The Great Weirding of New Media

Our society has become dominated by new kinds of media. One one level, we have a return to the image, in replacing or subverting or altering the written word, by way of cable tv, 24/7 news, Youtube, numerous streaming services, etc. But that isn’t quite correct. Even as the image has retaken territory within the psyche and the media world, the 21st century has seen a simultaneous rise in the consumption of text. More books are being published now than ever before in history. That is on top of the endless and overwhelming stream of news articles, long-form essays, the blogosphere, social media, email, and texting. There are comment threads on Reddit that are so long that, if printed out, would fill an entire multi-volume encyclopedia.

All media has increased, as unmediated experience has gone on a rapid decline. Even when people are together physically and in person, there are quite likely to be multiple devices that are offering diversion and distraction. In the middle of a conversation or debate while sitting with friends at home or chatting with a coworker over lunch, someone is likely to settle an issue or answer a question or throw in a factoid by turning to their smartphone. All the world is at your fingertip; well, all the world that conforms to the constraints of new media. Our minds are constantly aflutter with both word and image, if not so much the direct human relating that defined humanity for so long. If media is the message, what does it mean to have all of this addictive, compulsive, and obsessive, immersive, and always accessible media?

There have been a number of scholars who have explored how changes in media are closely tied into changes in culture and mentality — there is Marshall McLuhan, Walter J. Ong, Julian Jaynes, and Jean Gebser, to name a few. All of them agreed that media has the power to destabilize and transform societies, but none of them had formed their theories in analyzing media in the 21st century. They were prescient in many ways, that is true. Still, I’m not sure any of them was able to come close in predicting the full extent and impact of what media would become in the not too distant future that we are now living in. How could they?

There is something strange about the internet, in particular. There is such an ease of access to other humans, in being able to talk with people anywhere in the world. Even for those who only speak one language like English, much of the world’s population can communicate with them. But this means most interactions online have an arbitrary or random quality about them, in that the price of admission is low. It can feel like there is little at stake. The connections made are usually fleeting with the people interacting likely never meeting again. The quality of sitting alone and silently with text on a screen has similarities to talking to oneself or being lost in one’s own thoughts — it creates shallow intimacy, a sense of sharing that is only words deep. Besides, such sharing is rarely reciprocated, as there is this constant reticence and pulling away from these shadowy others lurking at the periphery of one’s mind (personal space is amorphous, shifting, and porous when online; this can be unsettling).

The human desire to connect draws one in, but typically leaves one dissatisfied or worse. It creates social conditions that are extremely unnatural, distorting, and anxiety-inducing. So much of the normal context of interactions are removed, not only the sensory experience of lived perception and behavioral observations of being in the embodied presence of others but also the shared environmental and cultural context that offers cues, norms, roles, expectations, and such. Even videos, be it Youtube or Zoom, create an odd situation in the hyper-focus on the face; and seeing one’s own image while talking lends an agitating self-consciousness, as if one is performing on a stage.

Text without video isn’t better as it can lead to an insular unawareness of others, as if one is talking to oneself while the people on the other side of the screen aren’t quite present or, at best, that they are a mere audience to one’s monologue (this is magnified by the tendency of text to induce abstract thought, whether in how people get caught up in ideologies or in how they reify their ideas, in either case making it harder to differentiate between thought and reality). Along with anonymity, this is a probable contributing factor to disinhibition in people acting in ways and saying things they otherwise would not. If one expresses online that one’s feelings were hurt as one might do in normal life with a friend who said something unkind or careless, one is unlikely to receive sympathy or even acknowledgement, much less an apology and contrition — to expect any human warmth from other humans online is treated as naive, pathetic, and laughable. That is how low our standards have become.

The human quality that exists in almost any other situation is missing when people pull on the masks of their online identities. That latter issue is most apparent in a blog such as this. The blogger is an unknown entity, as is each new commenter. There is often a heavy guardedness to such interactions where everyone is ready to retreat, attack, or evade — sometimes a near total lack of the basic goodwill and casual trustfulness that is more common in person, the lack occasionally verging on paranoia about the intentions of the other. The internet can be a harsh and unforgiving social environment, a playground where our worst impulses are unleashed.

More often than one would prefer, people online say what they otherwise would not and in ways they would not if they were talking to a living, breathing, feeling person right in front of them. Such ways of treating others can come across as quite unfriendly, often passively indifferent and apathetically unsympathetic, but sometimes downright cruel or trollish, aggressive and confrontational. Yet at other times, one leaves a comment and gets no response at all, even when attempting to be friendly in inviting connection. And because of the practice of drive-by commenting, even responding to a comment won’t necessarily elicit dialogue. This kind of behavior of one-way talking would never happen in most other situations in life (Would you drive around your town yelling at strangers? Would you knock at people’s doors, blurt out your political opinions or pet theory, and then run away? Would you harangue and criticize random people at a store and then act shocked or outraged by their negative response? Would you stand on a street corner giving a monologue to a passing crowd about your relationship problems or the movie you just saw?). One-way behavior in general is indicative of power inequality where one has no social obligation or moral responsibility to the other who is perceived as inferior in value or of lesser position. This othering effect can be quite profound and disconcerting.

It’s not only strangers that are pulled into this great weirding of new media (the “great weirding” is related to what some refer to as the “global weirding”). Similar interactions or rather non-interactions happen with people one personally knows, including family. You text, email, or Facebook chat someone as a friendly gesture of conversation. Under normal conditions in talking face-to-face, this person you know would immediately acknowledge you said something and respond. But the social norms of relating well don’t translate outside of the directly interpersonal sphere. One loses count of how often no response is ever given, even when it shows the person viewed what you sent them. Could you imagine meeting your brother or a neighbor you’ve known for years, casually saying something to them as an easygoing conversation-starter, have them stand their silently as if you said nothing at all, and then watching them walk away as if you weren’t there? Yet that is the equivalent of what happens with new media on a regular basis. Most people don’t seem to recognize how utterly bizarre this is.

This lack of basic recognition of another’s humanity, of course, is far worse with those met online without any prior personal contact. Most of the internet is not people fighting but ignoring each other, as if people of different identities, views, and ways of speaking don’t matter or don’t exist. A large part of online commentary occurs with little or any response — it’s echos in the void, a vast seething swarm of humanity mostly talking to themselves or else to those who already agree with them, which is the same difference. That is how it can feel at times. Maybe this is why so many seek out conflict, simply to be acknowledged at all. This is how people can become trollish without consciously intending to do so. Trolling is often more of a mentality one falls into than an identity one embraces. Any attention can be good attention, to all those isolated individuals hidden behind their keyboards amidst the lonely masses in their not-always-quiet desperation.

We humans are social creatures — we need the social as we need air and water; we long for human contact and relationship. Here is the rub: Social conditions determine our social behavior. But millions of years of hominid evolution happened in a far different kind of environment than we’ve created in recent generations. Social behavior requires social input. Mindreading others (i.e., social cognition) requires the development of a mental map of others. This is called theory of mind, but there is an interesting and informed speculation. It appears that, as children, we develop a theory of mind of others before we develop a theory of mind for ourselves. That is to say our self-concept is a model that mirrors and internalizes our developing perception and understanding that comes through relationship. The other becomes the self. And so the others we are surrounded by are powerfully influential — as your mother told you, pick carefully who you associate with, including the strangers you interact with. “Let me explain,” writes Augustin Fuentes (Are We Really as Awful as We Act Online?).

“We’ve all heard the diet-conscious axiom “You are what you eat.” But when it comes to our behavior, a more apt variation is “You are whom you meet.” How we perceive, experience, and act in the world is intensely shaped by who and what surround us on a daily basis—our families, communities, institutions, beliefs, and role models. These sources of influence find their way even into our neurobiology. Our brains and bodies constantly undergo subtle changes so that how we perceive the world plays off of, and maps to, the patterns of those people and places we see as most connected to us. This process has deep evolutionary roots and gives humans what we call a shared reality. The connection between minds and experiences enables us to share space and work together effectively, more so than most other beings. It’s in part how we’ve become such a successful species.

“But the “who” that constitutes “whom we meet” in this system has been changing. Today the who can include more virtual, social media friends than physical ones; more information absorbed via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram than in physical social experiences; and more pronouncements from ad-sponsored 24-hour news outlets than from conversations with other human beings. We live in complicated societies structured around political and economic processes that generate massive inequality and disconnection between us. This division alone leads to a plethora of prejudices and blind spots that segregate people. The ways we socially interact, especially via social media, are multiplying exactly at a time when we are increasingly divided. What may be the consequences?

This is where new media short-circuits our normal cognitive and affective functioning. If we can’t fully experience the other with all of our senses, our ability to read them is crippled. Pushed to the extreme, our ability to read ourselves can also go offline as we go online. The signalling we depend on disappears and so might much of our self-awareness. The person on Twitter or wherever might not be an intentional asshole or troll. Rather, in a sense, they might be lashing out in social blindness. And the same goes for us. That is the thing about the internet. It creates the social conditions of social unawareness for people who likely have little ability to handle this well. Someone who spent their whole life blind can walk down a city street and not get run over. But put blindfolds on crowds of sighted people and they’ll be running into each other and they won’t be happy about it. Then imagine what happens when you also put blindfolds onto those driving the cars. Well, that is what the internet is like.

By the way, some studies indicate that internet trolls may not be as socially blind as some but they are psychologically deaf, in not emotionally hearing their targets and victims except in the most exaggerated forms of emotional response. Interestingly, though lacking affective empathy, trolls actually measured high on cognitive empathy, which is to say they understand human behavior well enough for purposes of manipulation while being emotionally numb to the consequences — to put it simply, they know where to jab the knife for greatest hurt (Evita March, Psychology of internet trolls). On the other hand, “trolls displayed low levels of emotional and social intelligence” (Neil Graney, Is internet trolling simply replacing the violence we used to see on the football terraces?). Trolls are both stupid and smart in relating to others — call them stupid-smart. The other person remains psychologically unreal to them and so they just don’t get what all the fuss is about (it’s all about the lulz). Keep in mind, though, that anyone can be prone to trolling, particularly when a precedent of trolling has been set in a particular situation (Justin Cheng et al, Anyone Can Become a Troll) — this is maybe why trolls seem to proliferate and take over comment threads. It’s a virulent mind virus.

