11/04/2004

Confessions of a Web Addict

Hi.
My name is Ruth and I'm a web addict.


It's terrible.
Yesterday, on one of my preferred communities, I came perilously close to trolling an inexperienced debater. She was simply too easy a target.
"Bush won! The world is going to end! The democratic process has failed! The people voted wrong!"
How could I resist?
And there I was, hitting refresh as I waited for her next, very predictable response, two or three steps ahead of her, laying my bait.
Besides, I had to work late anyway.
As I drove home, I found myself thinking of possible responses, arguments, witty replies and so forth.
And there it was.
My old habit.
I thought it had died.
It makes you feel like a hunter.
I began thinking about the old days of bb.net. What a great community that was. It's too bad it's gone. I am not the only person who misses "the good old days." I still keep in touch with some of the original group. It's interesting to reminisce about shared online experiences.

Dr. Alan Kay once said everyone is a communication junkie. That description of the human need to communicate and interact with other individuals may not be far from the truth. In his book "The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier," Rheingold describes a community experience he once had. A member of one his communities used to tell the most outrageous stories, that he knew millionaires and famous people. He was one of those disruptive individuals that used to annoy everyone with his obnoxious behaviour. When he told the group he had a crack problem, no one believed him. He claimed that the group was now filling the void his crack addiction had.
And then, after many months of absense from the community, this fellow died. He had returned to his old crack habit, and accidentally killed himself by overdosing.
Rheingold, among others from the community, went to his funeral.
Imagine their surprise when they discovered everything this fellow said was true.
In her book "The Psychology of the Internet," Patricia Wallace also tells a few interesting anecdotes of communitiy experiences she has had.

Manwe is up to its eyeballs in presidential debates. Many months ago, however, someone asked why people would argue and debate. Responses ranged from learning, to sharpening their wit, to the desire for basic interaction with others, but the underlying need to meet and communicate was always there. Many members hone their skills against particular "worthy opponents." Nearly everyone says things they could not possibly get away with in public at least once.
It's curious though.
TORc is trying to have their annual awards ceremony.
Most of Manwe is not interested and very few members have voted.
This particular portion of the community doesn't need a badge to tell them they are good. You just know.
When someone you know is probably smarter than you finally caves and says "That was brilliant," you know you're good.
Most of the community aims for that, the respect of their peers and intellectual equals or superiors.
Those who cannot argue or cannot express themselves in an articulate manner are ignored. It's harsh, too harsh for some, but that's reality. When you enter Manwe, you have to learn to leave your emotions at the door, and learning can be hard work.

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