Monday, November 30, 2009

Mr. Nice Guy - The Final Word on The Internet Age

It may come as a surprise to those of you who have never met me, but I have somewhat of a reputation for being a "nice guy". Not the kind of "nice guy" actors like Steve Carell are always portraying, who are so socially awkward and bumbling they are more the object of pity than respect. Nor am I the "nice guy" of lore who is eternally doomed to walk the earth as a single and lonely man playing the role of the perpetual sympathetic ear to every broken hearted girl - the male version of "always a bridesmaid, never a bride."

I won't irritate you with the list of things you might find on the last page of a YMCA job application, but I will say that I've always taken a certain pride in being known for my warmth, courtesy, good sense of humour, and quick wit - but lately, a strange phenomenon has been occurring. Some seem to be questioning that warm and fuzzy feeling they once harboured toward me. They're no longer quite sure what to make of me. A strange look crosses their face - kind of like the look you see on people who keep swigging from a carton of eggnog, trying to decide if it's gone bad or not.

It seems that with the dawn of social networking sites, people are discovering that I'm a Stephen-Harper-loving, George-Bush-cheering, Iraq-war-supporting capitalist. I have no use for quasi-fascist politicians like President Obama or Jack Layton (or the NDP as a whole for that matter), environmentalists, socialized medicine, socialism, or people who think that wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt makes you cool.

This is nothing new. I'm a university educated political scientist who's been writing about politics and the media for close to 15 years. In 1999, my former website "The Rant" was voted one of the top 5 conservative sites, and my blog has been mentioned by some of the largest political websites on the Internet, and was even referenced twice by a New York Times #1 best selling author. After my wife, my faith, my family, and maybe music, American politics has always been the great passion of my life. I live, breath and eat it. I've seen James Madison's wine cellar; I stood only a few feet away from Thomas Jefferson's desk and telescope; I even stood on the glass floor showing the foundation of the first Church in Jamestown. People often admonish Claire and I for not taking the same pains to visit the homes of our own country's leaders. It's a fair criticism, but one that has an easy enough rebuttal. Traveling 10 hours to see a crumbling duplex in Baie Comeau doesn't quite hold the same breathtaking appeal as walking the grounds of Jefferson's Monticello - a protected United Nations World Heritage Site.

Again, all of this is nothing new. These beliefs have been a part of my identity since I was 16 years old, but lately I've been feeling like the old guy who's exposed at end of every Scooby Doo episode when his rubber mask is ripped off by "those meddling kids". So it begs the question - what gives? The Internet, that's what gives.

Ever since Facebook came on the scene, there's a weird social cross-pollination occurring, and I've written about it previously. As people read and watch the things we post on our Facebook pages, they are peering into parts of our lives and personalities they didn't know existed. I've discovered some of my friends and acquaintances swear like cabbies and drink like sailors on shore leave. Some are devoutly religious. Some like to talk about their sexual escapades in graphic detail. Some are die hard anarchists, who believe the world is run by a covert network of Freemasons, Oil Executives, and "the military industrial complex". Others seem to blow through relationships like Micheal Jordon blows through money at the tables in Vegas.

And you know what? Who cares? Freddy foul mouth doesn't cease to be a nice person because he drops F-bombs like cracker crumbs on his profile page. It actually makes me admire him all the more, because it demonstrates that he has enough respect for the rules of polite society to realize it's not appropriate to 4-letter it out loud at the office. Amy the anarchist's views may annoy the hell out me, but that doesn't necessarily mean the sweet and caring attitude she demonstrates towards her co-workers is a phony pretense she puts on to lull us all into a false sense of security while waiting for the day she and her merry band of political malcontents succeed in tearing down the world's governing class.

At the end of the work day, everyone goes home, and if you're not near and dear to any given person, it shouldn't shock you that the tapestry of experiences and emotions that make up their personalities go beyond the realm of please, thank you, and idle pleasantries. We are the sum of our parts, and well, some of us let our parts hang out a little more than others in that strange little world called the "profile page".

It's all a little weird, and it's getting weirder:

Potential employers are now checking Facebook profiles before they even look at a someone's resume, and if you have a photo of the night you did a Jello shooter off the belly of that waitress, you may be the best accountant this side of Toronto, but your application is going to make a fast acquaintance with the office shredder. People are "Facebook stalking" old flames to see who they are with, who they talk to, and even try to track what bars they frequent. But I'm getting off topic. The world will always have it's weirdos and misguided HR departments. Facebook is just another vehicle to do - whatever it is they do.

So is "Mr. Joe Nice Guy" still a "nice guy" even though he's Reagan lovin', National Review reading, bomb the hell out of 'em all, right-wing son of a bitch? Well, not even my own wife can recall the last time I ever raised my voice. I am as cordial to strangers as I am to my friends, but some of my hippy dippy liberal friends can't square my sweet guy attitude with my conservative beliefs.

Let me help you.

I give food and sometimes money to the homeless guy who lives under the bridge near my home. I just don't think the government has any business forcing me to give my own - or anyone else's - money to him. I don't like being forced to recycle because some people are under the misguided belief that we're "killing the planet". If you want to recycle, have at 'er. Just don't fine me for putting a carrot peel in the "dry" garbage bag. President Bush may well have been a cowboy, but I felt safe at night knowing that he was a cowboy with his six shooter ready, saying "Stand back partner". I don't feel so safe anymore.

No one is a monolithic robot of banal pleasantries, and neither am I. Just because I believe in limited government, low taxes, free markets, and military spending doesn't mean I don't care about my fellow man. My wife was so shocked at people's bizarre and hostile reactions to both of our rather mainstream political beliefs that she's decided to remain silent when a conversation turns political, even though she often wants to blow her brains out when she's listening to someone parroting some idiotic banter they heard on CBC that morning.

Guess what? Not everyone thinks like you do- not even the occasional nice guy.




Anonymous said...

ok Joe I get ya, am sure you could have cordially said it in fewer words as i need to read these hypes in between my work whatevers. Let's face it facebook is like Herpes once you have it there is no cure. You may like participating in the radical activities that gave you the annoyance and you may want 30 000 people on your list to pretend your a celebrity but its just like being in junior high again. You run into the people you like then you discover that you only like to see them once every five years and that's enough and you also don't want them in your business and you also may not like the people that don't even know you and add you just to steal your friends or ease drop on ur life but these people never talk to you even when you try to initiate a converwriting. Its all crap until proven otherwise I am a proud eraser of people though in real life I am so cordial with a blunt poke in your eye twist but eh whatever. Thanks for the blog it was straight up.

gojoe150 said...

Thank you. I felt a longer post was warrented as it's the last time I'm going to tackle the issue of the internet and Facebook - and I'm glad for it. You make some solid points that I didn't touch on, and as always, I appreciate you taking the time out of your work whatevers to read my humble little blog.