Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In celebration of net potatoes

I have had very little to say lately. I've been doing most of my talking at Yahoo! Answers. I'm going to begin with a petty thing that's made me itch a bit when I visit what is normally one of my favorite sites. As I've stated before, I am learning-disabled (dyscalculiate), plus I deal with social anxiety disorder (and I'm the social director of my relationship!) So I am rather insecure about how other people perceive my intelligence, and can all too easily sense a slight against my intelligence, even if one is not intended. Still...

Over at ExGayWatch, I mentioned that some specious statistics that we'd been discussing were being quoted at YA, then linked to the YA question by request. I just figured that people would appreciate the reminder that a lie can run around the world while the truth's still tying its shoes. Another frequent reader/poster said:

"Wow, that Yahoo answers thing is dangerous. People actually take answers from any tom, Ralph and Harry with a screen name? Your kidding. That is crazy. I hadn't seen that before. Some of those people have dozens of answers they have posted on many subjects. This can't be good for anyone. Somtimes, stuff just blows me away. How did I never see this stupidity before? OMG....there are wars in the world, starving kids, and this is what we do with our time? SIt and Yahoo and answer questions we don't really know "boo" about? I am shocked....."

I am at Level 5 at YA. Meaning I've answered over a thousand questions on many subjects. I've asked about sixty questions, too, on subjects ranging from chicken in vegetarian-looking foods to Capital One commercials to problems with my anti-gay relatives. Sometimes I'm having fun or blowing off steam. Sometimes it's really helpful, and I try to be really helpful, too. But because my choice of online entertainment isn't the same as someone else's, I'm stupid and participating in something toxic? To hell with that. To me, it's no worse than blogging or commenting on blogs. Which is what this person does when he is not traveling around the world trying to stop wars and feeding starving kids. *sigh*

Look, I admit that it's all too easy to sit on our asses at a computer and bitch and moan and *feel* like we're doing something. It's certainly not enough. But information is a real fine place to start when it comes to world-changing, and the Internet is a real good place to get it. Just a decade or so ago, a racist Senator might have gotten away with his comments at an obscure gathering, and a small-town Councilman might have gotten away with sexist behavior at his church. We have faster and surer means of calling people who deserve it into account today. Sometimes the truth gets a chance in the information race after all, and that's a wonderful thing.

I am proud of what I do online, for the most part. I am proud to have contributed to panda and penguin conservation and raised awareness for these animals' causes. I am proud that I make fellow NASCAR fans question their sexism, homophobia, and religious intolerance. I am proud that I make gay people question their racism, classism, and biphobia. I am proud to help LGBT and Pagan teenagers find good information rather than people who take advantage of them. I am proud of every letter I write, poll I vote in, and petition I sign. I am proud of the week I wrecked a poll/petition for the American Family Association. Most of all, I am proud of everything I've learned from this amazing resource. It's been a lot.

When I was about nine, my aunt had a TRS-80. It didn't seem all that impressive, though I enjoyed playing Pong on it when I visited her. In school, I was told that we'd be able to use computers to shop, research, and communicate with each other. I sort of laughed it off. After all, we weren't riding around in flying cars like the Jetsons! But boy, were they right, and then some. E-mailing L'Ailee from the library permitted us to save money on phone calls when we were young, broke long-distance lovers. Today I got my copy of OutKast's Idlewild delivered to my work from Amazon so I could enjoy it as quickly as possible. I have watched baby pandas grow into happy youngsters in real time because of this machine. And the even better best bit is all the friends and acquaintances I've found! It's so amazing how that lame TRS-80 and its competitors evolved into machines that would allow stuff like that to happen.

Stupid? Dangerous? Only if that's what you try for, and if you leave your common sense behind. It's the same at Yahoo! Answers as it is on any other site. It's the same on the Internet as it is in any other venue.

After this celebration of the Internet's possibilities, how could I not include a few links?

Blanks on a Blank Satires of Snakes on a Plane. (By the way, don't y'all hate really blatant Oscar-bait like that? ;-)

Can Kurdistan be the silver lining in the Iraq War cloud?

A young Iranian gay man speaks of problems in his country and how the Internet helped him.

Ten reasons why women don't want sex.

Randall Terry is running for the Florida State Senate. Yes, *that* Randall Terry. His son has a few things to say about his family values.

I close by showing off some of the fun I had with RonaldMcHummer.com. I've made ten signs so far, and these are just the ones I'm willing to save and show! Some are more serious than others. Yes, I know I screwed up the numbering. Dyscalculiate, I said. Please ignore it, 'cause I don't know how to fix it!


puhpaul said...

I've never been to Yahoo Answers, it sounds like an interesting place to browse around.
I can't imagine what it would be like to have discalculia, numbers have always been my thing. From what I've read on your blog, you have always seemed very intelligent, who cares if your numbers get muddled.
I'm with you on the social anxiety thing though, just the thought of going out on my own to meet people sends my stomach into knots.


Zanne said...

Hi CL, great post! Funny the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how we think others see us. I've been coming by here all this time because your posts are thoughtful, thought provoking, and extremely articulate. There is no question of your intelligence! :)

Re: the criticism about how we spend our internet time--I think you could say this about how we use all of our time. Everything we do--great or small--has some kind of impact in the world for good or bad. What we do with that is what makes the difference. Certainly we can't believe everything we read or hear, that's what we were given minds for - to think.

Sorry to ramble, just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog! :D

cats said...

you don't have to justify any of your time to me.

puhpaul said...

Okay, I have just spent a good couple of hours today on Yahoo Answers. It is definitely addicting. It is fun and challenging. Thanks for directing me to it.


alan said...

Thanks for the "J" link! I love the story...


belledame222 said...

omfg, Randall Terry. does he have a chance?!?! why is this man even walking around outside, much less able to run for office?

"I want you to let a wave of hate wash over you."

yeah, THAT guy. maybe he can pick Fred Phelps as his running mate.