Sunday, July 10, 2005

Pondering a definition quite often leads to unplanned ruminations on life.

After receiving a short but thought-provoking question in the comments of my last post, I decided to copy and paste my response (deleting it in the process because there's no need to waste space saying the same thing in two places). I decided on this course of action mostly just because I don't have anything else to say. I don't have any desire to talk about the bombings in London. Although my thoughts are with our friends on the other side of the pond, I just don't feel that I have anything worthwhile to add to the countless cyber-conversations already taking place everywhere I look. I'm the type who needs to fully digest the facts along with my feelings before even trying to talk about it.

So, here's the question, which came from jedith:

"By 'crappy-assed-people' do you mean prejudice people?" (If you remember, I had said that there definitely were some "crappy-ass" people out there, but that I believe the internet has the power to lessen their influence.)

And the answer:

Well, first off, I enjoy any excuse to use the word "crappy-ass". (I'm a big fan of adding "ass" to my adjectives in order to put more stress on a description.) I think I originally intended "crappy-ass" to mean people who try to take advantage of other people's ignorance - ignorance which usually stems from their lack of access to information outside of the small circle of their lives. I firmly believe that the more people who take the time to participate and open their minds in online forums and blogs and Craigslist-type sites, the less influence those "crappy-ass" people will have over them. The more free-flow of information between people in all parts of the world, the better. I know that I for one have learned countless things that I NEVER would have learned without the internet... not because I wouldn't have WANTED to learn them, but because I never would have had the chance to even find out that those things were out there, just waiting for me to learn them.

Using this definition, yes, "crappy-ass" could definitely be construed to mean people who are prejudiced - for instance, say there's a kid who's parents are extremely prejudiced against people who eat red meat - they had always told him that every person who eats bacon is BAD. So this kid gets on the internet and joins a discussion group, carrying with him his parent's prejudice against red meat eaters, which is all he knows. But then he really starts listening to what other people have to say, takes their opinions into account, questions his own worldview, and realizes that, hey, there are some really cool red meat eaters out there! What his parents told him was WRONG! He starts thinking, "Hmmm... maybe I should stop hating someone for reasons purely based on what they eat..."

Granted, the internet is not the only way to open your mind - college is great for that... not so good for getting jobs it turns out, but great for expanding your worldview (if you let it of course, which is the key for any of this growth stuff) - but it is a LOT more expansive than just going off to a university. Where else can you find out in less than five minutes what people in Japan think about a movie that you just saw, or what people in Africa really think about the Live 8 concerts?

"Crappy-ass" could also be defined as people who are just plain mean and like to start rumors or take advantage of other human beings' kindnesses. I also believe that the more we interact with one another across national and cultural barriers, the more we learn about human nature and can further adapt to the curveballs that life throws at us - using other people's experiences to help guide our own choices, thus employing the group's experience as a whole to one's individual life in order to avoid nasty situations and to question the world around us. The capacity for researching an idea and forming your own opinion on that idea has never been greater. You have the world's knowledge at your fingertips, literally.

"You have the world's knowledge at your fingertips" - I know that seems like an obvious thing, but if you just sit back and let the importance of those words sink in, it's absolutely amazing. One of my only worries is that people will start to take it for granted and forget to realize what an incredible communication aid the internet can become - if we let it AND if we commit to connectivity and education on a planetary level. Plus I worry about those in power who fear losing that power - the power of information control - to the unwashed masses (which is why what's going on with the internet smackdown in China - and now also the recent Department of Commerce ruling - saddens me more than a little).

Man, I love the internet. And yet it is still in it's childhood, only just on the cusp of puberty. I can't wait to see what new and exciting comminicatory wonders will arise from its depths in the next 10 years! We just need to get over these few rough patches...

And maybe, just maybe, I'm being ridiculously optimistic about human nature... but I truly hope not.


At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

A truly insightful post, indeed.

I never really know what to expect from human nature from one situation to another. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised. But usually I wind up disappointed. I really wish it didn't have to be that way, but I guess that's what happens.

I agree with you about college. It's a wonderful place to expand your worldview. I learned so much and not necessarily from classes. Usually from the people around me. I loved it.

But the job market is no easier as a result of my degree. I've got so much general knowledge in so many areas, but everybody always seems to want more specialized knowledge in one or two areas. It's more than just a bit disheartening. I've tried job searching for anything in my general area of expertise, but I never seem to know enough of what they want.

I do have a job now that makes use of all my areas, but I feel I'm severely underpaid and I know I'm desperately underappreciated. I guess I shouldn't bitch because I do have a job, but I can't help it when I look at people in my department who have been there far less time than me and make more than I do yet I am more than capable of performing their jobs... and I usually do. That's the thing, I can do everyone's job and they know it so they pawn off responsibilities of their own on to me. But nobody in my office is even remotely capable of performing my primary job function (Web development), so I get screwed by not having someone to back me up when I get overloaded with my job and all their jobs. Shoot me.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Demosthenes said...

To hear new and creative curse combinations is one of the great pleasures in life. When someone extremely unstable and undercultured gets flustered, the response is usually so hillarious, not to mention undiagrammable, that you can only listen and laugh. Not that I'm calling Jedith unstable or undercultured, mind you.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Johnny C. said...

Rant Carol Rant!

Actually, I enjoy your writing very much. I don't consider it a rant. Hopefully, what you say will not fall on deaf ears. I hope you're as vocal in the real world as you are here in our community.


At 10:43 PM, Blogger izchan said...

The way in which to look at things that constitutes to the word "crappy" and "ass" is that both of them depend on each other. The people that are ignorant or choose to ignore are those which constitues to the "ass" part. But the crappy part comes from the people who KNOW and knowingly do it with excuses as stupid as "Because your black".

Would the people in these genre change? I have no idea.

But what I do know is that if I ever see a white pointed hood within my corsair, I will not hesitate to shoot first and ask question later. Its a reflex much like theirs, mine is tuned to kill stupidity.


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