Re: [Jason] We Live in Public (and the end of empathy)

You may, or may not, have heard of Jason Calacanis of Mahalo.com. I recently joined his email list, and the first such post I’ve received was about how people begin to quit thinking about others online as “people” and more as “objects”. This disconnect often leads to disgusting and horrifying behavior. I thought he made some excellent points, and I decided to respond to him.

#1 is a response to “Thanks to the 17 people out of 12,000 who made it this far.”

#2 is a response to “best regards, Jason McCabe Calacanis”

#7 is a response to this.

Jason:

1) Woo-hoo! I’m one of the seventeen!

2) I love your middle name. My cousin married a man whose middle name is “McBeth”.

3) I used to frequently post videos to my online TV show, Newsbleep.com. The podcast, for reasons unrelated to what you’ve written of in your email, has fallen into pod-fade (hopefully not for long). One thing I discovered when I was first wrapping my head around how I should do Newsbleep was the plethora of video hosting options. YouTube was popular (and low quality), but there were many other services for a wide range of cost. I eventually settled on Blip.tv, but I felt I was missing out on a large audience in YouTube. I tried to drive traffic and people to the website as much as possible, but my own blog and Twitter accounts could only reach so far. So I started putting videos up on YouTube.

My first step should have been to turn off comments.

Of the communities I’ve had involvement in, YouTube has been, by far, the most hate-prone. Most videos generated no response. A couple produced such gemstones as “this is dumb” and the more personal “ur dumb”. There was one video, in particular, that I had posted as a camera test. It was a test of the equipment I was using, a video editing technique I was fond of, and new editing software that I was interested in learning more about. The video got a startling number of views (largely, I believe, because the word “spider-man” was in the title) and in came the comments. My heterosexuality was often called into question (and, in case you saw the video and were wondering the same thing, I’ve been happily married for a year and a week).

Lucky for me, the video was not important. It wasn’t something I’d put time or effort into; it was just a test. I was also fortunate in that the comments were so juvenile as to warrant complete and immediate dismissal. My psyche was able to let the comments go, because I knew they came from ignorance. I did, however, take my Newsbleep videos off YouTube, finding that an audience of that quality was not worth my time.

My experience does not equal yours, but I think it shows how widespread these issues are, even to someone as little-known as myself.

4) You are a person. Let me explain.

Celebrity gossip has long been a staple of the media. It’s fun to dish and rag on people in the spotlight, because it makes us feel better about living in the shadow. I live in South Dakota. I’m as far removed from “the action” as I can be, but television and gossip magazines can bring that world to my doorstep. We can mock the visible because they are two panes of glass removed from us (the camera and the TV screen). We’re safe to let down our decency and speak our inner demons. Not surprisingly, this concept of “celebrity” has translated to our popular new medium – the Internet. However, instead of being twice removed, these new celebrities are simply a web form away. Our collective mentality (and scorn and shame) has translated beautifully, but our barriers have not.

You are a person. When I hit “Send” on this email, I have no doubt that it will end up in an inbox to which you have access. Whether you have time to read it, or respond to it, is an entirely separate question, but I have no doubt that a person is on the other end of this email, and I am writing this email with that knowledge in mind.

President Barak Obama will be one of the most discussed and debated presidents of all time, but he is just a person, too. (As was Einstein and Princess Diana and Hitler.) He has no greater capacity for intelligence nor compassion than I do. Though he holds the highest office in the country, he is just as capable of falling, failing, and getting back up.

We shouldn’t forget people.

5) I have great respect for you. I’m not in the business world; I’m a web developer by profession, but I have aspirations of possibly being a business owner someday. I’ve always found your comments and advice on This Week in Tech to be thoughtful and intelligent, and those are qualities that make me take notice. I hope you continue to share with your public, despite those who would seek to tear you down.

6) I thought you wrote an excellent email. Thank you.

7) Knowing your love for your dogs, I can’t help but wonder if “Calacanis” is a stage name.

— Miles Rausch

What do you think? Have you been the focus of Internet hate? Is there hope when this mob mentality has been around for centuries? Is there a solution, or does this just come with the territory?

Author: Miles Rausch

I've made a smart playlist of all the songs with 0 plays. I listen to them because I feel bad for them not because I like the music. I'm THAT guy.

1 thought on “Re: [Jason] We Live in Public (and the end of empathy)”

  1. I’ve sometimes felt Internet-ignored. Which is more about self-centeredness than anything else. I don’t think I’m controversial enough to receive Internet hate yet.

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