Sunday, May 18, 2008

...We'd All Have Old Bicycles

Boyfriend Extraordinaire had a bicycle that he was selling, and given that it’s a popular line of bikes and of the mountain bike genus, it’s fairly difficult to gauge how old it is. He guessed, based on wear and style, that the bike was about 4 years old. So, given what he knew and what he guessed at, he placed an ad for the bike, complete with photo and as many details as he could.

Right away, someone emailed him about the bike, only this was not an interested buyer, but a self-appointed fact-checker of the Internet. The guy, in a very hostile manner, demanded Boyfriend Extraordinaire change his ad, because this guy said he had a bike that looked identical to this one, which was at least 8 years ago, and he estimated the bike to be more like 20 years old.

At first, B.E. was a little concerned. Could it really be 20 years old? He started doing a little research about it and inconclusively decided that he wasn’t going to be able to find out the exact age of this bicycle, so he left the ad alone.

Not long after, he received another email from the hostile guy, who reiterated the age of the bike was wrong and told B.E. he had to change the ad.

By now, B.E. was getting irritated. How can anyone, who is also guessing at the age, demand that his guess is better and send such emails to a stranger? People have a lot of nerve what they ask of others in this world, under the false pretense that they are righter than anyone else. It’s another reason why Web 2.0 infuriates me so.

Don’t get me wrong. I love receiving the comments and feedback from my readers after I write a post, but have you ever read a news article online that has opened itself up to reader comments? Dear Spaghetti Monster, people are not only vicious, but they’re fucking stoopit!

There was a murder recently in my town, and it was in an area with low income renters of every possible nationality. One of the commenters said that the article needed to identify the race of the victim so that reader could know if he should care about the dead guy. This sparked a veritable war of comments where some claimed that you should be colorblind, and others insisted that race was a factor in whether or not the murder was worthy of their attention. Sadly, this was a claim made by people of multiple races. What a horrific end to this horrific story!

The same thing happens on the police blotter. If there is a police response of any kind that involves someone with a Hispanic-sounding last name, commenters go hog-wild insisting that this person be deported under the pretense than anyone with an Hispanic-sounding name is an illegal or unworthy of living in this country. Even if it was a speeding ticket listed in the blotter, people responded this way, or worse, when the Latino name was one of the victims. Absolutely no compassion.

It’s not just racism. I have seen with my own eyes that when someone posts a picture of him/herself online, it’s like half the globe thinks this is an invitation to pretend like you’ve lost 100 IQ points and are now part of some radio shock jock challenge to come up with the most creative insult. Even on seemingly peaceful photo sites, I’ve read comments by people who will rip others to shreds for posting a character picture of a homeless guy, or even a kid with crooked teeth. On YouTube, it’s as if every 12-year-old with security issues and bad spelling skilz has made it their mission to find every video uploaded and leave a shitty comment about it. I uploaded a video of some birds squawking, and I misidentified them as plovers when they were actually killdeers. JEEBUS, you’d have thought I deemed them “Yo mamma!” People left me the nastiest corrections in my comments. And one was not enough. Even when three or four people had pointed out that the bird was wrong, others would still add to it in their own shitty way. What the hell? I had to go through and delete the comments, and then more showed up! Finally, I turned off the comments altogether. The more I deal with people, the more certain I am that not only is there no god, but if I was a god, I’d be ashamed to call the human race my creation.

I am really starting to hate the Internet.

B.E. gets comments like this about ads he places all the time. Everyone feels like their opinion should count for something, but frankly, it doesn’t. He’s wise beyond his years and doesn’t respond to it unless it’s racist garbage, and then he does something else, like put up an ad that makes fun of racists. He doesn’t respond directly to people. He doesn’t email them his opinion and state it as fact. He gets it. He really gets that by and large, people suck, and sometimes you have to be above it.

This was tested when he received his third email from this jamoke, who was now so livid that the ad hadn’t changed to reflect his own guess at the age of the bike, that he was accusing B.E. of intentionally defrauding the potential buyers (and he was not a potential buyer, but a nosy ad reader). Well, B.E. could take no more. We talked about what a retard this guy was, but we also sat down and invested some real time in researching this line of bikes. Guess what. It only began 12 years ago, so there was no way the bike chould be 20 years old. Also, the design hadn’t changed one iota in those 12 years, so this bike might be as old as 12, but given the condition and lack of wear and tear, it was just as good as a bike that was 4 years old.

I asked B.E. what he was going to do. I sincerely expected him to bombard the asshat with corrected information about this particular bike, proving the guy wrong and calling him a bunch of names in between the facts. That’s what I would’ve done, which is likely why of late I've been suffering with anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure.

B.E. is much more civilized. He said he was not going to respond directly to this guy, wasn’t going to address him in any way, but he was going to place the ad again and change the age of the bike in the ad to say that it was 400 years old. No sincere buyer would ever believe it was 400 years old, and B.E. could laugh it off and say it was a typo, which should’ve read that it was about 4 years old instead of 400.

I was still angry and I didn’t think it was enough. I thought the moron should be made to suffer the words of an eloquent and scathing response, which surely would’ve created an email war of epic proportions. At some point, I’d report the guy as spam and be done with him. This concept of trying to poke fun at the guy by making the bike so old that it was not to be believed seemed too, I don’t know, subtle, or too suave. This was not something that needed a delicate hand. This was something that needed a brutal, cerebral blow!

Once again, I was wrong.

The ad for the 400-year-old bike was a success on all fronts. Not only did B.E. swiftly sell the bike for the asking price without so much as a comment from the buyer about the typo in the ad, but the dickhead who sent him three emails demanding the age be altered actually sent him another email, and this time he said that the ad was funny and he apologized for his previous emails.


People don’t back down. People don’t apologize. People don’t realize they were shitheads. What’s this? What’s this anomaly? What is this event that has caused a black hole in my image of society and driven doubt and optimism into a chasm that was happily chock-full of pessimism and misanthropy? What the fuck?

And so, this week I’ve learned that some of the meanest, most imposing personalities can actually respond well to a slight nudge rather than being beat about the head with more insults, the likes of which probably made them into what they are. And I’d like to add that I am likely one of the mean, imposing personalities of which I speak, but I don’t step into other people’s lives to deliver my worthless opinions about whatever it is that sparks me up. Nope, I blog about it and use my words to purge myself of my fury. But that doesn’t solve problems and it just makes others defensive. Now I get it. A 400-year-old bike makes a good argument for taking a step back, coasting for a while, and not taking things too personally. No one’s perfect, not even close, and I’m doing myself more harm than good by being ready to pounce on people when they piss me off, which they do constantly. I need a 400-year-old bike. For my own well-being.

And so, that’s what I’m going to do. Coast for a little while on my ageless bike.


Rachel said...

I think I need a 400 year old bike as well... ^_^

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahaha...that was a great post! OMG BE is so freaking hilarious! You know, Alfredo's cell phone got stolen once, so I was texting it. The freak who nabbed it began saying really nasty stuff back to me after I asked for this person to just send the SIM card. So I began sending their texts back to them with corrected spelling. Eventually we began joking back and forth. I knew there was no way this person would oblige, but I was glad to have ended it on a high note of laughter instead.

Alfredo was less pleased than I, however.

BeckEye said...

I need a 600 year old bike.

Anonymous said...

Have a good coast, HV! But I sure will miss you. Hope you come back soon, but feeling better.