… on a multimedia behavioral study (ish)


Half Kid Jack’s Keyboard. Not Angry.

I just read another one of the bazillion (or so) articles out there that point to the internet or social media or access to a keyboard, any keyboard, as a path to bad behavior because, among other stuff, anonymity.

Boogah! Boogah! Boogah! (That is the sound the Boogie Man makes in my mind) The internet is a bastion of anger and hostility and oh the humanity!

And the article wandered hither and thither (and over to yon) in a way that almost, but not quite, blamed the medium for manifesting bad behavior.  As if the internet and social media play into some deep-seeded human desire to fling forth vitriol and antipathy willy-nilly and, like, all over other people.

Like that desire or behavior wasn’t there before…

But now it is.

Because of the internet.

And social media.

But, being wicked scientific, I hypothesize that this may not be true, and that the people who are nasty on social media are not nasty because of social media.

They are nasty…

because they are dicks.

No seriously.

You just didn’t know all of them before because, prior to the internet age, they were confined to writing hateful letters to editors and movie stars and relatives that pissed them off.  They were also often aces at leaving nasty notes on neighbors’ cars (and not signing them).

Sure, their stuff may be more available for folks to see now, but they’re just the same people waving their arms for negative attention from a few more places, via a few more channels.

This whole idea that on-line media has increased what is sadly inherent in some people seems sort of linked (at least in my strange brain) to the idea that it is a much more dangerous world now than it has ever been.

It isn’t, but due to 24/7 news and all the mechanisms of creating and posting and sharing information… we feel like it is.

And we feel like there are more dicks in the world.

Which is bad.

So we need more science.

I thought a scientific ‘law’ would be too much, so I offer Dingle’s Rule on Multimedia Dick-titude. And it goes something like this:

Dick-titude level cannot be created, enhanced, nor increased by any single media channel, it can merely be conveyed. 

If someone is a certain degree of a dick on-line, someone is a certain degree of a dick. But is no more a dick, nor more powerfully a dick, than if he or she chose a different channel to express their dick-titude. Their message is just as eye-rolling.

Just as ignore-able.

So then I began to wonder if these dick-y people (at least some of them) believe that on-line cruelty doesn’t count.

Like, morally.

As if there is a relationship between the channel they choose to use for their mean-y-ness, and the level of impact on their virtue.

Like maybe a point system.

I concluded that it is not possible to intentionally hurt, insult, lie about, and/or otherwise dehumanize and belittle our fellow human beings – on Twitter or Facebook or a blog or anywhere on-line – and then have any reasonable basis to claim you are a kind and loving human being in real life.

That. Is not. A thing.

Seriously. I looked it up. Not a thing. Aristotle practically said so.

Because any means of communication, while we are living, is a means of communication happening in real life.

We bring our morals, our values, our selves to all we do, and that includes our behavior on any channel or platform we employ to interact with our fellow human beings – whether in person or not.

And there is good news on that front, I think.

By far… by a long shot… by a wicked big margin…

Most people on-line are not dicks.

Because most human beings are not dicks.

Most people don’t create arguments or conflict.

Most people don’t try to hurt people.

Not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

The thing is, I see nasty comments once in a while, folks trolling and flaming. But I don’t see it much, don’t pay it much attention I guess.

I’m too busy noticing the good stuff and, sometimes, the great stuff.

There are all sorts of stories out there about people reaching out to long-lost friends and loves and family members using social media.

Tweets celebrating humanity happen every second of every day.

Most people use this technology to stay in touch, chat, have some great and wonderful discussions on all sorts of stuff with people they just can’t see face to face at that moment.

This technology has made it possible to make friends – real friends – with people nowhere near where we live (and, for some, nowhere near where it is ever possible to visit).  It has also made people less lonely.

Kind of awesome.

And the great stuff doesn’t have to be nearly that profound, and happens without us even thinking much about it anymore.

My kids don’t remember a world where they cannot text me, on the fly, if they see something funny on the street that would make me laugh too.

Marshal Dillon Dingle can send a selfie to Sam (and does).

Friends send pics from vacations, a niece the first steps of her youngest, and JoHn can send a crazy video of he and Gabe singing at the top of their lungs, on the first spring day out in his beloved convertible.

In the middle of a busy day, any day, we can share our worlds.

Just because.

That is kind of wow to me.

I actually have trouble seeing the internet, and/or social media as hostile places. Then again, I don’t see the world as a hostile place, even though my life (and the lives of folks I care about, or know or hear about) don’t live lives of perfect joy and happiness each minute of each day.  I just can’t see it as an angry place. I see too much to contradict that idea.  Which brings me to another Dingle scientific rule:

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Oh wait.

That was Thoreau.


Smart guy.

Thanks for readin’.

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