Outright trolling behavior (Dark Tetrad: psychopathic, sadistic, narcissism, Machiavellian) aside, what we perceive as anti-social behavior may often be better understood as non-social behavior, that is to say normal responses to abnormal conditions. It’s a reality-warping effect. We become disconnected to a radically extreme degree because most of the key markers of reality perception are missing; and so we relate without fully relating, something we’ve all experienced in the regular irritations, conflicts, and miscommunications of the internet. What one sees on a screen might not feel psychologically and viscerally real, even as intellectually we know there are real people involved living real lives in the real world. This effect can be subtle in unconsciously creeping up on us after spending long periods on the computer or scrolling our smartphone, as is common these days between work and home. It can take immense effort of reality monitoring (combining self-awareness and social awareness) to counter this sense of derealization. About why this psychological slippage happens, Alan Martin wrote (Online disinhibition and the psychology of trolling):

“Psychologist John Suller wrote a paper on this in 2004, entitled “The Online Disinhibition Effect”, where he explored six factors that could combine to change people’s behaviour online. These are dissociative anonymity (“my actions can’t be attributed to my person”); invisibility (“nobody can tell what I look like, or judge my tone”); asynchronicity (“my actions do not occur in real-time”); solipsistic Introjection (“I can’t see these people, I have to guess at who they are and their intent”); dissociative imagination (“this is not the real world, these are not real people”); and minimising authority (“there are no authority figures here, I can act freely”). The combination of any number of these leads to people behaving in ways they wouldn’t when away from the screen, often positively — being more open, or honest — but sometimes negatively, abusing their fellow internet users in ways they wouldn’t dream of offline.

“Internet psychologist Graham Jones believes that to a certain extent the kind of aggressive behaviour often seen online happens in the real world. “Having said that, there is a feature of the online world that makes such negative behaviour more likely than in the real world,” he says. “In the real world people subconsciously monitor the behaviour of others around them and adapt their own behaviour accordingly… Online we do not have such feedback mechanisms. These feedback mechanisms can be body language, facial expressions or more obvious cues, but a recent study at the Univeristy of Haifa revealed that those who had to maintain eye contact were half as likely to be hostile as those who had the eyes hidden. The lead author of the study, Noam Lapidot-Lefler, believes this is because eye contact “helps you understand the other person’s feelings, the signals that the person is trying to send you.”

Some people are more skillful in handling this psychological crippling of online environments. They might have learned greater social intuition about personality and behavior from some kind of atypical life experience or professional training. Or because of some lucky combo of nature and nurture, they might’ve always been extraordinarily calm, accepting, gracious, and forgiving toward others. But for most of us, we continually bump into one another and then immediately blame the other, likely even giving them a good whack to teach them a lesson and complain mightily when they whack us back, that is if we manage to even slightly recognize and appreciate their humanity and existence. One might like to think that one is above average in interpersonal skills and moral character, unlike all those other social morons and lowly reprobates, but the fact of the matter is most people are not above average. And in the social blindness of the online world, the standard social ability of the average is already quite low.

It’s actually worse than described since, as the deficient social signaling can make us socially blind, we can be socially blind to the fact that we’re socially blind, not recognizing ourselves in the mirror of our own projections — a self-enclosed obliviousness and self-reinforcing obtuseness. Imagine all those normally sighted people with blindfolds on and not realizing they are blinded, going about their lives as if they could see. That causes much psychological confusion and interpersonal havoc, further exacerbating the sense of the great weirding and at times magnified to the level of the political and even geopolitical (President Donald Trump being the great example). Welcome to the new media world! Think of it as an opportunity for a steep learning curve. Keep all of this in mind. If you can recognize you’re in a situation of social blindness and surrounded by the socially blind, you are already ahead in the game. Maybe don’t react so quickly, withhold that initial impulse to judge, pause and take a breath. Maybe give the other person the benefit of the doubt and assume the best, as you’d like them to do for you. People sometimes just have bad days, even when the antagonism of new media weirding isn’t involved. Simply put, be kind and forgiving.

We are going to need all the compassion we can muster, as we move forward in this new media society of heavily mediated reality. The changes in media are going to happen faster and faster with impacts and consequences we won’t be able to imagine or predict. It’s guaranteed we won’t handle it well. The stress of society will fracture society even further. It’s possible that our society will survive the threats of collapse and eventually gain a new stability within this media paradigm, although social norms and functional ways of relating well will be slow to develop and take hold. It is highly doubtful that we will see the end of this transition in our lifetime, much less benefit from what might eventually be a positive change. We are in the middle of the storm — tighten the straps and hunker down.

Let’s end on a personal note. In this crazy online world, for those we’ve attacked, irritated, or unfairly judged, for those times we failed to treat others as we’d want to be treated, we apologize for our shortcomings as normal humans stuck in abnormal times. But we know we’re likely to continue to get stressed, anxious, and emotionally pulled into conflict; and so we also apologize in advance for our future wrongdoings and lack of needed understanding. We’ll try to do better, if that helps. In such difficult times, though, one’s best might not be good enough. So, we should be forgiving toward ourselves as well.

* * *

Here are a few things I came across while writing this post:

Here’s Why Internet Trolls Are So Good at Upsetting You, According to Science
by Minda Zetlin

Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People
by Chris Mooney

Psychopaths, Sadists, and the Lure of Internet Aggression
by Traci Stein

Loneliness moderates the relationship between Dark Tetrad personality traits and internet trolling
by KeitaMasui

Autonomic stress reactivity and craving in individuals with problematic Internet use
by Tania Moretta & Giulia Buodo

Internet “addiction” may fuel teen aggression
by Amy Norton

To end internet trolling, send everyone to a nice park
by WHIMN

Over a quarter of Americans have made malicious online comments
by Jake Gammon

Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?
by Natalie Wolchover

We’re the reason we can’t have nice things on the internet
by Whitney Phillips

The Internet Is a Toxic Hellscape—but We Can Fix It
by Whitney Phillips

Weirding Diary
by Venkatesh Rao

The Internet of Beefs
by Venkatesh Rao

Crowds and Technology
by Renee DiResta

Status as a Service (StaaS)
by Eugene Wei

Online Weirdness

The internet, especially social media, makes people weird. This includes: suspiciousness, rudeness, aggressiveness, unresponsiveness, misplaced common courtesy, absent social norms, lack of typical friendliness, bluntness, etc. I notice the differences in others, as well as in myself.

For instance, there is a fellow blogger I know. We mutually follow each other’s blogs. He recently shared his personal experience in his blog. He doesn’t usually write about personal experiences and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to get to know him better. I responded with some personal experience that was similar to his. I had interacted with this guy before and was trying to make a personal connection, to treat him like a normal person I might meet in normal life, but he gave me no response whatsoever. Just silence.

As another example, I was interacting with a guy I know on Facebook who lives in my community. He mentioned working at a library. As there are several libraries in town, I asked him about which library he works at (with an added “if you don’t mind my asking”). I got no response, not even saying that he’d rather not tell me, despite my having interacted with him online at least hundreds of times over many years, live in the same area as him, know some of the same people, and likely have met him in person at some point.

Ignoring people like that seems rude, or at least it would be in normal life. How can people apparently be so oblivious and unaware about their behavior? why don’t they think the same rules of conduct apply in all aspects of life? Why the division in relating, the dissociation of experience, or whatever it is?

It isn’t just strangers and casual acquaintances. I’ve had similar experiences with people I known personally for years and decades. Sometimes close friends won’t even acknowledge comments I make to their Facebook posts or posts I make to their page. Such silence wouldn’t be considered acceptable in a face-to-face encounter. Why is it acceptable online?

I always respond to people, even strangers, as long as I deem them worthy of a response. On my blog, if I deem someone unworthy of a response, I also deem them unworthy to have their comment to be approved for showing up in my blog. I treat my small corner of the internet as a semi-personal space and so I treat people I meet on the internet personally, which includes both positive and negative responses.

People I meet online are real to me in my experience, even if I’ve never met them in person. I’ve had internet friends who I’ve known and regularly conversed with for years. I know about their lives and their dreams, although I’ve never even heard the sound of their voices. I also treat people I know from my everyday life the same way online as I do offline. I don’t treat the two worlds as separate. It is all the same world, same common courtesy, same way of relating.

I do act differently online, in some ways. I’ll admit to that. I’m an introvert and, like many introverts, I find it more comfortable to be friendly online. I like meeting people online, but less so offline. I’m not a social person in the traditional sense, but I’m not exactly a private person either. I’ve always been a person to which applies, what you see is what you get. The internet hasn’t changed that, although the internet has given a vehicle for that philosophy to play out differently.

I also can be more aggressive online, at times. So, maybe I’m not in a position to judge others for acting out of character. That said, I tend to only act aggressively online to strangers, the type of people I’d never normally interact with at all. So, the internet merely opens me up to interactions that wouldn’t otherwise happen, but it doesn’t change the way I interact with people I already know; at least, I don’t think it does.

I’m not sure what is my point. Maybe people are always weird, but are better at hiding it in everyday life.

Checking the Facts

Debunkers of Fictions Sift the Net
By Brian Stelter

David and Barbara Mikkelson are among those trying to clean the cesspool. The unassuming California couple run Snopes, one of the most popular fact-checking destinations on the Web.

[…] Snopes is one of a small handful of sites in the fact-checking business. Brooks Jackson, the director of one of the others, the politically oriented FactCheck.org, believes news organizations should be doing more of it.

“The ‘news’ that is not fit to print gets through to people anyway these days, through 24-hour cable gasbags, partisan talk radio hosts and chain e-mails, blogs and Web sites such as WorldNetDaily or Daily Kos,” he said in an e-mail message. “What readers need now, we find, are honest referees who can help ordinary readers sort out fact from fiction.”

Even the White House now cites fact-checking sites: it has circulated links and explanations by PolitiFact.com, a project of The St. Petersburg Times that won a Pulitzer Prize last year for national reporting.

Media bias in the United States
(Wikipedia)

Organizations monitoring bias

Non-partisan

Liberal

Conservative

Music Online

Music Online

Posted on Dec 18th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
I’ve been checking out sites where you can play music and create channels.  I’ve so far only played around Last FM to any great extent, but plan on checking out the others.  Here is a good recent review of the top four by Nathan Chase:

Slacker, Last.fm, Pandora, & LaunchCast – A Personalized Radio Roundup

Here is an article by Matt Rosoff at Digital Noise:

CBS adds Launchcast to its online radio arsenal

Launchcast was owned by Yahoo and was the original online music service, but I don’t get the sense that its as popular as some of the others.  CBS already owns Last FFM and plans on changing Launchcast to fit a different niche.  Last FM and Launchast combined will create quite a competition to the other offerings.

Edit: I want to add a couple of links and comments.

The first comparison I came across was this one by Steve Krause.  Its a good analysis of the differences between the two biggest players that have free services.

Pandora and Last.fm: Nature vs. Nurture in Music Recommenders

Here is a review by Gary Savelson that gives a quick synopsis of many different services.

Discovering Music: Jango, Finetune, Meemix, Slacker, Deezer, MOG, Last.fm, Pandora, Haystack

This one that is very detailed.

