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Stop the Presses: Get off my damn lawn!


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It used to be that people with similar interests had to try hard to find each other to be able to discuss their similar interests, learn from each other’s slightly different takes regarding those interests, and raise the collective IQ on whatever their interests may have been. Colleges and universities played a big role in facilitating advancements by providing a forum for interactions that could allow our collective wisdom to deepen.

The Internet then made it easy for us to collaborate across wires and eventually without wires without needing to be in the same physical location or connected one-by-one by phone. Suddenly, we could put an idea out for consideration, and instantaneously get responses, not from one person in the same room, not from a few in a bigger room, but theoretically from anyone anywhere in the world.

As easy as it is for those of us who seek to deepen our knowledge of the world around us to communicate via the Internet, it’s also easy for the guy who hates the world, hates his life, hates his parents, hates his wife, hates his job, hates his favorite football team for not playing the right guy at quarterback, etc., to find all the other guys who hate everything that he does and a bunch of other stuff for their trouble.

This other group is really good at shouting; they’ve been doing it in the TV in their parents’ basements for years, between shifts bagging groceries part time. The first group, conversely, being made up of generally agreeable people, tends to shy away from the nonsense that now tends to dominate Internet forums, and now the broader mainstream public discourse.

Whatever your political leanings, most of you reading this are moderate, moderate conservative or moderate liberal, but what dominates the discourse? The Tea Party shouting down immigrants and LGBTs, the liberal protesters shutting down fast-food places and intersections. The rest of us hang back and let the diehards have their way because what are we going to do, shout back? What’s that going to solve? Because that’s what those folks want.

Reddit, years ago, had a useful purpose, connecting people of like interests, but now it’s various subreddits of racist, misogynist garbage. Sports message boards attached to a particular team fanbase had a similar useful purpose at the outset. Hey, I’m a UVA fan, too! Cool! What did you think about how Gillen used Big Smooth to shut down Jay Williams? I didn’t see that one coming, but his length really caused J-Will trouble.

It’s not that anymore, unfortunately. The legit posts among fans who want to talk strategy, recruiting, the next opponent, and the rest are dragged down by the hateful, spiteful, personal invective, aimed at national writers who don’t know any better, local writers who aren’t rah-rah enough that day, other posters who happen to disagree, the world in general.

If you follow along, you know that you’re going to get bad with the good, but at what point does it become not worth it anymore?

The same question is asked of our politics. It’s one thing for Rudy Guiliani to go on and on about how he thinks Barack Obama doesn’t like America. Rudy is a Republican, Obama is a Democrat, Republicans and Democrats say bad things about each other all the time. But what about Republicans calling each other RINOs, Democrats calling each other DINOs, the Tea Party giving itself litmus tests to make sure that its Tea Party enough, the liberals getting upset among themselves for not being sufficiently pro-LGBT-living wage-local food-animal rights.

We have literally at our fingertips the ability to communicate with anybody in the world we want at any time, the whole world at any particular point in time. We could use it, as we did at the outset, to try to get a little smarter, but we’ve somehow figured out a way to use this amazing connective technology to actually make us all a little dumber.

Writing this column officially makes me a confused old man on the front porch now, so … get off my damn lawn!

– Column by Chris Graham


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