Friday, August 12, 2005

The problem with internet forums

I am a person with many original ideas I hold to be important and of interest to the average person. After posting my book, Exact Morality for Today (I think if I had to name it over, I would call it Discriminating Morality for Today), on the internet, I decided the thing to do would be to get people more interested in my opinions by talking about them in internet forums. Especially did such an approach seem appropriate since people tend to be unusually conformist as regards what constitutes depravity, and I feel that my opinions are not much contrary to what it is the nature of the typical person to believe and feel if not confused (as unfortunately most people are). The average person is basically moral. Not that my opinions would appeal to an average person because they be conformist (they are not), but sometimes an idea can appeal to an average person because it is correct, because the average person is not stupid. By people seeing that my opinions were at least interesting and plausible to the average person, that would be an extra kind of advertisement that would further cause people to study my opinions more carefully.

What I failed to appreciate was that forums presenting themselves as easy places to access the public opinion as regards moral or philosophical issues, in fact vastly overrepresent the opinions of those who find it in their self-interest to lead the insecure astray. When a person vaguely doesn't feel like her parents are particularly clean or sane enough to protect her, she is likely (especially if young) to seek out the standard opinion and let that guide her as regards what is depraved. Such an approach is not an unreasonable one. It's very important that females, even fairly young females, be themselves as regards most matters; that's partly why young females tend to be emotional about love and why girls tend not to want to be viewed as studious--emotions are quicker than thought, and so a clean girl wondering whether she is in love can more quickly come to her own true self if emotional. But as regards large errors, it is very unfortunate that girls should make them. Better for a girl to defer to her mother (or her father if she doesn't think her mother is morally pure enough) when it comes to deciding what to be really scared of. A mother indeed should not guide her daughter's sexuality, but she should, I am inclined to think, more or less control her daughter's fears about sex. When she sees her daughter from misplaced fear is not being true to what otherwise would be her daughter's true nature, she should reassure and calm her daughter, rubbing her back when merely misplaced fears are keeping her from being sexual, encouraging her to pick out skimpier clothes when she wants to be sexy and mother knows its fairly safe, to write more erotically explicit lines where in her poems merely misplaced fear gets in the way of the sexuality underneath, etc. And on the other hand, when the daughter is screwed up or being insufficently prudent about some danger, she should be strong and tell her daughter she is screwing up her life or that she underappreciates the particular danger, beWARE. A smart and sensible mother makes her daughter feel pride to the extent she (the daughter) is able to discriminate depravity from innocent sexiness. It's not just a matter of praising her daughter when she is drug-free and free of sexual depravity, (say) maybe giving her a certificate of achievement attesting to her mother's sense of her (the daughter's) sexual purity. Also, for instance, when the daughter writes a sex poem or story that is very (cleanly) sexual in a cool way, where misplaced fear scarcely ever gets in the way of sexual explicitness and the desired erotic effect, the mother should put that on the refrigerator, too. (And not test scores or good grades; true, intellect is better at resisting abuse than emotion, and tests purport to more measure intellect, but really if a mother can do no better than to encourage her daughter to measure her cleanliness by her test scores, that is pathetic.) But sometimes (not infrequently correctly) the daughter just doesn't trust the mother, and doesn't particularly trust her father, either.

When a girl doesn't trust herself, her mother, or her father, she not infrequently turns to standard opinion as regards what constitutes depravity. What it is necessary to ask oneself is what exactly a girl is going to be viewed as by vulgar types, if she so much doesn't trust her parents or any other close relatives that she must rely on standard opinion to guide her sense of the common?


Therein lies the problem with internet forums. Internet forums claiming to represent standard opinions, generally moderated by people who claim to only delete obscene or flaming posts, are usually in fact run and peopled by mostly obscene people. These are people who like to prey on the insecure individuals who are interested in what exactly constitutes typical opinions. A similar phenomenon occurs in Hollywood. I believe it goes without saying that many of the tabloids and self-advertising shows geared toward the glorification of entertainment celebrities are not morally enlightened. This is because people into celebrities tend to be insecure types looking for what is the most popular, since that gives evidence as to what an average person appreciates. The problem is not so much with what is popular or with what is commonly appreciated, the problem is with those who seek to influence those who, often on account of insecurity, especially care what constitutes normalcy.

Anyway, my advice to insecure people is that if you are going to be insecure, well, be bold in being insecure. Be wary of people who seem to be catering to your insecurity. Don't just accept what they have to say about what is normal. No, do your own polling. Approach a random sample of respectable-looking people and ask them what they think; don't ask people just because they make it unusually easy for you. So maybe someone will not be willing to chat with you because she (or he) thinks it too much of a waste of time? No disaster, they can always ignore you or tell you to stop talking--and loneliness is a more common problem than lack of time.

Blogs are I think better than internet forums. There is still a problem with blogs, though. There aren't enough really interesting blogs out there which link to other interesting blogs that it is easy to find interesting opinions by searching blogs. Blogs have a kind of mysteriousness about them that makes bloggers rather too often defer to normalcy and considerations of popularity. I can't quite put my finger exactly on what bothers me about them. I know that sounds rather paranoid, and maybe only that's the point--bloggers are rather like a lot of literary agents, so frustrated by false priggishness from paranoia, they excessively fear paranoia. A lot of it I'm hoping has to do with fear. Many internet forum types doubtless are into blogging as well, trying to be the blog that is most standard looking one with the most blogs linking to it (I often wonder whether many people linking to and respnding to posts on blogs and forums are sock puppets created by the self-same poster.) And these people prosper by scaring conformists into not being more bold in their insecurities. They want to make people afraid of just going up to people at random and asking their opinions. Insecure types are the most afraid of flaming, and the guardians of speech will call anyone being bold to express an opinion without genuflecting, etc., first to them (self-styled master of conformity) or without first posting hundreds of boring conformist posts, a "troll". It's singular, really, that the word "troll" would be used to represent someone who comes to a forum or newsgroup suddenly with a clamorous, thought-provoking post, because these guardians of the bridge into the forum are exactly like the troll in the folk tale. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when someone says a person secrectly has some fault after he argued against the fault, he in fact doesn't have the fault himself, and I must confess I find it dreadfully tedious and clueless when people tell me, e.g., that since I argue against sodomy, well, that suggests I'm homosexual; perhaps it is just a misguided attempt on the part of the shamed to fight fire with a similar fire. But the kind of people who try to be the conformist-appearing yet depraved guardians of the bridge into usegroups and forums that purportedly strive for openness, when they accuse billy-goat gruffs of being trolls, they are being just like the troll. I believe that is some sort of unconscious strategy or deception they have. I had some impression in my head of there being a popular concept of what flaming lowlifes were. It took me quite a while to realize that actually the concept is best represented by the troll in the fairy tale; somehow psychologically it didn't want to occur to me they were exactly what they call me. Anyway, the troll-like flaming of billy-goat gruffs by disgusting manipulators of conformity all too often in the blogosphere makes even quite secure people fearful of encouraging weird opinions in a discriminating way (by for instance admitting to finding them interesting by (say) linking to them).

Collaborative filtering is something I had hoped would take off more.

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