Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The problem with being uncensored

While it’s not on my regular blog reading list, I do check in on Nunavut Uncensored from time to time. I’ve always had mixed feelings about the blog. On the one hand, I certainly understand the need some people have to vent about their feelings on living in Nunavut and working in the GN without worry of retribution. And there’s enough precedent out there to show that this is a legitimate concern.

On the other hand, I had a bad feeling about how this blog was going to turn out. And it wasn’t so much the posts. Yeah, people will vent and complain, but there still is a degree of thought process that goes into creating a blog post. More than once I’ve written something, stepped back from the computer and went, “nope” and deleted it. Plus, the blog is moderated. If someone submitted a truly hateful piece of writing, I suspect the moderator would just chuck it.

No, it was always the comments section I was worried about. And this kind of proves my concern.

I’m 38 years old. I’ve been online for more than 15 years now, which I suspect tips me to the “freaking old” end of the bell curve. I got online in ’92 (I blame Kirsten for that) when all you could find was email, newsgroups and MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons. Think of it as a very, very, very primitive version of Worlds of Warcraft). What that means is that I’ve seen a fair amount of crap on my time online. I remember getting roasted in flame wars on comic book news groups, of all bloody things.

And some of it was fun. I admit when I was in my early 20s to getting enjoyment from tweaking people I consider to be idiots at best, exceptional assholes at worst. But some of it was truly hideous stuff and I was kind of glad that I left it behind as I grew older. I’m not saying this kind of bile disappeared as the internet evolved from newsgroups to websites and boards. Of course it didn’t. I’m just saying I got to the point that I stopped going or seeking out places where this kind of thing happens.

I rarely even read the comments section to news stories anymore. Again, if you want to see some truly ridiculous, over-the-top, intolerant and hateful discourse, check out the Globe and Mail’s comments section on any controversial news story, especially political.

This is a pretty long-winded way of saying I knew things were eventually going to get ugly over at Nunavut Uncensored. The premise of the site encourages anonymous comments without fear of consequence. And when you give that people that much rope, they go looking for people to hang.

And how did I know? Well, perhaps a touch of a lack of faith in human nature might have something to do with it. But this isn’t the first place people in Nunavut could go and vent about things in an anonymous fashion. It might be dead now (although there were threats of its resurrection recently) Rantin’ and Raven was a message board where people could say anything they wanted without fear of being known or any kind of consequences.

And man, some of the most vile, personal attacks I’ve ever seen online showed up on that board. I only read it a handful of times before getting disgusted with it, but the shit that used to get posted there. If there was a way to denigrate a territorial politician, they found it. Every scurrilous rumour, lie and half-truth made its way there. Local people doing nothing more than living their lives were often raked over the coals for their behaviour.

It was a vile, unredemptive piece of the internet that I’m not sad to see it gone. Maybe there were good things about it. As I said, I never frequented the board that much, but I certainly didn’t see much of it. For God’s sake, there was a thread making fun of Polar Man. Jesus, the guy is harmless. Why would you make fun of him like that?

Nunavut Uncensored is nowhere near that bad. Not even in the same ball park. Nor do I expect it to be. But I am seeing some of the old hatred, intolerance and other crap that I used to see on Rantin’ and Raven creeping in over there. And I have no time for it. None. I don’t want to get into a “I’m too old for this shit” type of rant, but man, I’m 38 years old. Some of the stuff I saw in one of the last Nunavut Uncensored threads reminded me of high school.

Is there a need to talk about some of the challenges and frustrations that can sometimes hit you while living in Nunavut? Absolutely. I want intelligent discussion about the problems facing Nunavut and how we can go about fixing them. But I'm not sure Nunavut Uncensored is the answer. Then again, I have to admit I don't really know what the solution is right now either.

Last Five
1. Your own worst enemy - Bruce Springsteen
2. Mean Mr. Mustard - The Beatles
3. Medley (live) - The Chieftains*
4. You can't always get what you want - The Rolling Stones
5. You can look (live) - Bruce Springsteen


KOTN said...

Had they rolled out the red carpet for me over there when you wrote this.... I'm thinking of the Bruce Springsteen song you have as the first on your list there... I identify.

If anyone gets personal, I'm just going to fight back with LOLcats... giving it the degree of gravitas it deserves.

And Rantin and Raven.... without that, how are we going to know who pissed their pants in Whale COve without it?

Anonymous said...

r&r is back