Tag Archives: Technology

The Week in My Infotoxic World 11-8-11

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The Information Abuse Superhighway

Are you as afraid to look at your homepage as I am? Is the entire planet contaminated by a rapidly spreading virus composed of computer-enhanced human ignorance? There’s a sense of malaise around the internet, with some bloggers questioning what we’re doing here. Part of the helplessness many of us feel is a side effect of the filter bubble, an algorithm-driven defilement used by major search engines to collect and control every one of our keystrokes. Google keeps harassing me to “customize” my news, so I can skip those offensive alternative viewpoints. Quite a change from the “fair and balanced news” MSM boasted just ten years ago.  Controlling our exposure to information serves to isolate both sides and is deadly to human development. It’s one of the worst things to come out of technology, period. A nanny Internet goes a step further than a nanny government, it paralyzes our minds. We don’t know where to turn for truth, for hope, or for compromise.

The infection is also spread by Smartphones and Twitter and laptops. I just read a reasonable post by a successful person on a subject that interested me—but his ever-constant Twitter feed displays a much less relatable, and less interesting, persona. Why do I need to see personal minute-by-minute updates when I came to read an essay? He was heading down to the Occupy protest in his city. I was going to comment. Discuss. Interact. Now, I’m not. I’m Occupied-out and not impressed.

Nowadays I read my home page for one reason: in the morning to find out if we’re going to make it through the day, and in the evening to see if we’ve made it through the day. How close to me are the quakes, floods, fires, bombs…how close are the US mobs defecating on American flags, how close to my home on the border is the latest drug-cartel slaughter. I’m afraid to even click on a link on my homepage, because it changes what I see on my homepage within minutes. It’s literally useless.

Many live in filter bubbles of their own making, it’s so very obvious and easy to see in a certain area of the town I live in. The personalized info-smog makes it a snap to remain unchallenged by creating a world of denial. I don’t want to choose sides and then have propaganda shoved down my throat. Fight the filter bubble by choosing what you read yourself. Don’t let search engines decide for you.

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I’m irritated with academic-types this week because they manage to plant  snide snippets of their political views into venues where they have no business doing so. In no way should any reference book reflect the personal, especially political, opinion of its contributors. It should not be tolerated but it is, it is. I have little recourse but to resort to negative fantasy…

The Professors

Two English professors were co-writing a scholarly paper regarding the etymologies of words describing difficult people. They passed the manuscript back and forth with notes attached through interoffice mail.

The professors began arguing over the word ‘stubborn,’ whose uncertain origins date back to the 14th century. The first professor called the second professor an ‘obstinate oaf’ to which the second retorted ‘recalcitrant rube.’ The notes began to get ugly. The second professor’s temper finally got the better of him. ‘I will not tolerate such pertinacious disrespect!’ he gasped as he marched into the first professor’s lovely walnut-paneled office and stabbed him through the heart with a medieval dagger.

Well, so much for the old saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’!

Bullying Comes of Age

I grew up with bullying. At a young age I learned to see it coming but was powerless to stop it. It came in particular from members of my own “family.” I put this in quotes because these people are no longer any relation to me in any way. Later I chose boys who bully girls. I thought that was the way it worked.

Over the years I learned that bullying is a lifestyle chosen by antisocial people with empty lives and too much time on their hands. No real friends, no enjoyment of the small things, no compassion.

Children and teenagers are most susceptible to bullying because they have little power to fight back. Many kids who are bullied do not report it because whether an adult believes you isn’t the issue—kids know the price of telling means life will get worse. Complain and your pet cat disappears. Later the bully taunts the victim with what they did to it. Many parents are clueless as to sibling bullying, or they may see a bullied child as “overly-sensitive.”

In the old days, bullying was done in person, on land lines, or by mail. Today’s technology makes it much easier. Witness the trolling and personal attacks on comments sections of political blogs. Party-line liberals and conservatives consistently use the words retard, fascist, imbecile, moron, paranoid, ignorant, subhuman, racist. I read comments to learn—but all I’ve learned is that there is precious little productive exchange of ideas. And, it’s really, really boring.

Both liberal and conservative blogs tend to be snide and sarcastic. Any questioning of their views results in a hard slap with fanatical rhetoric. They welcome your questions as an opportunity to unload more blah blah blah. Not once have I asked a question and received an answer that specifically addresses my question in a rational way. Just more fundamentalist bullshit, cut and paste from a numbered menu.

If you write about anything that is even slightly contentious, you are inviting trolls and bullies into your life. The stalkers who leave nasty comments have one thing in common—they desperately want to engage you in some dysfunctional mindgame, but they’ve already lost my attention long ago. I’m never mean to anybody because meanness begets meanness. If I’m mean to people how do I know they won’t go kick their dog? I want no part of this evil chain.

On WordPress, there is a “My Blacklist” option which I am now using. To enable, go to My Account, go to Settings (last icon down), and click on Discussion. Scroll down until you see “Comment Blacklist.” There is a space to type in the URL and IP address of the troll. You will never see or even know about another comment from them. Let them bring it on if it keeps them from kicking their dog or a family member. If they start e-mailing you personally, keep copies and report it to your internet provider and the police.