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Being put in "one's place"

Jan 01, 2003 04:35 PM
by kpauljohnson " <>

Dear everyone,

And particularly Wry, what I've been making of your comment is this-- correct me if I misunderstand. It is extremely common in ordinary life for people to speak disrespectfully and scornfully of others, "putting them in their place" *behind their backs*. But much less common for this to be done to people's faces. In Internet fora, the propensity of people to diss others behind their backs (that is referring to them disdainfully while avoiding address them personally) is expressed just as often as in "real life." With the crucial difference that the person being backbitten becomes an unwilling eavesdropper, since the third person remarks are made publicly, even though they are addressed to someone else.

Therefore, people like Tony and Dallas (and today Leon) talking about me in the third person while rejecting personal communication really have no interest whatsoever in communicating with me. There's no intended message for me in what they say. Putting "Paul Johnson" in "his" place has absolutely nothing to do with me. And everything to do with *their* place in the cosmic or Theosophical pecking order.

To be more explicit about what mystifies me: why does everyone I know in real life appear to like me, but devote little to no thought to what my "place" is in any overall scheme or feel any need to define that "place" and put me in it? Whereas quite a few strangers met on the Internet evidently dislike me to a degree totally unknown in my reai life, and more perplexingly seem to have a keen interest in defining what my "place" is and publicly putting me in it? (And this is just as true of Baha'is or Cayceites or Fourth Way folks as for Theosophists.)

My hypothesis: in "real life" people are quite secure in their "place" and interactions are rooted in mutual understanding of where others are "placed." Whereas in Internet fora, people are existentially insecure about their own "place" in the world, and therefore pathologically obsessed with putting strangers in "their place" so as to maintain some kind of internally imagined pecking order. (E.g. BAG has *got* to be defined as a dugpa to maintain some kind of stability in our Danish member's mental universe,)

A rather creepy vision of why people behave so much more obnoxiously online than in real life, but more sensible than thinking that folks around here in NC and VA are nice whereas those in most of the rest of the world are always trying to put everybody down. Which does occur to me in my exasperated moments!



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