Tag Archives: internet politeness norms

The Internet is Like the World’s Playground…

…and not in a good way.  No, not at all, in my opinion.

I have written about – or made reference to – the lack of politeness norms on the internet.  My interest in this subject goes way back to when I was in graduate school at the University of Memphis (from 1997-2000), when I studied under Dr. Art Graesser in the Cognitive Science Lab. Some of the research I was involved in was language-based, particularly something called “conversational smoothness” in terms of how an intelligent tutoring system (AI) would reproduce that.

Aside #1: Wow do I ever miss that!  For one of the first times in my life, I actually felt smart!

At any rate, when I wasn’t studying and so on, I was into chat.  Primarily Yahoo chat.  And I became really interested in politeness norms regarding chat – mostly because, aside from turn-taking, there really weren’t any.  People would argue, and sometimes “text bomb” people (causing the chat program to crash), and generally were verbally combative at times.

I thought this was as bad as it gets.  Oh I was so wrong.  It’s a lot worse now.

Besides the usual rude things I read in comments sections these days, and there are certainly many of those, there is something emerging that puzzles me to no end, and indicates to me that there is a certain pathology manifesting itself.

It is the idea of an “anonymous contributor”.

Twice this week, I have run into this myself, regarding my own comments.  And it really, really surprised me.

The first one was when I read an article by a psychiatrist who was reviewing a film about schizophrenia.  He made the remark that, in his opinion, only a psychiatrist could have made the film, particularly someone who had personal experience with schizophrenia.  I posted a comment asking why he said this, as there are many professionals besides psychiatrists who are quite familiar with schizophrenia – like nurses and therapists.

Aside #2: I wasn’t trying to be an asshole.  I just wanted to know why he thought that.  In retrospect, recalling psychiatrists I have worked with – SOME psychiatrists – I ought to have known better.  His response was somewhat…erm…defensive – and clearly I had inadvertently offended him.  But that’s not my main point.

Main point: About 2 minutes after I submitted this comment – which was under my actual first name – I got an email from the editors stating (as the next comment under mine) that they require commenters to state their full names and titles.  Since I was registered at the site under my full name and so on, I thought it odd but replied in the next comment what my name and title were – Ms. Victoria Pomeroy, MS (psychology). I threw the “Ms.” in there just to sound like I was taking umbrage at the whole thing, which I was, actually.

Aside #3: The umbrage thing was lost on someone who replied to the content of my initial comment, as evidenced by him addressing me as “Victoria” and not “Ms. Pomeroy”.  Or maybe the way he addressed me was a deliberate familiarity – and, considering the profession, I think that’s more likely than an inability to recognize the “hmph!” tone I used when referring to myself as “Ms.”  

Pfft!  I do not consider any site that someone registers for – which usually includes full name, email address, sometimes age, sometimes gender, to be “anonymous.”  Even how the editors addressed me when they stated that thing about “full name and title” was odd, as it was in quotes – “Victoria”, as if this were some sort of nom de plume.

Gee, that wouldn’t be very creative now, would it?  Kinda like the name of this blog – it’s not creative, and it clearly states what my name is.

Well, so, no big deal.  I was somewhat put off by it, but considering the source – the type of internet publication it is – that’s just how those types of folks roll.

The next experience I had regarding this was when I asked a simple question in a comments section of a…well…how do I describe this?  It’s a blog written by someone whose books I have read and like, who is involved in the UFO community.

Aside #4: You need to stop that eye-rolling, or your eyes will freeze that way, I promise you! Yes, I mean you!!  I see you!! Stop it!

*Clears throat*

The blog post in question was just the author laying down some boundaries, which I think were long overdue.  He stated there would be no more insulting remarks, name-calling, and so on. Pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you think?

This caused a discussion to develop amongst the “regulars” (no, I am not one, I am a “newbie”) concerning certain people and their stances on things like the “Roswell Slides” (a non-event, don’t even bother Googling it), and then morphing into a sort of tirade by some people regarding “ACs”.  Oh and some mention, in the same train of thought, to “AJB”.

