I have to admit it…this feels really different. After a year of dealing with lockdowns, too many deaths from friends and family, and just trying to get through it all, I am ready to try something different.
I have been working full time since I was 20 years old. I started my “adult working career” just weeks before my 21st birthday. It was a case of being thrown into the deep end…in frigid cold waters…in a raging river of dramatic reality…and finding a way to survive.
As someone who has been deeply involved in the Internet, both personally and professionally since its commercial inception, I watched the 6-Part QAnon Series on HBO, “Into the Storm,” with a sense of “insider info” that many do not share. I did so, because the series was supposed to uncover the answer to the question, “Who is Q?”
However, after watching it, and seeing the historic changes in the way the Internet is used to proliferate misinformation, create division, and foment violence, the real question for me changed.
It’s no longer a matter of “Who Is Q,” but far more important, “WHY is Q?”
Watching the HBO series, and knowing more than the average person about how the Internet works, it became fairly obvious to me that the “Real Q” didn’t matter, because at best, it was all just a LARP (Live Action Role Playing), and at worst, one of the most irresponsible and dangerous uses of the Internet since its inception.
One would argue that the “Alt-Channels” of the Internet have long been the hiding/playground for the very worst of human nature, with illegal activities ranging from child/snuff porn, black market sales of drugs and weapons, and almost anything else you can imagine that could possibly happen with well-cloaked anonymity.
But this was different. This “movement,” (and I use that term very loosely), has grown to become one of the most destructive, most insidious, and truly dangerous of any in decades. The numbers are staggering. The results even more so. No longer just a collective of conspiracy nuts who dance around half-truth like Klansmen dance around burning crosses, the influence of QAnon has reached into the tens of millions of users/followers/seekers. It has devastated friends and families, our political system, and has emboldened the worst actors to promote the very worst ideals, in ways that seemed unimaginable even ten years ago.
The simplicity with which this happened should be terrifying to everyone, and should also be one of the most motivating arguments for stricter regulation of the Internet, including the need to tie liability to the providers that host, benefit and profit from the actions of their users.
Let’s begin at the beginning. Waaaaaaaaay back in the early 2000’s (yep, two decades ago), I belonged to an irreverent message board forum that I stumbled upon (isn’t that the way most of this internet stuff happens?). This was way before Google and FaceBook and Twitter began using algorithms to push content at you that they think is suited toward your interests (please stop sending me ads for penis enhancement…my plumbing works fine!). So, when I say I stumbled upon the forum, it really was by happenstance.
This forum was mostly a place to vent…in the safety of your own head…with a small audience of fellow attendees, who gave as good as they got back. It was abusive, relentlessly Non-PC, and hilarious. And, pretty much, off of the public radar. Some of the things I posted there would put me in “cancel culture jail,” by today’s standards. At that time, I went by the “handle” of CrabbyOldGuy.
It was the first term of George Bush II, and I had a LOT to say. Far more than I could roll out on a Forum Board. As I owned an internet services company (for my real job), it was easy to come to the conclusion that I needed a web site. Something public. Something more permanent. So in May of 2005, I went to get the crabbyoldguy.com domain name. It was gone. Taken by another old guy (keeping in mind that I was only 51 at this point. Hardly old. But, pretty plenty crabby).
So, after a search, I found out that crankyoldguy.com was available. Cranky? Crabby? They both make the point of my general attitude. I bought it…and CrankyOldGuy was born!
I’m going to go waaaaaay out on a limb here, knowing that I am going to get into deep trouble with a ton of “woke” folks who have risen up to defend the new labeling of “Mister and Missus Potato Head,” but I’m willing to take the chance.
To start it all off, something happened this week, that made me feel special, and then weirdly out of touch, with one of my most intimate daily actions. I found out that there is a product called, “Dude Wipes.”
So, yeah…maybe the Gen-Xers and Millennials know all about this product. But, I just had my first “Dude Wipe” experience…the very same week that I had my first pedicure, and I have to say, it has done nothing to lessen my anger at the overstepping that has happened with the whole “Mr/Mrs Potato Head” brouhaha…even though I feel slightly enlightened for both experiences.
It is weird being “on the other side,” of an issue from my regular “Lefty Peeps.” While the Fox News and “Old School Gender Warriors” were ignoring the rise in Covid cases and death count, another handful of mass shootings, and virtually anything else that mattered, to be able to spend their time getting upset about Dr. Seuss and The Potato Heads, I found myself doing a, “Yeah, but…” around the same time my butt was having its first “Gender Centric” wipe.
I know. This whole thing is confusing. Let me try and make myself clear. Continue reading →
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