Saturday, April 18, 2009

Internet Intelligence

There was a time, when I was in high school, where I would spend hours arguing with people online, through forums, chat-rooms, instant messaging, and even email. Why? Because someone was wrong, and I felt the inexplicably strange urge to correct them.

These conversations/discussions/arguments would last for days, weeks, sometimes months. I once got into it with a guy over whether one team in a video game was better than a different team, based solely on the fact that one team had superior long-range fighters. That was it. I spent two months dredging up facts, testimonies, circumstantial evidence, and all other materials to support my point. And you know what that fucker did every time I came up with these well-constructed arguments? He'd type, "You're lame."

Yeah. What a douche.

All that hard work, wasted on a fucking dumbass. I could've been writing a novel, or learning to dance, or playing music, or SOMETHING, besides discussing the merits of Starcraft over an internet forum.

Yet, spending all my time arguing with complete idiots trained my mind, and my words, for debate. These "flame wars" taught me the power of rhetoric, especially when employed through writing. Not to brag, but I got very good at it. I learned how to wield both logic and passion. I could whip up a thesis in minutes, with all the correct grammar and word usage. Or I could pour my emotions into a few well-constructed lines filled with taunting and condescension.

Sometimes people would actually get so mad that they'd embarrass themselves trying to win. Sometimes, they would get so pwned, that they'd actually leave the forum altogether, never bringing attention to themselves again.

Teenage boys on the internet really have no mercy.

But what's the point of it all? I eventually asked myself. The obvious answer came to me: there is none. Arguing on the internet is a waste of time. Even if you win, you lose, because you still got caught up in it. You can't change anyone's mind; their opinion will always be the same, no matter how you prove things (if, indeed, things can be proved at all).

Yet people still dedicate themselves to showing off, to trolling forums looking for topics that they can inflame, not thinking about adding to the discussion so much as feeling superior. And even regular bystanders waste themselves to tell you when they think you're wrong.

For instance, I made a poorly researched comment on a blog I follow by Siditty. Truth be told, I didn't really care for the topic, but felt momentarily interested in contributing to the discussion. I gave my opinion and went to bed. When I went back to check the comments, I noticed a fuckload of angry responses to what I had written. Some of them were downright frothing at their metaphorical mouths over it.

Really? You're going to get emotional over my opinion? You're going to take the time to tell me what's what? REALLY? It just boggles my mind... Someone cares that I am wrong ON THE INTERNET. (Whether I was or not isn't the point.) Good lord people, this ain't the end of the world! If you don't like it, then why let it bother you? Why does it matter?

Afterwards, I felt compelled to make my own personal reply. This blogpost is it.

It got me thinking... Some people, without the ability to fact-check at will via Wikipedia or Google, without reading their favorite blogs, and news-sites, without the internet, they have nothing to talk about it, nothing interesting to say and, most importantly, they know nothing at all.

I call this internet intelligence.

They're smart only because they can push all the buttons to get the right answer. It's a higher form of lego-block building. A more complicated set of putting the round peg into the round hole to get the tasty treat. The tools are what make them appear superior, rather than any inherent qualities they actually possess.

Sad, isn't it? But was nice to realize the truth of their ignorance.

7 footnotes:

mary said...

this is not all together the most relevant of quotes...but your post made me want to cut and paste this one from Keats-
“Though a quarrel in the streets is a thing to be hated, the energies displayed in it are fine; the commonest man shows a grace in his quarrel.”
....or not.

Zek J. Evets said...

haha, hmm, that's an interesting one there. dunno if it'll make it onto my list, but still... not bad.


isityouorme? said...

the peeps over @ sid's blog probably got mad because they thought you were being disingenious. a lot of the stuff they talk about over there, the commenters take very seriously. but siditty's a cool person. I've been reading her blog for a long time. like you said, this is the internet and it doesn't really matter that much.

Jacque said...

Wow, i just went over there and read ALL the comments and it was kind of funny. I've never been in an online argument where it turned to personal attacks against my age or race or anything. I understood what you meant about sympathizing with the guy based off the first video, but come on man you should have watched the other videos, or at least read the rest of the post. Anyway, Siditty is the only race related blog I read nowadays. I used to read alot, but I noticed whenever someone would post a comment that went against the general consensus, they got attacked with "well you must be white" or "you must be one of those sisters waiting around for a brother" or "you must be racist" just stupid stuff like that.

*and that retard picture isn't nice :(*

Jacque said...

"but come on man you should have watched the other videos, or at least read the rest of the post."

oh yeah, I forgot that you apologized..there was aloooot of comments

Zek J. Evets said...

@jacque: hah, that's okay. yeah, should've watched the other videos, but oh well. so it goes.

next time i'll just keep my mouth shut about the black woman issues.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.