Thursday, October 31, 2013

I am Galadriel....

"The world is changed. I feel it in the reddit. I feel it in the internet. I smell it in the web." --fkd

^did I get that right?

My Grandfather's father died when he was four years old.  He was the oldest of three kids with a younger sister and then youngest being a brother.  At age 10, the thick of The Great Depression hit.  He lived with his mother and two siblings in a single room shack.  Literally, a shack.  It had a stove in it, and he said snakes could crawl through the spaces between the boards.

So he's 10, and his mother tells him to go get food or they will all starve.  He begins work on a farm for 25 cents a week, walks the train tracks to pick up pieces of coal that bounced off the train cars, and once he made a big enough bag of these, he said he would get 10 cents for that.  He then also killed rats, and each rat tail he turned in would net him 1 cent.

All of this money he gave to his mother to feed the family.  He also hunted and fished and brought all of that home.  Rabbits, squirrels, fish, and one time a skunk (he said you only ever need to kill one skunk before you never tried again).

At age 17, he volunteered for the military and said he, "learned the nomenclature of the 50 caliber machine gun."  They put him in recon.  Recon had some of the highest casualties in combat, as they are usually seeking out the enemy, filling-in weak spots etc.  (I've told his story before, but doing it again as I am setting up a rant here).

On June 6, 1944, he hit Utah beach with the first surface-borne division to land: the 4th "Ivy" Division.  Needless to say, he survived the war (or I wouldn't be here).  He saw hard combat from D-Day all the way through The Battle of The Bulge wherein, his division was put there to "rest" as it was considered a place no attack would come.  Those poor guys in that division -- including my Grandfather -- having had the hell beat out of them since the beach, now faced the very last, great, German assault of the war.  He said his feet froze, and he nearly lost them, that he didn't eat for days during TBoTB, and was tossed 30 feet by a bomb.

Out of 124 men in his original troop, only he and six others survived the war.

My life with him was filled with hunting, fishing, carpentry (he had an awesome wood shop) and very manly things such as gun cleaning, honing scopes on rifles, trapping, etc.  He never saw the Internet or used a computer that I know of.  He died in 1990.

He loved to read and write.  He loved to read the Bible.  He corresponded in letters a lot too, to friends and family that lived far off.  He also wrote open letters that made it to print in the local paper.  He was a character, loved people, loved to joke.  The pastor of the local church, retired, would come visit with him just to discuss religion, politics.  He said my Grandfather had a unique way about him, but more than anything, he was nice to people.  He was nice to their face and he was nice in his letters, his writings.

I know I'm not the first to discuss this, but it is dying ... nice is dying.  The old ways are gone and "the world is changed...."

I learned in college (and my Grandfather only had a 2nd grade education, but went on to business school after the war), that in Shakespeare's day "nice" meant "retarded."  It meant someone who is slow-minded, but you see, we are not threatened by slow-minded people.  They don't play passive aggressive games, they are not typically smart-asses.  You can take them at face value.  They are honest, truthful ... they are "nice."  And so, "nice" became a word we associate with someone who doesn't threaten us, or who isn't necessarily mean to us.  But in Shakespeare's day, it meant "not so smart."

Nice simply means people like you as you have done nothing to insult or threaten them.  They like you.  You are nice.  (Try it some time).

And how did my Grandfather correspond with friends, family and even people he argued with?  (And he did argue; he loved to argue politics, religion, etc.).  He started each letter with "Dear" and it ended it with "Sincerely."

^You never see this on the Internet.  Not at all.  It is gone, as Galadriel lamented the loss of the grand-past, so I miss my Grandfather, and not just him (I surely do miss him).  I miss that he was nice to people.  I miss that people were nice to him.  I miss that people used to be nice.

I actually remember getting letters from people in the mail that still said "Dear" and "Sincerely."  Believe it or not, many of these were hand-written, with thoughtfulness, but not anymore.  It seems even close friends and family have succumbed to the zombie-hive mentality, the virus of being, well, just plain fucking mean on the Internet.  Benign emails from life-long friends quickly turn into smart-ass remarks, as we each feel like Louis C.K. or some other celebrity ("but you're not" --Tyler Durden).  And yes, I, too, am fully a participant in the batshitfuckingmeanness that is the gd motherfucking internet.  You bit me you asshole! Now iZombie!