Rocketsurgeon Blog

This is interesting… a couple of sites that allow you to use your Last FM account to discover videos on Youtube.

last.fm mashup

I Love Music Video

The comment I wanted to make is that there is some nice software that helps connect between these services.  There is one that sends what you listen to on Pandora to your Last FM account and one that does the same sending your Rhapsody music to Last FM. 

Last FM seems to be the most popular and sounds like its probably more useful for most people.  It has a simpler model and the community aspect creates a strong loyalty base.  I’ve found it easy to use and it gives me solid recommendations for similar music.  I’ll explore Pandora some and I might even choose to pay for Rhapsody, but whatever the case I’ll probably still visit Last FM.

Its hard to tell which services might survive in the long run as the music industry is always looking to increase their profits which might force under some of these free services.  I don’t know about Pandora because it was having some trouble recently, but I’m willing to bet Last FM lasts as it has a large company backing it.  Pandora could easily lose out as soon as other companies start trying the same thing they do.

I’m not sure what is going on with Yahoo.  There changing everything around and I don’t know what they’ll be offering in the future.  They shifted some of their services off onto Rhapsody.  I have no idea how Yahoo compares, but it doesn’t seem to be in the same league with Pandora and Last FM.

Access_public Access: Public 8 Comments Print Post this!views (164)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 16 hours later

Nicole said

For me, the biggest problem with Pandora is that it only works in the US. I found it quite promising before it became unavailable to us, now it’s only frustrating to think about. I don’t know why I stopped using Last FM, guess I just got too busy and forgot to come back to it. One thing was that I found it quite limited in terms of classical music. I would love a good site like this that really has the breadth and depth of classical to explore and link. But that’s probably unlikely.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 23 hours later

Marmalade said

Ahhh, yes, I’d heard that Canadians can’t get some of the services. Sorry to hear that. Its easy to forget about national bordres when online… or maybe its easy for an American.

I’m also sorry that Last FM is limited in terms of classical music. I wonder that is. I suppose Last FM focuses on more popular music, but you’d think that classical would have a large audience… maybe the typical person interested in classical doesn’t tend to look online for music. I wonder if there are any other free services that offer classical music.

I suppose you might have to go to a pay site to get classical. Have you ever tried any of the download or subscription services? I’m really curious about them.

There are two reasons I got out of the habit of listening to music on a regular basis. For one, I didn’t like spending money on cds. The second is that the musical offering on local radio stations is worse than it used to be.

I’m thinking a subscription service could make me more interested in music again. I’m really enjoying gathering my favorites on Last FM, but it doesn’t offer subscription to unlimited listening to all songs available. Last FM hasa severe limitation to what you can playwithout buying and there aren’t too many songs I would want to permanently own.

I came across Rhapsody via Yahoo. I’m checking them out right now and did some searches for reviews. Looking at comparisons with other services (Napster, Zune), Rhapsody seems maybe the best fit for me. Supposedly, they have around 4 million songs available which might be the biggest collection available online. The price seems reasonable. The only downside is that if you stop subscription, you lose your library of favorites.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 24 hours later

Nicole said

i’ve been quite happy with emusic as a paid site from which one can get a large variety of really good music, including classical. I don’t spend as much time there as I could though.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 24 hours later

Marmalade said

I’d heard people give great praise to emusic. From what I understand, its a good place to find more altenative music which I guess in this case includes classical. I wonder if it has anything Rhapsody wouldn’t. I keep seeing new numbers on Rhapsody. The last one I noticed said there was something like6 or7 million songs on Rhapsody and that they add new songs as they’re released on a weekly basis.

So, emusic has everything you want? Have you ever looked for something there and not been able to find it?

Rhapsody and emusic seem to have different purposes. Rhapsody ismore massiveand more expensive. Rhapsody is probably trying to be everything to everyone, but I don’t know how successful they are at doing that. Another thing is that someone said that emusic isn’t a subscription service in the way Rhapsody is. I’m not quite sure what the specific differences are though.

What attracted you to emusic? I suppose it being available in Canada was a point in its favor. 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

One thing I coudn’t find on Rhapody was the soundtrack to the movie Billy Elliot. I was surprised because it was a major movie. I did a search around. It didn’t seem to be available on other music sites which is strange because the music on the soundtrack can be found through the albums of the musicians themselves.

There is one reallynice thing about Rhapsody and Last FM. I’ve set it up so what I play on Rhapsody gets show on my profile on Last FM. They balance eachother out well. There is more music available on Rhapsody of course, but Last FM lets you see what others with similar tastes are listening to.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

I’ve made another happy discovery.

Both Last FM and Rhapody have some spoken word… specifically William S. Burroughs, but not as muh as I’d like. I even befriended a fellow Burroughs fan and joinedthe Burroughs group this person started. I already own practically all of the available cds of Burroughs, but its still nice to find Burroughs on the main music sites.

I’d like to find other spoken word authors. I’ll probably have to check elsewhere for a more full selection. That is my only major disappointment so far with Rhapsody. Still, they do have a fair amount of spoken word considering its not their focus.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

That’s really cool!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

Ya know, I have to give props to Last FM. They have a very simple and intuitive system. And its quite amazing how much you can find on it considering its basic services are free.

On another note, soundtracks seem hard to find on the music sites. Along with Billy Eliot, I couldn’t find the soundtracks to either Dancer in the Dark or Songcatcher. All three of those movies were very musically-oriented to say the least. I would imagine that the music sites would like to offer these soundtracks, but apparently they have a hard time making deals with the movie industry.

Going back to my previous comment, I did look around for sites that offered spoken word. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be anything similar to these music sites. The spoken audio sites seem to be where the music sites were years ago… maybe there just isn’t enough money in that industry to bring about innovation.

human connection… so rare and fleeting

human connection… so rare and fleeting

Posted on Nov 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
There is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  Being online has continually reminded me of it.  My first online community was a MBTI forum for INFPs.  As I’m an INFP, it was a very nice experience interacting with people who thought like me.  I met one person there who had a thinking pattern that was so extremely similar to mine which was so very odd. 

The main problem with that community was that it was fairly small and like many online communities the membership was somewhat transitory.  After several people I liked there stopped posting as much, I went looking elsewhere… but I still feel like I’m searching.  I joined a dozen or so communities before I finally came to Gaia.  I’ve connected with some here, but I don’t always feel like I fit in here. 

Connecting in a genuine way is such a difficult thing.  Meeting people is easy online, but really connecting is a whole other matter.  Part of it has to do with a desire to find people with a commonality of interests.  However, its much more fundamental than that as the INFP forum demonstrated.  Even though my interests were different than most of the people on that forum, there was such a commonality of life experience that it helped to bridge those differences.

I do feel more at home here than on most sites I’ve joined.  I do suspect that is because there are more people of similar personality types here.  A thread in the God Pod showed a preponderance of Introverts, Intuitives, and Feelers (MBTI terminology).  Nonetheless, even among stimilar types, the feeling of deep connection is rare and seemingly too little valued in our society.  I do know that its more valued amongst INFPs, but even on the INFP forum it was only a few people I really connected with.  I don’t know what that mysterious element is… its either there or it isn’t.  Even lesser connections can be nice, but that deeper connection is amazing when it happens.

I remember when I first experienced this kind of connection.  It was right after highschool.  I was working at a YMCA camp near Asheville, NC.  The summer was coming to an end and I was switching to another work area.  I met this girl and we connected in a way I’d never experienced before.  She was engaged and the connection didn’t feel romantic.  Its just that we resonated so easily.  I felt relaxed and happy around her.  This was amazing as I was quite depressed at the time.  However, I only got to know her for a short period of time (maybe a week or two) before we went our separate ways and we didn’t stay in contact.  Life is strange like that.  I’ve never felt that quick of a connection ever again.

Why are connections like this so unusual and so ephemeral?  Our longing for connection seems greater than the limits of mortal reality allows.  Maybe the longing for connection is more important than the connection itself.  In this, I’m influenced by the Sufi emphasis of longing itself.  God, if he is anything, is this longing.

Sometime later, maybe the following summer after the YMCA, I was working at the Grand Canyon feeling even more depressed and wishing to escape the world.  I met a real nice guy.  He was around 50 or so which put him at approximately the same age as my parents, but he seemed younger.  He was one of those old hippies who still was trying to live a life of freedom even as age was catching up with him.  He was from Arizona and in his after highschool years had fallen in love with nature.  He wanted nothing other than to hike and camp.  He had been down in the Grand Canyon many times before, but now he was like me working up on the rim making beds and cleaning bathrooms. 

I remember one time we went for a walk along the rim.  We were away from the village and we stopped at a quiet spot.  He was looking out at the Grand Canyon with such longing that I could feel it.  That longing is something that has become a part of me and he gave form to it during a particularly despairing time of my life.  He couldn’t take the longing unsatisfied any longer and he quit.  It was torture for him to be able to see the Grand Canyon without being able to go down into it, to explore it, to follow those endless canyons.

I can tell you that I was feeling disatisfied myself at this time and so very lonely.  I was tired of the way the world was.  Part of me also wanted to just disappear into nature, to escape all the tired expectations of family and society. 

After a while, I too decided to quit.  I knew someone who was also considering quitting and who had a car.  I convineced her to leave with me and go on a road trip since we both planned on heading back to our respective homes which were in the same general direction.  She had a friend that she had come to the Grand Canyon with and he wasn’t happy to see her go.  He told her that “people need people”.  It seemed like such a silly thing at the time, but its stuck with me after all these years.  Its true though… people do need people.

And, yet, people are always leaving.  No relationship lasts forever.

I’ve become very cynical as I’ve aged, but I must say I was already developing my cynical side as far as back as grade school.  Its just become more pronounced with life experience.

A few years ago, I decided to do everything I could to turn my life around.  I’ve always had this side of me that just wants to be a simple good person… a noble endeavor indeed.  So, I put myself out into the world and took risks, but it was a struggle even with antidepressants and therapists.  I met many people and it was moderately nice despite a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence.

I even fell in love for the first time in my life.  I wanted to fall in love, but I think I could’ve made a better choice for the object of my love.  It wasn’t exactly mutual.  Thusly, I came to very intimate terms with my own frustrated longing.  Well, at least I know that my longing will always be there for me.

This blog is linked in three different threads.

OM posted it in the Collective Wisdom pod:

http://pods.gaia.com/collective_wisdom/discussions/view/369016

Meenkashi posted it in the Gaia Networking pod:

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

I posted it in the God pod:

Community: blogs and threads

Access_public Access: Public 34 Comments Print Post this!views (371)  
Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 5 hours later

Nicole said

The internet is a real mixed blessing in terms of connections. It’s easier than ever before to meet people quickly with whom you resonate, but also easier than before to lose people.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Yep, Nicole. 

The internet, in its present condition, seems to be more of an experiment.  I suspect, as the internet becomes more immersed into everyday life, we will see less of this transitory style of relating.  It already is something like this for the youngsters these days.  They don’t as clearly distinguish their online and offine lives. 

