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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Technology Enhances Beer Muscles

Steve Blake of the Los Angeles Lakers missed what would have been the winning shot in a critical game. His wife got death threats.

Singer John Legend’s fiancee, Chrissy Teigen, criticized singer Chris Brown’s performance on an awards show. She got death threats.

Clint Eastwood’s daughter Francesca publicly destroyed a $100,000 purse as a piece of performance art. She got death threats.

A conservative teenage activist from North Carolina posted a video supporting her state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. She reported death threats.

All these threats came within the last two weeks. All were delivered online.

Welcome to the seamy underbelly of the communications revolution.

Professional athletes have this expression. When the doughy guy in the stands, fortified by the overconsumption of hops and barley, yells abuse to some chiseled giant down on the field, he is said to possess “beer muscles.” The aforementioned revolution has produced its equivalent. Call it “Internet courage.”

It does not always manifest itself in death threats. Sample the message boards attending your average opinion column, blog or controversial news story and you will find Internet courage by the bucket — people flaming the writer and one another with gleeful abandon you know they’d never dare display in the flesh and mortar world.

Perhaps you remember when new technology was supposed to make us better, bind our families, strengthen our communities, bring our world together. At least, that is what was promised in all those gauzy TV commercials and futurist essays that practically glowed with the warmth of human potential.

  • BDD1951

    Well said Leonard.

  • oldtack

    Well said.

    It is easy to be BRAVE behind the anonimity of a Blog or a face in the crowd. It’s quite different face to face.

  • Two

    Way to go, Leonard! I’m proud of you

  • scareygary

    Absolutely! Most anyone should realize that even a video screen is more ‘dehumanizing’ than being ‘in person’; I think it’s why nudity is ‘usual’ in a movie, but almost ‘disturbing’ in a live play, for instance, especially in a small venue. A screen is ‘distancing’, as are car windows, etc. It’s a barrier to more REAL, face to face (look me in the eyes) sort of communication. GUNS are more dangerous than knives for the simple fact they are more ‘long distance’. We’re losing our ‘humanity’ in many ways, and computers and ‘virtual’ lives are part of it…..IMHO. I think Leonard is right on….

  • Ed

    Anonymity in public discourse is toxic to the democratic principles and our political landscape. Which is I suppose why the Supreme Court approved of Citizens United. Repeated calls for violence against those who disagree are approaching the status of “Yelling FIRE in as crowded theater. Already we see the tea party massing with firearms and elected officials calling for “second amend,emt solutions”.

  • ridemybroom

    I hate this new technology…its bad business…but i guess we gotta have it…what i dont understand is this…in the 1950s,60s,70, we didnt pay crap for battery operated toys…they were like the cheapy toys and we all had to have one…today battery operated crap cost you an arm and a legs…so why are these things so expensive when they used to be so cheap !…greediness has certainly taken over this country and by the handfulls i may make mention…what a wicked world ….!

  • neenta

    Excellent insight, as usual!

  • Landsende

    People no longer call each other, they text, tweet or e-mail. If you go out for a meal people are texting or tweeting instead of talking to each other. If you do something stupid or embarrassing a cell phone camera is there to record it and post it on You Tube for all to witness your humiliation. Isn’t technology wonderful? Kind of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. NOT!!!!!!

  • People make threatening racist comments on-line that they could never say in public. The truth comes out. It’s still one the most racist countries in the world.

    • I agree ! ! ! I tried Yahoo comments and found out how true that is ! Very Sad ! ! ! Now the KKK and others like them can say what they feel on line in the comfort of their own homes. I found out that there are many of these people ! ! ! Lord help us ! ! !

    • 4 whirledpeas

      You said that “the truth comes out” –and actually, when something reaches the light of day, then can it be addressed. The things that we see and hear on the internet where previously heard behind closed doors. Now they are out in the open, where they can be challenged (and hopefully extinguished).

      It ain’t pretty –I agree. But racist attitudes and other ugliness did not begin with the invention of the internet (its just that many of us could pretend it wasn’t happening -especially if it wasn’t happening to us -or in our communities).

      Rather than lamenting the situation, we could feel a call to action (and to be the change we want to see in the world, so that others may follow).

