A mini-lesson for the progressive soul

If you’re a glutton for punishment — which is not the same thing as a masochist; a glutton for punishment, in old-folk-speak, is not one who commits an act in order to enjoy the resulting pain, but one who tolerates the pain in order to commit the act — look in on a right-wing website and try to convert the faithful. You will get bloodied up real good, real fast.

Or you could look in on a left-wing website and try to point out shortcomings in one of the site’s heroes. You will get bloodied up even gooder and faster.

I speak, as you might imagine, from experience. Every so often — though lately it’s been more like every so seldom — I look in on such sites, to either side of the aisle, and pinch a few sensibilities. But as I am not… a true glutton for punishment myself, I seldom stay around to endure long-term retaliation.

What I have noticed — and this inspires further commentary, which I’ll append to this one — is that the more vitupertive the comments, the likelier they are to be unsigned, or signed with an obvious pseudonym. Candor, that honesty which requires personal acknowledgment, is not a common item on the Internet.

  • I do use my own name, and a valid e-mail address. The address — and this I think is fair — is one I use for nothing else, and it is one which I seldom check. Predictably, it gets very little mail. On-line ambush is mostly confined to on-line, probably because to send an e-mail is to give away something of your own genuine identity.

This Internet thingy not only allows anonymity, it actually invites anonymity. An impenetrable wall, from behind which it is possible to throw stones without fear of retalliation. It’s the perfect cover, a convenient and perhaps necessary structure for bullying — which, to judge from the news lately, is much on the rise in this country.

Call it, in the vocabulary of castles and walls, a keep. Or in the vocabulary of computer gamers — most of them literally young and all of them, so far as I can determine, emotionally young — a donjon, that being the name of a currently* popular game.

And here I am, already into and beyond what was planned, a few short lines ago, as an addendum.

* That was this morning. It may by now be obsolescent.

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