Saturday, January 28, 2006

21. A Spoonful Weighs A Ton

I received this email yesterday, and would like to respond with a few words. Of course, you can always email me at Freedom Fighter:

I wanted to ask you a question in hopes that you could ask your readers for some insight.

I am 21, and teachers and other older people ask me all the time why our generation feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders? They ask me, "Why do you think you are more entitled to get sympathy for everything that's happened to you than our generation?"

I try to explain to them that, at least in my case, I've had more shit happen to me personally in my short time than they have had happen to them.

Can you help me out?

Yes, I can. Thanks for the letter. And I agree with you, I think it's true that our generation has had some crazy shit happen to them on a personal level than others. As I said in my opening post, my parents have been through Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, 9/11, and other stuff I'm not remembering now. Our generation, to the same effect, have seen 9/11, Columbine, the war in Iraq, etc.

But, I still believe I've seen more shit than my parents have, just from life experiences.

Growing up in L.A., I saw the Rodney King riots, my dad has been held up at gunpoint in front of my house, in front of me. I had both salmonella poisoning and meningicocal, nearly killing me.

Going to college in Colorado, my friends had been AT Columbine. They had hid in the kitchen and locked the door, waited out the shootings and the banging on the doors by the killers, demanding they open. I sat with my roommate freshman year while we waited, for a whole day next to a phone and next to the TV, waiting for his mom to call and assure him his dad WASN'T in a tower when they fell. I went to 5 funerals last year. 3 were my good friends, my age, 2 deaths by suicide, one by cancer. I've laid two best friends down, and that was just SENIOR YEAR.

There's been more personal attacks on our generation than any generation before. When I think of my dad, and my mom, at 22 years of age, I know they weren't as conflicted as I am now.

When they ask us, "What makes you think you can go on with your life without caring for the world in which you live?" I want to say to them, "Right now, in my life, I don't think I can care for a world that has wronged me. I need to look within myself first in order to look outside.

So, maybe the answer to all this is that, even though we may be lazy, apathetic and generally uninterested in the politics of this nation, we just need a little time to come to our senses, and a little time to work some things out with ourselves.

My generation deserves it.

Free To Be You And Me

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

20. New York poor New York

I had to show people this seemingly banal article about the comments sections in the Washington Post website,, being taken away due to strong comments made by anonymous people.

They took away the comments section after people turned it more into an online brawl than a place for citizen discussion. I think this is stupid and pointless on a few different levels.

First, I have to point out that they aren't the only ones who monitor all anonymous (or supposedly anonymous) emails and comment posts. Further in the article they have a quotation from Craig Newmark, of Craigslist.

"The vast majority of people are trustworthy and good," he said, "but it really doesn't take much more than a few people to really abuse a site." Mr. Newmark said that offensive postings were often flagged for removal, adding: "We are open, an expression of democratic ideals, but like anything democratic, it has its problems. It imposes a burden."

The big newspapers, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Washington Post and so forth, are so out of touch with readers. In ten years, most people will be reading newspapers online. Gone are the days of writing letters into the newspaper by hand, walking down to the cornerstore, buyinh a stamp, putting it in the mailbox and waiting two or three days to see if it gets printed. Now, all you have to do is walk to your computer, and you're done. AND, on top of that all, your comments will get published for ALL to see.

It was not that long ago when readers enraged by something they had seen in the newspaper would have to find a pen, a piece of paper, an envelope and a stamp to make their feelings heard. Now, mainstream media outlets find themselves under attack for not providing bandwidth and visibility to people who wish them dead.

This is ridiculous. Ice cream also cost a nickel. Who the fuck cares? Leaving the comments section open on online editions of major newspapers ensures that the newspaper will HAVE to take their reader's opinions into account, because everyone else reading the online version DOES. They shouldn't be able to edit the letters they get and post only the ones either thanking them for writing the article or only slightly denouncing it (example: I thought you could have done a better job showing both sides of the argument. But thanks for writing it anyway.) And if they don't want to be part of the community, fine. Is there some other place that's more convenient, with more resources and that allows for full disclosure with viewpoints from all over the world? Yes, I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head. Oh wait, yes I can. THE INTERNET.

What was it that the Washington Post and The New York Times (especially Jayson Blair) lacked? Oh yeah, reality.