Hello, Cruel World.
Reading the spate of "Goodbye, Cruel World" diaries we've seen here of late has inspired me to come out of the lurking cupboard with this, my first diary on Daily Kos. First, let me just complement you all on the tent you've raised here. It's pretty big. Must have taken a lot of people to put it up. Certainly an impressive feat of cooperation for people who all appear to hold very different priorities.
When I visit conservative sites, I see a definite stereotype. Probably not very enlightened of me, but there it is: an old white man very afraid of losing his unearned and unfair privilege. Looking around this big old tent, I see a lot of diversity. I see very many and different types of people, from the "eastern intellectual liberal" to the "college radical" to the "community organizer," why, you even allow queers and people of color in the same tent as the rest of us, without making them pretend that they are exactly like the rest of us.
I like that your tent is pet friendly. You let just about anyone bring their pet issue to the tent and let it off the leash. Sure, these pet issues might leave a few steaming piles around the place, but overall you do a pretty good job of cleaning up the poop. Young pet issues are not born housebroken, they need to be trained, and rubbing their noses in it doesn't really work. Rewards for good behavior are generally the most effective method of housebreaking anything.
Disparate crowds packed into a big tent tend to accidentally step on each others toes now and then, but you appear to have an ad-hoc public safety and first aid committee that goes around handing out band-aids and kissing emotional boo-boos.
You also appear to have hooligans. This is normal, one might even say natural. This is because this is not actually a big tent. Almost every single one of you writing and reading here are actually on your own home turf. You are most likely sitting at your own personal desk, in your own home or office. You are not out in public, in a big tent with a bunch of friends and strangers. You have invited those friends and strangers into your own home, and naturally, you expect a little deference from your guests.
What's that you say? You actually DO realize that this is a public space, and not your own personal, private, intimate space? How nice for you that your conscious mind recognizes that. How unfortunate that your emotional wiring evolved before your conscious mind, and isn't really under its control. In fact, it is really the other way around: the emotional circuitry makes decisions, and the conscious mind attempts to create a rational and coherent story about those decisions. And in that story, guess who is in charge?
There was a study done a while back about aggressive driving and bumper stickers. The scientists had a theory: people perceive their cars as their own personal space, when they are in their car, they are on their home turf. People really do believe they own the road, because they own their cars, and they are IN their cars, not walking on the road. People who had more bumper stickers, these scientists reasoned, felt more strongly that their cars were their own personal space. Their theory predicted that people with more bumper stickers, even bumper stickers that read "visualize world peace" would drive more aggressively then folks with fewer bumper stickers, because they were more territorial. And they were right: http://www.nature.com/...
So. Perhaps I need to spell it out? You are not in your own private space here. You are in public. Everyone is watching what you do, how you act, how you talk. You are not putting some trespasser in his place for disrespecting you in your own home, you are yelling at a stranger in public. Yes, I know that most of your mind feels as though you are in your own private space. You didn't evolve for a gloablly distributed Internet, you evolved for small groups on the savanna. But, IMHO, that is why we evolved a conscious executive function: sometimes, instincts are wrong.
We may all have different goals and priorities, but we have come to this public space for the same reason: to find allies and common cause, to work with other like minded individuals to create the changes we would like to see. We come together, in public, to make progress.
If someone's pet issue isn't your pet issue, don't kick it out of spite. It is important to someone, and you won't EVER move towards your own goalposts by kicking a teammate's pet. Don't forget that you are in a very crowded public space, no matter what your emotions are telling you. And don't forget that everyone else here feels like they are at home, and you are the guest. Will it hurt you to act like a guest, polite and deferential? Remember you aren't actually losing territory by doing so. No one from the Internet is going to come take your desk and your computer and camp out in your home, unless you invite them to.
Anyway, that is my theory explaining all the hurt feelings and "GBCW" diaries. People feel as though they are being confronted by rude strangers in their own homes, not realizing those strangers also feel equally at home. Beyond the usual difficulties of talking politics, we have this conflict between our hard wired notions of territory, and the virtual public spaces we are creating.
My advice? Before you log onto the Internet and begin reading and posting, picture yourself walking out your door and into a very crowded street. It's helped me be less of an asshole on the Internet, maybe it can help you, too.