Air conditioners?  Alternating current?  And I had no guess as to what “AJB” was.

So I asked.  And, at the site, I am registered by my Google ID, which is “muse”.  Which, to my understanding, also has my correct email address and probably other Googly things, like my picture of Finnian-Da-Kitteh as my ID pic and all.

Aside #5: Yes, yes, I am getting a real pic taken uh…when I feel un-shy some day.  Don’t hold your breath.  I have always been camera shy, and it’s a miracle there is even that one pic of me at 16, taken by Stange.  His charm, no doubt!

Ok, so I asked what “AC” and “AJB” meant.  A nice person, who only has initials in his ID, explained that “AC” – which meant “alternating current” to him (he’s old like me I guess heh) – in internet lingo means “anonymous contributor”.

The “AJB” refers to someone that a lot of people who comment on that blog do not like, whose involvement in the aforementioned “Roswell Slides” is the subject of apparently much derision and internet posturing.  I guess he posts on the comments section a lot, but wasn’t commenting on that particular article (perhaps wisely).

Aside #6: I also asked what was considered an “expert” in the UFO field (no, I wasn’t baiting, I wanted to know what their operational definition was, since a few posters had mentioned that), and what constitutes anonymity if we are all required to register using Google IDs and so on.  No one answered that.

Ok, so far so good…until I read the response to my thanking this poster for his explanations.

The response was written by someone who posts under his (apparent) full name, first and last. He derided the fact that “two ACs” were discussing what the abbreviation meant, and went on to declare that anyone who is an AC isn’t worth his time to respond to (irony is lost on him, I guess).

This is definitely someone who is not only stuck on himself, but who also has to have the last word.  His previous comments on the thread dealt with how skeptics misuse Occam’s Razor (of course he had to spell it as Okham’s, because he’s so much smarter don’t ya know) to bash such clearly superior ideas as aliens being the cause of unexplained phenomena.

As opposed to, you know, clearly unscientific ideas such as sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations.



Internet Politeness Norms & Alternate…Everything

Today’s post is about internet politeness norms (there don’t seem to be any), alternative medicine/treatments (aka “woo”), and the general alternative reality that a lot of people seem to be living in (virtual reality in its many forms).

First of all, though, yet another health update: (Skip to Page 2 for My Usual Commentary)

I finished the antibiotics and am still sick.  The fevers are fewer and farther between, which is good, but the nausea/dizziness/upper right quadrant pain remain.  The fatigue is at bay unless I do something incredibly strenuous like, say, go downstairs to get the mail.  Then I’m done for the day, pretty much.

I don’t think people understand what I mean.  I don’t mean I am out of breath going up and down stairs – it doesn’t even get to that point.  I mean I feel like taking a nap in the foyer after fetching the mail and before returning upstairs.  Tired times a zillion and then some.

I have no idea how I am going to grocery shop next month.  I barely made it this month and when I got home I was wiped out for days.

And Dr. Wonderful?  His last comments to me via email, after I asked him if the lab results indicating I had some kind of atrophied pancreas (and the everpresent gallstones) might be the source of my symptoms, were somewhat terse – he stated that pancreas atrophy does not have symptoms and would not cause upper quadrant pain, and that the best way to “prevent illness” is a good diet, and strength training.

Can’t really disagree with him there.  However, it’s not really helpful.  My diet now consists of “eat whatever I want as long as I eat 45 g of fiber first” – which, if you have ever tried, leaves no room to eat ANYTHING else, because 45 g is a LOT of fiber and hard to achieve in one day.

Try it.  I mean, without pills or fiber drinks.  It’s tough.

My diet consists of raw vegetables (usually broccoli and caultiflower), some cooked ones (peas and artichokes, as both are high in fiber), an apple or berries, the occasional free-range happy chicken egg, and 2 c. black beans with bulgur and/or brown rice.

