In Defense of Bad Behavior

Posted by | May 18, 2007

Part 1: Introductions

I don’t really live here – on the internet – I’m just visiting. I only read a couple of blogs and the New York Times front page, I’ve watched X-Play review more MMOs than I’ve logged into, and I only just found out about the horror that is B (and I can’t yet imagine the preferred spelling of “B-tard”). Minimal emersion suits me: at 26, I’ve got a serious career, an A average in graduate school, a boyfriend-leaning-toward-fiance, close ties to my family, a nest egg, concrete plans to have my first child, and many strong friendships to maintain. So, even though I love hanging out with and staying up-to-date on the activities of the disparate souls who share my interests and hobbies, I don’t have much time to spend lazing about online – so I like to make the most of it. For me, making the most of it means reading about and discussing emerging technologies, civil liberties, intellectual property law, and great literature while staying involved in the lives of distant friends. I am a mere visitor to this place and a mild-mannered one at that, happy to take the nets as-is.

Unfortunately, not every lurker is so content. One of the most popular archtypes of malcontent is the prude. Each prude repeats the life of every prude before: with a great enthusiasm, the idealistic prude leaps into the nets only to discover disorder, disunity, and tastelessness. The prude then condemns the nets via article, post, or comment claiming that the internet has gotten out of control, blaming publishers, parents, or politicians, and clamoring for solutions – grassroots, legal, programmatic or other. For a brief time, a few minutes, a day, in the case of very eloquent prudes as much as several months, the prude’s lament cancels out all other activity, distracting everyone I know and every site I read from the discussion of the serious and pressing issues facing chronozens of the 21st century. As a many-time witness, I provide the following defense of Bad Behavior fully knowing that I am only contributing to the distraction that I denounce, like a mutton-fingered idiot who replies-all to chastise someone else for replying-all.

I say all of this by way of introducing myself and my thesis, which is now a full paragraph overdue. In short that thesis is this: I’m not a teenage monkey hacker perv and yet I perceive (without any assistive devices) that the internet needs no repairs: it’s Wild and it’s never going to be Tidy and Tame and that makes it a like the rest of life, except better because many less people will go home missing significant chunks of their anatomy. And so what follows is a defense, a justification, for the existence in perpetuity of everything about the internet the Prude decries as wicked.

Part 2: Prude Lit Review

… Coming Soon – as soon as I finish registering for this conference.


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