Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Bad Online Karma

I made the mistake on Friday afternoon of whiling away some end-of-week time by reading through friends-of-friends livejournal entries. This isn't inherently a bad thing. Before I had a livejournal account this is how I read livejournal, by reading the friends pages of some people I knew (as a convenient way of following other people I knew). This is how I found three of the people I follow to this day, and my online life is the richer for it.

The mistake on Friday was letting some writings by people I don't know get to me. Somebody told the story of a public event where the rest room lines grew unequal between the mens and womens rooms, and in this case some of the women commandeered the mens rooms for a while, keeping the men out. Me, I think this is very funny, but in this case the anecdote was used as a starting point for a bunch of guys to start ranting like lunatics about how terrible it is that women claim to be "victims", as well as a bunch of stuff that would have been silly if it weren't so angry about how MEN would have gone to JAIL if they had tried such a thing. Strangely, the very next day I found out that the news reports of the woman in Georgia who ran away from her wedding were also being used (in other places) for men to go off on similar rants (including how MEN would have gone to JAIL if they had tried such a thing -- really, the exact made-up exaggeration). There's many things you can say about that story or perhaps the news coverage, but it never would have occurred to me that people would use it to trot out some generalized angry-white-guy rants (and that major newspapers would print those rants, as if the "what if a MAN had done this..." supposition provided insight into anything but the resentments of the writer).

Ok, so mea maxima culpa I made the mistake of posting a response in which I tried to point out that the whole thing looked reasonable to me and what does it have to do with people claiming victim status anyway? I honestly (and stupidly) thought that pointing out that there could be other perspectives on the same story than the one that the women were asserting their victim status might make people see that not everyone would see the overweening self-righteousness being expressed as justifiable (although I didn't say that in particular). The owner of the journal immediately deleted this, which was probably a good thing (although I don't think I wrote anything personally insulting), and then I posted again to apologize and deleted my own apology. Again, I should have seen that something as bizarre as the responses these guys had (and congratulated each other for having) were not something subject to discussion and livejournals are not generally the place for those discussions anyway.

But in the middle of this was one entry that I found so disturbing, in terms of atrocious public behavior and what I consider to be a truly pathological sense of entitlement, that I'm still thinking about it. (And this got amen corner yeah-brother responses, which is equally disturbing.) So I post it here, to get it out of my mind.

Rather than summarize I'll quote it directly (remember, this is presumably a comment on women taking over a men's room for a bit):

I'm tired of whiny people (especially women), victimhood and self righteousness. Case in point: X's car has commercial license plates which is really handy in SF as you can park in commercial zones where cars with regular plates can't - but that doesn't seem to stop them from doing it. Today I had to go to the laundry and the grocery store. There's a rather good sized commercial zone on the street except two cunts in expensive cars park in there - neither with commercial plates. There was barely enough room for parking X's car so I barely had enough space to park without jutting into the crosswalk. The only problem is that the non-commercial Lexus behind me couldn't get out. So I rushed and did my errands and when I came out the grocers the lady in the Lexus was honking. When she saw me unlock my car she started screaming at me - how dare I block her in, etc. I told her that she wasn't supposed to park there as she didn't have commercial plates. Then she started swearing and threatening me. So I decided the hell with it - left the car there (I still had 10 minutes left) went to the ice cream store and leisurely walked back to the car. She was still screaming but she got the point.

I barely know where to begin. I mean, if you're truly "tired of ... self-righteousness" this hardly seems the way to show it. And there is the fact that a commercial zone is, technically, a "commercial loading zone", where in SF you have 30 minutes to load and unload your vehicle. Whether using somebody else's commercial vehicle to do your personal errands is technically legal or not, it is obviously not the point of commercial plates. But this is San Francisco, so anything you can squeak by in terms of parking probably falls into a different category than in other cities.

But still, this guy is calling people "cunts" (one of those words that says worlds about the author but nothing about the women in question) for doing the exact same thing he is doing -- parking in a commercial zone to do personal errands.

So you've got an ethical problem here. But then this guy escalates that into a moral problem, when he decides to inconvenience (and steal the time) from this person who, again, is doing nothing ethically different than the guy.

And then -- and this is probably the weirdest part to me, as we all sometimes behave in ways that in retrospect we are not proud of -- this guy boasts about this, as if behaving like a complete asshole is a good thing. And then people responded by admiring his guts(!)

No doubt I'm missing something here, but at least I got to use my own livejournal for a rant.
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