But I get ahead of myself. First, Facebook and the Internet.
I've always been fascinated with the Internet. Seriously. I was introduced to the Internet, and BBSs, way back when. Convinced my parents to buy me a 2400 baud modem, a subscription to Wired magazine, read books on hacking and "cyber-" this and "cyber-" that. Not a tech guy at all, but the whole concept of the Internet--online-ness--and its influence on society has always interested me.
A for-instance: before I was devouring books about cyber-culture, I'd been devouring books about the 19th century. In most of these 19th century books there was a letter written in ink, lightly dusted with powder to prevent the ink from smearing, folded tightly, candle-light stuttering, inserted into an envelope, sealed with wax, taken to a guy on a horse, and the guy on the horse would ride for days and days until the letter was delivered. A process, right? A dreary, long process, and usually the contents of the letter were irrelevant/ironic by the time it was delivered.
Even in the pre-modern era of the 1990s, one still depended on either absurdly expensive long-distance phone calls or the elderly-paced post office system to contact far away loved ones. The Internet, tho, changed that. Suddenly (and I know you know this, but it bears repeating) anyone could say anything to anyone, instantly. Email. Instant messaging. Board posts. No horses, no mail trucks, no candle-wax and powder, no stamps and envelope-cunnilingus. Type. Press 'send.' Wait for response. Instant, like oatmeal.
So. Anyway. Way back when, I was interested in following the way the Internet would alter society. I assumed that it, like the railroad, like radio and television, like electricity and agriculture before it, would slowly transform us from isolated pockets of "Hey," to interconnected globs of "Hey."
Whatever. Cut to my reluctant, tho clearly enthusiastic, adoption of Facebook.
Two things about Facebook: it allows me to convey unformed ideas without feeling as if I need to fully develop those ideas. Rather than do what I am doing here, in this post--going on and on about a concept--I can simply post a link, and then open up the floor (or wall) for comments from others.
The other thing about Facebook: It allows me to get to know people in a more intimate and detailed way than I would otherwise know them. And vice versa. Most of our lives are spent dicking around, trying to survive, so we don't actually get to know--really know--those strange people around us. Facebook gives us a short, sweet way to the secret life of co-workers, former classmates, lovers, etc.
Know what I mean?
With Facebook, a simple status update becomes a Pound poem: short, simple, and weighted. A comment to a status update becomes a dissertation.
I'm getting to the point, btw. Homophobia, in case you forgot.
So a few days ago, on a friend's wall, I read this non-sequitorial status update:
So, was Christopher Columbus a terrorist or an illegal alien?
From the friend, not such a bad question. Columbus, if you're not acquainted with his story, was a cruel bastard and an immigrant to the unnamed collection of Native American lands.
The friend got a comment from someone else:
neither. he was a liberal who begged for money from governments to pay for him to sail around on his many boats. (hehe)(c'mon, that was funny)
Leaving aside the fact that this Someone Else overlooked a few facts--that the Sistine Chapel was built under the same pay-for-play program, say, or that the East India Tea Company had the same proclivities as Columbus--the comment is amusing.
Friend #1--who typed the original status update--responded in kind:
politically motivated but funny. hahaha
Friend #2: im sorry, I thought you were going for the political side of funny too. But I dont see how he could have been an illegal alien since there werent laws against it back then. Dont see how he was a terrorist since he didnt set out to actually inflict terror on anyone. So I chose the neither and came up with a C answer on my own.
[Ugh. Shit just went from casual query to punctuation-deprived Teabag town]
Friend #1: I was actually going for historical sarcasm. But, he did set out to scare (terrify) people into submission. But when that didn't work on the Native Americans he just killed them or sold them into slavery.
Friend #2: Thats a conqueror. Not a terrorist. He didnt leave on a mission to terrorize the native Americans. He set out to discover and claim, not terrorize. Jus Sayin.
[Another friend later pointed out the difference between conqueror and terrorist: perspective. And Friend #1 hints at this point in his response.]
Friend #1: A Conqueror as you put it uses terror as a way to submit people. The definition of terrorist is a person who terrorizes or frightens others and that is what he set out to do to the Native Americans to get what he wanted. Read Christopher Columbus' journals of his voyages to the Americas you will see that that was his goal.
Friend #2: How could he have set out to terrorize the Native Americans if he didn't know they were there? The definition of conquer is to gain mastery over by overcoming obstacles or opposition. I guess the means could be by terrorism and he would then be both. I'm thankful he succeeded at both.
Yeah. It went on like this. Call-response, call-response, Friend #1 breaking out some good points, Friend #2 counterpointing. Then I posted a single-line comment:
Me: Friend #1, don't engage. Just smile and not.
Shit. This is a two-parter.