The main thing that leads to the transitoriness is probably the anonymous factor.  Most people feel they don’t have to act as they normally do because the internet is mostly a separate world from their everyday life.  That is the other thing about the younger generations.  They seem less concerned about anonymity.

However, connecting is always challenging no matter what the situation.  Can’t blame it all on the internet.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 10 hours later

starlight said

hey ben…i think fear keeps us from connecting better than we do…sometimes it is a healthy fear i suppose…and when it is on the internet, it is difficult b/c you don’t have that face to face thing where you can actually look someone in the eye and see their expressions…but to be honest, i have difficulty connecting with others, many times b/c of the diversity of our beliefs and interests…but it is very nice when you actually do connect with someone and a friendship blossoms…

hope you are well…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

I’m well enough.  I’m just in a space of assessing my reasons for spending time online as it relates to what the intenet actually is able to offer.  My experience is that dissatisfaction comes from having unrealistic expectations, but humans seem to thrive on unrealistic expectations.  Our whole civilization is built on unrealistic expectations.

I’m thinking that genuine connection beyond the transitory is too much to ask of the internet.  I have good relationships already in my life and so I’m not lacking in that department.  Really what I’m looking for online is commonality which may or may not include a deeper sense of connection.

I’m glad to see software being developed for social networking sites that makes it easier to connect with similar people.  Gaia’s resonance engine is designed for this purpose, but it hasn’t worked for me.  The people the resonance engine shows me tend to be those who are no longer active which is just depressing. 

Other sites have some cool functions for connecting.  I like what Netflix and Amazon are doing.  Netflix gives you the percentage of similar ratings to every other member and allows you to compare your individual ratings with those of others.  Amazon has something similar using your buying history and a tags system.  Both Netflix and Amazon also have very active online forums.

Its getting easier and easier to find people to connect with even if only on the level of common interests.  Helping people connect on a deeper level, however, is beyond the capacities of any internet site.

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 11 hours later

starlight said

i was a member on a spiritual forum that began about six years or so ago…it was the bomb…some of the ones of us that were there in the beginning still stay in touch…many of us formed deep friendships…when the site shut down, there was another that started; it has not been as successful, nor is the atmosphere the same as in the early days of the first one, but there are some of the same people that still post, and so in that sense it still feels connected…so it is possible…i learned so much on that site and will always be indebted to the dear ones that i met during that time…it was an awesome experience…but i doubt that there will ever be anything likened to it again…who knows though…lol…*

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Your spiritual forum sounds like my INFP forum.  I still visit the INFP forum, but I get the sense that it isn’t as active as it used to be.  The last time I visited, someone mentioned that the administrator had been MIA for quite a while and the lunatics had taken over the asylum.  Fortunately, the lunatics there are of the good-natured variety.  I just emailed a friend from that site.  She isn’t active there anymore, but we stay in contact.  I was telling her that I wish I could gather all the interesting people I’ve found around the net and put them in a single place.  My site would be called: Marmalade’s Cool Friends.  It would be the best site ever!  🙂

starlight : StarLight Dancing
about 12 hours later

starlight said

what would be the focus of such an endeavor?  lol…

that’s what happened to SDF…the guy that created it fell in love and stopped hanging out, and the lunatics took over…it came to a tragic end…for a while he still kept it intact as an archieve, it had some awesome info on it…but you can’t even go to it anymore…that reminds me, i still keep in touch with him and i have been meaning to ask him why the link no longer works…he had given me my own forum basically, within the forum, to post all my material…i posted so much on that forum it wasn’t funny…and i really would like to have access to it still, for that reason, and to read all the informative threads…a real wealth of info really…towards the end though it became like a big soap opera…drama, drama, drama…and of course i was right in the middle of it!  LOL…memories…haha…maybe i tell you about it sometime…it’s really pretty funny now, but it wasn’t then…always, star…

mikeS : Ha!
1 day later

mikeS said

there seems an underlying sadness in your essay. But then, there always seems to be an underlying, rather incoherent, undefinable sadness in all relationships, no matter how connected or close. Most tend to deny and distract from that low lying heaviness, but the weight of it pulls at us nonetheless.

It does seem that no matter how close we become, I can never fully share your experience of living, nor can you share mine, since words and physicality never quite close the distance. I have experienced this in my own marriage. reflecting truth in the old adage “so close, yet so far away.”

I also agree with starlight, that there does seem to be a fear in too much sharing of experience, in the recognition of the actual limits of that sharing and maybe that reflects the underlying sadness. In this sense we are all truly alone.

In recognizing the limits, I suppose we are resigned to share what we can and maybe this is why no relationship lasts forever since the sharing must always be limited. Even those relationships remaining in close proximity change, never to be what they once were and always resistant to fully become what they could be. I suppose this was why I turned to spirituality in the hope of finding an answer. Not yet, though.

It seems your commentary on your own experiences of relating, is really a commentary on all relationships. If we are all alone, maybe at least we can be together in that experience.

Thanks for the honesty, it was a pleasure to read…

mike S

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Oh, Ben, again I am blown away, and anything I might respond seems trivial by comparison to your sharings. But then I always feel superficial when INFP’s start doing their thing…… But I do recognize the depth, and in fact I can go there, too.

I can remember times in my life when all I had was the yearnings, the longings, for relationships and for something ineffable in or about life, and I found comfort and identity in the yearning itself.

One time I had a really indepth conversation with a good friend comparing our deepest subjective experiences and we managed to convey each to the other in such a way that we were blown away by the differences. After that, it has seemed a miracle to me that anyone can entertain the illusion that they understand or empathize with or grok anyone else’s inner experiences. Under the veneer of language agreements, lurks vast oceans of uniquenesses. [This does not contradict what I say below. Under the vast oceans is Oneness. Shall I say, they are all WATER !!]

It’s really true in this culture people are intimacy-phobic and intimacy-impaired by their upbringings. I believe there are cultures where this is NOT so. I don’t see this as a human issue, but a cultural issue.

Of course, and permit me to go woo-woo now, it is true IMO as you alluded, no human connection can come even close to the experience, the knowing, the BEING of “One Being in many forms” which those folks not in the illusion of separation can abide in. That is ultimately what we long for. Nothing in the world of form can provide that. That is our longing to simply be in full awareness of our own Ground of Being. In that awareness, we are automatically one with every other form in that we all are pieces of the Ground of Being. But we have our differences, on another level.

There are human experiences of “merging” energetically with another person, both feeling the separate self disappear into something or someone much Larger which yet paradoxically contains the smaller self, and this is sometimes spontaneous and sometimes cultivated, as through Tantric practices. These are pretty awesome. But they are also not states that can stay in the foreground of our awareness as we do the grocery shopping.

I have had experiences like you mentioned with the girl you were so [my word] comfortable with. I don’t think we achieve those; I think they just happen, and the basic cause is probably too woo-woo to go into here. I do think such a relationship CAN last a lifetime. I think profundly deep good relationships CAN last a lifetime. That’s “forever,” to most people. There are many examples of couples who grew old together in the most loving and intimate connection on ALL levels of their being. Who could read one another’s thoughts, finish one another’s sentences, etc.

Some of that can be cultivated in a relationship, but some has to be there from the beginning.

I myself don’t think of the REALLY worthwhile “connections” as having much to do with common interests. More with common values. Even more with common senses of life. Communication via the  Internet can only begin to hint at such things about a person.

I believe that true intimacy or closeness requires of both people the courage to be self-expressive, to be transparent, and to receive the other’s expressiveness and transparency in allowing, accepting ways, not judging. You have all that in spades. Thus, your chances of a truly deep relationship are better than average, IMO !!!

One way of conceptualizing or modelling connection or intimacy or whatever we are talking about is to use the physical model of RESONANCE. We resonate with other people, in various ways to various degrees. We are always hoping for more ways with more degrees from one person !! [The strength and areas of resonance possible in person are exponentially greater than via the Internet or writing or phone…..]

At one point in my life I gave up thinking I would find complete resonance for all aspects of my own vibrating/Being in one person. I will always feel “fragmented,” therefore. Never able to share ALL that I am in full resonance with any other ONE person. I have just accepted that. [As you said, expectations create disappointment, frustration….]

What, with age, I have no tolerance any longer for, is adapting. If i am going to be really close to someone, we have to be quite comfortable with one another just the way we are, from the beginning. The person has to fit me “like an old shoe” from the beginning. Exactly as you described how you felt around that girl.

You said
a part of me that is eternally dissatisfied with all of existence

and I’d like to ramble a bit about that. I see that as the root of depression, probably for you, perhaps for everyone. And that dissatisfaction with all of existence is something Buddhism describes very well and at great length, perhaps starlight can give some examples or references.
 
As long as we live within the illusion of separateness from the One Being in many forms, we will have that eternal dissatisfaction, nay, even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness, because that separateness is not our normal, natural, true state of Being. It is an artificial and temporary creation – a project for a purpose – by some Beings, whom we are creations or parts of. But deep down we know there is “something wrong with this picture,” and the resulting sense of life is most unpleasant/dissatisfying/terror-filled/depressing.

Makes perfect sense to me that some folks like you are not willing or able to numb themselves to this “existential” condition of (common) human consciousness. Depression is inevitable. It is in fact sadness, IMO. Sadness is different from depression, because sadness is about something, it has an object or cause. In this case, IMO, the “cause” or “object” is the experience of being separate.

I have to add a caveat that to me separate and distinct are not identical. People can feel distinct and individual even after they awaken from the illusion of separateness.
 
One other way of being “eternally dissatisfied with all of existence” is to be a perfectionist. I am one of those, down to the atomic level of my embodiment. There is never a moment of perfect satisfaction with the way life is, I am, things are. That perfectionism is based on illusions, though, and in fact I am mostly healed from those. But I thought I would mention it, as it’s a different source of “eternal dissatisfaction with all of existence” from the separateness-sense I just described.  

Well, thanks for allowing me to blather on. I was able to put into words some things I had not been able to articulate before, so thanks for the opportunity. If my words are meaninful or even useful to anyone else, that would be very pleasing and satisfying to me !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
1 day later

1Vector3 said

Gotta edit this for precision:

I said
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror of believing or experiencing separateness,

I meant to say
even a primordial terror which it hides from our full awareness, the terror which is an inevitable consequence of believing or experiencing separateness
— not the terror OF believing, but the terror FROM believing

Say this is a dynamite thread about such a common human concern. OK with you if I donate it to the Collective Wisdom library??

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Yeah, Mike, there is an underlying sadness.  I’m sure my relationship experiences aren’t unique.  In the examples I gave, I was mostly focusing on a transitory stage of my life.  I’m much more settled now, but the feelings I felt then aren’t really different than what I feel now.  Even in less transitory relationships there is still a gap.

