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The View(s)
11.25.2002 by Dan, every Monday.


Recently, I was ”surfing” the “net” when I “noticed” something: Internet lingo is getting extremely hackneyed. I feel so filthy for using it.

But I also noticed that more than two people will never agree on anything. Obviously, this is a major epiphany, and I realized that I must notify the press. Unfortunately, the press was busy preparing headlines about how Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez may be involved, so I was on my own.

It is a well-known fact that people can never agree on anything, as evidenced by the fact that most pizza places will do “half-and-half” pizzas. But, as any viewer of “The O'Reilly Factor” will know, debate tends to be civilized and respectful.

There will be a brief pause here while I cackle hysterically until I fall out of my chair.

People are about as tolerant of differing opinions as they are of a skunk in the dining room. And this is in real life. Enter the internet, complete with Bruce Lee hair.

The internet is notorious for its anonymity, and nowhere is that more in evidence than Usenet. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Usenet is the oldest part of the Internet, consisting of message boards called “Newsgroups.” These primarily exist to advertise pornography.

But a few newsgroups feature some actual discussion. Take the newsgroup “rec.arts.anime.misc” for example:

manganerd: U r A idiot if U don't agree that Ryoko has D best titz, U luser!

AnimeGeek: Filthy Swine! All bow 2 the l33t rack of Usagi!

NaughtyFarmWives: The lonely farm wives and the rubber chickens who love them! FREE TRIAL!!! VISIT NOW!!! NOW, DAMN YOU!!!!!!!!!!

manganerd: What a pathetic loser. Reminds me of college. Whoops, Mom's calling.


Yes, Newsgroups have always been notorious for their enlightened discussion. But their hospitality is noteworthy, too. Just check this example from “alt.fan.dave_barry:”

CMUTT: And that is why I will never eat pickles on the Concorde again.

MarthaPillows: What about pickle juice? Will you still drink it on the Concorde?

LadyLobster: Snarl. Grumble.

CMUTT: Someone's in a good mood today!

Clambert: Hi, I'm new to Usenet. Will you all be my friends? I'm looking for a place where I can download all of Dave's columns for free and find out intimate details of his personal life so I can break into his house and steal his neckties.

Lady Lobster: SNARL!!! FROTH AT MOUTH!!!

Clambert: AAAAIIEEEEE!!


But, amusing disembowelments of idiots aside, people don't get along any better off of Usenet. Take www.metafilter.com, for example. This is a page where people post links to various news stories and oddball web pages, and attempt to start an enlightened discussion. But what happens as often as not is this:

Posterboy: According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, The sun rises in the east, then sets in the west. My question is, why does anything so observable need written down? Bu the time you can read, you already know this, right?

katana9: Are you sure that's right?

Whinybastard: I'm pretty sure that it rises in the west.

Someguy: Why are you wasting our time with this crap?

Zatooie: It rises in the east, and your mother is a whore.

WhinyBastard: It rises in the west, and you fornicate with farm equipment.

Molly: I read it was the west, I think.

Zatooie: ME KILL!! YOU DIE NOW!!!!

Captain Kirk: Fire Phasers!

Long John Silver: Arrr.


These are the kind of discussions that make you long for a nuclear war. But to be fair, I should add that most Metafilter discussions are fairly civil.

Yes, I really should.

What all this boils down to, perhaps, is that people get a sense of validation by assuring themselves that their views are right and that all other views are wrong. But surely an enlightened, calm, rational argument will help open their minds.

Well, I'm off to my bomb shelter.




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