In my post, “Going, Going…” I mentioned that when you read a lot of blogs you sometimes learn more about the blogger than you’d want to know. Such is the case with one blog I glance at. This guy purports to be a military veteran, a helicopter pilot and further, purports to currently fly an air ambulance helicopter. However these things are unverifiable considering that his blog is anonymous and the profile picture he uses is of a small, two-seat Robinson training helicopter. There is no picture of him, no email address, no real information at all. Hmm... Perhaps he doesn’t really exist?
This is the problem with the internet. You can be anyone you want to be, even if you’re a nobody. Because a nobody can be a Somebody if that nobody has internet access. Anyone can publish anything they like, anonymously. Trouble is, some people who do this want to be taken seriously.
I did not mention the name of the particular blog I was referring to, and it does not appear - never has - on the right-hand side of this page. I did say that while this blogger and I *purportedly* have aviation in common, I doubt very much that we’d be friends in real life. Reason being, his blog is not at all about flying but entirely about politics and his hatred…yes, hatred of liberal democrats. (I keep clicking on his blog in the futile hope that he’ll write something…anything…about flying, but every time I do? DENIED!) Nope, nothing about flying – just politics. He and his peanut gallery of anonymous followers truly believe that the country is on the verge of destruction (engineered by guess who?), being destroyed from the inside out. It's as radical a stance as I've seen.
Well you know you can never say anything on the internet without starting a flame war, and sure enough this blogger deduced that I was talking about him. I suppose he was feeling much like Warren Beatty felt the first time he heard Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” He (the blogger, not Warren Beatty) fired off a comment to my original post, then made a post on his own blog about it, encouraging his coterie of toadies to come here and make their presence known. Their responses on his blog were full of the amateur (and worthless) psychoanalysis we’re all so fond of.
I make no such assumptions about this blogger. I have no idea why he is like he is, only that from his writing he comes across as a bitter, bitter man. He does hate, and I did call him a hater, and he was offended by that. And, as internet patrons often do, he resorted to schoolyard tactics, shooting back that I’m not any different/better because I once called Nancy Pelosi a “loony.” Which I did. Which she is, let’s be honest.
To the blogger-in-question and his followers, the world is very black and white. If you don’t believe what they believe, if you’re not in lock-step with them, then you’re the enemy. That blogger characterized people like me as (and I quote), “…dispassionate ‘don’t worry, be happy’ types (who) blithely accuse others of hate while throwing stones through the walls of their glass houses, ignoring what appears to be a concerted attempt to collapse our economy.”
Wow. Please read that sentence again. “…A concerted attempt to collapse our economy.”
That’s first-rate paranoia, man. If Stephen Stills had not already written “For What It’s Worth,” he would have had to re-form the Buffalo Springfield and write it now. Oh come on, you remember:
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line
The man come and take you away
And again, this is what I don’t like about the internet. Anyone can say anything with no recourse. People like to think that they’re being “passionate” about things. Yeah…it’s easy to be passionately anonymous when you're being critical. But that’s just immature sniping from the sidelines. I say, if you’re really, truly passionate in your belief that the country is being destroyed from the inside out…that there really is a concerted attempt to collapse our economy…then you should go out and goddam DO something about it (like, maybe get active in politics?), not whine on a blog like an anonymous little child.
Or shut up.
Senator Ted Kennedy died last night after losing the fight with a brain tumor. Never mind that it must have been a horrible, painful way to die. Never mind the career in public service that Senator Kennedy had was long and illustrious. Never mind his many accomplishments, his years of public service when he could have easily said, “Screw it!” and lived off the family money in Hyannis Port. Never mind any of the good things that the man has done in his long life. Never mind the awful tragedies he's had to bear. Forget all that. The anonymous blogger I wrote about in “Going, Going…?" Today, less than twelve hours after Senator Kennedy's death was announced, he posted a chortling: “Mary Jo Kopechne Was Unavailable For Comment.” (The post had, typically, almost no content.)
His entire blog is like that - radical, mean-spirited and nasty. See, I think people like that…people who always see the negative side of everything…those people are just miserable scumbags. You didn’t like Teddy Kennedy? Fine. At least have some decency in the man’s death. To make a comment like that is sinking to a new low. Which I didn’t think was possible. But comments like that come easily when no one knows your name.
But this is what politics has become, and what it’s done to us as a nation. It’s a form of total negativism that brooks no compromise, no middle-ground, only extreme polarization. I call it The Limbaugh-Hannity Syndrome. It makes people hate others so much that they lose their humanity.
I miss the old-school media, where there was accountability. If a newspaper reporter wrote something, he had to back it up with facts. If you disagreed with him, you knew who he was and you could challenge him directly. Same thing with TV reporters, whose integrity was put on the line every time they went on camera. Remember when CBS produced some bogus and easily-debunked documents about George W. Bush’s military background? Dan Rather (eventually) lost his job. Didn’t anybody at CBS remember that typewriters of the 1970’s couldn’t easily do a superscript font? Sheesh.
Now, there is no accountability on the internet. Now it’s all innuendo and opinion – anonymously, of course! Sure, with anonymity comes great freedom of expression. But that freedom comes at the price of trustworthiness. I do not trust anything I read that is posted anonymously. In fact, I view all of it with great suspicion. It makes me wonder why the writer is so ashamed of his views that he is unwilling to put his name to and stand behind them. (La Gringa gets a pass on this. She is in Honduras, and she is very critical of the government. She has a very real concern for her safety and maybe even her life.)
I am no expert on politics or the economy (or life, or anything else except flying for that matter), and I do not pretend to be. I am not a genius, but I’m no idiot either. Call me naïve, but I trust our political system and our system of government. At least I trust it enough to know that it is self-correcting, and if this Obama guy screws up too badly, he’ll be outta here! in three short years. But I am not about to jump to any conclusion that only eight months into his presidency, it is already a total failure. (Very soon we’ll have the elections for the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives. Republicans are going to be clamoring to regain some seats. We’ll see what happens, and afterward we won’t need a weatherman to tell us which way the wind is blowing then. Should be interesting!)
Yes, I realize that I'm ranting about nothing...that I've wasted my time and yours on some silly, insignificant internet thing that only gets around 200 visits per day. My own blog only gets around 50 visits per day. Neither of us are curing cancer or setting the world on fire in terms of "readership."
My name is Bob Barbanes. I am a working corporate helicopter (and King Air!) pilot who lives in Pensacola, Florida. If I write something you don’t like, you can call me on it – literally. My phone number is 850-512-2663. If I’m out flying, leave a message and I’ll call you back. My real email address is on every page of this blog.
I always encourage comments here. I don’t need to screen and pre-approve them the way some bloggers do, and I never delete them. So feel free! Of course, if you want to comment anonymously, that’s okay too. Feel, um, freer.