  • ITS ALL PRETTY REPULSIVE!!!!! it use to be call me. i cant remember the last time i heard that. NOW ALL YOU HEAR IS JUST SEND ME A TEXT OR EMAIL!!! ITS SO SAD!!!! people dont even know how to hold a real conversation anymore, and the rudeness of people answering their phones,tweets,texts in the middle of something is DISGUSTING!!!! TECHNOLOGY HAS AND CONTINUES TO DESTROY OUR COUNTRY!!!! it is the BIGGEST JOB KILLER!!!! manufacturing gone much to do with robotics and computers replacing people!!! the newest is the checkout person replaced with self scan. you dont have to pay them,theirs no health or workers comp ins. to worry about, they dont take sick or vaca. time,etc,etc. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO SELF SERVE!! no matter what profession you look at technology has made the jobs easier and requiring less man power which means less jobs!! plus all the internet fraud and id theft.
    THEN WE HAVE ALL THE JOBS THAT HAVE BEEN SHIPPED OVERSEAS THAT WOULDNT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THIS SUPPOSEDLY GREAT TECHNOLOGY!!!! and oh yeah we can ALSO THANK OUR GOVERNMENT FOR ALLOWING THIS, because its those same companies that send all their manufacturing,etc, overseas that buy sorry contribute to SUPPOSEDLY OUR POLITICIANS who in exchange MAKE SURE THE POLICIES,LAWS ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN!!!!!
    so we have 20 mil out of work and/or underemployed, add to that the OUTRAGEOUS AND ABSURD AMNESTY FOR OVER 10 MIL ILLEGALS THE PRESIDENT WANTS TO DO [ its really just a ploy for votes ] and the 1 plus mil a year of graduates trying to enter a no work force THERE IS NO WAY ABSOLUTELY NO WAY WE WILL EVER RECOVER, and thats not even putting into the equation of ALL THIS GREAT JOB STEALING TECHNOLOGY THAT CONTINUES TO HAUNT US!!!!
    i thing the only way we would ever have a chance is for our president and gov. officials to stop playing 911 to the rest of the world with OUR TAX MONEY, and to START TAKING CARE OF THE U.S.A. WHICH IS WHAT THEY SWORE TO, TO BEGIN WITH!!!! STOP THE RIDICULOUS OVERWHELMINGLY IN THEIR FAVOR TRADE!!! china is so far behind on the trade deficit and it continues to grow but our gov. does nothing. WE HAVE PLENTY OF OIL THAT BELONGS TO US THAT WE WOULD NOT NEED TO IMPORT IT, but if we do that so many officials would be going back on their words to their contributors!!! BUT its okay for them to lie to us, the majority,voters!!! AND WE HAVE THE KNOW HOW TO MAKE EVERYTHING WE NEED THAT WE GET FROM OVERSEAS BUT COMPANIES DO IT SO THEY CAN MAKE BIGGER PROFITS AS MAKING A GOOD LIVING IS NEVER ENOUGH FOR THE MAJORITY OF COMPANIES AND GREED HAS TAKEN OVER!!! we as a country need to be SELF SUFFICIENT IN ALL AND ANY MEANS AND WAYS AS NO ONE ELSE WILL HELP US BUT WILL JUMP AT THE CHANCE TO EXPLOIT US!!!!! THEY SEND ALL THEIR CARS, EVERYTHING HERE BUT WANT NOTHING OF OURS WHICH EXPLAINS THE TRADE DEFECIT!!! we have the same tech capabilities here but it costs much more because of our HUGE HUGE COST OF LIVING!!! much of we can thank our gov. and their fraudulent and corrupt way of doing things!!!
    i liked our country and lifestyle ALOT BETTER 30-35 YEARS AGO!!!! JUST LIKE THEY SAY, THE GOOD OLD DAYS!!!!

  • It is very brave of those to be anonymous and unknown especially those who hide their real identity.

    Unfortunately, talk is just talk. So far.

  • Chuckl8

    There are far too few articles such as this one, that address an issue that has existed for years.
    Unfortunately, it will take many more years before legislators understand the problem and act to prevent it. I can threaten someone online and get away with it, while the same threat sent by mail or spoken over the phone will land me in court and probably jail.

    Equally unfortunately, whichever laws are eventually passed to prevent it will, of course, be over-reaching and poorly-crafted.

  • joyscarbo

    I think “Edsanjuan” is an exellenct example of growing virtual “beer muscles” online.

    The virtual online world allows all of us the safety of anonymity to express our ideas, thoughts and opinions more freely than what we would if we were in an open, public place where eye contact comes into pllay. People may be a shocking, weird and vile as they wish to be.

    Unfortunately, it also allows lies to magically turn into truth. President Obama has been the victim of multitueds of vicious conspiracy theories about every aspect of his life. Even when the truth is presented, others will think it’s true because they “read it online.”

  • 4 whirledpeas

    I have been posting online for years, and I have yet to be uncivil.

    I do not want my anonymity taken away -and feel that my privacy and identity have already been compromised enough.

    The problem is not that people use pseudonyms — rather, the problem is that as a society we have failed to teach the complexities of interpersonal communication (to speak our truth clearly and to get our own needs met even as we allow others the same privilege); to understand the way people learn and acquire new information (one bit at a time); to recognize cognitive fallacies and heuristics for what they are; and we have failed to raise a citizenry that values integrity, critical thinking, and self discipline.

    The internet is a relatively new medium that has returned the “freedom of assembly” -the ability to directly communicate with others, instead of passively accepting news sources. It allows us “check our notes” through research and to get information from those who are currently in the trenches.

    As always, the ability to exercise a freedom successfully is contingent on an individual’s level of knowledge and skills. What we need is an informed and intelligent citizenry that is well prepared to engage in participatory self governance.

    And for this, we will need sweeping educational reforms -so that our young people can acquire the essential tools required for living in a democratic nation.