And I also agree with starlight about the fear thingy.  Thats become clear to me in recent years.  The desire and fear of intimacy go hand in hand.  I’ve observed it in myself and in others.  I sense some kind of truth in the longing to connect, but I can’t say that I know what it is.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
1 day later

Marmalade said

Om, I’m sure nothing you share will be trivial.  I completely agree with what you say about lurking vast oceans of uniqueness.  I tend to think of it as a fundamental truth, but there is a cultural component.  Its hard for me to imagine what a society would be like that didn’t have intimacy issues.  Sounds like a nice place.  I’d like to visit there sometime.

I like using the word resonance.  The fragmentation you mention is something that I feel within myself whether or not a relationship is involved.  That is something I didn’t mention in the blog but which I’ve thought about recently.  The disconnection between people is akin to the disconnection between aspects of the self.  I don’t know if that makes sense.

Related to this is dissatisfaction.  Longing to connect corresponds to the dissatisfaction felt withn.  These are two sides to the same coin and I see it as spiritual.  Buddhism has it right about life being fundamentally dissatisfying.  Dukkha is often translated as suffering, but it makes more sense to think of it as dissatisfaction.

You’re description of this is perfect.  Calling it dissatisfaction is an understatement and maybe that is why dukkha gets translated as sufering.  Whatever it may be, its a profound experience.  Primordial terror… those words get at the sense of it.  I understand your interpreting it as being a result of the illusion of separation, but I’m not sure what that means.  Its disconcerting.  What is the feeling of separation?  And what caused it?  I’ve felt inklings of a deeper unity, but I don’t remember a time when I ever experienced it fully.  I do have the sense that something is wrong with this picture… which implies there is something that is right.

I’m pretty sure you’re correct that sadness isn’t the same as depression.  But Its hard for me to distinguish them in my own experience.  Depression is such a complex thing.  What is causing what I do not know.  What I do know is that my depression has always had a component of loneliness, of something missing.  Do I have a depressive personality that leads me to be open to that experience of dissatisfaction?  Or has the experience of dissatisfaction after enough years led to a depressive way of being?  Or something entirely different?  Its all confusing to me.  I could imagine being depressed without being sad or being sad without being depressed, but its all mixed up for me.

I guess that this is a decent thread.  You can donate all you want. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
1 day later

Marmalade said

I have a previous blog which relates to some of the views being discussed here.

Zen Great Doubt, Existentialist Angst, and Gnostic Longing

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

hey ben and all…that link had some very relevant context…something to really think about, and of course i did…and here is what i awoke with today…maybe it will be helpful, maybe not…

that longing we feel, is the longing to connect beyond surfaces…the dissatisfaction occurs when these connections do not materialize in the way that we had hoped…or when they do, but do not last…those emotions are processed and stored, and can really prevent us from making another effort at connecting beyond surfaces or beyond our safety zone…and can once again leave us with that melancholy longing to connect…but the fear of remembering can keep us at that precipice…and so we get comfortable in our limited condition…even when it has unpleasant aspects…simply put, we remain on the beach b/c we KNOW there are sharks in the water, we’ve been bit before, and so we don’t JUMP IN…or make the effort beyond a certain point…we sometimes even convince ourselves that we are just fine getting a tan on the sand…while we watch from the sidelines…others swimming, having fun, touching, laughing, living, breathing…loving…each other…

i have found that it is much like anything else…we connect every day…on surface levels…like the internet…it is really up to us to try to connect at a deeper level…sure there is always the risk that you will run into a brick wall…but it is like anything else…when you turn your computer on and it does not connect right away, do you give up and throw your laptop against the wall, or do you keep trying?  it always comes down to it being our own choice…

the most difficult thing for us to do it seems, is to do something different…but that is where the potential for creativity comes into play…and great works of art manifest…

in my experience, it has become very easy to remain in my own little bubble of bliss…even though, periodically, i feel the lonliness…

since i am not a buddhist, or a member of any other religious organization, and i rarely go any where, except online…i have learned to be content with discussing things of intellectual interest with those here at gaia that seem to think along the same lines as i do…and i write my poems…i am attracted to realistic and critical thinking…but i am not without my spiritual being…i just refuse to label it and put it in a box, and so, i am a loner of sorts…

but that is my choice…and until i decide to take a chance and venture out of my own little box…there is no way to make deeper connections…afterall…awareness is not going to slide them under my door…LOL…much like your link suggests…i have to dive into the abyss…feel to heal, and keep it real…diving in the abyss, or living ones life amongst the living…brings opportunities to face more conditioned behaviours…which brings opportunity of more awakening and freedom…

there is one thing i will say concerning suffering…it is much different then pain and sadness…we are humans…being…pain is to be felt…so is pleasure…getting trapped in those feelings is what brings suffering…

much of the time it comes down to this:

i have to just put my big girl britches on…and walk through the fear…

thnx for this thread Ben…your honesty on these subjects helps to open up and shine a light on those tendencies within us all…if we are willing to look at these things honestly within ourselves…then that reveals the potential to do something different…where a deeper connection is always possible…much joy, always, star…

starlight : StarLight Dancing
2 days later

starlight said

check this out ben…just a view from my box…LOL

http://tlcoriginals.gaia.com/blog/2008/11/connecting

thnx for all the inspiration on this thread…always, star…

Marmalade : Gaia Child
2 days later

Marmalade said

I read your comments here and I read what you wrote in your blog.  I’m too tired to give any detailed response, but I can say that I didn’t disagree with any of it.  Everything you said generally resonates with my own view.  I don’t think I can add anything further that would be insightful.  🙂

I do have some other thoughts that have been on my mind, but I don’t think they particularly relate to anything you mentioned.  Maybe I’ll try to write about them later.

Nicole : wakingdreamer
3 days later

Nicole said

Ah, those sun-filled days. That blog seems like such a long time ago on this cold winter’s day filled with snow. I have enjoyed our blog chats so very much, my friend Ben.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

You asked some questions I need to respond to, but for tonight all I can manage is to post this link to the donation of this blog+comments to the Collective Wisdom library.

Blessings, OM

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

Ben, this is really a fascinating consideration.

Other types like in the Reiss profile could be added. Or whtaever.

Its always isnt so far away from so called real F2F world.
A new kind of vireality is emerging. German iInternwet Entrepreneur Paulus Need once described it this way. True intimacy is a process of crstyllization. Of deep values. Of timing in ones bio according to the life cycle one goes through….
And it may change through the years.

According to ones individuality. See for example the label “Integral” Is suggest some homogenity of people who use it. If we would choose randomly 1000 people from across the globe ..we would see 1000 different fingerprints of using it.

Then checking this cohort after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years again:

The picture will have changed radically.
To be honest, genuine and open, authentic and in connection with ones own purpose and authentic case..will ALWAY bring people in connection. Sometimes in unpredictable ways.
Bon voyage, Ben!

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

OM – I hope this discussion lives up to being collective wisdom.

Albert – Surprised to see you here.  Did you see this thread from OM’s linking to it? 

Anyways, no need to “bon voyage” me quite yet.  I’m still here and I’m not rushing to leave.  I am looking around at other options.  One thing I’d like is to have a blog that gave me more control of the format.  Some networks give you the ability to create categories for different subjects or for differing levels of security.  Even if I did blog elsewhere, I’d still come back here to visit.  I won’t abandon ship entirely.

I hadn’t heard of Reiss profiles.  That is a new one to me.  Thanks for telling me about it.  I did a quick search and it looks interesting.  Would you mind telling me more about it?  What is your interest in it?

I dig what you’re saying.  Its a different perspective than what I was focusing on, but is equally relevant.  I particularly like what you say about “connection with ones own purpose and authentic case”.  Yep!  I like authenticity in myself and in others.  For sure, life is unpredictable… like it or not.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
3 days later

1Vector3 said

What the heck is “vireality?”Sounds  ominous or interesting.

Ben you young whippersnapper, are you questioning my judgment????? This thread is already collective wisdom or I would not have put it into the library. So it doesn’t have to “live up to” worthiness on your HOPE !!!!  (stands with arms akimbo, glaring and with fondly smiling glint in eyes and playing around mouth.)
 
Know what you mean about formatting options on blogs. I’m getting into creating my church’s blog on blogspot, and I do appreciate the incredible creativity possible there. For example, a palette of colors for each of over a dozen elements of each blog! Even slideshows, just select the gizmo and put in the pictures !!!! Of course, it’s all a matter of funding here, our devs are working as hard as they can.

I’m very happy to NOT be appropriately wishing you Bon Voyage. Just Bonne Nuit, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

OM

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

Ben..lol..I just randomly picked up the thread.

Bon voyage simply means for me pursuing ones own odyssee. No matter where and in what realms. Every single day is a voyage in itself…

We need new maps for communication and connections of all kind. This hyperspace has so many dimensions. And I have given up the search for a TOE in communication. I love the unfolding mystery and simple experience of it..

A business partner once offered me to make a Reiss Profile. It reveals interesting points. However as I know dozens of typologies…they are not really triggering me. I am interested to see how reality is manifesting itself. And how deeply people are aligned to their authentic self.

If necessary even in a crazy and non consensual way. Spiritual, poltical and sexual correctness is bad and limiting syndrom for me. Maybe necessary for some mainstream consensus.

Your post is relevant as it opens even the door to questions about communication and comunion. As KW does in some writings. So it should not surprise you to see me here. …)

Albert  : Warrior
3 days later

Albert said

OM,

vireality is the Moebius stripe like interconnectness of virtual and real worlds. Emerging and evolving not as alternate realties but  as DNA like Double Helix.

Kevin Kelly has lots of it explored though not naming it this way.

The quote of Paulus Neef can be found in the inspiring book of German writer Bernhard von Mutius:

Die Verwandlung der Welt

www.dieverwandlungderwelt.de

Do not know if it is translated into English already.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

Partly because of my mood recently, I’ve been visiting some of the other groups I belong to.  The first groups I belonged to were typology and they’re still some of my favorites.  I know quite a few people from the very first community I belonged to and one of my favorite people happens to be visiting there right now.  Typology forums create an interesting environment where many people end up being very open about their personal lives.  It can make it easy to get to know people very quickly.

One of the people I know from the INFP forum is now mostly a pen pal meaning we mostly only communicate via e-mail.  She actually visited here once and even posted briefly on the God Pod, but she is too busy to spend much time online.  I was talking to her about how I was feeling about online communities.  Because she lacks the time, she understood how difficult it is.  She was saying how it takes a lot of effort to really connect to a community.  I know that trying to belong to multiple communities to satisfy all sides of myself takes way too much effort.

