In The Context Of Me

I’ve probably mentioned that I hang around this website called Fantasy Faction, loitering with the other bad seeds, discussing our fantasy and science-fiction literature and shunning the non-believers.  Being of the nerdy persuasion and having had access to the internet since I was young, I’ve spent a lot of time on message boards over the years.  I was even some sort of administrator type person for a video game politics forum a few years back.  We sent flowers and a nice letter to Jack Thompson, who proceeded to continue being a crazy person.

I’m big on etiquette and manners, though I often choose to ignore them in favor of sounding good.  I also dislike drama, though often find myself at the center of it and I’m known for hyperbole.  Still, I’ve learned a few things, like not being a troll, not starting pointless flame wars, how to ignore people who just want attention and how to avoid being a smug douche.  When confronted with those types of people, I usually just ignore the thread or write around them.  When I respond, I try to avoid doing it directly.  This may seem passive-aggressive, but its more for the sanctity of my sanity.

That being said, there is this guy that makes me crazy.  I ignored, thinking perhaps I was over-sensitive.  Then I noticed other people being irritated by him.  And still others.  I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of why.  His posts come off as both smug and defensive, as if you could some how forget how he is the Font of Knowledge for the Universe, so he will prove it to you anyways.  But, while annoying, the guy can occasionally muster a good point.  Hard to see through the piles of bullshit yet to be raked, but those good points are there.  I don’t want to silence the guy, because maybe someone doesn’t like my voice or opinion and I don’t want them to silence me.

We all go through life viewing things from our own unique perspective, filtered by our experiences and opinions.  We interpret the world through a context of ourselves.  The Context of Me involves minimizing my external stress factors, because I do a good enough job making myself crazy that I don’t often want or need help.

The Context of Annoying Forum Guy is that everything is self-referential.  He is the guy who always has to reference his own opinions while giving you his opinions.  He’s the guy that makes everything about his Epic Novel Which Has Been Read By Acclaimed Author You’ve Never Heard Of.  He’s the guy that will give you all the crunchy numbers and statistics to prove that he is in fact right, but when you poke a hole in his logic, will then shun the non-believer.  He is the sort of asshole who probably doesn’t mean to be, but just can’t shift his perception of the world past his own bloated ego.  On better days, I chuckle and ignore.  On the worst days, I find myself contemplating technology that will allow me to physically pimpslap someone through the internet.

Yet I am still only perceiving these actions through my own filters.  One of those old adages, those ones your parents or grandparents tell you when attempting to appear wise, has stuck with me.  That which we dislike in others is a reflection of what we dislike in ourselves.  These are the traits we attempt to avoid, be it for moral reasons or because we are ashamed of our own bad habits.

I’m going to keep Annoying Forum Guy anonymous for a few reasons.  The first is that I don’t point fingers, because I don’t want somebody pointing back at me.  Goes against the whole ‘no drama’ policy I’m trying to establish.  Keep the action and intrigue to the novels, people.  The second reason is that Annoying Forum Guy’s name doesn’t matter.  You don’t know my particular case, but if you’ve spent any time on message boards or comment sections on the internet, you know Annoying Forum Guy or some other incarnation.  And thirdly, I have a moral message for you.  And you’ve read this far, so you may as well keep going.

It comes down to fairness, respect and integrity.  Words that often get chucked in with honor and out with the trash.  It comes down to being an adult and treating others the way you’d like to be treated.  Being both empathetic and sympathetic, while still maintaining a low tolerance for petty bullshit.  Love thy neighbor.  Some other tiresome cliche.

I’ll wind down my rant now.  I mentioned above that I’ve been on Fantasy Faction, writing some articles on some stuff.  My latest can be read here.  Progress has been made on the Western, though not as much as I’d like.  I have a handful of drafts started for blog posts, but I can’t bring myself to finish them.  I’ll try and throw another short story up here later this week, for your viewing pleasure.

In the meantime, be nice to each other.  And remember:  Arguing on the internet solves nothing.  It only makes you look dumb.

4 thoughts on “In The Context Of Me

  1. missoularedhead says:

    I like it. And funnily enough, I was thinking sort of the same thing, but from the perspective of someone who spends a lot of time teaching others. I have specific knowledge I have accumulated, and my job is to get someone to learn it. But it’s the way I deliver it that matters. If I went around being self-referential about how smart I am, and how stupid someone else is, I would suck as a teacher. And that’s what gets me about AFG…it’s not the information, it’s the tone and tenor with which it is imparted. You and I come from very different places, in terms of how we think about fantasy literature (or maybe not, but what I mean is that you write it…I only read it), and yet both of us had the same reaction. I think that’s significant.

  2. I notice it as a writer, but from multiple facets. I pay attention to the language, the implications of word choice and the tone set in the phrasing. I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to make sarcasm evident in dry text. But as a self-aware individual, my gut reaction was not ‘F*** this guy’ but rather to figure out why it upset me. Mostly I’ve found a new home, full of interesting people that I like talking to and I don’t need somebody to come in and make it dirty.

  3. Justin says:

    This is why I unfortunately stay off of forums. I hate reading posts by guys like that and also never want to be one of those people. I don’t mind telling people my opinion, but i never want them to think it is the only opinion out there. It isn’t even just forums these days. Comment sections on news sites like CNN or TPM drive me crazy. What ever happen to the idea of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” In this age of anonymous postings it is so easy for people to spout their ridiculous hate and ideas. You are entitled to your opinions as long as you can back them up. Don’t just spout some rhetoric at me that you heard on Fox news. It will not help your case. Oh, if you ever figure out a way to pimpslap someone through the internet let me know. Wonderful post.

  4. Kit says:

    I don’t think that I could agree more with what you’ve said here. I also agree with Misoula up there; it’s (usually) not what is said, but it’s the tone in which it is said that drives me up a wall. I don’t think that one should try to imply though tone that the person making a statement is ill-informed or stupid ( even if they are 😛 ); one should attempt to help them understand why their information is incorrect and help them learn the correct information for next time.

    I also agree with you, Matt; I like the home that’s been created for us at Fantasy-Faction. I’ll be disappointed if the forum goes to crap because there are people who can’t get along. I mean… it’s easy enough to put aside the differences and talk about something else, or not talk at all, if what the other person says really bothers you. There’s no reason at all to get your back up over what someone on the internet says.

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