Let's strive for more togetherness in '06
Let's strive for more togetherness in '06
FEW THINGS stink so bad as when you hear about some- one you really like doing--or saying--something repugnant.
But it certainly happens.
Exhibit A is from the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, one of four periodicals my wife believes I subscribe to only to deliberately clutter our home.
Said publication contains a story about how much music Grateful Dead fans should be able to download from the Internet without charge.
Now, I'm told I don't seem much like a stereotypical Deadhead, seeing as how I've had the same reasonably short haircut since the fourth grade, and can be interested in the obscurities of politics or NASCAR, depending on the day.
But I used to live for the Dead. We didn't have uniforms at the public high school I attended, but back then I looked pretty much the same every day anyway as I rotated tie-dyes and concert T-shirts.
So I didn't like it much when I heard Dead guitarist Bob Weir complaining about people downloading bootleg recordings of the band.
"That's not going to get my kids through college," the musician, who's had to have made millions, told Rolling Stone.
But as I contained my contempt for that comment, I saw that Weir also was quoted as saying that when Deadheads used to trade bootleg cassette tapes there was a genuine "community" that doesn't exist online.
"The cyber guys can talk all they want about the cyber community, but they can't tell you the color of each other's eyes," he said. "What kind of community is that?"
What kind of comment is that? I'm not the most fervent Web user, and I do believe that some instances require communication other than e-mail. But there doesn't seem to be anything wrong when people do in fact create a community for themselves online.
And if there was no online "community," why do written and unwritten rules of online behavior exist?
For example: I've started a blog, or Web log, on our site, fredericks burg.com, and I wanted to tell some of my faithful readers and other contacts about it. I was in a hurry when I was preparing to send an e-mail about this on the Friday before Christmas, and I forgot to hide all the addresses in the "BCC" box.
It was a clear breach of etiquette. It meant I was essentially broadcasting all these e-mail addresses--some of which may have been private, like unlisted phone numbers--to everyone else on my list. I apologize to everyone involved.
But I guess Weir would think my remorse is unnecessary because there's no personal attachment to online business, right?
Likewise, my friend Alex Russell, who works for fredericks burg.com, noted that formal and informal rules exist for the site's online forum, FredTalk.
It goes without saying that you don't spam other FredTalk users, he said, or write in all capital letters BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING.
"FredTalk is definitely a community," said Russell, a fellow Deadhead.
Alan Brandhofer is one of the members of that community. He noted that though issues can arise in online gatherings, there is a place for them in today's world.
"There are many who for various reasons simply cannot get out and socialize by any other means than through the use of the online or virtual community," he wrote me in an e-mail.
"Simply put, the color of the person's eyes may not be important to everyone and not knowing this does not have to take away from the experience. I wonder if Mr. Weir has ever had a relationship with someone, whether business or personal, over the telephone?"
Brandhofer first went online in 1994. He was a limousine driver in Hollywood, which meant weird hours and not much of a time for what you and I might call a "normal" social life.
So he started meeting people in an America Online chatroom, and eventually dated eight women, the last of which lived in Virginia.
"She is now my wife," he wrote. "We will have been together for 10 years come this next March, and have been married for eight years now. If it was not for the online community, I would not have met her."
It's a new year, and for my money, I'd say we need more togetherness rather than less as we get started. We shouldn't be squabbling about whether that's online, at Starbucks, at the barber shop or wherever.
To quote a line I heard from Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "Who loves loneliness, loves it alone."
Read his blog at fredericksburg.com/blogs/view?blogger_id=4
To reach JONATHAN HUNLEY: 540/368-5004 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org