I'm an great shot with a rifle or pistol. I can hit an aspirin at 50 feet with a rifle, non-scoped (Try it sometime), or a man-sized mass from closer. I qualified for my expert marksman badge in basic training with no difficulty at all. You could have covered all 400 of my shots on the target at 150 feet with a coffee mug. Huah. Hey, it ain't bragging if you can back it up, right?
There some folks out here who are even better shots than me. Yep, right here on the internet. Snipers. They love to get their shots in, and see how much damage they can cause. Some folks call them Trolls. That's a good word, too. They hide under bridges and wait for Little Sally Sunshine to say something they can jump all over, and then they leap out and swallow Little Sally whole, while they ridicule her all over the 'net.
Now, this is where I get all "Old Fart" on this: The internet, though a technological marvel, has opened the door for these snipers to lower the bar for courtesy all over the world. And it's spreading to other areas of our lives.
We get to hide behind the relative anonymity of our Usernames, and launch verbal bullets, missiles, rockets, grenades, what have you, at our foes. Then we can sit back and chuckle at our cleverness, knowing that we've just blown our target's ego to smithereens. There. That will teach them to disagree with us and our vaunted position. How dare they trifle with our sacred cow.
The internet has turned into a vast tool of character assassination, and it's easy because we will most likely never be held accountable for our words or actions. Why do you think that girl didn't even care that the other girl she was cyber-bullying leaped off the top of a storage tank to her death? Murder, nice and sterile. And we don't even have to give a rat's hairy little ass, because after all, they must have been off-balance anyway. It's not our fault that they took our words to their grave with them.
I filter every comment on my blog now, because I and my fellow castaways get sniped. I might make a statement, and then I'm attacked. Not just disagreed with. Flat-out attacked, called every name in the book but a human, and of course the commenter refuses to identify themselves. "Anonymous" is one of the biggest jackwagons in history, and he's awful busy out here, running his mouth flap in new and creative ways to piss people off. So I head off those comments and delete them. I don't mind someone who disagrees with me in substance. But you'd better damned well show respect for my house when you come in as my guest. You can expect my respect in turn.
Why they do it, I don't care. It may stem from the old adage that some folks just don't feel big enough about themselves, and the only way they feel they can make themselves bigger is by making someone else smaller. Shame. I almost feel sorry for them. Almost. Really, I want to knock on every single one's door, walk in, and have a face-to-face talk about who's an adult, and why they seem to think having a Username entitles them to behave like two-year-olds in the sandbox. I wonder how many of them would hold the same attitude looking straight into my eyes.
And then they let it spill over into every other aspect of the media and our lives as well. Who else has noticed the decline of common courtesy in the last half-century? When I was a child, every professional addressed his co-workers with "Mr." or Mrs." or "Miss." I still use "sir" and "ma'am" liberally in conversation. It's important to show respect to the person with whom you are dealing. It's not even about catching flies with honey or vinegar. It's about having enough respect for the other individual as a human being, another of God's Greatest Creation, to discuss on level ground, and to debate with thoughtful dialogue. It's called "disagreeing without being disagreeable."
Look at politics today. It's spread into that arena as well. Politicians are constantly seen standing around the mike with a dozen or so of their cronies for moral support, saying the most stupid, hateful things about their opponents. It's all over Facebook, especially. "F*** the GOP, and f*** you if you voted for them," I read on a friend's page recently. I know why my friend posted it (she explained it to me once), and while I don't agree, I see her passion.
And don't get me started with this "First Amendment Free Speech" BS. I stood in the breach, ready to shed blood for your right to say what you want to, as well as my own right to say what I want to. But we need to understand, whatever you say, you damned well better be ready to stand accountable for it, and that right to say whatever you want doesn't include the right to be rude.
So, here are my House Rules: Feel free to disagree with anything I or anyone else says in my house (If you're reading this, you are in my house). Keep any and all comments polite and courteous. I do not, nor will I, tolerate disrespectful comments. They will be deleted with extreme prejudice.
While you're at it, speak to people on the web as though you were face to face with them. And while we're at that, let's speak to people face to face with a little more courtesy as well. the world could stand a little more friendly overall atmosphere.
Can we all just get along, already?