My thoughts about culture and our present conditions. As Dianne Moore says in Learning to Love a Wounded World, "This requires a willingness to feel everything…. the horror and the beauty of what is here…. the fear and the Love.”

The devolution of a message board

Well, I still visit and read the board, but nothing inspires me
lately.  The connection to any of the predominant posters has been
growing tenuous for a long time.  I’ve been expecting this stage. 
Maybe it truly has arrived this time.

I still do have a flow of ideas coming up I’d think of introducing, were the
atmosphere a bit more open. But what do I mean when I say "open"?  I
have to talk about it in terms of what doesn’t happen when an idea is
introduced.  What’s missing, because it’s true as one of the board’s more persistent cyberstalkers would say with
his little demonic sneer, nothing stops me from posting an idea there. 
But that doesn’t mean the atmosphere is open to ideas.  Far from it.

What’s been lost has been rendered, I believe, invisible. It’s like
it’s just blown away.  Dust in the wind.  But the personally-oriented,
closed categorical hostility I can expect from a dominant group, rather
than responses from open minded readers and exploratory idea
responders, emerges in my thoughts, now, whenever I think of an idea to
share at Thom’s. And I think twice at that moment.  I also recognize in that
moment
that the repetitive and ever hostile response is now de rigueur
and applied systematically.  That’s, I also recognize, behaviorism in
action in my mind, and I’ve been struggling to avoid having that carrot
and stick phenomenon effect my behavior.  It’s a losing battle.  It
sucks out one’s energy and the energy turns to dust and blows away.

I don’t know how anyone can show that process to the board’s powers that
be.  All our attempts have failed and the system that’s there seems
only designed to allow a destructive hostility to thrive.  So I don’t
know how they can come to see that it’s a pervasive and dominant factor
creating a deadly atmosphere on the board. Nor do I know what they can imagine to do about it if they did.  I can imagine something to do, but it’s out of my hands.  And so, like so many others
no longer posting there, I’m inclined to go elsewhere with my fragile, sometimes tentative, ever evolving ideas
rather than bother to put them through an exposure, where every idea has to be presented as complete, and bullet proof.  It’s like, why
expend energy trying to create something when you know only demons
await to tear it apart? 

People
do look for connections. Life is both
connection and devolution, the latter of which is a kind of death in
the cycle. Any connection may
be enough to keep them trying.  No connection means they have to be
into sado masochism to keep going through pain, because pain is a kind
of route to death.  Though sometimes a devolving of ideas is important
so they can be digested, ideas do not have to be rendered painful in
order to grow.  In fact, I think it’s the play and the fun that makes
for truly creative and growing awareness.  The conservative mind dwells
in fear, pain, and perpetual war. That’s not a world I look to engage
out of choice.  I’m not so sure that form of "creativity" is the best
way to build a healthy society.  There’s not much hope in looking
forward to pain for anyone but a masochist — if self inflicted pain is
even a "hope" for the masochist, it’s probably not.  And certainly the
sadists
get some sort of fun from giving pain to others.  There could be "hope" in that.  And
so we get the birth of the psychopaths
and their version of "hope" in society.

Connection’s probably the main thing people are looking for in an interactive environment, not a fight; and I’d say
probably it’s what those who are
inspired by listening to Thom’s voice in the conservative, demon filled
wilderness of our society are looking for when they visit the board.
Jumping into a snake pit
to argue with entrenched conservatives is secondary if even a consideration, and likely not
what they expected when they posted, if they didn’t bother to look
before registering.  Perhaps why so many have so few posts out of the 1300 or so members.  I figured out one day with a spread sheet that about six conservative members, have posted one third of all the posts since this version of the message board started last May.

Sometimes I go to
my blog to create, sometimes to email correspondence, sometimes just to my word processor.  Not a bad
thing to do really.  But it’s too bad about Thom’s board.  It was once a
community where I could find some like minds to share parallel
narratives, along with those conservative vipers striking up from their
pit, which I could walk around if I wished.  It was once a place for connections.  Now it’s become the whole snake
pit.

