I grew up before the Internet; I've been online since before the ".com" ".net" and ".org"domains existed. And when I hear people complain about the state of discourse on the Internet it drives home something about how I grew up. Because you are exactly correct that the Internet sucks for conversation and debate. To explain it, I have to take you back to the dark ages.
Where I grew up "talk shit, get hit" was a real thing. We did not call it that back then, I don't think the reality of what we did even had a name. It just was. If a friend said something off kilter, a few knuckles to the chest and arms would result in a polite discussion and a fair exchange of ideas... and a few bruises along the way. If someone not a friend started stalking smack about you and the people you hung out with, well, we could not let that stand at all. So you and a few of your buddies would find the offender and have a nice civil discussion on personal etiquette and how to properly behave in public. Sometimes, these 'discussions' would involve 20-30 people. Sometimes, these debating societies would involve baseball bats, plastic pipe and thrown objects.
Every hear the expression "beat the shit out of you?" Yea, that happens. Hit someone in the sides or stomach hard enough and they lose bowel control. Fucking hilarious when the other guy shits himself, not so much when it is you with the brown trousers.
The thing about these fights, however, is even though we were a bunch of stupid cocky teenagers, there were rules. AND YOU OBEYED THE RULES OR ELSE. If you have a beef with someone, you and the other person figure it out. If you drag some muscle into the argument, don't whine if I bring an army and call you a pussy for not standing up for yourself. Families were off limits, no matter what. You don't lay a beat down on someone's brother or cousin if your beef is with him. Jobs and employment were a total off limits. You start shit at my job, you will get beaten down and I will bring an army with me, and nobody will come to your aid. And don't mess up someone's face unless they break the rules of the fight. If you show up with black eyes and a broken nose, everyone knows you did something to deserve it. That or you suck at fighting and you run your mouth too much which falls into the "you deserved it" territory (this was me as a teen until I got bigger and learned to dodge).
From the nostalgia goggles, it was a bit of fun, and there was some camaraderie building. But as an adult, if my kids acted the way I did, I'd freak the hell out. Many of our parents did; some of our parents were shit human beings who used their kids to fight a proxy war. Life is not all that simple for some people growing up. I realize I'm sounding like something out of "Lord of the Flies" or something but the reality is that having an argument face to face while 20+ people circle around you waiting for the signal to throw-down teaches you conflict resolution in a way that the Internet will never, ever, be able. I've had fights where we were beating each other down then suddenly look at each other and have this look like "dude, why are we doing this again?" and can go back to whatever task had been interrupted. But no matter what the outcome of the fight, there WAS an outcome, a resolution and a change in the pecking order. We were boys, it was expected that we would fight a little bit as long as it did not get out of control (or we hid it from our parents so our dads did not beat the shit out of us later for allowing a fight to get that bad).
Interestingly, the only thing that would unite us as a group was when the cops came investigating "reports of fighting" or we helped track the cops who liked to beat the living hell out of the filthy Irish kids. I've had conversations with cops explaining that. no I've not been fighting sir, nope not at all, with a crooked nose and a fading shiner. I' not sure what that adds to my point, but I still think it's funny.
This may sound like I'm advocating fist fights. No, oh god no. A fist to the face sucks. A blunt object to the solar plexus is even worse and screws you up for a week if you are strong and lucky. I have a broken nose, a broken cheek bone and a leg that aches when the weather changes due to this shit. But the one thing I can say about these fights? Every single one was honest. You knew were you stood before, during and after. If you were there with friends, they hopefully pulled you out before things went too far. After the fight there was a resolution and the argument was over. No Internet slap fight is honest in the same way. I used to be heavy into the online atheist community and would go out and pick fights with Evangelicals. I stopped when I realized that there was no purpose to these fights, no resolution, no reason for them other than to inflate my ego. Nothing keeps your ego in check like a fist to the shoulder blade and you cannot get that experience behind a keyboard.
