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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Entry for May 06, 2008

I already mentioned in earlier blog entries that I was on the Fidonet Amateur Personal Computer Bulletin Board System many years ago, and that they had an e-newsletter that published some of my work. Recently I did a search to see if I could recover a copy of something I typed those many years ago and found copies listed at four different internet sites. The piece was originally e-published by Fidonet in 1988, and I was surprised and very flattered to find Fidonet chose to reprint it in 1994.

Being a member of any online forum has its moments of frustration. People just don’t seem to be able to get along and conversations often degrade into never ending snot fights. It was that way in the old days of the dial-up computer Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), and the forums on the internet today prove that some things never seem to change.

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From twenty years ago: Indios (A Network Yarn) (c) 1988 James Zachary 445/2

"JERKS!"

Ron jumped up from his desk and began pacing furiously.

"Stupid self-serving twits!" he bellowed at his computer screen.

A shadow in the doorway startled him.

"Indios? Oh! I wasn't .. . I mean ... sorry if I disturbed you."

Indios was the caretaker and general handyman for the condominium complex where Ron lived. Rarely did he pay much attention to anything other than his duties.

"Your sink is fixed." he said with his deep, gravely voice. "What upsets you?", the old Indian asked through lips that barely moved.

"Ahhhhh, I dunno! I am sick and tired of everyone treating me like dirt!"

His dark, withered face frowning, Indios shuffled his large frame to an overstuffed chair and sat down. "How do they do this? I am not understanding."

Ron was surprised. In over two years he had never known Indios to solicit a conversation. "Well, some people are real idiots and think they know it all. They like to lord over other people, pretending they are smarter or better. All they really have are big mouths! I am going to start defending myself! I am going to be more assertive!"

"Tell to me the difference of you being 'assertive' and them having 'big mouths'?" Indios asked without expression.

Ron did not answer.

"You sit in front of this for hours," Indios continued, pointing to the computer on Ron's desk, "and it angers you. How can this be?"

"It started off to be fun," Ron answered, "then everyone started flaming at each other!"

Ron could see that he was only confusing Indios. "See, with the computer, a bunch of people can leave messages to each other. It's like a big hobby for computer buffs. There is an amateur network that I belong to where we can leave mail. It was fun until it became too crowded. Now everyone just fights with each other. If someone misspells a word, someone jumps on him. If someone asks a question or has an idea that someone else thinks is stupid, then the name-calling starts. We call it 'flaming'."

Indios grunted and nodded that he understood. "So, you meet people on your machine so you can get angry at each other. You go to work and your clubs and get angry at others. Driving your car makes you angry at others."

"Exactly!" Ron exclaimed. "Unless you stand up for yourself, someone will walk all over you! Believe me, when someone shoves it to me I am going to pay them back in spades!"

The Indian brushed his long, white hair back with his weathered hands and looked sadly at Ron. "So much anger ... This will make you better than them? Anger can at times be a tool but, like a surgeons knife, it should only be used when all else has failed and the cause is just ... only then with great care and control. Most swing this blade recklessly and wound themselves."

"I am sick and tired of reading this crap! I am sick and tired of these pious bastards jumping on every little thing I do!"

"Maybe they have a fear ... maybe they have a need. The smallest pups always growl the loudest. The others that are secure will allow this because they know these pups have needs that only can be provided for by their pretending dominance. Even with wolves, the strongest and fastest in the pack will allow the pretenders their moments, as they know it is their need and all they can really achieve."

Now Ron was puzzled. "You mean I should just ignore these twinks?! That I should let them say vile things about me and others?!"

"Do they strip you of your honor? Are you denied all dignity? Your family was not threatened, your ability to provide for those that depend on you was not threatened ... your honor was not taken."

"I have my pride!"

"Pride is not honor. You must know when NOT to fight before you will ever know when it is proper TO fight. Your words of anger are that of a child. Show me the burial sites of those killed by mere words ..."

Ron knew he was losing the debate. This one was face to face and the words had texture, tone, and emphasis ... not like text written on a flat monitor screen.

"Take what is good with this and all else in life and leave behind what is bad." Indios continued, leaning forward, his eyes fixed in a gaze at Ron. "I know enough about you to say that you were granted neither the natural gift of a powerful body nor a powerful mind at birth. You were granted a more valuable gift, the gift to build whatever body and mind you choose. There are no boundaries for this gift. All you do, every day, in all walks, makes you what you are and what you will be."

Indios then stood and walked to the doorway. Ron remained silent.

"Will you build your body and soul of sound materials or will you use the waste of the earth and become all that you despise?” Indios asked with a hint of a smile as he departed.

Ron strolled slowly back to his desk and sat down in front of the computer. He hit a key to awaken his blank screen and then began rereading the message that had upset him earlier. After a moment he moved on to the next message, leaving the hate unanswered.

"We're just puppies ..., " he mumbled under his breath. "I guess Fido grew up and had a whole lot of puppies ..." He then began a reply to a message from a friend in Puerto Rico. "Take what is good with this and all else in life ..."

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