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Random Thoughts on the Subject of Untruth and Pompousness

Posted 3 September 2004, 11.00 pm by Lilith

Everyone wants to be someone important, someone of consequence, right? For the most part--and with some rather rare psychologically unusual exceptions, everyone wants to be "somebody" as opposed to just nobody that no one knows or cares about.

On the internet, where there is a (rather transparent, when examined carefully) seeming of anonymity and possibiliy to pretend a variety of things that one may or may not be in real life--in other words, to lie. It is a seeming and not a reality because the anonymity of the internet is a rather relative thing, while one's reputation on the net is near a constant, at least as long as you stay in your habitual circles. People have long memories, and longer on the net, because of easy accessibility of archives on most sites.

There are two routes around that--one is to actually be that transparent and not lie about things, and another is to actually keep oneself anonymous--and then you can pretend to be whatever, at least to an extent that is believable and likely (contrary to the popular belief, people aren't much more stupid on the net than they are in real life). I will discuss lies on the internet another time--currently, a related issue is on my mind, for it is the type of personality that is prone to attempt the latter path (regardless of how anonymous they actually manage to be) that tends to irritate me to no end, as they are almost alsways true nobodies in real life, and pretend to be anything and everything on the net, positively bristling with self-importance and net status (if they are able to achieve it to any extent).

How does one, then, achieve internet importance, even in small terms? I speak here in generalities (though will try to avoid generalizations), and in small terms, because there are many more things on the net than I can or have time to describe in details. There is such a thing as internet power status, very localized and limited, of course--being a moderator, irc Op on a popular channel, or administrator. To be an admin (for the purposes of status as oposed to purposes of adminning one's web site), one must actually create something that attracts a population, like a forum or a blog site--you pick. The positions of Op and moderator are, however, generally acquired things. They are consequently less powerful than the administrator position, and therefore are far more of an accessible (being that becoming an admin of anything worthwhile is rather difficult) status statement on the internet--"look, someone who is an admin thinks I am worthy of being a moderator for his site/forum/channel/whatever!".

There are then also online organizations that have command structures one can endeavor to become a part of, and then the command has a limited to the net, but very real within its limits, power over the membership of their organization and ability to dispence justice within those bounds.

I by no means would claim that all entities in positions of limited power over their little corners of the internet are there for the buttering of their own egos and power-trips, by no means, that isn't so. All I am pointing out is that to those who would want to act in a pompous man-o-power self-important manner, those positions are the naturally sought-after item.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely--should a person of those questionable qualities end up in a position of power, the misuse of it is almost a certain constant in this psychological equation. Sooner or later, they will put others down just because they can, and the exercise of that power makes them feel more important and significant in their own eyes.

To wrap up the entry, I am just trying to classify the breed for study, making a few notes. This was inspired by encountering one of those pompous online bureaucrats today in my net sphere, and I will now take steps to never come into his possible sphere of power again. This person had not touched me directly in such a way as to provoke me, but I resent the possibility of finding myself being talked to as an underling by someone who is a likely nobody in real life, and not my employer, either.

The beauty of the net is that if you don't like it somewhere on the net (where you are nominally welcome), it's your choice whether to remain there. People in real life and on the net will get away with precisely as much as you let them get away with.

I prefer not to let people get away with much.

Mr_Fred_Smith
on 5 September 2004, 9.22 am
Great leader, Lil, and there's some truth there: in general it reminds me a little of something George Orwell once said (I can't recall the exact quote) about once you reach adultthood, no-one cares whether you're good or evil, they only relate to you in terms of status, i.e. whether they perceive you as weak or strong. Sometimes that feels like hyperbole to me, but more often - and as I get older - it feels more and more like the truth.

On the whole, though, I think moderating behaviour like the type that you describe occurs pretty infrequently, usually when people are new both to the concept of moderating rights and, indeed, net access, simply because they seem to find it more difficult drawing a line between their entertainment channel and their real world. That type of online psychopathology inevitably declines over time. I also disagree with you - albeit nominally, and basically reflexively - about Lord Acton's dictum, simply because I tend to go with the increasingly common school of thought that holds that power simply magnifies vanity and hubris and provides the opportunity for corruption. If Nixon was a mod, he'd be too busy hacking into your inbox to seem ideologically oppressive.


Alexander
on 5 September 2004, 10.04 am
I think the mistake you made, Lil, was taking the internet seriously in the first place.


Mr_Fred_Smith
on 5 September 2004, 11.09 am
"I beat the Internet the other day.

The end guy was hard."


Lilith
on 6 September 2004, 2.52 pm
Alex, who said I took it seriously? Internet for me is a great place to find things to think about and then ramble on like they matter. I guess I should have preceded this piece by the other one I wrote regarding how RL influences our view of the internet and it's (lack of) importance--but that was less thoughtfully written and more rambling than this one, so I just left it in the blog and didn't submit here.

In case you haven't noticed, I just like yapping--and that's true in RL even more than in writing. :)

Am, I don't *absolutely* belive in absolute power corrupting absolutely--your view is no less valid or realistic (probably more so in the latter case), but it seemed to be the case of the pompous authocrat I encountered. Besides, the net tends to distill a lot of things about people that sometimes tends obscured in everyday life--this particular observation is done on the basis of having RL friends that I first met on the internet and with whom I tend to hang out a few times a week.

Hm, maybe I should write about that.


darkstrEam
on 7 September 2004, 7.40 pm
I have to admit to being more annoyed and likely to exit a certain websphere because of the actions of childish idiots than those who are running the websites in whatever capacity. ignorant morons who feel the need to shout about ass-raping (or whatever) like foul-mouthed adolescents, who only experience the internet as a means to 'verbally' abuse stangers without consequence are the main thing to put me off a forum or chatspace, which is generally when I'm glad that there are people willing to moderate properly and kick the jerks out.
enjoyed your post Lilith.


firebrand
on 12 September 2004, 4.39 am
The Internet is serious business.

Childishness in 'authority' figures on the internet is pretty ubiquitous (i mean, this article made me want to kick someone on IRC. probably Unforgiven). Really, the only thing that makes childishness tolerable is 1) realizing that the internet is NOT serious and 2) the authority figures recognizing that they are childish.

There's nothing sadder than someone who takes internet persecution seriously.


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