Educate Me

In my recent post about the kiddie swarm attacking Amy Alkon for not being politically correct, a number of comments were posted by nasty little children that never saw the light of day.  One poster, a newcomer to SJ (as is often the case when I post on a subject of interest to those not normally inclined to concern themselves with issues of criminal law) decided to take me on, and I allowed a series of his posts to show. 

He was clearly some kid who was going to teach me a lesson for trying to challenge the wisdom of the Flies.  For all I know, he may be the Lord of the Flies himself, given that his email name was “worldruler”, which, when I called him out on this detail, he responded that I was a superficial idiot to judge him for this.  Oddly, I understand his point, since every child these days believes that he’s the ruler of the world.  Or should be.

But in his final comment, he caught me by surprise, saying something that revealed far more than he could possibly realize.

It’s sad, really. You’re like Alkon, unable (or perhaps unwilling) to understand the culture of the Internet. So you take offense at our customs and violate our most sacred taboos, and when someone comes to educate you, you blow him off as a “narcissi(s)tic idiot.”
Note that one of his side issues was that I was a “regular idiot” for my failure to use spellcheck when I called him a “narcissitic idiot.”  This was a critical, and inexcusable, flaw to the child.  The old man, proud of the day he bought his first IBM Selectric II, failed to use spellcheck.  There are no typos in a spellcheck world.

For all the lawyers who’ve endured my ridicule of the Slackoisie and their mentality of entitlement and narcissism (spelled correctly without benefit of spellcheck), and who are bombarded with self-proclaimed experts telling them to change the world to make their slacker lives more fun and pleasant, this is what you are up against.  They aren’t satisfied with work/life balance.  They won’t love you because you care deeply about their global values evolution.  You can’t win their hearts by giving every one of them a trophy.

What you don’t realize, and the experts don’t know, is that they believe they already own the world.  They have their own customs.  They have their own sacred taboos.  What they are doing is educating us, the dinosaurs who still stumble around until we finally collapse and die, about how they will change everything once they seize control.  They, we are told, come from the culture of the internet.  We are history.

Some say that this is just typical generational squabbling, as our father said of us and our grandfathers of them.  It means nothing, and the children will mature when the responsibility of carrying on is placed in their hands. They will manage, as did we and our fathers before us.  This is wrong.  The World Ruler is right.  The culture of the internet has changed the game.

There can be no question that the digital world has fundamentally altered the way we exist.  It’s made information remarkably available to anyone for the asking.  It’s changed the nature of human interaction.  These are both good and bad things, but for those who grew up with the internet, it’s simply the way things are.  Much has been lost to the internet, the ability to distinguish between good information and bad, the beauty and depth of true interaction and real thought. 

The digital world has empowered every kid to believe that he’s got nothing to gain from human experience, that he not only knows everything there is to know, but is fully prepared to hold a place at the table with the rest of society from the moment his fingers can dance on a keyboard.

Many of my contemporaries won’t believe me.  Their lives haven’t changed that much.  They haven’t experienced the brilliance or wrath of the Slackoisie.  They exist in a transitory time warp, where the old continue to exist as they always have, using some of the peripheral aspects of the digital world and thinking that makes them hip and savvy.  They have no idea of the culture that has grown up around them, but of which they know little.  They laugh at kids texting, with their cute little shortcuts and emoticons.  Harmless childish stuff.

What they don’t see is the empowerment of the lowest aspects of human nature in children, their disdain for duty, responsibility and honor, quaint phrases for which no shortcuts exist because they are never uttered.  They chalk up the children’s simplistic and self-serving expressions as lack of maturity.  “They’ll grow up when it’s their turn,” they say.   What they don’t recognize is that these are children whose ideas have been reduced to 140 characters, and who will always seek an expedient way to shortcut understanding of more complex problems.  They will not find solutions because their world is built around magic bullet answers.  They are proof that H.L. Mencken was right.  They are Oscar Wilde’s cynics.  They will not learn.  They will just Google the question.

And what makes me know this?  One of the benefits, if one can call it that, of blogging is that I hear from a wide swathe of people with one thing in common.  They spend time on their computer in the digital world.  When old men try to stick their nose into this world, using the mechanisms that worked well in face to face interactions, they often appear foolish and disconnected.  To many of the Slackoisie, that’s how I appear.  I refuse to use words like “tweet”, and have been viciously castigated by children who inform me that I’m so uncool that they can’t bear to read me.  I can live with that. 

