It's not only my place of business, but has also become my playground. Hell, it has for a good number of people. We defend etc as a water cooler, even if it really isn't for all intents and purposes (after all, the water cooler is usually concealed in the back room, and even then when congregation commences around the jug banter is usually quietly exchanged and isn't an all consuming, all day affair....)
That said, I have made some fabulous friendships in the Etsy forums that I think is pretty amazing since we've never actually met face to face. Say hello to the 21st century community. I've laughed with these people. I've wasted time with them. I've learned from them. I've grown with them. Just like any other relationship, only separated by the glowing computer screen and countless miles between us in “real” life.
Something happened the other day though that made me question whether it's all worth it. A member of the community was in trouble and needed help. So I answered the call, without question, and basked in the glow of good karma for all of a few hours until the blog rings, forum threads, and twitter feeds began to buzz with the snarky, largely anonymous cattiness that sought to degrade the efforts of those of us simply attempting to do some good for another individual in need. The worst part? The nastiness spread like wild fire and soon a simple, random act of kindness was reduced to a verbal civil war with factions and derogatory flames the likes of which would make even children question the maturity of the “adults” involved.
It seems we haven't really come all that far from the days of the sophomoric, wittless jabs at complete strangers on AOL pick-your-number.0 from behind ripped and photo-shopped pop culture avatars and cutesy inane screen names flanked by numbers cause all the “good” names were snatched up in the mid-90's. One would think, like anything else, the internet might evolve. Technologically it most certainly has. But it's community, for the most part, has remained a stagnant snap shot of years long passed. You tube videos are full of the useless rants of bored trolls who are simply legends in their own minds, yet we lift some of these Perez Hiltons and Joe Cockers up to the point of social network celebrity...a quite new phenomena I'd love to toss in the annals of history to be long forgotten.
It's a double edged sword.
With new media apparently, all of our opinions matter. Freedom of speech at its most unabashed. Good for the tear stained, emo loner desperately seeking attention, be it positive or negative. Bad for societal intellectuality that seems to die a little every time Larry King interviews the newest internet sensation as if to validate the preposterous musings of some tired asshat transparently lamenting celebrity whilst working their bum off at becoming that which they profess to loathe. To a lesser extent we take what some of these bloggers have to say and run with it, as if it really matters. In the end, just like this here blog post you're reading right now, it's all just personal opinion and carries no weight unless you allow it to.
The championship of hypocrisy. The downfall of intelligence. I'm at an impasse it seems. It's no secret unnecessary and trivial controversy is not only tolerated but brain candy for a large portion of the zombified masses who simply traded Jerry Springer and Maury for Twitter and blogrolls. But when I find myself caught up in it simply because of a charitable contribution, I have to take a step back from it and wonder, why?
This *isn't* Springer. No taglines that read "Pregnant hos and the midget pimps who knocked them up" are splattered across the screen to let us all know what we're getting ourselves into. And I for one kinda like that predictability.
A cautionary word to the wise who's made it this far through my admittedly extended and meandering diatribe - it's the internets people. Just a bunch of tubes and words. We could get caught up in what I've outlined above. Or we can move on. I shall do the latter. But...I will move forward with this morsel in my belt as a reminder. Don't get involved, it'll only end up hurting your head. That is all.