June 9th, 2011

Zetsubo Sensei

Life's New Comedies

I just found this yesterday and, oh, how I love it (絶望 = Zetsubou = Despair);

My favourite part is how the Free Hugs guy clearly does not want to give him that second hug.

I don't know how much exposure most people have to them, but Free Hugs is an international campaign, people who stand in crowded places or at events holding signs reading "Free Hugs"--there're always a lot of them at Comic-Con and they always give me douche chills. Maybe I'm a misanthrope, but there's something a bit cloying about people who seek to diminish the importance of individual differences when bestowing affection and putting their faces against a thousand other faces in the process. I feel like they want to turn the world into a pillow.

I am starting to feel bad for Anthony Weiner. Maybe I wouldn't if I weren't starting to get bored with penis jokes. But it sounds to me like the case of a nerd trying to get his rocks off--he's the kind of guy busy most of his life, so doesn't have time to figure out how to be naughty in a hip way. There's the issue of him cheating on his wife, though supposedly she knew about what he was doing and I guess it's possible she'd didn't consider even graphic internet flirting to be the same thing as cheating. I found this bit from a blog entry Alec Baldwin wrote on the subject kind of interesting;

My friend Morgan Rank owned an art gallery in East Hampton several years ago. He moved to Italy, living in the quiet countryside there for nearly a decade. We had lost touch and then, at an art event in New York, someone approached me and said, "Morgan is back." I got a phone number and called him.

Morgan really lived off the grid. No internet. Little telephone usage. When we spoke awhile back, he commented on the digital age he found, in full force, upon his return. "Theses kids with these devices in their hands every minute of the day," he said. "They will never get to know each other the way we did. They will never stare at each other over a candle, jammed into a bottle of Mateus, on a red checkered table cloth in some restaurant."

I guess a lot of people sense the death of a certain aspect of human connectivity. I often cite as a virtue of the internet the ability for people to communicate without the weight of gender, age, race, or sex provoking preconceptions in others, so ideas can be transmitted and processed with less bias. Though of course, anonymity on the internet probably produces more harm than good, and not just due to the Greater Internet Fuckwad theory. Something that I've always thought was ultimately counterproductive is the tendency of some people to have several different alts in different kinds of forums. People who have strained relationships will sometimes attempt to reconnect with people without their knowing, people will use an alternate identity to troll, thereby creating the impression of multiple people disliking someone when in reality it's just one guy with an axe to grind. Usually I think the phenomenon is much worse than I can imagine, other times I think I'm being paranoid. Then something happens like what happened to me one day last week.

Something like fifty people are on my friends list in Second Life, basically because I don't usually turn down friend requests unless someone's being an overt asshole. Some fairly standard looking, bleach blond avatar with large breasts walked into one of the chess clubs I go to a few months ago and after some polite conversation she friended me and I accepted. We played one game of chess, I won, and though she didn't say much about it, I got the impression she didn't take losing very well.

I didn't see her at the chess club very much, but she had a tendency to send me teleports at random times to a Second Life movie theatre. I went a couple times to be friendly, but finally explained to her I don't like watching movies in Second Life--as the creepy hardcore movie fan I am, I need good sound and video quality and I don't like having people around me talking during a movie. The only reason to watch a movie in SL would be for a communal experience and I wasn't up for it.

Even before this, she'd seemed oddly resentful towards me. She would constantly end sentences by addressing me as "Buddy," which I thought maybe meant she'd clicked through my profile web site link and discovered I was a guy in real life and maybe she was one of those people upset by the idea of a guy using a female avatar. But then she changed her named to Joseph, so I supposed that couldn't be it. It didn't really occur to me she (or he) might be an alt of someone who had outstanding issues with me until, on one of the occasions when he was trying to talk me into going to the SL movie theatre he threatened me, saying that if I didn't watch a movie with him, "I'll hurt you worse than I did last time."

I laughed and asked what he was talking about but he wouldn't elaborate. And then I realised how much sense it made--someone with the kind of pent up resentment he was exhibited was very likely working off a more substantial history. I thought about all the people it could be and realised the list was much too long--as some googling will show, there are a lot of people who hate me and yet have enough of an apparent obsession with me to pull this kind of stunt. After a while, he stopped asking me to go to the movie theatre and began asking me to go "camping" with him. The second time he asked and I declined, he finally unfriended me and shot me some full-caps histrionics about how I was AN IGNORANT ASSHOLE saying that he'd asked me TEN TIMES NOW TO GO CAMPING WITH HIM and I each time refused. He even added that I was a horrible chess player and that he could easily beat me.

The fact that he'd only asked me twice to go "camping" in SL (I don't even like camping in real life) led me to realise . . . he thinks I'm an alt of someone else he knows. Something about me, something I must have done or said must have seemed like some incontrovertible tip-off to him. I was catching the tail end of some relationship that had absolutely nothing to do with me.

Gods. It's amazingly funny. It got me wondering how often this happens, and considering how much passion and bad grammar I see on the internet, my suspicion is that this kind of thing is quietly rampant. I thought about the potential for a book or movie, a writer taking it to the furthest extremes--maybe two people begin a relationship, then unknowingly pick it up again with two other people, and then those two people unknowingly fall in with the opposite two people of the original relationship . . . The possibilities are endless.

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