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The anti-social nature of the internet

November 29, 2010

As I wearily crept along the dirt path, interspersed with stark contrast by the black shade of the palms blocking out the bright noonday sun, I had my SPAS-12 assault shotgun at the ready for the next bad guy to reveal himself as I inched my way around the dangerous slow curve of the trail.  Ahead, I heard an intense firefight break out, the loud reports of many bullets and the distinct sound of ricochets confirmed the fierceness of the battle – the yells in English of “Tango Down” told me one of my team survived, but the subsequent “man down” affirmed he did not make it through unscathed.

I rushed to aid my buddy.  He was laying on the ground, inching himself away from the crumpled and mangled body of the man who caused the blood gushing hole in my friends leg.  I immediately grabbed a vile of something we call “Jesus Juice”, the docs won’t tell us what it really is, and my instantly fells better and is up on his feet in a matter of seconds.

Somewhere across the country, the actual person who I just revived decided to thank me, “Could have used you help 20 seconds ago.”

I replied, not sure if he was joking or not, “Well I got there when I could.”

“What did you revive me for dumbf**k” was his response.

Not sure what the problem was, I decided to just blow it off and said, “Well, I won’t next time.”

He said something else not worth mentioning but revealed his extensive knowledge of four letter words.

In response to this, I said rather matter-of-factly, “It amazing the a-holes (I used the real word) you meet online nowadays.”

He said, “Great comeback…”

My final response, “Wasn’t a comeback dumbass, it was a statement of fact.”

He didn’t say much after that, but probably because he got into another firefight.

This is not meant to be a tale of my ability to rebut “smack-talkers” on a multi-player game of Call of Duty, because I didn’t do a very good job of it here and don’t really see the point.

I want to talk about the nature of our children and the internet.  More to the point, the counter-social aspects of something that allows us to be more social than ever in history.

Why did this guy reply to someone helping him in such a snarky and ungracious manner?  Unfortunately, part of it is the culture of First-Person Shooters video games especially in the realm of multi-player – people just are jerks on these games.  But why?  I think the most obvious reason is the anonymity of being on-line, coupled with the relative age of the people who play these games.  People can be faceless on the internet, and given most players of video-games are teenagers or at most in their early twenties, and they are male, I think there is a lot of testosterone flying around.  And men love to show how much better we are to one another.

But I still don’t see the need to smack-talk.  There is a scoreboard at the end of the match, showing how many kills you got, and how many times you got killed.  Is the need to talk smack based in some emulation of movie tough guys, who always have a stupid one-liner after they dispatch the bad guy?

Or is it a form of bullying?  Often, if someone starts talking smack, everyone else stops talking, leading the bully to believe he is “controlling the conversation.”  Actually, what usually happens is everyone mutes him, so he is deluding himself.

I don’t know the answer to my questions, but I can see the behavior pervading our society in face to face conversations as well.  Kids are more rude than ever, even to people they have never met before.

This is not meant as some diatribe to ban video games or anything, just a commentary on the anti-social nature of the internet.  If you have kids who play these games, monitor them please.  And talk to them about not being the douches who talk smack to people they don’t even know.  Ask them, would you talk like this to so-and-so if he was sitting right next to you and was 6’4″ and weighed 250 pounds?  My guess is they would say no.

Well, anyway, I gotta run, there is a shack up ahead, and I know there is a bad-guy in there camping my allies.  Should I lead with a flashbang or just try to get the drop?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2010 8:47 pm

    It is ironic that with all of these social networking sites around they actually promote anti-social behavior. Too many people “meet” and “know” people online but not in reality, it takes away from a person’s face to face relationship skills.

    • November 29, 2010 11:00 pm

      Yeah, these kids are just plain nasty to each other, hell, to everyone. I truly don’t understand it – it must just be the anonymity. It is sad.

  2. November 30, 2010 6:26 am

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I used to play Runescape with my daughter, when she was younger. There were a lot of people who would help newcomers to the game, but there were also a lot of players who would make the game as miserable for those newcomers as possible. It was absolutely amazing to me at how rude and crude some of them were. Needless to say, I felt like finding some of them and seeing if they would be willing to talk such trash to my face.

    You are right to suggest parents monitor these games. That was one reason I played Runescape so much, to keep an eye on what was going on.

    • November 30, 2010 11:36 am

      Yeah, I used to play a game called EVE-online, a space based RPG that had a steep learning curve. Most of the “veterans” on that game hated new players and did their best to get anyone trying the game out to give up and quit. Not sure why they felt this was good for the game, considering the company who produces it probably wants (and needs) to make money in order it going.

  3. November 30, 2010 10:16 am

    Funny, I was just talking about the antisocial aspects of internet socializing with my current houseguest.

    Social networking via the ‘net is a boost to our ability to socialize, to a certain extent. I am not sure how much longer it woulda taken me to locate and attend the local Tea Party group without Facebook, for example.

    But the young people today (btw, am I allowed to use that phrase at age 39?) have had their face-to-face social abilities stunted by a childhood of faceless video game and internet interaction. I should correct myself though–the video game chat behavior is just a symptom. The real disease is the fact that their parents are no longer teaching them to respect elders, or providing real discipline.

    I see it almost everytime I’m on the playground, chaperoning the field trip, or watching my kid’s ball game.

    Oops. Betcha didn’t realize you’d given me another opportunity to trash talk other parents.

    And oh yeah. Did you know that rudeness extends even to word game chat rooms? I used to enjoy Qwerty (a scrabble type game) on the internet with live opponents. But once I got to a certain skill level my opponents got, well, bitchy. After getting insulted a time or two by apparent scrabble experts, I quit.

    best,
    Lin

    • November 30, 2010 11:44 am

      Good stuff.

      And though I am a few years younger than you, 34, I think we can safely say “young people today”.

  4. JustFacts permalink
    December 1, 2010 10:10 am

    I think that the problems with the internet culture are just a result of the overall degradation in society created by the Progressive movement, and the transfer of responsibility from the individual to the state.

    Read The Care and Feeding of Progressives, by Robin of Berkeley in the American Thinker, and you can see some of the same issues that you discuss in your post.

    • December 1, 2010 10:49 pm

      Hah, she makes some excellent points. This was similar to my post The Power to Ignore Reality in regards to the amoralism of the subjectivist view. I am not totally sure the children on-line can qualify as progressives just yet, it is primarily just a coincidence that progressives and little internet punks happen to act similarly.

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