Contentious debate is a vicious circle most of the time, and it
makes me feel like a gerbil in a cage running on one of those exercise
wheels. The gerbil cage is now in a snake pit, so the gerbil likes being in
the cage so it doesn’t get bit by the poisonous vipers.  But it goes nowhere on its wheel, and
the gerbil is alone. One conservative I’ve known now for six years commented the other day when I tried to
introduce something different to his repeating argument about why the
US is  (and shouldn’t be) in Afghanistan, and he said we (meaning he
and I) had been down that road before. Well, "we" never have, he drives
into his little suburban cage and into his wheel like cul de sac
and around and around he goes, repeating one unresolved contradiction
after another.  So, I don’t get into my suburban gerbil cage and run on
a wheel like he does,  I go past and across the highway, across the
fields and into the woods, alone.

It’s like there are a number of genres of ideas that relate to some kind of
networked whole, and it doesn’t really matter who first thought them, or who introduces
them, just that we recognize the ones that appeal to us, and that we put the
pieces together for ourselves. I think what really matters is that we each
create a narrative that has to do with the genre of ideas that appeals
most to us. Then we can have connection. I think we each know instinctively what ideas in the world
have that appeal, that’s how we can recognize them, through something deeper, call it instinct. The parts are
scattered all over the place and we need to put them together in our minds through narrative so they
make sense to us. I keep finding more parts all the time, and as I work with them I see them fitting into a growing whole.
 

The
way the board is now, it’s been allowed to devolve so that a core group
of trolls can break ideas into dust and just let the dust blow away in
the wind created by about six persistent conservative blow-hards with
the same repeating messages.  I’m sad to see a recently banned troll has returned. 
That’s what he does, along with the others.  He has his repetitive non-sense
based on recurring logical fallacies, which is just one of the
emulsifying agents to anyone’s efforts to post a coherent idea, to
anyone’s attempt to build a narrative. And to counter it requires
persistence and energy. 

On a few occasions I have pointed out the poster’s logical fallacies, he simply ignores the exposure, and repeats the fallacies, over and
over. Now that’s
propaganda. Propaganda of that nature
flourishes, while attempts to show it as such do not. Exposure also
requires some sort of coherently positively reflective feedback in a
discussion environment, where a group of people are sharing ideas that
cohere in the face of fallacies, and for which there is a sharing of
idea development history that makes it possible to go beyond starting
from scratch with every attempt.  Otherwise why bother? If all the
response anyone gets is an indication that the ideas don’t make sense,
that they must be described in detail (while one is told one is too
"verbose" when one tries), that each word must be defined and defined,
over and
over, how long will anyone keep trying to create a narrative
explanation of something with that kind of
feedback?  It’s a form of masochism to initiate something that results
in pain.  I personally consider masochism to be insanity.  I’d rather
not practice insanity.

They suck me dry, turn my words into dust.  I’m sure others find it
the same for them.  And we don’t connect there anymore.  I don’t know
why.  We used to.

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One response

  1. Melissa

    I just wanted to let you know that after I read this fascinating blog, I decided to "hand in my resignation" at Thom’s. I think you may have seen it, since you knew it was my birthday. I agree 100% with what you have written above, as obviously it influenced my actions.My hope is that if enough of the more open minded voices leave, than perhaps the trolls will eventually leave too. I mean they are like some kind of parasite, that when they lose their source of nourishment, will have to move elsewhere. Regardless of what happens there, I think until Thom and those who actually run the board develop some kind of zero tolerance for these trolls, it will continue to destroy the board in its current format. I believe I spent too much time there anyway, but I did learn quite a bit from posters like you and Anti, and poly. There are people. It has spurred me to question the entire political system, and its opened my eyes to the reality of our world. Some of it has been a bit difficult to discover, but as I have never been one who believes ‘ignorance is bliss’, its been for the best.So until the time when "we" can find a new place to post, and build a community similar to what even I remember at Thom’s, than I will probably be a regular commentator here, reading and enjoying your ramblings.Kind regards,Mel

    October 16, 2009 at 12:09

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