Is everything so important? Or should we let someone on the Internet be WRONG?

I have a little morality tale. Or something.

I don’t know what it really is. I thought it was just a little weirdness. But it turns out that, once again, people can’t let someone on the Internet be wrong!

Actually, this is more a case of not letting someone else have a different opinion about something that’s fairly trivial. I know you’ve seen this over and over on the Internet.

I posted a remark on a mailing list that was partly my opinion, partly tongue-in-cheek. On a musicians’ list, I observed that I had seen and enjoyed a Clint Eastwood special on TV all about the jazz he has used in his movies, but that when the soloists began to show off and play up and down the scale wildly, it just seemed like noise to me, as if they were trying to prove they’re virtuosos. I don’t hear that as “musical.” It sounds like noise–like punk sounds to some people. This was presented as my opinion only.

Well . . . immediately the poopoo hit the fannypoo. I got three private e-mails from people who thought I should know that jazz is such-and-such, and that jazz is ONLY improvisation, and that any written-down piece that is played the same way every time is merely “in the jazz idiom.”

Okay, that was fine. I am nothing if not a tigress for proper and precise usage, and if I defend “lay/lie” and “its/it’s,” I can defend this. So, from now on, we shall refer to written-down pieces of that style as being “in the jazz idiom.”

But! Some lady who had previously left the mailing list (in a huff–it was pink and had bunnies painted all over it mooning us with their cottony tails) was contacted by another list member and sent my e-mail. This lady was very emphatic that SHE KNEW what JAZZ REALLY IS and others who disagree are IGNORANT. She sent me a scathing parting shot telling me how stupid I am and that I should “learn something about jazz before saying anything about it.”

Hey, the last time I checked, we still had freedom of speech in this country. If I want to talk about jazz without knowing anything about it, I will. Besides, I didn’t claim that anyone else had to not like the improvisation.

What shocked me was that she opened her e-mail message by saying, “A couple of people on Mailing-List-Zebra forwarded your post to me. I felt I had to respond to straighten you out.” Um . . . what?

First: it’s usually against list policy to forward list mail to non-members. If it is done, it’s done with permission, and is generally done only if it’s one of those “lost child” or “please help this charity” requests. So we already have a breach of netiquette. Second: who the heck really cares if I like that stuff or not?

Because I was so surprised, I excerpted some of her more insulting lines and posted them back to the original list, saying that whoever had forwarded my post to her should be happy now, as I had been Spoken To. I mentioned that I hadn’t said a thing about her in my post, and that I wondered why someone thought she ought to know what I had said.

A few people then e-mailed me to commisserate, and they speculated that this woman had another list identity and was just playing “let’s you and him fight,” or perhaps that she had spies on the list. I was just hoping she’d drop it and not write to me any more.

The next day I got e-mail from one of the moderators of that list. The moderator confessed that SHE had forwarded my post to this lady after the lady had signed off the list. She claimed that her purpose was twofold: first, because this lady should know that I replied to “her” thread, and second, because she was trying to get the lady to come back to the list.

In my experience, it is never wise to pursue someone who has signed off your mailing list to try to get them back. If you do e-mail them and plead your case, you may find that you get in return an earful of all their grievances against the list members, including you, and a list of everything that you ever did wrong in moderating it. Trust me. I know this from experience.

But anyhow, I figured these people were kind of crazy and just forgot about it.

Until today, when I got yet ANOTHER message from one of their list people. He said that he had received a copy of my message (the original one, the one about how I don’t care for extended whistlin’ solos) and he felt that he needed to “educate me” about jazz, and that I shouldn’t go around “posting ignorant things about jazz, for the sake of music.” Good grief!

By this time, I was really flummoxed. Why was it so important to these people that their opinions be acknowledged as Trufax? Why did they care if I thought one thing or another? If I want to eat dirt and call it chockies, what’s it to them?

I vented about all this on a different musicians’ forum, mainly because I was still thinking “these people are nuts.” True to form, a little while ago the moderator of that first list posted a flame on the new forum about how I was trying to make trouble and SHAME ON ME. Man . . . I’m not even allowed to talk about how they don’t want me to have a different opinion. Or perhaps I am the one being nuts. I probably just should have let it slide. Why isn’t there a “bounce” option in my e-mail software as there used to be in the one at work? (That was quite useful! Bounce back all spam!)

I still don’t really understand why they care if I say that I am bored by the show-offy stuff that some jazz players do. Improvisation in general is fine with me. In fact, the classical masters were the masters of that. Mozart used to say that when it came time for a cadenza, he just played whatever came to him at the time. I really think they’re overreacting. It is my opinion that such people (people who write to you with corrections of your opinions) are controlling and patronizing (at least three of them are, the ones who wrote to Straighten Me Out because I Am So Iggernunt).

Heck, don’t they know my credentials? Jethro and I graduated in the same class! I even know my cipherin’ up to the twelves. Have to take my shoes off for that, but still.

If there is ANYTHING that you disagree with people about, and you want to “inform” them about the One True Way, it’s okay to approach them if you are not condescending and insulting. You’ll never win them over if you start out acting like the Great Father and they are the Unwashed Trash. Please . . . straighten us out, but do it in a way that makes it possible for us to hear you. If we still don’t change our wicked ways and say that you are right, then just agree to disagree. Why not? It’s no skin off your pseudopods.

The Internet . . . gotta love it.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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