Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pirouette

Hokay, this shit is just fascinating.

When I first clicked on this link, I saw her spinning clockwise. Now, anyone who knows me knows I am the quintessential left brain thinker and, in fact, am kind of laughable when it comes to spatial perception and fantasy-based entertainment. I was sort of delighted to enjoy Pan's Labyrinth, as normally, I just proclaim that "my brain doesn't work that way." You know those aptitude tests that ask you to mentally assemble things? I just check out. Logic, words, reality - these are my touchstones. I don't get science fiction, I am bored by most special effects, and I get turned on by great dialogue in a plausible drama.

Yet I saw her spinning clockwise. After looking at it for a while, I then saw her spinning counterclockwise and became convinced the site was a hack, switching their GIF to fuck with their traffic. It was so clearly counterclockwise. The site said that if you concentrated, you could see the clockwise spin, which I had initially seen. After looking at it a while, I suddenly saw the clockwise spin again and couldn't go back to counterclockwise. I became so frustrated, as I know I am not a right brained thinker. I finally figured it out rationally (HELLO LEFT BRAIN), but am still fascinated by how my brain can see the same figure in two entirely different ways.

Am easily entertained, clearly.

I had another challenge to my tightly held beliefs on Gawker this week. The short version of this story is this: girl on match.com sees profile of guy she thinks might be interesting and she "winks" at him (apparently, some kind of online dating ritual). He responds with a douchey-kind of email, boasting about everything from his housing (31 floor building), his education (Ivy League!) and his commitment to physical fitness (going to the gym in 26 minutes!). Understandably, the girl decides he isn't her type and sends him an automated response ("we're not a match, but thanks") and he responds with vitriol ("I think you forgot how this works. You hit on me, and therefore have to impress ME and pass MY criteria and standards - not vice versa"), and called her fat. Girl was gobsmacked and sent the exchange to Gawker, who published it.

Suffice to say, the guy is a breathtaking douche. It took less than a five minutes to unearth several self-aggrandizing websites (this is one of many, not including his publicly available dating profiles), and once the internet masses caught wind of him, they unleashed their google fu and unearthed everything about this guy. Lied about everything from his age to his education, etc. It was, quite frankly, kind of delicious to see a douche get his comeuppance. As the situation got worse and worse, however, the backlash started and a discussion began about the propriety of skewering a guy - a "private" guy - for sport.

I confess that I loved him getting his. He was a typical douchebag who lashed out at someone because he felt rejected. However, I felt this nagging hypocrisy, as I have very strong feelings about people sharing private emails, to say nothing of sending them to a site like Gawker. I have, on very rare occasion, shared a private email with a third party, and each time it was a mistake. A big mistake. I don't share private conversations with third parties and should have known better to send the written proof. Thing is, you can share what you heard, or what you received, but you can never share what the speaker or author intended. Context is everything, and it is the eye (mouth or fingers) of the speaker/author. Better said, you can have a conversation (verbal or written) with a friend and both parties will have a shared understanding. Recount or send that conversation to someone else? Totally different context.

I think I am really old fashioned where this is concerned. I hold every conversation between friends private and, as I said, have very rarely shared them. It isn't just the attorney-client thing, although that informs my opinion. I do believe that context is everything and sometimes, what someone says or writes in one conversation just doesn't translate accurately later. I could easily go into my email archives, cut and paste a few lines from one person's email, and forward that to someone else, with devastating results. I could fashion a whole new context from someone else's words, even if I knew it wasn't true, to suit another purpose. I can't imagine wanting to do that, let alone doing it, but having been on the receiving end of such conduct, it is a sore subject for me.

I just abide my personal rule that whatever someone says or writes to me stays between us, and I have a great deal of disrespect for people who behave otherwise. Those folks are kind of sleazy, and usually pretty self-serving. So with this in mind, I struggled with my delight in the schadenfreude happenstance on Gawker. The offensive email was sent to one person, and he surely never thought it would become the subject of public discourse or comment.

Thing is, he didn't even know the person he sent it to. It wasn't like they were friends or lovers, or anything approaching the sort. She was just a stranger who had expressed interest, then lost that interest after his email. He had no reason to believe or trust that whatever he said to her was private. That distinction is kind of key to me. If I got a douchey email from someone I didn't know, I would have no qualms about forwarding it to everyone I know, and I wouldn't feel the least bit guilty about it. To me, at least, that is so very different from sharing private conversations between friends with a third party, or the internet-at-large.

I hope I am not just rationalizing and this distinction has some basis in logic. Maybe I am just seeing the clockwise spin when I should be seeing the counterclockwise dance. I hope not. In any event, it made for some interesting introspection.

2 comments:

Norm said...

Oh it can be worse. google "Claire Swire" for the lowest of the low.

Of course, you could write a book about this shite, lord alfreaking mighty. ;)

Kari said...

That is sort of horrifying. God, people who share personal emails are just sleazy as all hell.

On an unrelated note, apparently the spinning chick is old school internet, at least according to the pea. I feel like my parents, who don't snopes before they forward.