The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We all agree... except for the stupid people

As you know, I "wander" about the Internet in search of discussion and debate. It is in my nature to believe I have wisdom to impart so I enter into these discussions and debates with an eye toward revealing some irrefutable "truth." Yeah, I have an ego problem. I know that and I know it is illusion. Still, I do it in spite of that knowledge about myself.

One of my observations is that there are so few of me. By that, I mean most debates and discussions are wholly one-sided. The believers on one side, the non-believers on the other. I'm not talking about the religious vs the atheists here, though that happens too, the positions are relative to the subject at hand and the orientation of the web site. There are so few neutral web sites that they seem amazing when I come across one.

I am most amused by the commenting. It reveals so much. Take Sarah Palin. She is despised by those on the Left, literally hated and ridiculed at every opportunity. So when the Huffington Post posts a report about her or an opinion column on her, the Left leaning commenters swarm the place. A short article about Palin might attract over 4000 comments. Likewise, an article or opinion piece on Obama on a Right leaning site will also attract a huge number of comments. Similar comments in each because they vilify, ridicule, and demean the subject. The mere mention of Rush Limbaugh will create a firestorm of angry and/or derisive comments.

Many of the comments will express the idea that it was a waste of pixels to print the article. That's just silly. The article drew interest, it drew comments, it attracted people.

Ok, so it's like being attracted by a train wreck but it's still an attraction. And that boosts the hit count and the hit counts are like TV or radio ratings; they provide a basis for raising advertising rates. If you think these sites aren't about making money then you are being somewhat naive. Being cynical, I suppose I have a hard time accepting such passion without that incentive. At least on the part of the site owners.

The commenting, however, is more personal and the passion is simply about the ideology. There's no pay for commenting. There is a kind of competition, however. Consider the number of "Likes" and "Fans" one can accumulate. Some web sites award stars or some status like "super user" (Huffington Post does this for one). This provides some bragging rights for the commenter. But commenting is the most passionate and visceral part of any web site. You don't have to read the article to get a feel for the target audience, just peruse the comments.

Which tells me I am onto something when I say we tend to seek reinforcement of our views. Think back, you have always surrounded yourself with like-minded friends. You didn't seek out those with whom you disagreed and make friends with them, did you? I sure didn't. Now that I think about it, I was just happy to have anyone consider me a friend, regardless of their beliefs. But, still, I surrounded myself as much as possible by those who viewed the world in much the same way. And we constantly reinforced those views for each other.

Let's just call it the herd instinct. But you and I are not like that, are we? We are broad-minded, reasonable, and calm. Totally unlike those others.

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