Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chasing the Bear: A Cautionary Tale

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It brings people together, it makes research easier, and it facilitates communication over a wide range of circumstances. It is also a digital distraction machine, and a marvelous time vacuum.

It is also (also) a wonderful way to shoot yourself in the foot, and then stick that same foot in your mouth.

(Picture it... you’re welcome.)

Participation in online discussion is fun and distracting, and sometimes it’s a great way to (ugh) “network” or otherwise show your professional contacts that, yes, you are a real flesh-and-blood person with feelings and beliefs and quirks. Unfortunately, this same venue is a way to show your professional contacts that, yes, from time to time you get a bug up your ass about something, and no amount of logical discourse will sway you from your opinion.

Oh, how fun!

Recently, I was embroiled in a discussion on a professional writers' forum, and I said some things probably that sounded like the beginnings of a "flame," or something. Then I got an email from someone who had been there longer than I that cautioned restraint on my part. I'm still debating whether I can do that.

Courtesy (and copyright) XKCD.
So, here it is. The best thing about this situation, is that it isn’t in person, and the things that come out of you mouth (invective, coarse language, stuttering, etc.) are only heard by you until you expend the time and effort to type it all out and hit the SEND or POST button. And for every very public meltdown, there was a moment in time where the entire blow-up could have had the air let out of it by just... not... posting.

But it's hard not to. Neuroscience tells us the brain is ten parts emotion to one part reason. Our brain is, to quote a smart and funny man, "like a grizzly bear with a midget on the back, trying to control it*."

You can control it. I have faith in this, and I believe in you. Use the force, use Zen breathing techniques, use one of those squishy stress-relief balls, use the OFF switch. Something. You can do it.

And if you can do it, I can do it, too. We can live in Internet harmony.

Next week, I want to talk about how Alice Cooper is everything that's right about rock and roll.

-Thom Brannan

* - What's that? This blog is a partially-visual medium, and we don't need mental pictures? You're right!

Dr. McNinja courtesy and copyright, Chris Hastings
Used with permission. See The Adventures of Dr. McNinja HERE.


  1. One thing I hate about the 'Net is how easy it is to misconstrue a joke or something said innocently. Computers don't do emotional overtones well. And emoticons sometimes are not enough.

    1. What are you, anyway, some kind of tech-hating, stuck-in-the-19th-century Luddite? The Webinet is here to stay, Mr Emotional Overtones, so you'd better put on your big-boy pants and get used to the notion.