Know Hope?

What an interesting week it's been.

It started with a call for help. A family member needed to go to the hospital, and so I cared for another household for several hours, bringing pizza, helping with homework, and keeping the home's fire burning. I'm hoping that this intervention happened at the right time to do some long-term good, but the healing (and growth) will be over time. Mo miracle pills here, although meds will surely be given.

That same evening I learned that another person who has become a member of the family has come under fire from a group of Internet trolls because he does volunteer work for a website that they despise. I've followed the tale on a public forum, and watched the trolls get breathtakingly close to pinning down their quarry, only to head off in the wrong direction. The whole story has played out with the rudeness and vindictiveness that I find nearly everywhere on the web where there is a forum or a comment box. This same rudeness and propensity to stick a blade in can be found on the back pages of the very website that is the focus of my friend's hard work, and the trolls' contempt. It fascinates me, and it turns my stomach. To quote my daughter, "I hate people". We certainly treat each other poorly, especially when we don't think we will be found out.

Then I listened to "New Normal?", a podcast published by RadioLab. Listen to this. Just trust me on this.

And I remembered Walden Two, a book with very profound influence over how I see the world and think human society functions. B. F. Skinner studied how behavior changes, and discovered that punishment doesn't work particularly well. Imagine a world where we didn't use punishment as a basic tool of social control. John Lennon sang about such a world once.

The very existence of RadioLab gives me hope for us all.


  1. You made me laugh a little. It is true! Where ever there are comment boxes there are trolls.

    I get acerbic and during the election debates I was downright snarky, but the lengths to which I see trolls go is crazy.

    Even Engadget just had to turn off their commenting feature for a bit because the trolling and vitriol became too awful. And their seasoned techies with a pretty well known reader base.

    It's little comfort for sure to know that somebody else is getting it too, but it might assuage a bit to know that the problem hits everyone.

    As for your interesting week, I hope everything smooths out soon and that healing happens at a good pace.

    I'll listen to the radiolab soon. Thaks for the tip on it.


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