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Communication, Community, And Cutting by Ray Printer Friendly


I would like to apologize right now for the rambling, disjointed way in which this post was written. I was having a hard time paying attention, due to an overwhelming amount of caffeine. In my head, it made sense. Twelve hours later, I've just finished reading through it, and it's like it was written by a crackhead who was trying to get high, watch TV, flush a baby down the toilet, and write, all at the same time. Sorry.

I think my favorite joke is this:

Why does the schizophrenic hate shaving?

Because he doesn’t trust the fucker with the blade.

It isn’t the funniest joke I’ve ever heard, but it’s still my favorite. Because who hasn’t at some point looked in the mirror and been a little worried about the person looking back? I’m not talking about in a horror movie, reach-out-and-grab you kind of way, or seeing a reflection behind you that has no business being there—that shit’s scary enough on its own merit. Just day-to-day, non-supernatural life. Maybe you’re waking up beside the person with whom you swore you'd never cross that line, with the worst hangover in your life; or maybe you just said something really hateful to a loved one; or made a huge mistake that has the potential to ruin everything about your life as you know it. You glance at that looking glass, and you wonder what that bastard’s up to, why he’s trying to wreck your shit.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I cut myself shaving today, which is what reminded me of the joke. Some people “nick” themselves shaving. Nicking yourself shaving is for big pussies, according to my personal bastard in the mirror. If you don’t need a tourniquet when you’re done, you didn’t do it right. You know in those karate movies from the 80’s, where the guy promises his mom or girlfriend or grandpa or whatever that he won’t fight? And then he gets his ass kicked by the gang of school ruffians (before they get their comeuppance, of course), and he comes home and his mom/girlfriend/grandpa asks him what happened? He always says something clever like, “I cut myself shaving.”

This excuse spans both time and genre, actually, from 80’s karate movies to detective films to action hero movies to porn flicks.

I’m the exact opposite. I lie about cutting myself shaving, telling people I was jumped by a rival gang, or that a group of men in trench coats needed information I wouldn’t give freely, or that I fought off a mob of terrorists who were trying to take over the mall, or that I was involved in a gangbang that went horribly wrong. And just like the stars of all those movies, no one ever believes me.

Against my better judgment, I was talking to rik recently. It should be noted that she was feeling particularly bitter—she’s a teacher, and apparently the end of the year is when students really start showing off how stupid they can be. She was getting all worked up about something, her voice rising in volume, her sentences filling with obscenities, and the rage almost a physical thing. And while it was funny at first, as the conversation continued, I began to grow slightly worried, until I finally had to ask, “Is this what people feel like when they’re talking to me?”

She has been on the receiving end of many of my rants—subject matter ranging from Paris Hilton’s early jail release to the cat piss-stinking fat guy who sat beside me in class, to that shit-sucker Joel Schumacher’s Batman blasphemy. I can usually tell I’m reaching boiling point when she starts laughing and says something like, “Wow, you get really mad about that.” It doesn’t seem like a very powerful sentence, I know, but listening to her rant and rave last night, I suddenly realized how appropriate it is. Because, really, there isn’t anything else to say at that point.

Our conversation eventually turned to The Strangelands. “What if I just wrote a really evil post, talking shit about all the things I hate about people?”


“What if I wrote about [specific people].”

“You can write whatever you want.”

“You wouldn’t ban me?”


“Would Trey?”

“No, I doubt it.”

“Would The Strangelands community at large?”

“I don’t think it’s that kind of community. If it’s even considered a community.”

From there, our conversation turned toward the strangeness of online communities. Ten years ago, only a handful of people even knew what that phrase meant. Twenty years ago, it didn’t even exist (yes, there were networks of connected computers, but there wasn’t nearly the kind of thing going on these days, with forums and chat rooms and social websites and all that).

Quick aside: I went to class with this guy, he was in his forties. For some reason, he had a MySpace page. If he was to be believed, he even had a girlfriend at some point. When they broke up, he went on his page and wrote all kinds of mean things about her. I know this because he freely admitted it to the entire class. This is not some butt-hurt teenager, mind you. This is a grown man, over a decade older than me, jumping on a silly social website and writing hurtful things about a girl who dumped him. He said he broke it off with her, but come on—not in this reality. Anyway, he put all this hateful shit up and then couldn’t figure out how to erase it. Nor could he figure out how to delete his MySpace page entirely. I’ve never used the MySpace technology, but considering some of the walking birth defects who do, I assume it’s relatively easy to figure out. I can’t remember where I was going with all this, exactly, but what a moron.

So rik and I were discussing the oddity of online communities. Not just big stuff like popular forums or social sites—even something as small as the comment section of The Strangelands.

“Think about this,” I said. “You know how people, when they’re dating, they have their favorite clubs, cafés, restaurants, all that? They break up, and then they can’t really go to those places anymore without running the risk of seeing each other again, right?”

It should be noted that I have been out of the dating pool for a really long time, and even before that, I wasn’t all that social. I get this information from whatever TV show my princess has on, or when she drags me to watch a romantic comedy in the movie theater. So if people don’t really avoid social spots after they break up, please excuse my ignorance. And from this point on, let’s just assume that they do, otherwise the rest of the conversation doesn’t make any sense at all.

“What if it’s like that with the internet now?” I asked. “Like you both have these sites you go to, you post on a forum or leave comments on blogs and stuff. And then you break up. Do you have to avoid going to these places? Do you have to steer clear of your favorite websites because you don’t want to encounter your ex?”

She didn’t have an answer for me, seeing as how she barely spends any time online. She’ll log on long enough to check her email, and sometimes swing by this site, but she doesn’t even shop online yet, which just floors me. rik, who I sometimes think aspires to be the laziest person in creation, still goes through the trouble of getting in a car and driving to a brick and mortar store to buy something, even if she doesn’t need it immediately. They’ll bring it right to your door, you fool!

This rant was mostly me just wanting to post something, and drinking way too much coffee in way too short amount of time. Had I known ahead of time that Dave was going to write a poem about rik, I wouldn’t have even bothered. To pull together the topics of online communities and schizophrenia, though, listen to this: I just came across this old article about a place in the Second Life world.

I don’t know much about Second Life, honestly. The idea of it sounded kind of cool, until it was permeated by all the lame shit that makes the real world so annoying—people, corporations, advertising, money. But this guy made a virtual institution to show what it’s like to have schizophrenia. It sounded disturbing but interesting, and I considered signing up for a Second Life account just so I could check it out. But like I said, the article’s old (2004), and I don’t even know if the place would still be around. From what I’ve heard about Second Life these days, a lot of it is all screwed up, so maybe you don’t even need to go to this asylum.

But, yeah, there ya go.

posted 5/15/08

Entered By Dave From Unknown
2008-05-15 06:57:46

How come you got them dotty things a.k.a. ellipses, and I didn't?

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-05-15 07:02:44

I put 'em there by hand. It bugs the hell out of Trey, but I like it better than seeing raw code on the front page.

Entered By Ray From Austin
2008-05-15 07:05:47

Since you caught me right in the middle of fixing my stuff, I went ahead and added the dots to your post--a cut/paste thing. If you don't want them, feel free to take 'em off.

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