Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The most inappropriate post ever

I can't recall exactly when, but at some point in my life, I learned that there are certain things that should not be discussed among "polite" company. I'm not even sure what that means. My parents did not teach me this. Where I was cultivated from seed to seedling, all subjects were fair game. It may have been in college that I learned that like Carlin's seven words, these topics are considered taboo. They shall not be mentioned except in very safe, known, and well understood circumstances. Those topics include politics, religion, and money.

I find this rule odd and difficult to live by. The strangest thing about this prohibition of speech is that these are three very important things. I think in fact that this could be the list of the most important things to many people, and as such, aren't these the things we should discuss most? If so, let's also add sex to that list.

Here on the internets, you can say whatever you like. Heck, you can do this most places if you are fortunate enough to live in a nation where you are permitted to speak your mind. Still, it is considered inappropriate to be offensive. In fact, we value etiquette over honesty. This principle could be called the "No, honey" or "Of course not" principle. Why? It is a derivation of the "Do these pants make me look fat?" query. So I have occasionally refrained from saying what I really want to say. Sometimes, I want to use a word considered so vulgar that it might turn away a possible cunty reader. That's an unusual and silly example. More often, it is because I am tempted to share my view of some current event or use is it as an analogy or metaphor, but I don't want to someone reading this to think that I am an asshole on the wrong team.

I think we all tend to gravitate toward people who are similar to us with respect to the attributes that we find important, whether consciously or not. To discover that somebody is not who you thought they were politically, religiously, financially, or sexually can be quite a shock. For example, if I discovered that I had been hanging out with a closeted white supremacist, it would totally freak me out, especially if it was somebody who I admired prior to discovering it.

Here is what brings this to mind. On the internets, I think you can easily and unintentionally associate with folks who in real life you would not, except maybe in coerced contexts, such as at a place of employment. In this particular forum, I assume this is happening all the time because what unites us is not one of the taboo topics but instead bowling.

I have always been a political animal. My brother is a politician. My dad ran for office. My mother worked in the United States Congress for nearly 30 years. Politics are in my blood. They are important to me. Yet, I feel like I cannot openly express my feelings here because this forum is reserved for bowling. I feel like if I were to make it known that I am a hardcore right wing gun and god loving patriot or a pinko liberal save the earth and help the poor tree hugger that I would lose some people who seem to enjoy reading what I write about bowling.

In truth, I am neither of those things, but I am much closer to one of them. If you were to go back and read everything I have written on the BM Report, it would be obvious to which party I tend to subscribe. Does it really matter? I hope not. I like to think that I am capable of not being a bigot when it comes to political opinions. If there is one kind of bigotry that we have always considered to be appropriate in this fine land, it is the demonization of those who fall on the other side of the aisle.

It is interesting when people pop onto your blog from out there in the world. You have no idea who they are or how they found you. More than a year ago, I gained my first stranger follower. He could only stand to read my nonsense for about one month. Then I wrote this little ditty, and he vanished as quickly as he appeared. I had breached one of the unbreachable subjects. Oh well. I will probably continue to play by the rules of etiquette and avoid those danger areas. I guess I'll keep it to myself that I am also a filthy rich gay polygamist fascist scientologist who likes to bowl.

10 comments:

  1. Meh- it's the internet. I write a substantial amount for a site (nerdy video games), and have done so for two years. Has it made me a better writer? Probably not. Has it taught me that politics and religion are better suited for other venues? Absolutely.

    Being faceless and anonymous is the key factor that makes politics and religion even more taboo here than anywhere else. Take away someone's accountability, and let their true colors show. Now to throw my hat into the ring:

    Arguing on the internet is like running in the 2004 Presidential Election; even if you win, you're still retarded.

    Now if you'll excuse me; I have a windsurfing date with a movie star, then lunch with Bobby Flay.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You can't really "know" someone through a virtual connection... I don't think it would be too difficult to paint a general picture of me based on what pieces of myself I thumbtack to my blog from time to time, but you have to be careful about generalizations, incestual second cousins to stereotypes.

    I may be more than I appear to be or, more likely, less... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's funny Kafka. Enjoy your lunch with Bobby. Do you really think that anonymity makes these topics even more taboo? Maybe you are right. I really don't do much to keep my identity secret. It says on the top of the page where you can find me every monday night.

    I find it sad that I am prohibited from saying what I want to say about certain things that a lot of people would deem important, whether they agree or not. In fact, political speech seems to be only appropriate in political contexts... so if I want to write about politics or sex, I need a blog that is explicitly political and/or sexual.

    EB, I definitely have developed a mental image of you, but I have no idea if it is even close to correct. I also know that the one time I recall you bringing up something even remotely political, you were apologetic about it. I sense that you feel some of the same tension.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Looks like I have some back reading to do.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have no idea what you guys are talkin' about but at least I've discovered some gems from the BM Report archive.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Having lived 30 out of the last 33 years overseas, I'm as apolitical as they come. Does that mean I can stay?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am pretty sure that you and I could have a pretty heated conversation about religion or politics face-to-face, and still be up for a beer afterward. I think internet anonymity makes it more taboo for those of us with a small (infinitesimal in my case) shred of dignity and a bit of respect for the community we write to. Avoiding topics on the internet that I won't be held accountable for is a must if I want to maintain any sort of positive communication with anyone here on the interwebernets.

    I am assuming we want to maintain readership and positive feedback/criticism for this blog, so staying away from touchy topics is even more important for this blog than it is for, say... 4chan writers. Those people are 100% anonymous and 100% unaccountable for what they write:

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/36113365#36113365

    ReplyDelete
  8. Matt (Virginia Matt), Political or apolitical you are of course welcome to stay. Maybe I was just firing a warning shot because I assume that given enough time and words, I will offend everybody.

    And Matt (Wyoming Matt), you are correct. Neutrality on the taboo topics is advisable if you want to maximize your audience. This is why Walmart or GM do not overtly endorse political candidates. Still, there are times when I have a hard time keeping my tongue tied. I guess that would be my tragic flaw.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'll be sure to log into my 14 year old Korean schoolgirl account when I post about anything political or religious.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.