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FF Sparks (Casual)

Light and Shadows

Why can't people simply play nice?

Online games, web boards, mailing lists... all of them, you run into arguments. People will take the 'I call free speech, I can say whatever I want' argument. People call all sorts of things. And eventually, it seems more often to end in a big gooey mess than it does in any sort of real resolution.

I hate it when it happens. I hate being caught between friends, I hate being caught in a 'take sides' situation. Especially since neither side is doing anything 'to be evil'. But a situation turns into misunderstanding, misunderstanding snowballs into resentment, and eventually it boils over and explodes due to the pressure. Eventually someone vents about things in various venues, and it spreads to others, and so it starts to look like 'smearing'. Or someone gets fed up and goes to the host or hostess to try and work it out, and so it becomes 'running for the big guns.'

It's stupid. It's senseless, pointless, and just plain DUMB that this happens so often in some many venues. Web boards or mailing lists turn to flamewars, online games turn into disagreements and infighting between groups. And eventually it ends - usually in an explosion that obliterates one party from whatever venue - and things quiet down, until the next situation snowballs.

Are human beings so inherently unable to get along that this is truly such a common occurance? Is it part of the Internet phenomenom?

If you don't have to face a person personally, but are divorced by the anonymity of a text medium separating you, is it so much easier to not have to examine your actions? I see people do things online and believe they did nothing wrong, when I know they would know better if they were trying it in reality.

Am I naive for thinking that people should simply try to get along? I know I have more fun when people get along than when they conflict and argue and fight; unlike some others, I don't thrive on conflict. Or rather, I thrive on conflict in stories...but not on vitriolic conflict in my personal relationships. Do others really find conflict - having someone to rail against, vent about, smear, whatever - really so fulfilling?

Bleah. The sun is slowly going down outside, casting shadows from the skyscrapers across the city below. From up near the top of the second-tallest building in town, I can see a patchwork of light and dark spots, the shadow of our building and others reaching for blocks and blocks across the little buildings across the freeway. Spots of warm, bright sunlight among fields of colder shadows. As I look out over the smaller buildings in the distance, they look warm and sunny, bright and without shadows... yet I know that if I got closer, they simply cast smaller shadows which are hidden between them, unseen from my vantage point. In the distance, the Cascades are visible, so crisp and clear against the late afternoon sky that I can make out the glistening of individual glaciers on the slopes; it feels as though I can reach out and touch them...even though I know they're hopelessly far away. They seem gilt in gold along the edges, as the sunlight turns orange, hopelessly bright and shining...yet I know they cast a shadow so big I can't even perceive it as a shadow.

I ponder this while I pack my backpack up, preparing to go home. I'll go get into Skuld, pay my horrific parking fee, and join the mass of humanity stuck slowly moving along that ribbon of highway below me. From down there, I'll only perceive the shadows on the landscape as a sudden dimness in the light around me, a suddenly colder feeling on the skin of my face and arms before I pass into sunlight again. From there, I can't see as clearly where the shadows lay on the ground - where they begin and end - until I have passed into them.

Is that a metaphor for life? Is every patch of fun, of happiness - every spot of sunlight - so inevitably intertwined in darkness? Everything we build and find joy in so hopelessly destined to cast a shadow on someone eventually? Shadows we cannot even see until we are upon them, when they cast a chill on our world and a darkness over our sight?

Perhaps I need to stop skipping lunch to get things done at work; maybe I'd feel less philosophical if I had a higher blood-sugar. Perhaps I need to listen to bubblegum pop when I look out the windows up here. Perhaps my heart is too gentle at times, and takes in pain around me too readily...despairing at being able to cure it for everyone. Many thoughts like this go through my head as I send off a report, gather up several papers, and begin to pack my backpack.

From up here, the shadows seem so clear; one lays there, and it could be gone around through this other road here...another one can be detoured around here. I know they won't seem so clear soon.

I shoulder my backpack, wish my lingering co-workers a good evening...and descend among the shadows.


I wish I had a more satisfying answer than "so long as the ability to speak freely exists, disagreement will also exist", but I don't. I won't quote a lot of platitudes at you, since I know you've heard them all before.

