On Fighting on the Internet

*I preamble these thoughts with some other thoughts, namely that I released a very limited edition t-shirt this week. There’s exactly EIGHT of them left at this time of writing. If you’re interested in supporting my music career I’d be delighted to send you one, for whatever price you choose to pay. Link is here, and on with the show!

If there’s one thing that isn’t changing in 2020, it’s me fighting on the internet with strangers. If I had an app that could track my fighting time I reckon I’d be reclaiming a whole year in lost time. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that this is where 2020 actually went. Here I was thinking it disappeared in the blaze of a global pandemic, turns out I just got lost in a Facebook haze where like some absurd version of Oprah ‘you get a comment’ and ‘YOU get a comment’ and suddenly I’m spending my afternoon doing obscure research into the ownership of Australia’s newspapers and the percentage of readers still accessing physical papers vs those who are reading via mobile devices, all in the name of winning a fight with a friend of a friend.

It’s a strange vice, and I use the term vice in a strategic sense because I feel the tightening pressure drawing me back to fight fight fight another internet random. All it takes is two minutes spent perusing the comments on an ABC article and I’m deep down a rabbit hole, clawing my way through a burrows worth of shit arguments and non sequiters and a vague feeling that I could be doing literally anything else with my time and I’d be getting a better return on investment.

But back I go and here I am and believe it or not I am now a niche expert in a big list of small topics. It’s an ever-expanding list, including COVID numbers in Spain, the theories (real and implied) of Marxism, global finance markets, Bloom’s taxonomy and of course the drumming of Spanish jazz legend Jorge Rossy. Not that Jorge has ever pulled me in to any social media arguments. If anything he’s pulled me out of them, one brilliant phrase up-tempo post-bop phrase at a time.

There lies in my past a sordid year where I exclusively listened to the brilliant Brad Mehldau’s seven CD ‘Art of the Trio’ box-set, comparing and contrasting Jorge Rossy’s attempts to hit drums consecutively and concurrently over a six year period. Turns out he’s a master of hitting them, making it both sound and feel good. If you’re after a starting point then the drum trades on Mehldau’s take of ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was’ is the highest of highs.

Have a listen to the crispness of Jorge’s ride cymbal, the tick of his left-hand rimclicks and the absolute beauty of his high tom sound (skip to 2:42 for the bit that’s perfection, but really you should give the whole thing a crack cause if you can’t spend six minutes and thirty seconds listening to a remarkable piece of jazz in 2020 then either you’re having a much better year than 95% of the global population or you have the will-power of a five year old, possibly both).

To be completely honest, the secret with most jazz is you can tune out for most of the bits in the middle and as long as you clap at the start and end of each piece then no-one can really fault you. Sorta like internet fights I guess. If you’re the first person in with a zinger then you can successfully derail the argument and ignore everything that comes after you. The other alternative is to do what my partner does and leave the ‘jazz’ Spotify playlist playing over night until finally the algorithm runs out of the normal stuff that most people like and shifts completely to bold new improvised works that genuinely no-one understands or appreciates. I wander in to find her phone blasting out some truly hectic Chris Potter solo saxophone piece that I can only stand for thirty seconds. At that point I walk out to her chorus of ‘…it helps me study…’ to which I mentally respond ‘of course, and cranberries are good for the urinary tract but you don’t find me moving to Massachusetts to inhabit the cranberry bogs do you?’ Please enjoy this video discussing cranberry harvesting methods. Truly odd.

My partner constantly asks what I get out of fighting people on the internet, and to be completely honest I’m not really sure. It’s probably the oddest facet of social media, bringing together disparate minds and allowing them to communicate. Where for the entirety of mankind we’ve talked to the people we know and possibly engaged with others occasionally on the street or at the bar, suddenly we’re thrust in a world where anyone can spout an opinion and i’m there to see it.

Is it healthy? Probably not, but part of the joy of the internet is that you can throw out a zinger and then log off social media and your part of the conversation ends there. In real terms, if you have the mental fortitude to not let insults stick to you once you’ve logged off, then its a harmless enterprise. Well I guess the one downside is you’re wasting your valuable hours. Maybe this year has given me a little too much free time…

I postamble these thoughts with a link to last week’s Fridays with Friends (Ep. 9) with the remarkable Tim Woodz. This is us tackling a Bob Dylan song, with me playing electric guitar for the first time in five years.

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