Sometimes I go wild and eat 2 slices of $6/loaf (yes, really) Ezekial bread, which is so high in healthy ingredients it nearly tastes like it.   Sorry, but vegetarian/health food has not changed a whole lot (ie, it still tastes a lot like cardboard) since I was a vegetarian in 1969 (I was 13 – an animal, um well not rights person exactly, I just didn’t think killing animals for food was kind or right).  I don’t think animals have rights, nor did I then.  I just don’t/didn’t think we as humans have to torture them for food/cosmetics/anything else.

They depend on us to not hurt them.  Oh, for heaven’s sake, if I was out in the wilderness and had to fend for myself I would maybe fish, as I kind of see that as an equal sporting kind of thing (I have never actually caught a fish, despite my love of bass fishing – them’s some damn smart fish and they always get away, if I am able to hook them at all, which I’m usually not).

But, in general, Americans do not need to hunt for food.  And, while even I will admit that McDonald’s burgers taste good (especially those cheddar/carmelized onion ones), they are just not worth the health issues or contributing to McDonald’s global domination.  So, I mean I don’t need to eat meat of any kind, for a lot of different reasons.

I digress.  What was I talking about?  Right, the diet and health.  So I have a boring diet and since I am rarely hungry now, I can check the “dietary lifestyle change” off my list.

Exercise, as my doctor clearly knows (because we have discussed it many times), is the tough part.  He knows I do not have a car.  He also knows I am on disability.  He knows that anything that’s not a medical errand (and exercise does not count, I already argued with Pennsylvania Medicaid and Medicare about this) costs me $6 round-trip.

I applied awhile back to the YMCA grant for poor people thing, which I got.   The woman told me, “As Christians, we think everyone should at least pay SOMETHING,” when I asked her why there was still a fee of $12/month.  “You mean you can’t spare $12 a month??” she asked.  I told her, no, but I would be glad to volunteer as anything, and if she had me do counseling volunteer work that was worth at least $25/hour so…”Oh, you have to volunteer on top of paying the fee,” she said.

Ok so that’s $12 plus transportation costs of $18/week, assuming a 3 times/week exercise schedule.  And it has to be done between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm, M-F, because those are the times the Blair Senior Services vans run (the $6/round-trip guys).

That’s minimally $84/month.  Even if I inexplicably ditched my cell phone (which isn’t practical and no, I do not want an Obamaphone – I had one once and the talk time they provide each month isn’t enough to cover the cost of calls to doctors and other necessary things, let alone call or text my kids and friends), and got rid of my internet (which is $28/month), it still wouldn’t add up to $84/month.

The classes are another issue.  The free ones are either not on the days/times I need or they are not suitable (NO Silver Sneakers for me, thanks) or they cost money.

A side issue – one that creeps me out – is that a prominent (and very elderly) doctor I have had contact with is on the YMCA board (in a visible, active, ‘hang-around-the-place’ way),  I would not want to run into him.  I had heard – through some former clients of mine – that he was into the BDSM scene as a dom, and when I met him he made it creepily clear that this was not a rumor.  I was in the middle of an exam for my back at the time.  It weirded me out so much, especially when he told me I was a “good girl”, that I left as soon as humanly possible and never went back.

It didn’t particularly shock me that Altoona has an underground dungeon or whatever.  I just really don’t want any contact with that group of folks, in any capacity.  They seem to be obsessed with sex and that doesn’t sit well with me (no obsessions sit well with me, to be honest).

So, back to the issues of diet and exercise.  Diet, check.  Exercise, um still figuring that out.  I bought a bicycle 3 years ago, and have fallen off it 3 times.  Yes, I used to ride bikes a lot as a kid and young adult.  I think the falling has to do with the peripheral neuropathy in my legs, which makes it so my legs do not do what I tell them to do, a lot of the time.  That relates back to the lower back issue, which was supposed to resolve itself without surgery but the last CT scan last week unintentionally revealed that nothing has changed.

So ends the health update for today.  That was the “everything” part of the title.