The Digital World is Leaking

I’ve noticed a trend among people lately. It’s a weird sort of unspoken gossip circle that is full of events and drama I am not privy to. It’s the people who are heavy Facebook users, and it has to do with the fact that I deleted my account a couple of months ago. Maybe a year ago? Not sure. I want to make this clear, I’m not hating. I was the worst facebooker. At dinner, movies, when I’m supposed to be listening, while merging onto the 405 freeway at 100 mph.  That’s when I would facebook. So, like your great drunk friend who once drank that whole bottle of whiskey just cause he was thirsty, I eventually had to recognize my problem and quit.

Now that I am no longer a part of the great feed, I’ve noticed that sometimes people will ask about others in an offhand way, but with a whole lot of information at their disposal via the fb.Totally showing their hand, and being really obvious too.
For example, asking about somebody that maybe somebody else used to date. The person asking would do so to see if the other knows about something that transpired on Facebook, but didn’t in real life. Poking around an issue, waiting to find out what you know so they can fill in the holes in their little soap opera. What do they care? Why would they ask? Ohhhh, Facebook.
Or when somebody asked me, “She had a really nice body huh?”. Straight out of left field, because I hadn’t seen the girl in forever, so I asked my creepy friend what it was that made him ask about her. Facebook. He saw a pic on Facebook. So here he is, looking at pics of a girl I used to see, but had not seen in forever. And he likes what he sees. He doesn’t think it’s weird at all. I don’t understand the thrill of two dudes sitting around talking conquests. I’ve never understood that.
Or another who tries to get familiar with every single person you introduce them to in real life. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s the awkward person at the party who doesn’t talk to anybody, but suddenly is all over the new acquaintance’s inbox on a pretty regular basis. Trying to be cute and maybe even taking pot shots at me, or asking what terms the relationship is on. Transparent. I would have no problem if they made a total move in person, and it sucks to have a girl ask you to stop your friends emails, she’s married thank you. Creep.
Am I right to think that this is a little creepy? Even if we put aside all the dramatic little bullshit that makes these things so awkward, and strip any personal attachment, removing our own interests from the situation entirely.
Asking ourselves, “Isn’t it just a little weird, that people are living more life in a virtual space, are better at life, and have more social skills on the web than they do in flesh and blood?” There are events that happen only online. There are web exclusives, and e-albums, digital accounts and transactions where nothing moves but the merchandise, and your fingers on the keys. I couldn’t personally care less about the social drama, I have problems of my own over here, but the tool that is facebook, makes the snooping way too easy. Like the most efficient gossip machine ever.

It’s amazing how terribly online drama translates to real life. Punching someone over something done online would just have to seem pathetic, right? Yet a young man sits in jail for some song lyrics he posted on the site, that referred to threats he made in a manner that was just a little too direct for the powers that be to allow.

I was in a thread online somewhere where some older guy was dead set on the old “Kill them all and let god sort them out” mentality. He said the kid basically could be done away with for all he cared. I just asked “who gets to decide where to draw the line?” and basically sat back to watch the “debate”, but there wasn’t much of a debate. Was more like a bunch of guys trying pick a fight, puffing out their chest and making bold statements, waiting for someone to take the online bait, and lose it. If somebody broke a nose or got physical over this thread, I think it would be equally lame. Equally pathetic.
Still, all this activity, digital or analog, has consequences in real life. When somebody loses it online, to me it looks a lot like road rage. You would never talk to that person that way if you were outside your car walking next to them. But the fortress of your vehicle and your control over your environment has been altered by this foreigner cutting into your lane, and you lose it. You lose it because you’re in your car. Same difference online, total E-Peen ego dents causing anger and real rage. Just like there are deadly, and violent road rage cases. The exceptional ones where the wrong dude was messed with, and actual fisticuffs are thrown roadside.
Well, here we have an exceptional online free speech case, where actual cuffs have been slapped on, and a young man sits in jail over words thrown out there online. It will be interesting to see what his fate is, and what this means for freedom of speech, an ideal us so-called creative types hold very dear. A man’s life hangs in the balance here. He may be an idiot, but he’s still a man, and your rights are measured with his fate.
The constitution is not a suicide pact, that’s one of my favorite principles of government, and one of the most challenging to define. We could all imagine a situation where rules would have to be broken, and precedents will be set. This is one of those times. This is one of those cases.

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