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Guest of the Stable: plywood

Flashpoint

Ø    the lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be ignited in air
Ø    In international relations, a hotspot; an area or dispute that has a strong possibility of developing into a war.
Ø    a 1991 live album by the Rolling Stones
Ø    a dangerous place of violent political unrest
Ø    point at which something is ready to blow up

Hey everybody, I had been concerned about something for a few months and wanted to just grab your coattail and expound a tad. Having been on these local blogs for a time now I must say they are entertaining, informative and often fun. How nice it is to wile away the hours blogging instead of doing something more trivial like paying the PSE&G bill or painting the bathroom. We all know those arcane matters can, and what is more will, wait.

Many years ago, the local websites initially were robust and lively. The mood light and jocular, the dialog fast, the dynamic relaxed. Sure, sure, there were references to “born and raised” and “yuppies” being at odds but it by and large didn’t go too far. Seeing as I don’t fit into either of these categories, and transplanted “Old Work-a-day Nebbish” was something I didn’t want to OWN, I took it all with a grain of salt.
Anyway, I decided to jump in the blogging fray and years ago was often taken aback by the just horrible things that people would say about restaurants, realtors, pizzerias, etc. I for some reason have always been interested in defending the underdog from the rigors of online anonymous attack, and often did and do so.
As time went on, the blogs became more of a community force, and moved on to attacks on doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs. Then came political figures and ideologies. My awareness became more and more that many bloggers will now say just about anything if they are certain enough that their identity will never be know. Enough to make you cringe. Things that might enrage and incite the target. Negative commentary on blogs and bloggers becomes more and more a topic in general conversation, council meetings, etc.
I began to wonder why that was. The answer, once I comprehended it, was surprisingly simple: “Because This is Freakin Hoboken”. Talk about your art history, the art I remember back in the day was fights on street corners and later such things as “THIS IS DISPLACEMENT” being spray-painted on buildings (there was also that thing with the sneakers slung on the overhead lines at 7th and Park but that’s another story for another day). There was no blogging back then, people just took it to the streets. People had to physically step up to the plate to weigh in. Not for the faint of heart.
Not so anymore. Multiple screen names, multiple e-mail accounts. And probably the most troublesome is the growing disconnect between saying something negative and being concerned about being personally held to task for it. The notion of waking up in a bad mood or frustrated, and going on the internet to take it out on whoever shows up that day, in some kind of a subconscious effort to feel better, all anonymously from the comfort of your home. Heck, you don’t even have to comb your hair or put on a presentable pair of pants to do it. The internet is becoming lousy with trolls stirring up nonsense. Nowhere is immune. The language is troubling. One notable example might be “asshat” which I far as I know doesn’t mean anything but clearly you don’t want to be called one; simply said to offend and demean.
Well my friends, this all was sort of at a troubling maintenance level until the rules changed. During a strong economy, it’s one thing to be nasty to people with money in their pocket, accelerating real estate values, low taxes, rose-colored glasses and a gleeful song in their heart. It is quite another thing to trample the id of someone scraping to maintain their status quo, facing down a potential short sale, massive tax increases, scratched cheap sunglasses with a piece of adhesive tape holding them together, and the “free credit report dot com” song running through their head. They’re already pissed.
Cue Rodney King. Would it be okay to blog civilly as if the intended recipient was a rich older relative from who you were hoping to inherit money? Can we limit comments to something we would say to a person’s face with both arms tied behind our back? OK, maybe one arm.
Could we consider holding ourselves to one screen name?
Could we really realize that like ourselves that most of these locals we meet in the internet neighborhood are just trying to keep on keepin’ on? That all day some are trying to protect their hard-earned money, their way of life? That everyone is now needing to economize? I think it is safe to say these times bring many challenges, stress being one of them. Please everyone, can we hold it together and not take it out on each other?
And while we’re at it, for the last time, can you remember to put down the toilet seat?
So, please, if you take nothing else from this diatribe, could you just knock it off and behave? Golden rule? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Thanks for your time
  
p1ywood is a fictional character living in the mind of a Hoboken blogger. p1ywood (or plywood depending on venue) can often be found on the internet clinging to utopian fantasies or playing with his/her mental blocks. Remember, “p1ywood” is never capitalized.

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