I don’t CARE how you FEEL

The other day, I posted a link to a story that highlighted yet another caper from the minds at 4chan.

Shortly afterward, I got a tweet in response that addressed me as “faggot”.

My immediate impulse was to block the person in question; fortunately, my forebrain kicked in before I could click. It wasn’t just that the word meant something different in this context (4chan’s reputation proceeds from rendering shock into banality through over-exposure) but that it actually implied a limited acceptance; if the person in question hadn’t figured I was hip to what 4chan was about in the first place, they likely wouldn’t have bothered.

Thirty seconds later, I was no longer offended, I was upset that the disconnect between what I was reading and how I received it took so long to register. I’ve been on the internet too long; yesterday I had a short conversation with a writer/editor that I’ve admired for some years that eventually deteriorated into a discussion of the weather for want of making polite conversation.

It’s my single greatest complaint about the internet; it’s dominated by idiots and worse, this does absolutely nothing to make it a more civil environment.

The ability to “read” the “tone” of a text message is fifty percent. With decades of experience, the average goes up as high as sixty. I have yet to completely integrate this concept (as I’ve just demonstrated).

There is no such thing as a “universal appeal”. What passes as polite in one context registers as insincere in another.

But we all love “lolcats”, right? That’s 4chan, too.

One of the things I took away from “Collapse” was an analogy about monkeys. To paraphrase, it seems that there was a test of a nuclear device on some obscure island in the Pacific inhabited by monkeys. Problem being, after the test, there were all these coconuts covered in fallout. So you had all these monkeys losing their hair, bleeding at the gums and eventually dying from enlarged prostates and the like.

So what they did was teach a few of them to wash the ash and crap off the coconuts in a stream before they ate them. Eventually, the importance of doing so registered with the monkeys that had been taught to clean them first and they began teaching other monkeys this trick. The number of monkeys eating safely began to increase exponentially as the newly taught monkeys began to teach other monkeys. But by the time this lesson had passed to a thousand of them, a curious thing happened — they ALL started washing the coconuts.

Kind of says something about pop entertainment “formulas”, huh? Edsel-edsel.

Nobody was going to be able to teach all those monkeys a damned thing about anything. But they could teach one or two, so they focused on the audience they could reach and the message eventually got through to everybody on it’s own merit.

Let me give you another example:

Five Reasons Why Green Tech Has Such a Tough Time In America

Scroll down to #5. Hear that, you dirty, smelly hippies? Your message is failing because you’re not considering your audience, you jerks!

Insert #fail here.

As we’ve seen, the audience for climate science is limited. It’s a complex subject and frankly, the details aren’t particularly exciting, any more than any other subject requiring sufficient academic rigor. The fundamental problem being that we really love our cell phones and plastic forks and SUVs and we really don’t like thinking about what the long term impact of this lifestyle is because it makes us feel bad.

But you can’t really infantilize natural selection out of the process.

More to the point, we’re still at the stage where those who would make it a requirement aren’t part of the target audience. Everybody knows that hearing and listening are two separate things, but so is being able to repeat this bromide and actually making the effort to apply it.

Not everything is about you. Faggot.

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  • Comments (1)
    • Max Bell
    • July 19th, 2010

    Fuck. Rating system fail.

    Would have been four and a half, but apparently I don’t get the same options as everyone else. Oh, well.

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