Others find that their lack of computer savvy, their reliance on personal credibility in a world where credibility no longer matters as every anonymous day-tripper believes that he’s the center of the digital universe, taints them.  Sometimes, they deserve to be treated like internet pariahs, where the only thing that stopped people from telling them that they were boors and intellectually deficient before was that it was poor form to insult someone to their face.  Now that no one need actually look into another person’s eyes, insults are easy and old fools aren’t immune from the truth any longer.

My child commenter, the World Ruler, is wrong, yet right.  There is a culture of which I am not a part.  While I may know more about it then most people of a certain age, it moves so quickly and morphs in ways I would never anticipate that it’s impossible to stay on top of it while watching from the outside.  And I have no delusion that I’m not on the outside.

By denying this is happening, by denying this is a problem, by believing that support, encouragement and acquiescence is enough to overcome the Slackoisie, we do our children a horrible disservice.  Life is not limited to what happens on a computer screen.  By the time they realize that every problem they face, and they will face as many as we did, does not have a magic bullet solution that can be expressed in 140 characters of less, they will have done themselves grievous harm.  We need to stop encouraging this now.  It’s not just a harmless prank.  If we help to perpetuate this immaturity, they will never grow up and take responsibility.

8 thoughts on “Educate Me

  1. Windypundit

    Although I’m still not entirely clear on this Slackoisie thing, I can’t believe you think all this is something new. You say it’s “empowerment of the lowest aspects of human nature”, “disdain for duty, responsibility and honor”, “simplistic and self-serving expressions”… Didn’t Cornell have a business school back when you attended? Didn’t you ever hear the students talk about their future? Didn’t many of them grow up to become your white collar clients?

  2. SHG

    And that’s why they ended up as defendants.  These are your normal, everyday Slackoisie.  Some are even amongst the best and brightest, for whatever that’s worth.  When measuring the mainstream of a generation, we try not to use the criminals of the generation preceding as the bar.

  3. RainerK

    Well Windy, If I understand it correctly, SHG is doing the unfashionable,the reactionary thing: He promotes classic values of civilization. Totally, utterly old fart values. As you know, it is multi-faceted cultural phenomena we are talking about. No amount of legislation will change it. What it takes, amongst others, is that if the members of the slackoisie find themselves unable to indulge their impulses, that’ll make them change without their realizing it.
    Age-old story, of course, the lowest common denominator is seductive because it’s so easy and convenient.
    You’ve got to chose your battles wisely, but upholding time-tested honor, veracity and decency is a battle worth fighting relentlessly. That’s what SHG is doing. Let’s all help together now.

  4. Amy Alkon

    I’m so sorry you got attacked, and I truly appreciate that you spoke out against people who’d try to hurt my book’s sales simply because they dislike my politics.

    This statement from one of the tiny thugs is truly incredible:

    It’s sad, really. You’re like Alkon, unable (or perhaps unwilling) to understand the culture of the Internet. So you take offense at our customs and violate our most sacred taboos, and when someone comes to educate you, you blow him off as a “narcissi(s)tic idiot.”

    Their “sacred taboos”? Hurl-worthy language, especially in light of what they’re talking about: Daring to criticize them for making personal attacks on people they disagree with, and doing whatever they can to destroy what those people have built. Anonymously, of course, because that’s how cowards work.

    One of their related taboos? Their victims daring to stand up for themselves in the face of their bullying. Their thinking: “Please lie down so we can victimize you, and if you don’t, we’re going to make it really bad for you.”

    Well, I don’t victimize well. I loathe bullies, and I have not a problem in the world standing up to them, which is all it takes to send the swarm of middle-aged 10-year-olds at SadlyNo into a vengeful tizzy.

    In the past, they posted hundreds of nonsense comments and comments asking about my “penis” and whether I’m “a tranny” on my site in hopes of disrupting my speech, and then, because I refused to lie down for that, they used the Tor server (for the Chinese dissidents’ Internet access) to post 30-page spam posts on my site every minute. All because they disagree with something I wrote.

    And these are grown men and women who have spent the better part of four days posting hundreds of derogatory comments about me on their site, and numerous reviews all over the page for my book on Amazon.

    Who does this sort of thing? Somebody who is bitter about having created nothing and must attack people who have. Thanks, I’ll take the old-fashioned form of civilization you’re calling for, Scott. It’s what I’m trying to bring back in the book.

  5. SHG
    Thanks Amy.  Mark Bennett provided a very good explanation for the “clash of cultures:”

    The culture clash is between those who have character in the real world, and expect others to behave with character online; and those who don’t; between those who view near-universal online anonymity as a detriment, and those who view it as a benefit.

    I think he’s right when he notes that their anonymous swarm only exists in the cyberworld. In the real world, they’re nobody.

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