying for this microphone, after all.
We don’t do trolls here.