All of this made me think about two general categories of communities.  There are very focused groups that limit themselves to a single subject or to a single type of person.  And there are more general groups that emphasize the social networking aspect.  I suppose Gaia sorta falls somewhere in between, but probably a bit more on the focused side in that the original purpose of Zaadz was very focused and this influences the type of person that joins.  I guess most communities are focused in one way or another.

I prefer focused groups overall in that its easier to find people of a common interest.  But it leads you to interact through that one dimension.  On a typology forum, everything can turn into a typology discussion.  Gaia is more diverse, but even here not all sides of myself get satisfied.  Then again, no group probably exists where all sides of myself would be satisfied.

However, there are more general networking sites that contain focused groups.  Gaia somewhat achieves this with its pods, but its active pods represent a fairly narrow focus.  Bigger sites like Live Journal or Ning are the best examples of general groups.  On these networks, you can potentially meet anyone who has joined, but you can get as focused as you want by deciding which groups to joiin.  Ning, for instance, has groups for almost anything.  Ning has some small groups and it has some very large groups.  The groups I belong to at Ning include two integral groups, a philosophy group, and Netflix’s official forum.

However, I don’t know how well Ning does in encouraging people to connect across groups.  Gaia does this fairly well, and there are some other companies that specialize in this.  I believe that SocialGO and Multiply are networking sites that help individuals to more easily connect beyond mere group participation.

 Meenakshi : ~
3 days later

Meenakshi said

Ben, I came here through the collective wisdom pod.

Your blog is wonderful for me,as you can explore and share your feelings so clearly. This is one aspect of my life that grew later for me. In fact, it is still not grown, as I find maybe one person I can really open about feelings. Like starlight, at heart I am a loner. Or perhaps a lONEr. Interesting how that is, eh? One surrounded by left and right?

A large part of it, is because when we feel, we come fully into one experience. I have to be fully Meenakshi and only me; as you have to be fully you; and we are then separate and different.

When this happens, and we feel separate, others rush in [in a manner of speaking], and fill in the picture. Nicole comes with her warmth, Albert with ideas, and so on… As I read each comment, some resonate, some don’t, but seem like distant parts of a universe to which I belong. They show me paths to explore further when I am in a bon voyage mood–in the way that Albert describes it. So for me, community fills in the aspects of the wholeness that I leave to come into my feelings. When I look around me from the ground, I see all the people that I am or can be or won’t ever be or was; and I know that all this is that wholeness that OM has described so beautifully that it completely resonates. Because she wrote what she did, I don’t need to do that, and that helps me to go into another aspect.

So within the world experience, I know that somewhere there is deep loneliness, and I know that elsewhere there is deep communion.I use my inner guidance to “connect~don’t attach” to these experiences, feeling each as seems called upon.

 In loneliness, I connect to others who are lonely; which changes the energy to communion at a higher level. In communion, I hear the voices of loneliness, and can connect to that in healing. So as these feelings help with the flow of energy, all those philosophies make sense, each feeling seems relevant and having no-one to fully relate to; is exactly what helps me to relate to ONE.

Bowing deeply to you all, for this connection.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
3 days later

Marmalade said

I skipped over Nicole’s comment.  I’m getting too many commentors (with some long comments) to keep up with them all.  Yes, Nicole, that blog does feel like it was a while back.  It resonates quite well with tis one, but it didn’t get as many comments as this one.  I just realized that some of my most popular blogs are those where I complain about community and relationships.  I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.

Welcome to the discussion, Meenkashi!  At heart, I’m a loner too.  My best friend is also a loner and we often enjoy being alone together.  🙂  Oddly, I’m more social online.  :))

 Meenakshi : ~
4 days later

Meenakshi said

I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.–good 1!

HeyOK : Bridgebuilder
4 days later

HeyOK said

Hello there Ben-
You say, “I guess community is a favorite topic in this community.”  That sums it up so nicely.

Wanting to connect and using the means available to do so, wondering what the connections mean and lead too.

I’m thankful for the points you’ve made and the sharing it’s brought.  Thank you for that!

Blessings, David

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey HeyOK!  lol  I couldn’t help myself.

I’m glad people have enjoyed this blog and the discussion.  For me, this is something that is often on my mind.  I seem to be always thinking about relationships both on the small and large scale.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I’m a fan of really long threads and so I’m going to add some more slightly related comments even though I’m sure I could start another blog at this point.

I’ve been perusing reviews and comparisons of the many social networking and related sites.  Its partly out of curiosity, but it definitely goes beyond that.  This all relates back to the subject of this discussion.  I originally picked Gaia to blog because of its community aspect.  Blogger and WordPress have better blogging capabilities, but they’re not community oriented.

My recent research about blogging sites has been more thorough because I widened my focus.  The first time I was looking for a place to blog, I only compared the few most popular sites.  The one that competed with Gaia in my attentions was Live Journal.  Some of the people I know from the typology world are on Live Journal and I do have an account there.  Gaia edged out Live Journal on one account.  The people here are maybe overall older and along with this maybe with more serious discussion such as with the Integral sector of this community.

Many of the more socially oriented sites cater to those of the younger generation.  I haven’t seen statistics, but I’ve heard people say this in reviews and it resonates with my own sense of such communities.  Similar to Live Journal is a blogging site called Xanga.  I’ve heard some people say that Live Journal isn’t really a blogging site, but I don’t know what they mean by that.  Maybe they mean in the way you can just keep your writings private.  Anyways, Live Journal is mostly like a social blogging site which is what Xanga is.

Okay… so, why am I bringing all of this up?  The thing is that I like to write, but I also like to have responses with some depth to them which can only come from getting to know others.  Its a balance in that I’m writing for my own purposes, but have come to enjoy the interactive aspects of being on a forum.  Social blogging seems like a happy medium.

However, everything is a tradeoff.  The blogging sites that are less social have the best blogging capabilities.  A place like Gaia has its advantages, but in many ways is a smaller community with a more limited focus.  The social blogging sites are very attractive in that they strike a balance between a large network and small groups, between blogging and social interaction, but they attract a younger less mature crowd.

Xanga stood out to me as having some potential.  It sounds like it emphasizes the social side of blogging more than any other site out there.  The concept of it is very innovative, but supposedly its filled with adolescent girls who write about adolescent girl types of things and without all that fancy punctuation and stuff.  But some people like it and if your friends are already on it, then the masses of youngsters wouldn’t be too bothersome.  Like anywhere, you certainly could find some very good bloggers there… and you’d just have to ignore the rest.  Then again, what good is the ability to socially connect easily if you don’t feel similar to most of the other bloggers?  The cool thing is that you can personalize your blog and connect your blog to blog rings of people of similar interests.  So, blogs can become more interactive.

If I was only interested in my own writing, I’d almost certainly go with Blogger.  Its easy to use and has a lot of flexibility.  Gaia is nice in a social sense, but the people I know here are mostly people I’ve met here.  The advantage of Live Journal might be that I know many people there who are members of other forum sites that I enjoy.  Ning is another one that interests me because I know some people there and already belong to several groups on it… besides, its the best network that does what it does which is a lot, but I’m unsure if its a place where bloggers connect with eachother much. 

I do have to choose, but choices don’t need to be absolutely exclusive.  I could blog at Blogger for purposes of giving me greater flexibility with my writing, but I still need to explore because Ning and SocialGO may give even greater flexibility as blogging can be integrated into a multiple page site that can also be a group network.  Whatever is the case, where I blog doesn’t have to be where I socialize.  I can connect my blog to the sites where I socialize.  For instance, I have my Gaia blog linked in the tag line of my posts at several of the forums I visit.

My writing is my main interest even before the enjoyment of being a part of a nice community of interesting people.  Most simply, I just want to write and community can even be a distraction from that.  And yet I’m drawn to connect maybe even because its a distraction from being too lost in my own thoughts.  Balance is key… I guess.

Ain’t life funny?  Oh, the dilemmas!  It probably doesn’t matter too much.  Maybe I just like endlessly considering my options to no end at all.  lol

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
4 days later

Marmalade said

I just had one other thought.  I promise… its the last… for tonight that is.

A big thing for me about a site is the feeling of it.  This can have a lot to do with how the site is set up, but its more about the social aspects itself.  What is the purpose of the site, the purpose of the person(s) who started it?  What are the rules and how do the moderators keep order?  What kind of person does it attract, how do they interact, and what do they discuss?  What is the culture that has developed?  Is it stable and are the people committed to it?  Does it have cliques or is it friendly?

My assessment of Gaia is that its one of the most open and welcoming of communities I’ve belonged to online.  Its very laid back.  The only site that compares is the INFP forum.  Both of the sites have people who are very self-moderating which translates as that they attract people who value as much how they relate as they do what they discuss. 

That magical element of self-moderation is extremely rare.  Even many ‘spiritual’ forums I’ve been on lack this.  I know from experience that less laid back forums can just be tiring even in the most basic of interactions.

The challenge in exploring new sites is that you often can’t know the feeling of it until you immerse yourself in the community for some length of time.  Looking at reviews and comparisons can only point me in the directions of possibilities, but I still have to directly explore those possibilities.  I’m just going to have to play around and feel it out.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"
5 days later

1Vector3 said

I have only a moment to spare this morning, Ben, but a couple of responses: I have often wondered about the other social networking sites others find valuable or interesting, but I feel SOOOO monogamous with Gaia Community I haven’t gone exploring. I really appreciate your doing the legwork and reporting back your perceptions !!!!! :))

Endlessly exploring possibilities…. Hmmm….. I vaguely recall that might be an Intuitive thingy?  :))))) Or you might be a Gemini. We do that too. I feel claustrophobic without options – even though as I just gave an example of, I can sometimes settle on one and be quite loyal……. Most of the time I just love exploring possibilities, but then I end up ranking them for usefulness for some purpose, and seeking to apply or implement. That’s why I am Sensation and not Intuitive…..

On Thanksgiving Day, I include you amongst my blessings.

OM

Marmalade : Gaia Child
5 days later

Marmalade said

Yep, OM.  I understand the monogamous attitude.  I felt entirely at home with the INFP forum which was the first I joined.  I thought of it as my online home, but it had obvious limitations for my interests.  Unlike Gaia, it was smaller and less active, and with a less stable community.  Using your metaphor, my monogamous partner wasn’t always in the mood and so I went looking for others to satisfy my needs.  I learned polygamy has its advantages.  lol

You are correct, though, that endlessly exploring possibilities is more of an Intuitive thingy… in particular, an Extraverted Intuitive thingy.  (Its a blessing and a curse.)  But nope I’m not a Gemini… Sagittarius in fact.  Sagittarius are of the travelling sort, so they say, which can either mean travelling in the physical sense or the intellectual sense depending on the whol Extraversion/Introversion thingy.  I cover immense territory… in my mind.  🙂

Blessings to you as well… and blessings to the turkeys on this day of their massacre.

