Back from New York, brimming with the kind of cheer that only Mozart, NYC, and new friends can bring. There’s so much coming down the pike I am surprised that I even had time to check my YouTube channel’s inbox. You know, the one that has rewarded me so mightily in the past. Well, it had another present for me! This time it was a threat, and a string of profanity so long and childishly enthusiastic in its vulgarity that after the initial shock, left me a little sad, and a little pissed off.
There’s something about the internet. I was active right as it began to swell, sending telnet emails and chatting via IRC, later joining email lists, which were the sort of precursors to blogs with long threads of comments. Even then, in 1996, I remember users hiding behind screen names and saying incredibly mean spirited things, often times to people who had accidentally joined our list and had misspelled “unsubscribe” (so the majordomo didn’t receive or follow the command) or ventured to say something that was outside of the norm.
The internet-written word is vastly inferior to the hand written or spoken word. It’s so easy to type up something that sounds punchy and clever (or menacing and lewd) and hit “submit” without any real reflection. The chink in unedited internet correspondence’s armor is not in how it makes the recipient feel. In the end, I’m actually getting used to it. As this blog started getting thousands as opposed to hundreds of hits, my inbox began to fill up with all manner of commentary, most of it really cool, some of it…not so much. What makes this method of communication so hard to deal with is also its strength, if you can get past the unpleasantness of being on the receiving end.
It allows you an unfiltered look into the personality of the sender.
No artifice, no pretense. All you have to do is ignore the words.
So when I get a threat that advises me to “…die, and stop putting up stupid cello videos you cant play” (the rest is absolutely unpublishable) or an all-caps rhetorical question “…WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT SAYS ABOUT YOU YOU MISRABLE ****”
I do feel sad, which is the intended effect. Then I get mad, which also feeds their mania.
But only a few minutes afterward, I realize that any time someone lobs a grenade into my inbox, I have an unobstructed view into the kind of world they inhabit. And from what I can see, I’d rather be in my shoes, turning the other cheek when I am the recipient of hurtful words…
…than be the sort of person who is so uncomfortable in their own skin that they feel compelled to send them.