I had this discussion with Mike (my boyfriend) a couple days ago. He's a very optimistic person, like you. He believes that people can get along and be happy; that conflict is pointless; that as a race who can communicate we should be able to live together harmoniously.

I think it's a bit naive... but. If I didn't have his opinion, and if I didn't have him in my life, it would be, in a way, incomplete. You know me, Rach. I don't shy from conflict and from expressing my displeasure when I'm mad. But the two extremes have to exist together, I think. We need people like you and Mike, who believe in the goodness of people and the possibility of peace. But we need people like me who accept disagreement head-on, who get our hands bloody fighting, so to speak. Both are necessary.

That sounded more self-serving than I wanted it too. Let me try it again. I think that yes, you're probably going to be disappointed if you want a world where people get along without trouble and can clearly and cleanly finish their disputes. But I think the fact that you want that world at all, and are willing to make the attempt on your own, to be the best type of person you can be to your own standards, is more important and, ultimately, better.
Personally, I'm not big on conflict. I deal with it where I have to, but when I'm not comfortable, or where I feel my opinion could be mistaken, I'll go to someone else - usually after making a stab at fixing things myself, but. *shrug* Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

It'd be nice if people tried, really, to work out differences, but I've found from general experience over the past however many years, that most people are only willing to work out differences when it doesn't involve changing themselves at all; where they are the injured parties, or can otherwise be the magnanimous ones. Unfortunately, true reconciliation takes work, and not on one side. Done that, not worth my time; if someone won't make some effort to meet me partway, then it's probably just as well we go in separate directions; the first few efforts of coaxing, I'll do, but after a while I don't have the time and energy for it anymore.

As for philosophy : there is nothing wrong with waxing philosophical (though nothing wrong with keeping your blood sugar up, either!) - just remember that it's in the nature of existence to have both hills -and- valleys. Shadows are inevitable; they are the meeting place. All the interesting stuff at least touches on shadow. It does not define light, and does not define dark. It is. It doesn't need to be more than that.

Humans are more confrontational, often, on the net; some people find difficulty in understanding nuance, and go through life bulldozing through. Even the subtle ones, when you shift from an oral means of communication to a written one, end up often missing how things could be interpreted; people think of -themselves-, first. They don't think of how it works in terms of the other person. 'The self is all; the rights of the individual are all' - it's a very Western mindset, really.

The problem is, when you have a collection of selves, there is automatically conflict. I do not say that conformity to a greater whole is 'better'; but I do feel consideration of that whole, of the other 'ones' which make up 'many', is -required- for any sort of harmony, unity, or cooperation, even. Under the skin, humans are still animals. There is that taste for savagery, and for blood.

That does not mean the potential is not there. It lies, waiting to be realized; most people, however, in concentrating on feeding the self, never reach -for- that potential, let alone actually reach it. Self-understanding helps, though.

It is, unfortunately, not a very commonly sought-after goal, however often talked about. Still, progress is. Waiting is. ;) Have hope.
I do understand what you mean here, but it is not only in the internet that such conflict arises, it is there in real life as well. The key word is trust. I do not think of myself as a perfect being, I do believe that I have my own neuroses and naivity. A lot of people tell me...why am I so trusting of people?

Despite repeatedly getting backstabbed by co-workers and friends, I continued to put my trust in some of them. I am at a position where I have to be in a supervisory post. I have found out that every little bit of word or gesture or even action that is taken can be easily misconstituted and twisted around to make it seem that you are a bigoted and prejudiced fool.

I feel like a fool most of the time whenever that happens, and all along, I personally thought and sincerely tried my best to be fair and just to everyone, but...it doesn't matter! You can give the same piece of chocolate to two people and yet one would say that you favour the other because the size is slightly bigger.

I have found now that the easiest way to get over this is to at least try to take heart in the things that does matter. The friends around you that actually treasure that trust you give them. The company that you provide for them or they provide for you. Either way, its much better than trying to figure out how to resolve conflicts that would probably never end unless you can come up with a perfect human being. Even then, what is your conception of perception? Is it the same as the next person before you?

I digress...though..Rachel, you are indeed the most sweet and gentle soul alive. Just be yourself and don't let other people's conflicts affect you. ^.^