Marm

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer
5 days later

Marmalade said

Along with OM adding this discussion to the Collective Wisdom pod, Meenkashi also added it to a new thread she just started in Gaia Networking.  This is explicit advertising for Meenkashi’s thread.  Go there and add any other blogs on community, interaction, communication.

Blogs on Community, Interaction, Communication

Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

Posted on Sep 16th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

I started this thread with a specific site in mind, but decided to expand upon it.  The aforementioned site is TV Tropes Wiki.  Its a great site that is about tropes of all kinds in all media.  For this thread I wanted to focus on the entries there that pertain to the online world.

  • Blog Tropes
  • Wiki Tropes
  • Friending Network
  • Online Personas
  •  First Post
  • Armchair Psychology
  • Double Post
  • Forum Pecking Order
  • Imageboards
  • Message Board
  • Play By Post Games
  • Sock Puppet
  • Flame War
  • Troll
  • Godwin’s Law
  • Image Macro
  • Internet Backdraft
  • Internet Counterattack
  • Thread Hopping
  • Thread Necromancy
    There are some other sites that I was thinking about:

    Forum Member Types:

    http://www.10e20.com/blog/2008/01/17/7-types-of-forum-members-you-should-get-to-know/

    http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/index.htm

    Blogger Types:

    http://www.chrisg.com/what-type-of-blogger-are-you/

    http://blogs.msdn.com/clemensv/archive/2007/03/21/blogger-types-who-are-they-who-are-you.aspx

    http://www.highrankings.com/10-blogger-types/

    http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/10/28/211050/43

    http://sitening.com/blog/what-kind-of-blogger-are-you/

    http://www.web-articles.info/e/a/title/Blogger-types/

    Trolling and Troll Types:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

    http://tantek.pbwiki.com/TrollTaxonomy


  • This is also a thread on the God Pod.


      

    Access_public Access: Public What do you think? Print Post this!views (300)  
      Nicole : wakingdreamer  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Nicole said Sep 16, 2008, 3:16 PM:

      I really found the links about trolls and blogger and forum member types helpful.

    I’m still not really clear on the tropes though, which is why I just found myself scratching my head and not knowing what to say when I first saw your blog.

    Can you help me out there?

    Love,

    Nicole

    Spinner
      Marmalade : Gaia Child  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Marmalade said Sep 16, 2008, 11:07 PM:

      I understand your head scratching about the tropes.  The TV Tropes site uses the term ‘tropes’ in a more general way than its traditional use in rhetoric.  In this context: tropes aren’t cliches even though they can become cliches; tropes  aren’t archetypes even though they’re often related to archetypes; and also tropes aren’t simply limited to fiction even though that is where they’re most obvious.   “Above all, a trope is a convention.”  And conventions can be found in every medium and in every aspect of life.

    As an example, a personality type wouldn’t be a trope because personality types are closer to archetypes.  However, an exaggeration of a personality type could become a trope.  As tropes can be character types so also tropes can be social roles.  This is the connection to the second half of my post.  So, a troll is a social role that has become a trope.  Likewise, something can start off as a trope in fiction and later on be played out in real life.

    I don’t know if I’m helping to clear things up.  If you really want to understand, you might need to skim through a bunch of different entries from the TV Tropes site in order to get a general sense.

    BTW did you resonate with any particular blogger and forum member types?

    Blessings,
    Marmalade

    Spinner
      Nicole : wakingdreamer  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Nicole said Sep 17, 2008, 6:01 AM:

      ah, i’m starting to see, yes! Very helpful thanks.

    Blogger type now that’s easy I nearly always write the personal diary kind of blog.

    Forum member type – that was harder – I could identify with bits and pieces of many types, especially in my role here.

    I had no trouble finding you among the types though 🙂

    Love,

    Nicole

    Spinner
      Marmalade : Gaia Child  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Marmalade said Sep 17, 2008, 2:30 PM:

      I’m looking at the site of the second forum members link.  Its amusing.  I must say, though, that there seems to be a bias against certain types.

    I’m a sensitive guy, but hopefully I’m not a Weenie.  I do have a bit of Eagle Scout in me.  I have elements of the Therapist as I’m interested in the psychological dynamics, but I don’t avoid direct engagement.  Even though I’m a bit of an Archivist, I don’t tend to use it against people.  I like the sound of Necromancer although I can’t say I attempt to resurrect old threads too often.  I can be a Philosopher when in the right mood and when a subject interests me.

    At the site of the first link of forum member types, I can sometimes play the role of The Protector of the Community.  But I usually prefer to be on the sidelines.

    As for the blogger types, I’m also a mix.  I have elements for many of the types except for the ones that have to do with a profession, or with making money, or becoming popular.  The type that most fit me was the fan/hobby type: “Hobby bloggers write about their fascinations, get a kick out of sharing with like-minded people and they need no more reward.”  I am similar to you as many of my blogs lean towards the personal diary type.  As you know, I certainly don’t separate out the personal.

    Blessings,

    Marmalade

    Spinner
      Nicole : wakingdreamer  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Nicole said Sep 18, 2008, 6:09 AM:

      I agree, it’s not by any means objective! As always your self-assessment is spot-on.Fun eh?

    Hugs,

    Nicole

    Spinner
      Nicole : wakingdreamer  

    Re: Online World: Tropes, Types, and Trolls

    Nicole said Sep 18, 2008, 6:10 AM:

      I agree, it’s not by any means objective! As always your self-assessment is spot-on.Fun eh?

    Hugs,

    Nicole

    Online Debates: Ideology, Education & Psychology

    Internet discussions more often than not drive me bonkers.  I’ll mention some data and immediately someone will question and criticize the data.  If they’re a more worthy opponent, they’ll ask for specific sources.  I usually comply and then add even more data just to further support my argument.  The other person may offer data too, but they rarely cite the data and it’s even more rare for them to offer multiple sources.  Most “debates” never get past mere opinionated nitpicking.

    I mentioned one example in a previous post.  I gave specific data and quotes from specific sources and framed it within the larger context of scientific consensus… and the other person acted like it meant nothing at all.  As a person who respects facts, I find it odd that many adults (who are potential voters) have such a dubious relationship to facts.  If someone shares facts with me that prove I’m wrong, I accept my being wrong and I do further research to better inform myself.  This attitude of intellectual humility and curiosity seems not to be shared by many people… or at least not many people I meet online which may or may not be a representative example of the American public (but if I had to guess, I’d think that the average internet user is more intelligent and better informed than the average non-internet user).

    I just experienced another example.  This one was on Youtube and it was also about the scientific consensus of climatology experts.  Youtube has very limited word count for comments which makes intelligent debate a bit constrained, but I was up for the challenge.  I first mentioned some facts withou citing them, partly because Youtube doesn’t allow comments with url addresses in them.  Some person questioned the validity of my data and offered some other data which they didn’t cite either.  I felt lazy and didn’t want to try to figure out where he was getting his data, and I wasn’t in a mood for debating to any great extent.  So, I just offered the url addresses (by replacing the “.” with “DOT” which Youtube allows) of several scientific articles and Wikipedia articles (and the Wikipedia articles cited many scientific articles). 

    My “debate” partner responded by saying that what I was referring to wasn’t peer reviewed and I assumed he must be talking about the first set of data I mentioned.  I had been looking at this data recently and I knew it came from the University of Illinois, but I didn’t know if it was or wasn’t peer reviewed.  I did a quick websearch and found it had been peer reviewed.  This is so typical.  If you look at people’s nitpicking, it is often unfounded.  I suppose people like this just hope you won’t actually check it out for yourself.  Why would this person lie to me just to try to win a debate?  It only took me maybe a minute or so to disprove his claim.  Does this person normally get away with such lies?  Are most people unwilling to check the facts for themselves?  Do most people not know how to use a search engine to find information quickly?

    The ironic part was this person said the media is always lying.  So, I pointed out to him that, whether or not the media was lying, it appeared that he was lying or else uninformed.  He never responded back to further challenge me nor to admit to being wrong.  His only objective was to “win” the debate at all costs.  When it became apparent he wasn’t going to “win”, he simply abandoned ship.

    I have an online “debate” like this probably on average of once a week (sometimes less when I’m not in a commenting mood).  I don’t go looking for idiots.  It’s just that the idiots are often the ones most willing to brazenly challenge any opinion (no matter how factual) that disagrees with their opinion.  To be fair, there are also many reasonable people online.  My experience, though, that the line between idiotic and reasonable often becomes rather thin when it comes to political and religious ideology.  Even when faced with the facts, few people are willing (or able?) to change their mind.

    Why is this?  I’ve studied psychology enough to realize that humans are mostly irrational creatures, but I’m constantly amazed by how irrational certain people can be.  I seem unwilling and unable to accept the fact that most people aren’t capable of intelligent debate.  Part of me thinks that if I present the facts in a fair manner and make a reasonable argument that I can expect the same in return.  Apparently, I’m the irrational one for feeling frustrated by the inevitable irrationality of human nature.

    But I do have reason for my irrational hope for rationality.  I occasionally have very intelligent debates with people online and these people even sometimes change their minds when offered new information… I even change my mind sometimes when presented with new information by an intelligent person.  Most often these people seem to be more liberal, libertarian or independent-minded. 

    I’ve found that the only subjects that regularly attract intelligent conservatives are economics and sometimes philosophy/theology, but these are subjects that aren’t as easily determined factually according to scientific research (including psychological research).  Conservatives tend to argue more from a perspective of principles that they support with historical examples.  To conservatives, the past is where they look to verify a theory or claim.  I guess that is fine as far as it goes, but it makes for difficult debating because the attempt to understand principles and history is easily swayed by subjective biases.

    For example, many libertarians and fiscal conservatives like to talk about free markets.  The problem is that it’s almost impossible to ascertain what this means.  The idea of a “free market” is highly theoretical if not outright idealistic.  No free market has ever existed.  Furthermore, no free market could ever exist because it’s merely a relative label of a market being more free than some other market.  There is no ultimate freedom of markets.  So, these debates lead off in all kinds of directions such as referencing “experts”.  The issue I have with experts in fields such as economics is that expertise is much more subjective in that there is less hard data.  Many of the economic models that have been relied upon have been proven wrong.  It’s almost impossible to scientifically study markets in that confounding factors can’t be easily controlled.

    But even intelligent libertarians sometimes are wary of actual scientific data.  Libertarians don’t trust government.  Since scientists sometimes get government grants, scientists can’t be entirely trusted either.  For some reason, libertarians think corporate sponsored scientists would be more trustworthy.

    Conservatives in general are more mistrusting of objectivity.  I’m not quite sure what is the reasoning behind this.  Some intelligent conservatives I’ve met actually agree with me about humans being irrational and that seems to be their reason for mistrusting objectivity, but this is a more intelligent argument and probably doesn’t represent the opinion of average conservatives.

