Another friend of mine (yes, I have more than 1) has a few things to say, so I'm giving her space. Enjoy this entry from my friend Stella Rondo.
This morning I was wasting time on my computer. As I often do when I have a few minutes to kill, I played an online game. This particular game consisted of popping a grid of about 130 balloons in such a way as to get rid of them all, and win big prizes as a result. Well ok, only if I popped about 6 quadrillion of them would I get anything resembling a prize, but the carrot was there regardless.
As in many such game rooms, there was a small open chat window in the right hand corner. This window contained a running dialog between the other people who were also sitting on a Saturday morning popping balloons rather than out, say, finding a cure for cancer. The "conversation" went something like this:
LuschusLips: "how old r u?"
Bookie2000: "32. thass old."
ClydeP123: "your only as old as you feel"
Bookie2000: "any hot girls in here?"
LuschusLips: "Im hot and horny, wanna chat?"
Yes, I realize these denizens of the internet would have given Shaw a run for his money. And it didn't get much better than that. I watched it out of the corner of my eye for some time. And then I thought: You're sitting in a chat room on a Saturday morning popping a grid of virtual balloons. Just how hot can you be?
And then I thought further: I now know one of the real consequences of the internet. It's to give the crazy an air of legitimacy they otherwise would not have had.
Consider that premise. In years past, if you were crazy (oh sorry, not PC enough? OK, let's say terminally odd), the only way people knew about it was if they had face to face dealings with you. And, if you were on the odd side, that side would tend to show itself rather quickly. You might exhibit your oddness by staring fixedly at the person to whom you were speaking, or twitching, or darting your eyes furtively at everyone around you, or drooling, or never combing your hair or bathing, or not speaking in complete sentences, or speaking in metaphors so mixed they might have come out of Ronco's Veg-O-Blender.
But on the internet, no one sees any of that. They certainly can't see the drooling or the twitching eyes. They can't smell the considerable body odor. And speaking in incomplete sentences and muddy metaphors seems almost de rigueur. I suspect many of these same people are sitting at the local library computer, chatting with a passionate intensity that would astonish Yeats, without fear of anyone hauling them off and locking them up for being a danger to themselves or society.
So no wonder some people - those who have limited social graces, manners, wit, or coherence - no wonder the internet is so captivating. Where else can you chat with a horny girl without her ever finding out what a real loser you are? Where else can you make dire pronouncements about the impending doom of mankind for a mass audience? Where else can you compare Bush to Hitler and actually have people take you seriously?
In years past, the crazy who were not hospitalized were often found in big city parks or street corners, ranting at no one in particular and shaking their fists at the heavens. On the internet, they can be celebrated, catered to, and like the Wizard of Oz, imagined to be far more important and powerful than they really are. It almost makes you wonder - which comes first? Being crazy and using the internet, or using the internet and making yourself crazy because there's nothing to check your ridiculous impulses?
And let's be honest. If that girl in the chat room was really that hot and horny, why is she sitting in a chat room popping balloons? Are we to believe that she comes in just to pop on-line balloons as a respite from her never ending whirl of parties, photo shoots, and dates with Richard Branson?
I am hoping that any of my good readers who have created on-line personae for themselves that are remarkably unlike who they are in real life, are starting to feel pretty stupid by now. You are? Good. I intended for you too. Now log off and go outside and play.
As for myself, I have about 35 balloons left.