It's early Thursday morning (that is, 1 AM) and I'm just now writing the Soapbox article for this week. No comments, please -- I have a jaded and apathetic outer demeanor to uphold to everyone who reads this regularly. Thank you.
I'll be quoting periodically from an interview with Walter Cronkite I read at The Site. Mr. Cronkite is being interviewed by someone named "Soledad".
I have taken the quotations and turned them into a volley between what Mr. Cronkite said and what I think about it.
The amusement only just begins. I think I visited the site in question a long time ago when it was still relatively unknown. It had just won some award -- Cool Site of the Day maybe, back when Glenn Davis was still there. Anyway, I read through most of the site, but didn't find it that amusing, nor did I think it was serious at all.
I also didn't think it was "slick". It seemed like just another page on the Web, fit with big paragraphs of text and large images that didn't really flow with the page well. One wonders what sorts of "slick [magazines]" Mr. Cronkite reads.
Do you begin to notice Cronkite's cluelessness when it comes to the Internet and the Web? Do you see where I'm heading with this? Do you understand the implications of such a dignified journalist spouting ignorance with such confidence?
"That I know of"? Are we beginning to forget the obvious?
Mr. Cronkite claims he was "accused" of treating a dinner patron rudely. Why didn't it occur to him immediately that the page was a joke?
Shadow business? When I visited the site, I didn't notice anything spooky. One wonders if the offender just used an online handle or something as an account name, and Mr. Cronkite in his newbieness thought it was an attempt to hide any personal details of the offender's life. [After further research (read the discussion board at thesite.com, which has a link further below), it turns out I was right! Mr. Cronkite thought Mr. Hughes's online handle was an attempt at a fake name!] If I recall correctly, didn't the offender have pictures of himself on his site?
Further evidence of Cronkite's ignorance of the 'Net surfaced when he mentioned he asked someone at AOL for assistance, and that person told him there was no way to trace the offender down! What kind of nonsense is that? It's damn near impossible to create an untraceable account, unless you're a hacker of sorts. And I seriously doubt any hacker would care enough to go through that much trouble to put up a spoof of Mr. Cronkite.
Watch out, everyone's out to get you!
At least Cronkite tapped into one thing: the ability to post whatever you want on the 'Net anonymously. Isn't it nice? Instead of gathering together the funding to bash a software product in a small paper 'zine, I can post it on Usenet or put it on my page. Isn't that a great thing? You get points for that one.
There is no anonymity on this site, Mr. Cronkite. My name is indeed Ben Turner and I am indeed trashing your interview. I would sign my name on the document, but I don't think it's worth my time (or safety) to scan a piece of paper with my signature on it and then make it into an image. I give you my word that I, Ben Turner, think your views of the 'Net are hilariously inaccurate.
Again, the whole story about Mr. Cronkite spitting into this guy's food was intended as a joke and could not be interpreted as anything different. The humor, you see, is that a very distinguished man whom we've all heard about at some point suddenly acts impulsively and crudely. We know it's a made-up story.
Hint, kids. If anyone says they use the Internet strictly for research and getting news, you know they're newbies. A man who admits to not spending much time on the Web comes right back and postulates that he encountered a novice hacker who wanted nothing but to slander his good name in a medium he knew he could get away on.
The last laugh. Mr. Cronkite's time is too good to spend talking to those of lesser intelligence. He did not take the time to understand that, just like in real life, there are places you go for intelligent conversation and places you just go to have fun. Mr. Cronkite, in all his years of journalism, seemingly has no concept of "other people", people who do not drone on nostalgically about past presidents and who do not name-drop in order to look good.
Oh well -- I find comfort in knowing the idiocy I indulge in is responding to a post about intellectual property laws, discussing the latest X-Files news, watching a friend's site go up, and trading messages with other Robin Hood fanatics.
Get off the 'Net if you don't like it. Pure and simple. Oh, you have to use it? Then learn to use it and admit that you're the person who's in a strange environment this time. Don't bother the rest of us with your wild assumptions and ridiculous assertions.
Why did I spend a whole Soapbox talking about this? Well, I fear this is symbolic of an ignorance which I hoped would have burned off by now. An ignorance of the 'Net. What a more prominent example than a distinguished journalist voicing his old-fashioned dismay at problems which don't exist on the 'Net. What with the media coverage of Heaven's Gate causing web designers' parents to call them and ask if they're suicidal too and seeing cases of child kidnapping through meetings on the 'Net, we are being bombarded with stupidity. When will the media understand that the Internet is made up of people, meaning the 'Net works in exactly the same damn way real life does? When will the media take the time to do a little research before it infers that all Internet users are bald pederasts who log in as the opposite sex and eat Cheetos all day?
The crime being committed here is not on the Internet. The crime is being committed by the journalists like Mr. Cronkite, the self-appointed champions of free speech, who say anything to get the upper hand in an argument but can't get around the fact that they know nothing of what they speak about. These journalists get off on urging for accurate and responsible reporting, yet they come back with early twentieth century arguments. Mr. Cronkite has revealed himself to be just as mindless as his fellow journalists. That's just the way it is.
Perhaps the most tragic part of all this is that Mr. Cronkite didn't get the joke. I would help, but unfortunately, you can't just download a sense of humor and suddenly it's all okay... Bring on the "crusade", baby; we could use another 'Net legend to go up there with GOOD TIMES and the Unamailer.
A rare thumbs-up to Cool Site of the Day for taking all this in good fun, as it was originally meant to be. Tim Hughes, the offender, has a letter which summarizes the whole situation much better than I did.
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