Search This Blog

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Workin' in a coal mine, goin' down, down, down..."

So, I've finally surfaced this week. Yes, it's been crazy busy down here in the salt mines and not likely to ease up any time soon. As a friend of mine says though, "it is what it is". Pithy, huh? Not only that, she pretty much says it every five minutes. But we've been friends for over 40 years, oh jeez, it's almost 50 years, and for those of you skulking around trying to see if I'm talking about you, no, I'm not. Apparently I'm way busier than you are. Not only that, I actually DO have a friend or two and I met them LONG before phony online "friends" taught me what absolute pond scum looks like and if you want to talk to her and get proof of this contention go ahead on. Call me, I'm listed, I'll give you her name and number. Do it before you tell everyone else she doesn't really exist and it's all about YOU and she's really just my imaginary friend. It didn't work the last time you pulled that shit and it's not going to work this time. Besides, she's coming up on the first anniversary of her husband's death and could use some extra friends and support. Oh wait, she needs friends and support, you're not it. Never mind.

I AM going to talk about you in about two paragraphs though, so stick around.

Well, there we all were, watching the CNN or MSNBC or FOX "News" (or whatever you chose) live feed of the Chilean miners rescue a few days ago and it was, in it's slow, methodical way, kind of thrilling. I've spent years watching the news and, tragically, mine cave ins aren't a once in a century event. And, again tragically, they don't usually end up like this one did. So it was kind of fun in a way. We all waited for the guy who turned out to have the wife AND the mistress waiting for him, wondering if one of them would cold cock him when he came out and if she did, which one would do it? My money was on the wife, who, in a class move, didn't show up. Although the REALLY classy thing would have been for the MISTRESS to have stepped aside, at least temporarily. Katharine Hepburn did NOT show up at Spencer Tracy's funeral people...take a lesson.

It also occurred to me that it was a good thing Tiger Woods never took up mining.

I was reading this morning that it wasn't all skittles and beer down there the last two months, either. Not just the trials we would light, not enough food, cramped quarters, interminable lack of purpose, but apparently, 33 guys stuck in a rather smallish space with no viable plumbing started to get on each others nerves. Let's face it, put 33 people in one room and it's a good bet they're not ALL going to get along with each other, and that's when they have a working bathroom and a fully stocked pantry. So it stands to reason that the 33 probably didn't all hang out after work anyway. Stories of disagreements, fist fights, and a community of 5 who flounced off and formed their own tribe elsewhere in the cave are surfacing. I'm guessing it's normal. After all, if I'm cooped up with my kids too long I start getting testy - and I LIKE them.

But I got to thinking...this is what's wrong with Internet boards. You take a whole bunch of people with one similar interest. Say, Mickey Mouse. Okay, like mining, there's the common bond, although why adults go nuts for that namby pamby mouse with no real moxie I have NO idea. Jeez, at least Donald Duck has a temper. But I digress.

Anyway, you all find your way to some website where everyone LURVES Mickey Mouse to death. And you all talk about Mickey Mouse. But, after a while, you realize that he's never going to change into blue shorts and his voice is pretty much as low as it'll ever get and you're running out of stuff to talk about.

So you start talking about other stuff. Where you live, what you do, what your kids do, what sort of comestibles you prefer. Yes, there will be members of the board who are SO pretentious they call food "comestibles". TRUST ME. You'll start talking about politics, religion, global warming, you know...the things that make us individuals and prove we have working brains. Fist fights will break out occasionally, alliances will be formed and small groups of members will flounce off to "chat" elsewhere, perhaps even build a new lounge for themselves so they don't have to associate with the rest of the people now in a virtual choke hold in this cave of a website.

Eventually what emerges is a manifesto. Leaders will float to the top. I think it was fictional detective Lew Harper who said "cream and shit rises". Or cream and bastards. I'm not sure. Whichever it was, truer words were never spoken. Anyway, all discussion boards have a manifesto. They all say basically the same thing. "Play nice, make new friends and don't make me call your father." IF the board is run by adults, this usually works nicely. Adults usually accept the fact that other people are also adults and some of them like Mickey Mouse and some of them prefer Donald Duck and that's not a bad thing.

