August 17, 2005

Avoid Yahoo! Chatrooms At All Costs
By Adriana [Guest Blogger]

Never debate in a Yahoo! political chatroom. A few weeks ago I found myself yearning for an angry anonymous internet brawl. Every so often I get a hankerin' to undermine the political beliefs of my fellow man. For some reason I decided to try Yahoo!. I found the voice chat feature especially cool. Yeah, instead of typing an excellent point that destroys your opponent's entire philosophy and then noticing your point got lost somewhere in between the porn bots and the fifteen year old posting the URL to his blog, the voice chat guarantees that you're heard. I also mistakenly thought that voice chat would ensure some minimum level of civility. In text chat your heart-felt and well-intentioned arguments tend to be misinterpreted. And forget about making a sarcastic remark. Boy, was I wrong.

I announced to Political Lobby 3 that I am a libertarian, that I believe in free markets and free people. Not really a controversial statement, I thought. Some ignorant southerner--an insult I liberally scattered throughout my subsequent conversations with him--saw my self-description and called me a "communist." A communist? I don't know, maybe I'm a little behind on my reading of the Communist Manifesto, but I am fairly sure 'communists' aren't down with 'free markets.' After repeatedly telling him that I'm a capitalist, that I oppose all coercive taxes, that I support free trade, that I'm against government interference in any sector of the economy, he shouted "commie!" one more time at me before putting me on ignore. He didn't actually, they never do, but he soon left the room after suggesting that I am a woman of loose moral standards. (He said that I'm a "whore" who is probably going to get pregnant in a year and have an abortion. So much for southern hospitality.)

I saw him again later that night and I tried to pin him down on the definition of "communist." He avoided the question, of course, clearly not knowing the meaning of the word, and resorted to attacking my age. Yes, apparently if you're 22 years old, you don't have the knowledge or requisite life experience to comment on, well, anything. I responded,"Yeah, I'm only 22, and it's sad that a 22 year old knows more about communism than a 50-year-old man." He started to brag that he fought in Vietnam as a marine for my freedoms - blah blah blah. Once he actually showed an interest in libertarianism, he said that I was a "silly and naive little girl" for objecting to government safety nets like Social Security, welfare, and health care. That's right - he called me a "communist" just before defending socialistic programs. I gave up trying to reason with him on any adult level after that.

I realized a few things from my Yahoo! chat encounter. 1) Drunk and uneducated older southern men like to frequent political chatrooms on weekday nights. 2) There aren't a whole lot of wacko conspiracy theorists in this world, but the few that do exist all seem to congregate in chatrooms. 3) I'd like to buy the world a dictionary and keep it company. 4) Sometimes I underestimate the intelligence of others, but I met some seriously bright and well-informed folks who actually taught me a bit. And finally, 5) Yahoo! chat contains some of the most vile, disgusting human beings on the internet. If you really need to sound off, join a message board for your own sanity.


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