One of the things I enjoy about Hubski is that this is not the correct type of forum for the rabid shit-stirring Evangelical types.. of any stripe. You either come here to have a discussion or else you end up screaming into the great bit bucket as more and more people get sick of your shit and block you. It can be rough reading opinions you think you hate, or hearing people defend things you aggressively disagree with or stepping back from the computer and drinking a nice cup of coffee before finding your zen and then deciding to reply or not. There are people on this site that are the exact polar opposite to me in my political views, but they are still interesting people who have interesting perspectives on life that I don't share. That does not make them any worse a person than I am, it just makes them different. And the thing that gets lost in all the shit-slinging is that talking to people with different ideas, philosophies, politics, life outlooks etc makes you a better person. Listening to the opposition forces you to defend your ideas, come to an understanding of why people think different than you do and either soften your positions or at least teach you how to better defend what you believe. When I was able to work and associate with people different than myself and those differences became trivial to the person as a whole, where the character, honesty and decency mattered more than any of their beliefs, that is when I knew I was an adult who had finally "grown up." I realize it sucks because you want to argue and defend your world view, and when people shit on your life it pisses you off. I realize that, I've been there, and I still struggle with that battle even now as it is hard for me to write things without a rush of emotionally charged words behind what I say (and I edited this post several times to make it more neutral, I hope). The only thing I can do for you is to have you look at how us old farts grew up and be better than us moving forward. And Hubski is a good place to hang out to make that happen.
Take all your previous posts about how fucked Rural America is. Throw in your hate of the coal country idiots. Add in a few fanatic religious sects. Then give all those people a coalition and the keys to the state government. The whole platform is fuck poor people and do everything you can to fuck over the two Blue-Voting Cities (The same two cities that are 2/3 the state economy).
Kentucky is everything wrong with what is going on at a national level, only with the crazy cranked up to RONPAUL2008 levels. Only the crazy here wins because everything is shit, everything is terrible and the only option left is to fuck it up for everyone else while you laugh as it all burns down.
I sat and though about this for a few while working. I'm not angry, not really. I'm pissed off at a lot of things: the direction of my country, the regression of politics, internet cultures, education, etc. But being pissed off is not the same as angry.
When and where I grew up, men did not display emotion. We were supposed to be Stoic rocks around which we build friendships and families. Emotions were for women and children. If you cried as a man there better someone in a casket, and once the box was in the ground you better stop that shit. If you got overly emotional you better be drunk, and we are all going to make fun of you in the morning.
This of course leads to the inevitable conversation:
Adult: Well, Billy, it is a great mystery, isn't it.
I got lucky. About the time my friends started on the path to having this shit eat them alive I discovered the online world and anonymity. With an anon account I could be angry, sad, etc and not have to deal with parents and family telling me to snap back into shape. Some people I grew up with were not so lucky. So I come off as an angry bitter cunt online sometimes (most times?) but that is not really what I am for the most part. 25ish years ago I was living in the void asking, legitimately, why bother keeping on. Then, yes I was angry. At the world, but mostly myself. Now I have a job I love with people I enjoy working with. I have a seven-figure net worth (at least on paper), a house I love living in, a car, money to do fun shit once in a while. I have a hobby that brings me joy with people who appreciate my contributions. I even use my hobby to better the community I live in and can say I'm doing my part to make the place suck just a bit less than when I found it.
I can honestly say that right now, I am content. But that is not really the word I am looking for. The word is Happy. I Am Happy. It's weird typing that out as there have not been many times in my life I could say that and mean it. But yes, now is one of those times. It takes getting used to somedays because I still have that Stoic anti-emotional mindset and appearance that was beaten into me from childhood. But, yea, happy.
200 hours of outreach work this year, not counting setup and tear-down. About 300 hours total over 55 events since January. Write that shit down, document every-fucking-thing and submit paperwork. Wait two weeks or so. And in the end you get these pretty little pins showing that you have done something that only 800 some-odd people have done. I'm tired, I'm a bit stressed from work and life, and the health situation is not in a good place. But these two awards have hit me a bit harder than I thought they would. The awards are numbered, and I honestly believed that there had been thousands of the awards given out. I know other people are doing astronomy outreach, they must not be paying membership dues and doing paperwork. With these two small bits of metal and ceramic and enamel, I have tangible proof that 2017 did not entirely suck a bag of erect cocks.
If the motto of our small community is "pushing back against the darkness" then I can say, with no hesitations, that I am doing my part.