I have this one friend that I've known now for over 20 years.  I remember sending him his first email reply.  He didn't reply back.  I asked him later, and he said he was offended at the "on this date, you said this, and in reply, fkd says" body-header crap <-- get that?  He was so normal, so natural back then, so used to the "Dear" and the "Sincerely" of "normal" correspondence, that even that benign auto-header crap offended him.  Today ... today?  He is one of the most nastiest, trolling people I ever communicate with via modern text-based communication.

And whereas my Grandfather faced: starvation, poverty, war, combat, killing, national upheaval, and worrying each day, often, as to whether he would eat or not, or if his family would eat or not, today, in this 1st world country, we are greatly concerned over ... fonts and memes.  Yes.  We need to insult someone else, be no-so-nice to them over their usage of a font type or meme nuance..

Enter the Internet:
Enter 2013:

I'm going to explain this as if I'm talking to my Grandfather on his first use of the Internet/reddit/the-web/wtfever:

Dear Grandfather,

I am so very happy to see you are going to use the Internet finally.  It is truly a wonderful place.  Do make sure to visit Wikipedia and search for anything you can possibly think of.  It is an incredible site.  It is basically the greatest encyclopedia you could ever imagine.  You can read all about your Army division, your favorite president (Roosevelt of course), etc.  You can even make additions yourself!  Imagine adding your own knowledge to the page on D-Day.

By the way, a "page" on the Internet is simply the current screen you are looking at.  Some of the words will have different colors.  These are called "hyperlinks" and when you move the arrow over them, and click the mouse (left button) it will take you to another page!  You can always go back and forth between the pages you are viewing.

Google is awesome too, and I highly recommend it.  You can find places nearby to eat, or where to get your oil changed, or you can search for info on ailments/cures, etc.  You can find just about anything using google.

At some point, you are going to want to add your own 2cents.  Everyone does on the Internet (and I mean everyone..).  It is here that you need to be extra careful.

First, do not use "Dear" or "Sincerely" no one does this, and it will make you appear foreign.  When you see words such as "what's on your mind" or "comment" there is no need to say "I have nothing on my mind" or "I have no comment."  This too will not help your reputation in this global arena.

A blog is a great way to start out.  People will probably never read it, and if they do, they will not read much of it, will quickly leave it and so on.  But just maybe, someone will like what you write or they will not.  Either way, they might leave a comment (and most comments on the Internet are not nice at all).  If they are nasty, you can block them from your blog as you own it.  But if you are on a website such as reddit, then you are just like everyone else, and if they say something insulting there isn't much you can do about it.  (You can downvote them, but if other people think their put-down is funny, then your downvote won't have much impact).

You will also be able to do things such as: set the font style.  Fonts are incredible things as I know you are familiar with them from type writers and such, but with modern computers and the Internet, you can have literally endless font styles.  I know you like to be creative, but please note here that you should not try any of these fonts.  You should stick to the fonts everyone else uses.  Especially, most especially, never use a font called "comic sans."  I would rather see you not even try the Internet than to use that font.  It is the death-nail of those who use it.  It tends to drive people using the Internet nuts.

You can also add pictures to your blog or on reddit, and you can make pictures using tools on your computer or on the Internet.  You can search for pictures others have made, and you can even reuse these perhaps.  At some point, you will see pictures with words.  These are typically called "memes."  Memes are pretty much like fonts -- although you have the ability create endless types of memes, DON'T DO IT!!!  If you even slightly miss the very subtle nuance of a meme, then people will not like it.  Furthermore, they will not like you at all.

Now, Grandfather, I would like to explain to you what a troll is....

Come to think of it, why do you and I even want to use the Internet?  I say let's not today.  How about we go fishing Papaw?  I really would like to do that again with you.  I miss it.  It is very nice.


Your Grandson,