    To be fair, the smartest people of all probably are independents.  From the data I’ve seen, independents (and the American public in general) are socially liberal and fiscally conservative.  The question is which is the cause?  Do smart people tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative?  OR do social liberals and fiscal conservatives tend to be smart?  Or is there a third causal factor?  MBTI iNtuition and FFM “openness to experience” correlate with testing high on intelligence and correlate with high representation in college.  Also, these psychological functions/traits correlate to liberal attitudes, but I’m not sure how they may or may not correlate to fiscal conservatism.  (There is a nice site about politics and psychological types: http://www.politicaltypes.com.)

    Some of the most intelligent debaters will be the MBTI NT types (iNtuition Thinking).  I know that INTPs tend to be self-identify as politically independent and I suspect the same would be true for INTJs.  NTs probably either vote with Democrats for reasons of social liberalism or with libertarians for reasons of it being a third party, but I some NTs might vote Republican for reasons of fiscal conservatism or else for reasons of principles.  I’m not sure how many NTs vote Republican, but polls I’ve seen show that ENTJs are more conservative (probably because TJ – Extraverted Thinking – is their primary function).

    So, I can presume that most often, when I’m enjoying an intelligent discussion, I’m probably interacting with a socially liberal iNtuition type.  I don’t know what good this knowledge does for me.  Maybe it helps me to be more forgivng (this person sure is stupid… it’s too bad they were born that way). 

    To be more optimistic, psychological research doesn’t show that most people fit in absolute categories.  Most people can learn non-preferred thinking styles and learn to develop weak traits.  Education should teach people how to use all parts of their mind.  The fact that so many people lack critical thinking skills is a failure of our education system and shouldn’t be blamed on individuals.  College favors iNtuition types.  Most professors and college-level teachers are iNtuition types and most of the coursework is more appealing to iNtuitive types.  It’s hard for a strong Sensation type to do well in traditional schooling.  Who can blame them that they don’t go to college or have bad experiences at college?  Who can blame them for falling prey to the notion that college is controlled by liberal elites?

    Considering that the MBTI shows Sensation types represent the largest portion of the population, it is quite sad that our education system has the hardest time reaching this category of person.  Sensation types don’t have as much natural talent for abstract thinking and critical thinking.  Sensation types are better with concrete information and concrete learning.  Too much of higher education deals with abstractions and theories.  Dumbing down higher education isn’t the answer.  I think we should have more alternative routes of education. 

    When I was in highschool, my best friend was very much a Sensation type who took many alternative classes involving technology.  He was good working with machines and with computers, but he wasn’t extremely smart in terms of intellectuality.  Alternative classes served him well in terms of preparing him for a job in the real world.  The potential criticism, though, is whether he was prepared for being a well-rounded and well-informed citizen.  I suspect not.  The highschool I went to didn’t require students take classes in logic and critical thinking.  The classes in general seemed rather dumbed down.  Unless you were taking college prep classes, you wouldn’t be intellectually challenged.

    I feel frustrated.  I don’t want to blame the average person for not being well educated, but I do feel pissed off that our education system has failed these people and so created an intellectually inferior society.  Even news reporting seems dumbed down for the masses.  Shouldn’t the education system and the media, instead, serve the ideal of uplifting the masses by informing them?

    Even with intelligent people, I think the education system has often failed.  College is less focused on providing a liberal education and created well informed citizens.  College has merely become a career path.  Many have talked about the problem of specialization of knowledge.  People go to college only to become isolated in some particular field and outside that field they may be largely ignorant. 

    People, whether well educated or not, seem less capable of understanding the larger context.  Maybe it’s always been that way.  If so, I hope it’s changing.  I probably shouldn’t expect the education system to do anything more than create good workers… as that seems to be its primary purpose.  My hope is more in the realm of media technology.  The traditional media has been failing for a long time, but the new media has been very successful.  The most well informed people are those who use the new media to inform themselves.  And, because of the new media, the uninformed (be they the average public or the average politician) can no longer spout misinformation without being challenged.

    So, to return to the original topic of online debates, maybe a purpose is served by all of the ideological conflict found in the forums and comments sections around the web.  The people who weren’t educated well in school get confronted, whether they like it or not, with new information and with actual critical thinking skills.  Some people might just become even more ideological in response, but many others will learn to be more intelligent debaters.  Even debates where people deny expert opinions may serve a purpose in that a discussion then ensues about the definition of ‘expert’.  The question about the new media is whether the positives will outweigh the negatives.  The uninformed have the opportunity to become even more polarized and entrenched in their views by isolating themselves in forums of the likeminded, but those who want to be informed have more opportunity than ever to do so… and there are many in the middle who are neither extremely ideological nor extremely motivated to learn.

    My hope is that the internet remains an open resource and open platform for public debate.  My other hope is that the internet my force the education system to improve by offering both teachers and students to become more well informed.  Students now no longer have to solely rely on the information given by teachers, and teachers no longer have to solely rely on the information that was given to them when they were students.

    My Online Adventures

    I became interested in the Internet through researching ideas which is what I do even without the Internet, but the Internet has made it much easier and more enjoyable.  The first topic I web-searched to a great degree (by which I mean obsessively) was Tarot which led me to MBTI.  I was only vaguely familiar with MBTI and was happy to learn more about it as I was already deeply interested in Carl Jung’s ideas. 

    This search for info led me to an INFP discussion forum (INFP is my MBTI personality type).  It was utterly amazing because it was a large group of people who had a similar way of thinking and communicating, but it kind of spoiled me for more general forums I’d later join.  I had some truly awesome discussions there, but some of the members I interacted with on a regular basis ended up moving on.  I came to learn how informal web relationships are.  Most people don’t really want to connect.  I do want to connect, but when someone asked if I’d like to meet in person I realized I had my limits on how much I wanted to connect as well.  I’m somewhat of a loner and am contented with my few close real-world relationships.  However, I look for something different in my on-line friendships that my everyday relationships can’t satisfy.

    Anyways, the INFP forum and other MBTI-related forums were just too specific.  My mind wanders and my intellectual hunger wasn’t being sated.  I went looking around.  I’ve since belonged to many forums: Beliefnet, Truth Be Known, some Integral Theory forums, and various Atheist/Agnostic forums.  I realized no single group would satisfy and groups took too much effort and time for what usually turned out to be too little benefit.  I started considering blogs as I really just wanted a format to express myself without constantly worrying about what others thought.  I first tried My Opera because the only blog I was following at the time (Quentin S. Crisp’s Directory of Lost Causes) happened to be there, but I quickly realized that it had too many foreign language blogs for my taste. 

    I wanted to still be able to connect with people to an extent, and so I looked for places that offered blogging services along with social networking.  At first, I considered Ning because I already belonged to some groups there.  The problem I saw with Ning is that blogs seemed pretty isolated there.  There really weren’t too many other options that fit what I was looking for, but I kept looking and comparing.  I was also worried about newer start-ups that might not stick around and so I was trying to determine sites that had been around for years.  I finally settled on Gaia.com.  It had a good balance.  I was initially attracted to the fact that it had a very active Integral community.  I did enjoy it quite a bit and participated regularly in one of the groups.  I met some nice people and it was there that I developed my blogging abilities.  After awhile, though, it too felt confining.  It was really a site dedicated to people wanting to improve the world.  I have nothing against improving the world, but it really isn’t the reason I spend my time on-line and definitely not what I blog about for the most part.  Besides, the cynical side of my personality really grated with the large number of New Age types there.

    So, I decided that I just wasn’t going to find a community of people who were similar to me.  My interests are just too diverse.  It was an amazing experience whenever I met a person who shared even a small percentage of the same interests, but that happened too rarely.  I was just tired of trying to connect with others.

    I turned to sites that simply specialized in blogging.  I decided to instead use the blogging platforms themselves as the standard of my decision instead of anything to do with social networking.  I now was simply looking for an easy way to post my writings that gave me enough options to play around and personalize my blog.  I looked back at My Opera and checked out my old Live Journal account, but I mostly focused on Blogger and Word Press.  I posted the same thing on all of these blogs and compared their specific functions.  I did that for several months and Word Press won.  That is the story of how I ended up here.

    However, I still crave discussion.  I wish more people would comment and I wish the people who comment would return a second time.  A single comment a discussion does not make.  I’m not trying to drive traffic to my blog because I’m not trying to make money or anything.  I just figure there has to be other people like me with similar interests, and at least a few of them would be interested in discussion.  I don’t know if such people are fewer than I imagine or if it’s that they’re unlikely to find my blog for whatever reason.  As far as I can tell, my posts often come up in search results and I definitely show up in Word Press listings.  People visit my blog on a daily basis, but why do so few leave a comment?

    I suspect most people aren’t interested in discussion and especially not of the deep intellectual variety.  Even other deep intellectual types don’t seem all that interested in discussion.  Most people seem content to do their own thing in their own blog.  The people who seek out places to comment are often spammers and trolls.  It depresses me a bit.  I comment in other people’s blogs all of the time, but it doesn’t usually lead anywhere.  Most bloggers don’t respond back and certainly don’t try to connect in any way such as commenting in my blog in return.  This is partly explained by the statistics.  I was reading that 96% of bloggers haven’t posted in the last 4 months.

    Partly to satisfy my need for discussion, I’ve been commenting in the online version of my local paper.  That is somewhat more satisfying as I actually know some of the people commenting and the subject matter is a bit more personally relevant.  However, I’m not much of a news junky and so I just enjoy the interaction and I even partially enjoy the stupid debate.  There are a couple of intelligent posters which comes close to offseting all of the opinionated ignorance.

    I did recently connect with some fellow bloggers here on Word Press.  I’m feeling inspired to make my blog more interesting and new-person-friendly.  I wrote up an extensive ‘About’ page, a ‘Favorite Posts’ page, and finally got around to adding the blogs I visit to my blogroll.  I was thinking I should clean up my categories because they’re a bit of a jumble.  Also, my theme is rather mundane.  I picked it for practical reasons as I liked the way it was set up, but I should look at other options again.  If I ever feel extraordinarily motivated, I might add a picture to my banner.  It was only recently that I even got around to adding the icon of my kitty.  It sure is a lot of work.  If I was a motivated person, I’d probably be doing something in the real world rather than blogging.  lol

    To further break out of my isolated slump, I joined Technorati and Blog Catalog.  I’ll see how that turns out.  I doubt it will make much difference.  Blog Catalog looks like it could potentially be a place to connect, but there is a lot of crap to wade through.

    I’m happy to have a blog anyways with or without regular discussion.  I used to journal which got boring after a decade of being my own audience.  Blogging forces me to be more thorough and careful in my thinking process.  It’s good practice to have something that motivates me to write on a regular basis.  I enjoy writing and that is the important part.