I'm turning over a new leaf concerning my involvement on the Internet (although sometimes I feel that I am turning over so many new leaves that it is eternally autumn) and although it is a simple and almost childish thing, I am putting it down here in writing for my own benefit in hopes that I continue to follow it.
Virtually all correspondence on the Internet is anonymous and the truth is that we may be temporarily contacting a type of person that we would never willingly stand within 100 feet of in real life. I think of being on the Internet as somewhat similar to riding a Los Angeles Metro Bus, which I sometimes did, for example, when my car was in the shop. But riding a Metro bus is to be packed jostling body-to-body for a horrendous, extremely uncomfortable hour, hour and a half commute with people you just might not want to ever associate with for even a moment, let alone having your entire body pressed tightly against them for an eternity. So now whenever my car is in the shop, I rent a car.
I want to apply an "escape" similar to that regarding my use of the Internet, and this particularly pertains to forums, discussions, comments, and book and movie reviews within which I might participate. It is nearly impossible to read a list of comments on any subject without coming away from the experience being thoroughly revolted by some of the participants--"Who are these people?" and "Keep them away from me, please!"
In the several years that I have been extensively participating on the Internet, I have NEVER EVER seen a person change his point of view during a discussion. There is absolutely no learning, no compromises, no coming together of minds, no progress at all, just an ever-increasing spiral of filth and spittle. It's all about you extending an opinion to an anonymous stranger and then him spitting in your face something vile in response, not only disagreeing with your opinion, but also casting aspersions against your character. What's the point of it, really? If what I was interested in was cock fights, then where you would find me would be in some seedy part of town putting my money on some poor razor-blade-legged rooster. Since that's about as far from my personality as anything I can imagine, what am I doing wasting my time discussing things on the Internet with people who are, in my opinion (as far as the type of people I would willingly associate with), just as objectionable?
So I'm simply not going to do it anymore. Oh yes, I will still leave comments, reviews, my opinion, and I will also carry on a discussion with somebody worth discussing things with, but regarding this other type of person, I will simply ignore them. This is a hard thing for me to do, and in the past, I have been far too easily drawn into further escalating discussions until I can't stand the involvement any more. This has been very stupid of me, but I have learned from the experience and it is now at an end.
One of my favorite people of all time was American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In his day, he was a controversial figure (and actually still is) as many highly creative and innovative people are and he was forced to receive a lifetime of bile from other architects, critics, and various other people who just didn't understand. He was interviewed by Mike Wallace in a series of television programs and one of the questions Wallace asked him was what did he think about or do about this kind of person. And I loved his answer so much that I would like to see it carved into stone: "They don't matter. I realize that I am not for them, and they are not for me." And that ended the matter. Why should this man be interrupted in his progress by stepping into a pile of dog do? He'd just wipe his feet and move on. I absolutely love that attitude.