Going to try something a little different. Rather than write a longish comment in response to someone’s blog article or comment, I’m going to write a shortish article on my own blog. (Well, short for me, anyway.)
Sometimes when writing a long comment, I find myself thinking that what I’d like to say would be better served as an article rather than a typically long-winded comment. There is also that comment sections can be a bit confined space-wise, plus it’s a bit harder to include pictures or do formatting.
Over the last few days I’d noticed a number of new followers, some of whom clearly had to be spammers. As it turns out, likely most of them are. And apparently they’ve been showing up on other blogs, too.
I’ve written before about my view of spammers as a form of life so low and despicable that I would gladly support military intervention with the goal of wiping their miserable asses from the face of the Earth. Prolonged public torture designed for maximum humiliation and pain would be okay, too.
Think of the revenue some smart cable channel could obtain! I’m not big on pay-per-view, but I would definitely pony up for that! I imagine most of us would.
You may think me hateful, but that’s only because I am. Keep in mind I think many people are a waste of skin and don’t deserve free oxygen. (I’m really charming that way; you can see why everyone wants to be my friend!) But that’s just the background to my world; a form of social noise that’s plagued me all my adult life. Spammers are an entirely different matter, so far down the social food chain that words fail. None are quite vile enough!
It wasn’t until I read Michelle’s article that the round fully entered the breech. The absurd spammer comments are easily handled. WordPress does an outstanding job of catching almost every one. I think I’ve only spotted two pending comments I recognized—and marked—as spam.
The gratuitous, “like me back” Likes are easily ignored, and the reality is that so are the “other agenda” Follows. Frankly, if you Like an article of mine, or if you Follow my blog, it means very little to me. I may get around to checking out your blog one of these days.
What gets my attention and interest are those who comment. I follow most (if not all) of the bloggers who comment on my blog. And I comment, often a lot, on the blogs I follow. I’m very much about the exchange of ideas and thinking. I most respect those capable of carrying on a meaningful, thoughtful conversation.
Anyway, it all got me to thinking again about how the internet has changed. I started writing a longish comment in response to our first exchange, and then decided not to pollute other waters. Since I have a new High Bile policy here, this is the appropriate place to spew.
So here is the comment that grew up to be an article:
There was a real sea change when we went from internet to interweb.
Used to be basically three groups: Teachers, Talkers and Listeners. Teachers offered free, often extremely valuable content (I consider myself a member of that group). Talkers reacted to that comment or chatted, debated, fought and trolled among themselves (that was the social component back then). And the Listeners just lurked and absorbed it all.
There were some self-promoters, although usually what they prompted was free stuff. Many of us offered free tools and ideas, and many of us benefited from the free tools and ideas of others (one of the best graphics apps I ever used is still freely available, and so is my favorite text editor).
Teachers is actually the subset of Givers, people who offer their work to the world freely and honestly. Whether it be the world’s most complete collection of elephant jokes or how to build a crystal radio or useful bits of source code, there are those who share their experience, education and knowledge. (And they are the ones I love and revere the most.)
Blogs (“web logs”) are kind of a new wrinkle. Some of them clearly fall into the Teachers category, and even more into the larger Givers category. For many it’s a form of self-expression or art. When given freely, they are Givers, and perhaps most bloggers fall under this rubric. There is a spectrum, I think, from Teachers offering knowledge (the highest form) to “online public diary” (the lowest form, but actually exactly what “blogs” started off as).
When it comes to those OPDs, it depends on the personality, nature, background and writing skill of the author. As with many modern actors, who largely just play themselves, you’ll like the blog (actor) if you like the person. As I say in my Disclaimer, I find interesting “the cynical, the edgy, the fractured and the outsiders.” (Intelligence and education is the minimum requirement.)
Not many Teachers left, although Talkers have multiplied enormously. One presumes that so have Listeners. Or perhaps it’s that there are so many Talkers and others that their numbers swamp the Teachers. Sadly, often when you search for information now, what you get is many hits of others asking the same or similar question and then lots of hits of others punting on the answer. The amount of misinformation out there now is astonishing!
Even the larger group, the Givers, seems swamped by the Talkers, but these venerable groups have lost considerable ground to a new group: the Sellers.
And for my money, the fucking Sellers have ruined the internet.
Most major webpages now look like NASCAR cars with advertising crammed into every available inch of space. Those ads jitter and jangle to get your attention, making one feel as if one has walked into a Vegas casino.
(They also record your browsing habits, by the way. If the same ad vendor places their ads on completely different websites, they can detect you’ve visited both.)
You all know, right, that it was the porn industry that led the way, inventing the technology of reasonably secure commerce over the ‘web. Everyone who sells over the ‘web owes a debt to porn.
There is a sub-group of Sellers that self-promotes (just like in the olden days), but which now charges for their wares. I call this group Hookers. (That isn’t quite as pejorative as one might think. I have nothing against adults who voluntarily choose to sell their body. To me it’s part of a spectrum that includes, for example, master chefs who also sell their personal skills. Or me, for that matter, since that’s mainly what I have to offer.)
You do (almost) have to admire their persistence and creativity. Spam comments provide some amusement as they wheedle on your ego. (The giveaway, of course, is they compliment without ever actually mentioning any of your content.) I’m not the first to notice the new tactics of insulting you or of complaining about how your page loads slow. It’s all designed to evoke a reaction or to at least somehow look legit.
You sometimes wonder why they seem so incredibly inept and downright stupid in their attempts. Turns out that’s part of the tactic: they know smart people will ignore them anyway. The lameness is deliberately meant to weed those out leaving only the truly under-educated and thought-impaired as their target.
The good news is that WordPress does seem to weed many of these out. When I sometimes do check out the blogs of those lurking, mute Likers and Followers, I often find their page doesn’t exist anymore. Bravo, WordPress!
And thus ends my 1300+ word count “comment.”