Glutton For Punishment: Cyber-Wars

A Typical Late Night

The story of my life

As I have written before, nothing enrages me more than stupid people on the internet. I hate reading an insightful article or opinion online then scroll down to the comments and see someone I KNOW is wrong discredit everything. I always get to pounding on my keyboard to put this unknown stranger into place and go away fuming and ranting to myself.  I promise myself to just stop reading comments, but then I find myself again reading the dumb things people say, getting upset, and losing faith in humanity. It’s a sadistic cycle that I and many others engage in regularly.

But why do I and many others do it every single time though we end up more frustrated than before and nothing changes? Well it’s because I think responding with reason will change that person’s mind, or embarrass them to the point that they will stop arguing. But it doesn’t.

Perfect example was the other night while I was on The Miami Herald site reading up on the last Florida state legislative session and there was an article about the new requirement that anyone receiving TANF benefits i.e. “welfare”, is required to take a drug test. Nothing was really wrong with that except requiring the people applying to pay for it (it should be free). What got me going was the  outdated “welfare queen” stereotype ladened tirades in the comments. Having read books and learned about welfare policy and the reality of the system, I felt it was my duty to deliver the facts. And I mean evidence too. I pulled up official sources on the amount of benefits received in the state of Florida, the requirements of TANF, and even did the number punching to demonstrate that is impossible by design to get rich off of TANF (though no one ever on welfare was ever living the “good life” under AFDC either) and that there is a high incentive to work.

Even after this long well thought out post with calculations and references embedded (with the links so they could see it for themselves), I got a “you must have relatives on welfare then since you know all of the stats.”  I might as well just typed jeiorqha;gfngazgvnafvb’fahhba’, because that person even confronted with hard evidence contrary to their view didn’t budge from their position that people receiving benefits are lazy and mooch off of tax payers instead of getting a job.

So the lesson is, don’t engage with people who hold illogical and irrational thought patterns. It is futile because all of the research and facts in the world that disproves their argument won’t change their mind.  People who take the time (like myself) to engage anonymous strangers on online forums going back and forth are the ones who feel the strongest and hold the most extreme views. You are better off focusing  on the rational more open-minded and moderate people you interact with in person. It’s way easier to sway someone in the middle to your side of thinking than it is to get someone to swing over from the opposite extreme.

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Human Sex: The Never Ending [Non] Controversy

Well months have passed since I posted anything on here, but as a student I have so much work to do and so many different ways to procrastinate on doing that work, that it becomes difficult to do any meaningful blogging. But as this tumultuous academic year at Northwestern comes to a close, I have plenty of new material coming your way throughout the summer.

Now to get to down to business: let’s talk sex. Not just sex, but human sex. And not just human sex, but Human Sexuality, a course that was formally offered by the psychology department at Northwestern University. This past winter, the class and it’s professor caused quite the media stir for the live (excuse the language) fucksaw demonstration. The incident became probably the biggest overblown “controversy” in the history of Northwestern that tarnished this great institution’s name and because of this, the administration has decided to cancel the class for the next year and “review the curricula” to evaluate it’s importance. (Click here for the scoop)

As you imagine the announcement has riled the masses again with the most liberal students crying academic censorship, and the uber-conservative Midwestern oldies applauding a return to “good moral values in the classroom.” Letters are pouring into the campus publication proclaiming shame on Morty (the university president) for punishing the most controversial professor and denying students the opportunity to be uncomfortable. My reaction: get over it and go read a book.

Now as a pretty liberal person, I don’t think the class really had to be cancelled, as those who really have a problem with it and don’t see it’s utility to the non-repressed student who doesn’t have qualms talking about sex or their sexuality (like myself) wouldn’t take the class. And we are all legal adults and if it is legal for us to purchase porn and view it in this state, it should be legal to watch live if you so wish.  I also feel Robin Mathy has a vendetta against Bailey and is making it her life cause to destroy him. Whatever, I don’t particularly like Bailey myself, but I just disagree and move on.

But why is the class not being offered next year the end of the world? Why do people feel it is their only opportunity to be exposed to controversial and challenging opinions? All members of the Northwestern faculty are required to complete research/write books on their area of expertise; if you like Bailey so much, go and pick up a copy of his controversial book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, he advertises all of the time. Look up his research articles in the Northwestern Library system, they’re free for you to access and use to your heart’s content. Look up other people’s research on human sexuality. How about doing an independent study for credit if you need a class format to learn about a subject that interests you? All you need is an advisor and a reading list and you can go for it. If you don’t want to take advantage of those resources still available to you, then you obviously must not care that much about the course. They haven’t burned his books or fired him, and there is still the internet.

That’s the problem I have with the complaining. Learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom, the opportunities to learn and become passionate about an issue are all around. That is one of the most frustrating things about people today, they have to be spoon-fed everything and need someone else to make them learn instead of taking responsibility for their own enrichment. That’s why teachers are vilified and blamed for a failing education system, when most of the time we have the power to crack open a book and study, go to keynote speaker events, go to a museum, or freaking Google something. There are plenty of worthwhile classes and amazing professors capable of inspiring critical thinking, you know if you bother to put in the effort to think.