Monday, April 16, 2012

Getting Along

One of the more tiresome things in life is the adage to "get along."  It is quite prevalent on the Internet.  Personally I would like to see the meme eschewed.  The last thing Internet discourse needs is more getting along.  What it needs is more civility.  The last thing it needs is more hosannas offered to jerks.  Getting along is about how much garbage you can tolerate until you tell someone to go fly a kite.  Civility is about arguing in good faith and recognizing that one may share a mutual interest with one's enemy.  Take for a example the relationship between unions and management.  They are portrayed as adversarial.  The thing is that management and unions get along about 95% of the team.  The leadership of both tend to be chummy even.  But when it comes to negotiation time, they each recognize their interests and negotiate for them.  Things can even get heated.  But at the end of the day, there is the recognition of mutual interest.  With Internet debate, there is all too often no mutual interest.  When there is no mutual interest, what is being discussed is often trivial or neither party has real power to effect change on the matter.  This is where you get professional arguers.  This is why so much of Internet debate becomes little more than squabbling entertainment.  It isn't about knowledge or truth.

What needs to occur is for people to recognize their own interest and their community's interest.  Much of present life in the United States is about recognizing abstract interests.  It is a shame that self interest has devolved into a Randian interest in the abstract self.  Everyone gets to be John Galt for the day.  It is pathetic.  It gets really pathetic when you are losing but you attempt to come up with some scheme to think you are really benefiting.  At my university there have been significant cut backs and there are still a large number of students who won't even make the concession that it is bad for the university.  I'm not merely speaking of a prudential calculus where one states that bad is happening but it is better than the alternative.  There is the actual absence of recognition that anything ill has occurred.  I cannot fathom where this idealism has sprung, but it needs to go away.

Abstractions are killing us.  Freedom of speech for example is little more than the toleration of jerks and pornography.  If you desire either, it isn't for me to tell you otherwise, but for the love of all that is holy, let us not pretend that there is some cosmic reason to do so.  Even the prudential calculus from the historical perspective is largely hogwash.  For most of the world's history, jerks weren't tolerated.  For much of the world's history, pornography and public solicitation have not been tolerated publicly.  Again, if you like being able to download Internet pornography, more power to you, but please do not act like your act is furthering some public interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Policy:
1. Comments should enrich the blog.
2. Don't worry about policing comments. Those that don't enrich the blog will eventually be removed.
3. Feel free to use the guestbook if you want to leave an off topic message.