Hobby Horses and Knee-Jerk Jerks
Aug. 21, 2012
The rise of the Web has increased the amount of trash, but also the amount of great material. It has opened the door to geniuses who could never have found an outlet in the old mainstream media world. But the number of jerks and crude jackasses has skyrocketed.
From the early days of the blog forums, the comments revealed crudity, incompetence, hostility, and general jackassery on a scale that had never been seen. These were the flamers. Opinionated, sometimes foul-mouthed, these fools had never been able to see their opinions in a public place. They can take over entire forums.
I think anonymity is a big part of this. They feel unrestrained.
They are everywhere. They think others will read them and learn. I cannot imagine why they think this. I make it a point not to read public forums, except for Amazon comments. There, the level of commentary is quite high. Somehow, the flamers do not show up.
The comments on YouTube reveal an amazing degree of stupidity. On my YouTube channel, I block all postings. I do not want to become a target of fools.
On Membergate sites, which are geared to paid membership, you have to pay to post. This screens out the crazies and most of the flamers. Flamers are "free access only" people. Ask them to pay anything, and they go away.
The trouble with email is that the same sorts of people now have a way to spout off. The cost of a stamp used to screen them.
This raises another issue: people who ride hobby horses. For decades, I have been sent letters by people whose only ability is to ride a hobby horse. They get a burr under their saddle, and they rock back and forth wildly. Then they fall off.
These people may not be fools. They are narrowly focused. They are usually ideological, or in some way "true believers." They are the flotsam and jetsam of every movement. They impede the movement. They give it a black eye. They represent it, or so they say.
The burr under their saddles is always the same: someone writes something that seems to be opposed to their hobby horse.
They send a fiery letter telling the author -- a complete stranger -- that he understands nothing.
They have a characteristic weakness: they do not know how to understand what they read. As soon as an article gets close to their hobby horse, they start writing a response. It does not matter that the author has said nothing anything like what they accuse him of having written. In their fury at the attack on their hobby horse, they lash out.
Then they fall off.
I got an email yesterday.
Gary, [first name, as if I knew him]
This guy is my congresscreep. He is a bigger liar than Barrack. He voted for TARP when the calls were coming in 25-1 against it. Then in Nov 08, just two months later he claimed he opposed it on his radio ads. The Ron Paul crowd ran a democrat against him due to the neocon captivity of our Republican district which includes the "famed" Paris Island Marine base. Joe Wilson is NOT any more of a TeaParty type than Alan West. He doesn't even approach the "conservative" [sic] status of warmonger Jim Deming who at least has some fiscal restraint (except for the military idol). Joe Wilson is a self entitled blowhard that renders mediocre constituent service at best and "delights at being called 'Raboni' in the marketplace". The article you linked to was a puff piece designed to inebriate the masses. Calling Wilson a TeaParty type is about the equivalent as calling Mitt Romney a pro-lifer. RINO… neocon, blowhard and big spender are much more fitting terms.
What was this in response to? An article on fund-raising by politicians with an ideological outlook. I began with an example.
Remember Joe Wilson? He is the Congressman who ungraciously called Obama a liar when the President told a non-truth. You may recall how he was pilloried by the media: "Shame! Shame!"
He later said that other Congressmen came up to him and asked what they could yell at the President to raise donations. Maybe they were kidding, but word got out fast.
It was not a shame for his "Re-elect Joe Wilson" fund. He cried all the way to the bank. From all over the nation, Republicans who think Obama is a liar started donating to his campaign.
That was all I wrote about Wilson. Then I went on to talk about Ron Paul's 2007 "money bomb."
My point was that the local mainstream media cannot hurt these people with attacks. Donors outside their districts who share their views send them money.
People who hold an extreme view find that their incumbent Congressman cannot be beaten. Maybe he is gerrymandered into lifetime employment as a politician. So, what can they do to support their cause? Send money to a Congressman who holds their views. It's a way of protesting.
I think my point was clear. But it was not clear to the knee-jerk jerk.
Did I imply, let alone say, that Wilson is a Tea Party activist? Yet the letter writer assures me: "Joe Wilson is NOT any more of a TeaParty type than Alan West."
The letter-sender is your standard knee-jerk jerk hobby-horse rider. He has no influence, because he is a jerk. But he cannot stop. He wants to defend his hobby horse.
If you get involved in any form of local political action, do not become closely associated with a knee-jerk jerk. You will hurt your cause if you do. Whenever you find one, avoid him.
Usually, they keep quiet in meetings. They confine their rants to emails and anonymous blogs.
I warn activists: Do not ride a hobby horse. There are so many policies that need to be repealed. Don't think that yours is the center piece. There is a forest of them.
Do not fire off letters to strangers, unless they are elected officials. If they are, be reasonable. They will know you are a powerless jerk with no associates if you send a hobby-horse defending screed.
What works is determined, dedicated, long-term action in the shadows. It takes patience. It involves getting the skills required to stand out as a top performer in your field. People respect competence. Don't waste time sending know-it-all letters to experts in their field. You will only alienate them.
Copy Dale Carnegie. Don't copy anonymous flamers.