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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Virtual Violence

In an afternoon retreat to the back deck, with laptop in hand, I am still salving my wounds over an earlier e-attack by a pack of slobbering, salivating, drooling Liberals. Part of my recuperation is the beautiful panoramic view of early October in the Fall River Valley, with about a mile of meandering Pit River, bordered by the autumn crush of oak trees.

The wounds, while not serious and certainly not physical, could most accurately be described as self inflicted. For if I had not picked the scabs of the more outspoken of Liberal sycophants, to a local newspaper blog, I would not be having this conversation now.

This latest of a series of recurring events has awakened me to the reality of cyber-conflict, e-fighting, or virtual violence. Never one to shy away from a confrontation, I have discovered the advantages of virtual violence as opposed to physical confrontation or armed assault, fewer bruises, mostly to the ego, no stitches or broken bones

The internet has opened doors to personal conflict never experienced by telephone, telegraph or snail Mail. The blogosphere has allowed us to an unfettered assault upon those with which we disagree. The tools are at our fingertips to reasonably disarm, disable or embarrass an opponent in minutes.

In the past, a telephone confrontation would force us to respond, sometimes incorrectly, without adequate information or preparation. A letter stirring conflict required a retreat to an encyclopedia or library before we shipped off a documented response, which would take days or weeks.

Now, we just open another window, peck in a few commands to Google, and voila an e-answer, the ammunition of the cyber assassin. The down side is that the opposing party is doing the same thing and the assaults and insults go on and on.

Part of the healing process is our cyber buddies, friends that we most likely have never met, but who have become kindred spirits to our causes and usually the cause is politics.

Unlike office parties, family reunions and happy hour, the internet IS for arguments about religion and politics. No holds barred arguments complete with dates, times and details take minutes, not days, weeks or months.

Arguments online are not for the faint of heart or those with thin skin. Personal assaults are the rule, not the exception, especially when it comes to partisan politics. The divide between Liberals and Conservatives will not be bridged anytime soon. So, you can forget about Libertarians, Greens and Peace and Freedom’ites ever pulling for each another. And woe be the na├»ve blogger stumbling upon a site trolled by a different party affiliation. “Piling on” is an understatement when an interloper criticizes the party line. And in the case of Liberals, they must troll in packs because they share one brain.

The ultimate irony of the Internet, is that even though it is considered the information “superhighway”, it fails to change minds. In fact, if anything, it has galvanized and solidified political positions, to the detriment of reason, logic and historical reference. I may be going out on a limb here, but I believe that the term “revisionist history” was an early prodigy of the Internet.

It is no longer simply right or wrong or black and white, it is now Right or Left, Conservative or Liberal. Opposing camps have dug in and are entrenched for the duration. And absent a catastrophic event supporting one camp or the other, I see no indications that things are going to change anytime soon.

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