But sometimes, the darkest, most immature part of human nature is embraced by people. They're childish and selfish and they LIKE themselves that way. This would be all right if they accepted the fact that not everyone is like that and it's takes all kinds to make a world. You may wish, with all your might, that's it's the obligation of everyone who crosses your path to keep you entertained, and if you're lucky you've crossed paths with one or two enablers who will go before you with machetes clearing away the overgrowth of maturity you encounter on your way, but let's face it. You're going to end up on the receiving end of a LOT bad blood. This, btw, is basically life as we know it in general.

In an effort to shorten this up a bit, I'll cut to the chase. Eventually, the community deteriorates into an epithet spewing bunch of trolls and sock puppets, things well loved by kindergartners as they're fun to play with. The people who are supposed to be keeping a "fair and balanced" order in the community wander off in search of hipper lounges and leave the crumbling mess in the hands of the children, the board now resembles a kindergarten class being taught be a triumvirate of second graders who simply lock the doors when the people who don't like Mickey Mouse come to class.

One day a Donald fan says "gee, I miss Dick and Jane, they liked Donald and they had well thought out reasons for doing so. Isn't it funny, almost ALL the Donald fans have been locked out and only Mickey fans are welcome here." A week later, in a cowardly move, the Donald fan finds himself locked out of the classroom...but ONLY after they had been out of class for a week. So no one would notice they'd been suspended and/or expelled...because they hadn't been around for awhile anyway. Out of sight, out of mind. Several Mickey supporters then start publicly announcing that Dick and Jane were stupid and probably poopy heads and if they ever, ever, ever even SEE them again they're going to call the Mickey police and have them arrested and they sent them letters telling them that.

A Mickey fan who hasn't even been to class since pre-school decided to re-enroll and said this about Dick and Jane:

WOW, how this little planet of mouse has changed, after being away from this site for close to a year, I read Dick and Jane are gone, Hallelujah. Glad to see that the conservatives are still fighting the fight. Although it will most likely be another year before I visit this site again, I am very happy to see that they are gone! Maybe this is a sign of what is to come this November 4th, the ousting of libertards!

Did I forget to mention that Mickey and Donald were a political analogy? Sorry.

Does this break the aforementioned rules about playing nice, making new friends and not making mom call dad about it? Oh HELLS YEAH! Was the student disciplined? Uh, doesn't look like it. This student is still free to attend class anytime, anywhere. Oh wait! As I looked up towards the front of the class, waiting for the teacher to send the kid to the principals office, I saw the teacher had a sock on her hand. It had a face drawn on it and her fingers were going up and down as she made the puppet speak.

Like miners trapped in a cave, the community has deteriorated to little more than fist fights and name calling. The people who went off and formed their own group are grateful they were thrown into this together, as they have formed friendships and a support system. They occasionally disagree and they're okay with this. Because it's their diversity that bonds them, the opportunity to learn new things and see new points of view. The experience in the mine gives them ties that may never break, they've seen the results of absolutely anarchy and remember what happens when passion is not tempered with reason.

After the last rescue worker at the San Jose mine loaded himself into the Fenix capsule, fastened his seat belts and told the guy with the winch to pull him up the President of Chile, after the hugs, cheering and hand shakes, walked over the the mine shaft and, with great flourish, capped it. The people in charge of Internet discussion should do the same. Like mines all over the world, it's a dangerous business, and is pathetically mis-managed.

Do yourself and everyone else a favor. Cap your mine. In a few days you'll be able to take off your dark glasses and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to see how big and how entertaining the real world can be.


  1. Interesting post. Rather reminds me of Animal Farm. Wasn't it a pig who said, "Some animals are more equal than others"?

  2. I enjoyed your blog - as always. You have such a talent for telling it like it is.

    I, for one, am so glad to have the opportunity to remove a pair of sunglasses and see the bright happy world of real people, real ideas, and real friends.