What people are we? Hidden in plain sight. Who dare not go
out in our true clothing? Dare not show our true colours.
No. We cower behind aliases and pseudonyms and user IDs – we shroud ourselves in anonymity then sally forth into battle imagining ourselves as some sort of Black Knight or Lone Ranger entering the fray when we are merely bystanders, crowd members, baying voices in the mobs that create the noise of the internet.
And who then are the real combatants? For it is surely combat this feels like. There is precious little healing going on. No hands across oceans, no meeting of minds for grand endeavour… at best an isolated soul can find a kindred spirit and perhaps a small suffering is alleviated thereby.
But is this rare? Or is this happening all the time and it is simply too quiet an event, too subtle for us all to notice in the tumult that is modern day communication?
How did we all get to be so angry… constantly?
Imagine, if you will, that you could hear the internet… all the time. Would it not drive you mad? Well, in a way, we can. It is on our social media, it is on our historic media, it’s on the page and in the airwaves. Then, even if you were to avoid all of that, your friends arrive and promptly start repeating all that they have seen and read. It is endless. As if a mass of people had shown up at your house and just simply started banging on the windows and shouting through the letter box.
We are constantly bombarded and the resulting disorientation leads us, understandably to dissatisfaction at best and utter fury at worst.
And is this anger not the cause of even more anger?
When someone shouts at me do I not respond in kind?
Of course I do.
And so no wonder we enter the fray in a guise other than our own. No wonder we buckle on the armour. We have moved the public discourse of the forum across the city into the colosseum and we sit, waiting for someone to be fed to the lions, baying for blood with the rest of the crowd.
We’re not there to hear the information. We’re there to pick a side in the hopes that our side wins and we can feel better for the slightest fraction of a second or morally superior for even longer when someone says something we don’t like.
But the plebs attending the colosseum had a a few advantages over us in this regard. Actually way more than a few but let’s ignore things like the weather and cheap tickets and just take the biggies.
Anonymity – Sure Claudius Drusus sitting next to you might just remember your face and think badly of your language but for the most part the poor christian in the pit isn’t going to remember you after the lion does get him. Also the lion doesn’t care either. Whereas in our internet you either take time to ensure your anonymity or that drunken tweet comes back to bite you on the arse later.
It was a social thing – you weren’t sitting in your domus and shouting at the slaves. You went to an event – it was a day out – where you got to shout at someone else’s slaves. Here and now you are just annoying the family.
It was obvious who was paying. If a senator or consul decided to sponsor a few games they did it openly. It was the equivalent of a political action committee. Julius for Senate! No sneaky viral attack ads here, no Russian trolls – just a bit of wild boar hunting and prisoners v leopards.
The more I think about it the more I like the colosseum better. We should ban political spending and advertising on the TV. Make them pay for local events where the politicians can come and sit with us as we watch PR men and hackers slug it out in the ring.
With added lions, naturally.
Can I just ask those that know me and live close by? Can we do less in Colosseum and more in the real world? I know some are spread far and wide but can we make time, this year, to just meet for a while?
The best things I did last year I did in the real world. Went to a Grand Prix or a protest march or even just round to a pal’s to watch a football match. A dinner with friends or a night out… a card game. These are the times new memories are made (when we can remember) and even though I do things online a fair bit I cannot count one single thread on facebook or twitter amongst the top 100 events from last year or any year.
It seems that ‘social’ became a fast thing, An easy thing, that is done whilst sitting in your shorts and wearing your oldest t-shirt
I’m sure social isn’t supposed to be that.
Thumbs up if you agree. Thumbs down if I should be put to the sword.
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