virus: Why swim upstream? (was: Re: Not Homophobic)

Tim Rhodes (
Fri, 11 Jun 1999 01:06:54 -0700

David wrote:

>Sorry, I wasn't paying attention to this thread (for hopefully
>obvious reasons)....

>Please don't try to censor through insults. It never works
>and the list quickly degenerates into flamewars.

And is THAT the kind of list we want here?!?

(Hmmmm... Wait a minute... Back-up... ) Maybe that shouldn't be such a flip smartass question after all. (?) Maybe it is a serious question worth asking:

At the end of the day, isn't it really the petty arguments, the verbal sparring, the rare chance to slam-dunk some stupid ignorant yokel, that keeps bringing us back for more? Shouldn't we all just admit that?

Lately I haven't been participating as much on the list as I have in the past. I can't seem to get into the rhythm of it anymore. All the arguments sound the same and the bickering just gets on my nerves. I doubt that the overall content of the posts have changed substantially. But maybe I have.

One of the things I'm really good at is arguing. (Which will come as no surprise to many of you, I'm sure.) I have a flare for it and I often just enjoy a good argument for its own sake, regardless of the outcome one way or the other. But lately I'm becoming more and more aware of how I argue, my learned responses that keep popping-up again and again out of habit, and how these shape the conversations I'm a part of. And, frankly, I don't like it one bit.

It's a struggle. I spend more time rewriting than writing lately. I've deleted more of my posts than I've sent and I still can't seem to pull it off. I watch helplessly as the few conversations I do engage in here degrade into petty infighting before my very eyes. And that's the real problem, not that it's happening--it probably always has been--but now, sadly, I can see it when it happens. I know when I'm just fanning the flames; when any response I can make will be misunderstood anyway. And it is _so very_ frustrating to watch a conversation head down that path and knowing that I either helped send it there or was simply unable to stop its eventual downward slide.

Yes, there are a few of you out there fighting the tide. (I suspect y'all know who you are.) I see it. And it does give me some hope. I know how hard it is to offer the measured, thoughtful response, so I enjoy it all the more when I see someone go out of their way to be civil when they don't have to. It can be done. But one thing remains discouraging--it's that those wonderful, patient and thoughtful responses just don't seem to be the ones that are begetting more responses.

And maybe that's just the way it's always been. So I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised if, at the end of my day, it's really those petty arguments and the verbal sparring and that rare chance to slam-dunk some ignorant moron for his cherished, but oh-so-foolhardy, ideas that keeps bringing me back here for more and more of the same.

-Prof. Tim