Squirrel Nazis

It has been suggested by some people that occasionally my blog entries here are perhaps a little too angry. And therefore might come across as rude.

Sorry! That was never the intention – firstly they're always a bit tongue in cheek. And secondly – this is the internet. Next to what often seems to pass for normal internet behaviour, my blogs are a model of restraint!

You'd think that online where people are communicating anonymously with people they don't know in forums, chat rooms, email groups, Second Life etc etc etc… people would be on their best behaviour. After all, in real life you don't walk into a room full of people you don't know and start insulting them.

However, in reality the anonymity offered by the online world seems to make many people lose all their inhibitions and fly off the handle at the drop of a hat over the tiniest things. For an example of this in action just go and have a look at any number of forums dedicated to popular TV shows. They're tearing each other to pieces out there. "Starbuck is a man!" "Paul McGann's Dr Who isn't canon!" "Spock wouldn't do that!" "Dot Cotton's back-story has continuity problems!"

And anyone telling them to calm down also gets ripped to pieces.

I first came across this level of disproportionate ire on Usenet. In these days of blogs and Yahoo Groups, Usenet isn't as popular, but it used to be all the rage. Anyway years back on a Usenet group devoted to Gothic culture (of the necro-nerdy yoof movement variety rather than high Medieval northern European art) I joined a light hearted discussion about black-furred animals being Goths. On holiday in Vancouver not long before I had been interested to see black squirrels running around in the campus of the University of British Columbia. So perhaps foolishly I opined that in Canada, some of the squirrels were black, and therefore Goths.

Almost immediately an incandescently furious reply dropped into my inbox, beginning:

"That is ABSOLUTELY not true, Canadian squirrels are grey!" and continued in the same ranty vein for several paragraphs.

Of all the odd things to get worked up about.

So please, dear reader, don't take offence at anything I say that might appear harsh. I'm doing in a humorous manner so that much hilarity may come about as a result. After all, it's a dangerous internet out there.

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