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What's your On-Line Persona today?

Greetings and salutations, welcome to the rant. It appears that this one is long overdue (in fact Hal has been beating my butt with a length of rubber tubing until I finally post something). So, without further ado, let's introduce our topic this time..   A Rant about the lack of stuff to rant about.

I thought this time I'd let my mind float and see what falls out of my fingertips into the keyboard. There just really has been nothing going on in my part of the world recently, nothing at all to get fired up about or anything I think I need to beat myself and everyone else over the head with.

Maybe I should interview myself as other journalists I know enjoy doing every now and then (and yes, while I would never claim to be one myself I do know people who journalize:).

No, that would suck, besides I just tried it and deleted the entire thing, it was lame, forced and totally boring. Some will argue that's no different than my usual posts: to those I say 'thank you'.

So, here lies the problem: I am supposed to rant about anything, you are supposed to keep up with me and/or stay awake enough to go click some banners afterwards so the site can keep pumping out my drivel.

The main trouble is there's nothing at all to rant about, nothing that hasn't been done to death already anyway, certainly nothing that can directly effect anyone but myself. Clinton's in all sorts of trouble and decided to bomb a country to take our minds off it, the Dow is fluctuating wildly, other than that it's a slow news week. Then again, I don't really pay much attention to the news ­ I have a pager that receives a news page twice a day; if it doesn't make the page, I generally don't know about it. The biggest news I've read recently is the fact The Sandman has signed to WCW. While three people understand that sentence, no one else will, see what I mean? No common point of reference means I've just lost most of you. (Well, my other one reader.)

On a personal level my daughter has just started to babble almost intelligibly, she will quack like a duck when prompted and is thinking about walking. I have a sneaking suspicion that we are at the point when most families decide it may be a nice idea to have another child. At this point she's an awful lot of fun to be around with very little maintenance. I will not be fooled, neither will my wife. Children are here merely as karmic retribution for all the things we did to our parents. Genetically, we are predisposed to creating the worst possible lives for ourselves and we procreate, thinking we will find some sort of immortality by passing our genes along.

I have a better idea: instead of having children we should just set up a direct deposit to a company of our choice (Toys'R'Us, Pampers, Gerber) and join one of those strict military units that never allow you to sleep, be alone or stop working. This to me is roughly how parenting feels on a really bad day. At least you can get discharged from the services.

Again, many of you have had a similar experience, without wishing you were joining the Marines perhaps. As you can see folks, this is going to be a long and difficult piece. I guess while we have time it will be a good point to say some things I haven't done publicly before, mainly because contrary to popular opinion I do not have an ego the size of Nebraska.

Everything I write is to entertain. I won't try to hide that. I don't want to share with you how I keep my pans clean, my carpets sparkly or which minivan I'll be tooling around in next season. I'm not much for that kind of talk, never have been. The inanities in life are something that I can do without. While some people enjoy relating to each other using those topics I personally couldn't give a fig about them. That isn't a bash on people who want to talk about that stuff, just that I don't share a frame of reference for those subjects. The irony is that 99% of my mailing list posts are as inane as a post about something like 'fridge lint' for example.

This leads us to the concept of the 'online persona.' Many of you will swear blind that you are purely yourself on a mailing list, or in a chat room, and that you have no need for masks or to be anyone but yourselves. In a medium such as this that cannot be possible. You are someone else online, it can't be avoided. On a one-to-one physical level we communicate at many different levels, we speak with our eyes, mouths, and bodies. Online we just have one form: written communication. Either through selective omission or a failing to make explicit points we miscommunicate our information and the purpose of our message.

How many times have you read an e-mail and reacted to it, only to receive a reply saying 'actually I was joking,' or a fuller post stating ' I think I gave you the wrong idea.' That's because we take things for granted. People that know us may understand the rhythm of our speech, the nuances we each lend to our communications.

Of course, the fact that a mailing list like Dadslist is 90% male doesn't help very much. We are after all MALE, therefore we give facts and nothing more. If something doesn't work we say 'This doesn't work, how do I fix it' not 'well, first I liked the color, but then I switched it on to find it didn't work and only then did it occur to me that I might be having a bad day and that hurt, so I called my friend and had some ice cream' so on and so forth ­ the female method of communication. While it can totally get on my nerves that my wife can talk for seemingly hours about one minute of her day (which to me can seem totally insignificant due to its lack of data) she will actually sculpt a three-dimensional 'picture' of what occurred. Everything is there, her emotions, reactions and the physical action taken. Generally the only time she'll miscommunicate about something is if I've dropped off to sleep or started thinking about why Goldberg isn't a very good world champion.

We've digressed again, never mind. Online persona. An example: there's someone on the Dadslist who I respect a lot. I tend to read his posts whether I'm interested in the current topic or not. Generally he's serious but has a dry wit that I happen to find amusing. On the list he is amazingly inoffensive. The other day we spoke in #daddyshome (the Daddyshome.com IRC server) and I was amazed at some of the stuff he was saying. To me, he was totally not himself. It was merely that a real-time chat shed much more light on his personality. I still respect the guy, probably more so now that I realize he's a human being too.

What about my online personality? Well, contrary to popular opinion I'm actually very quiet in RL, unless I'm with a few select people who I call friends. On-line I tend to be brash and opinionated but that, to me, is the point. Email, IRC, this column ­ they're all ways to get deeper into your heads, and hopefully to make you (and me) question exactly what it is that makes us the way we are. At worst I hope to make someone out there smile, at best to make them think. I don't think what I do is important to anyone, but if you take the time to read what I write I hope to god that I don't waste it for you. I try to leave gaping holes for people to debate, ideas that will either offend or at least tickle your sensibilities. Above all I hope what I write promotes discussion, even if that discussion is limited to you posting privately to someone saying 'my god, Justin is a total tool.' Either way, you've done something you wouldn't have done without reading this stuff.

Remembering the end of The Breakfast Club, each of us can fit every social cliche; we just show different facets to the world.

Me? I'm the bad guy wrestler you used to boo when you were a child.

Peace.

© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.