I don’t have much to say on the “Occupy” movement, though I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit. I don’t have much to say because I haven’t had the time or energy to really look into (one of the consequences of being a new dad). But in those moments that I have had, it seems more than a little clear to me that one of the reasons the usual media suspects don’t know how to handle it is because it is a movement that truly transcends the usual dichotomies of American public discourse.
I sometimes don’t understand why my fellow citizens often act against their own self-interest. Then I read this article in the most recent New Yorker. The following bit explains a lot.
In case you’ve been living on Mars, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears, here’s some stuff that might get your blood boiling.
Some folks believe that the Internet is somehow different from the “real world.” Some folks believe that, because of the anonymity of the Internet, people will invariably behave worse online than off, that they will say and do things that in the “real world” they would never consider saying or doing, morals and ethics be damned.
I believe that’s a crock of shit. Sometimes (a lot of times) people behave badly. Period. Where and when that happens is most likely a factor of specific circumstances. And to the extent that I’ve seen people behave spectacularly poorly in a wide array of circumstances, both online and off, I cannot sustain the belief that people behave quantitatively or qualitatively worse on the Internet than they do in real life.
“Although the hyperreal operates as its own type of reality, this does not mean that its provenance is divorced from the material conditions in which we live. The fact that the images that the media project can be readily identified as “representations,” rather than the truth of the matter, works to further mask the political, social, and cultural interests involved. At the same time, these images have the force of reality and serve as a conduit of meaning. No doubt, viewers can recognize the Arab terrorists in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film True Lies (1994) as fictional characters (“It’s just a movie!”), but these images undoubtedly reinforce, if not substantively inform, American viewers’ notions of Islam and the U.S.-Middle East conflict.”
The Angry Asian Buddhist is Angry. Again. This week, the target of his ire is an article by David Nichtern on the Huffington Post, an article that wasn’t all that interesting (to me anyway) and raised the same issues and questions that Arun has raised time and again for years now. A lively discussion, with accusations of racism flying this way and that, has flared up on the Angry Asian Buddhist blog (and also on a not-exactly-related post on Dharma Folk). I was going to make a comment over there, but after I filled in the little comment field, I selected the wrong account, the comment vanished, I got a phone call, and stopped caring about whatever it was that I was going to say. But let me tell you this: whatever I was going to say was going to be brilliant!
Anyway. Whatever I was going to say is not what I’m about to say. I’ve been feeling frustrated lately with the whole project of blogging, truth be told. And, as my long-time readers will attest, ordinarily I’d jump on the Angry Asian bandwagon, champion diversity, rail against systems of oppression, act like the Feminist Hulk (or his [her?] Buddhist counterpart), and SMASH. But I just can’t seem to get riled up about this stuff. I can’t help thinking to myself, to what end? What is the point of all of this?