Archive | November, 2008

On Positive Blogging, Trolls and Harsh Words

10 Nov

I’m always so fond of mathematics since my childhood. If you seek hard enough and don’t give up to the seemingly-unsolvable problems, nothing beats the rush you feel when you finally solved it. It’s also surprising that many times mathematics will give you a clear inspiration about life.

In mathematics, negative numbers are whatever number that falls below zero. Beside negatives, there are two other types of numbers based on this particular classification. They are zero and positive numbers. This means that just because a certain number is not a negative, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily positive. It can be zero or nil.

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Let’s now take that premise and apply it to the world of blogging, – particularly in Indonesia. I get increasingly disturbed with the fact that a lot of blogs feel ( explicitly stated or not ) that they are giving something positive to the blogosphere, – when in fact they are just merely being “non-negatives”. I am talking about people who act like they are sharing their knowledge to the world, but don’t dare to ask the hard question : Am I truly giving something useful ? Or is it just cheap talk, and means nothing or zero ?

To get more specific, these are people who blogs carelessly and without responsibility. Usually they do one ( or all ) of these things :

  • Stating some immature opinions offensive to others.
  • Making their points by stating derogatory reference to other things / people.
  • Using harsh words or figures of speech.

One of the oldest arguments they use to justify it is “This is my own blog. I can do or say anything in it.” Indeed, I agree that you have the right to do that. But I’ll answer this with an illustration ( This is just a hypothetical analogy, I am by no means a racist ) :

Say that I own a house on a large street in town. Now, whatever I do within the boundary of the house is entirely up to me. Whatever I say, or whatever color I choose to paint my house, is similarly, is my own decision to make. No one can debate that right of mine. But what if I erect a sign on my lawn, clearly stating that “I Hate Blacks..!” ? Is it still within my rights to do so ? Maybe yes. But no one can blame the angry mob when someday they finally decided to lynch my house.

My point is : Rights are rights. But mankind doesn’t operate by rights alone. You can say anything you like in your blog. But if you deliberately offend others in it, then sooner or later you’ll feel the consequences. Our parents’ generation have a particular saying for this : You will reap what you sow.

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Similar logics apply to Trolls. They mostly feel that in the name of freedom of speech, they can say anything they want in the comments they make. Again, you can. It’s a constitutional right you have as a citizen. But please stop for a moment and consider : What value your comments will have to the world ? Most of the times the answer is zero, nil and non-existent.

Also, let’s get deeper to the problem and not stopping to the issues of insolence and harsh words. Some people don’t do such things, but fall victims to another kind of trap. They argue against other commenters,sometimes missing the point of the blog post completely -; just to show the world how knowledgeable and articulate they are. Sad but true. If you do that, I will say that you are not giving us anything positive whatsoever. Trust me.

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Still, there are others who don’t blog or comment actively, but belong to the same group. They are the ones who mostly are involved heavily in microblogging services or social sites. This breed is easy to identify. They mostly “broadcast” their status, telling the world how important they are and what they do, and got involved in a conversation where there is a chance to display their knowledge. Interestingly, they also tend to use harsh words.

To such people, I have one thing to say : I am aware that you are knowledgeable and learned. But really what you do is embarrassing yourself, – because you’re practically telling the world that you are not a creature of culture. And going back to the issue of doing something positive vs. being a big zero, – need I say more ?

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Let us continue to make our beloved blogosphere to be something positive. We owe it to ourselves. Positive not just for each other. But also for the world in general. Even for those who don’t have any access to the Internet and can’t read our posts.

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UPDATE :

This post is now as complete as it can be. The real-life example was kindly supplied by a Troll named Horta, – who left a half-crazed comment. Identity masking, capital letters and harsh words; you are injuring nobody but yourself there.  Judge for yourself, guys… 🙂

On Obama Victory : In Dreams ( I Trust )

5 Nov
the 44th President of the United States...Bara...

Image by jmtimages via Flickr

Sunshine knocking on my window
Couldn’t wake me from this dream
(we dream)
Cause baby
anywhere the wind blows
I will follow you
It seems
That in my life
I still believe in dreams

( “In Dreams” – John Waite )

We all know what happened on the 5th of November 2008.  It is the day when the world found out that Barack Hussein Obama was announced as the USA President ElectHer first African-American one.  Some media deliberately ignored this fact for various reasons.  Some may opted to do so because they’d like to keep a pretentious front that racial tension doesn’t happen anymore in USA.  On the other hand, others did the same thing because they honestly were trying to pinpoint us to what they feel to be bigger problems like the looming global financial crises.  I am not in an adequate position to comment on such motives, thus I refrained from doing so.

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Yet the victory of Obama begs an answer for this question : what does it signify for us ?  There are many approaches one can adopt to tackle this issue.  As I imagine, there are several levels on our life to which this question may apply.  National politic is the most obvious one.  Yet Indonesian political dynamics are most of the times so ridiculous as proven by the recently-passed Anti-Porn Bill.  It may well take many years until we can try to apply the significance of Obama’s victory to Indonesia politics.

What I think we can talk about right now is what it means for us on a personal level. It seems to me that his victory is a victory of dream.  In this sense, it is an embodiment of Rev. Martin Luther King‘s famous address “I Have A Dream”. One particular line rang eerily true to what happened last night,

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

For me it forever would mean that I shall not give up for one moment to build what matters most for me.  “Brick by brick, a callous hand by a callous hand“.  Fifty years ago, a black man still had no right to vote in USA.  If America is able to outgrow her own prejudice and recognize the equality of mankind, then I, too, should be able to dismiss my own doubts and realize that I have everything I need to chase my dream.

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My dream is being a published writer.  Not terribly difficult, but not plain simple either.  Today, I got reminded of a very fundamental truthThat if we strive to chase our dream, if we refused to budge to whatever setbacks we may experience; one day we will get there.  Thus Mr. Barack Obama, I salute you.  For me, today will go down in a history where not only democracy won.  It is the day when mankind conquer its own wounds and overcome.

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