Often when I read some blogs, which I do less of these days, I imagine this is the type of person behind the anonymity: Taxi Driver’s Travis. One of the more memorable characters in film, brilliantly played by Robert De Niro, Travis’s strange and warped morality often reminds me of some of the blogsphere. The world according to Travis is filled with degenerates, perverts, sick bastards, and endless scum. Everyone is corrupt. Women are whores. Travis is particularly enamored of a twelve year old prostitute, played by Jodi Foster. His mission becomes to save her. He has a mission to cleanse the world of its impurities. He sees himself as a sort of activist.
But he is isolated, lonely, and out of touch with reality. He is the type of person who, if he were depicted in today’s world, with easy access to the internet, would most likely be blogging in some form or another (in the movie he is clearly a bit illiterate, but it is his mentality, not his education, that is most important). He would post often on the types of blogs whose header had some sort of military image, were racially motivated, or were the advocates of some sort of strident political cause to cleanse the world of all socials ill. He might even have his own blog.
But as the isolated individual, he seethes beneath the unending pressure of societies’ injustices towards him, always on the brink, until he finally cracks. Lots of cathartic, bloody violence results. In today’s world blogging would attract him because he is isolated. He would spend countless hours, day after day, in his lonely basement apartment, writing endless posts about how to change the world, or spending countless hours commenting on the other various blogs he visits on a daily basis. He would believe he belongs to some sort of community, that he has “friends” even though he has never met a single one of them, and even though they are little more than words on a computer screen. The flesh and blood realities of real communications and all the nuances therein would be missing. And if anyone did meet him, they would most likely be a bit disturbed by his appearance and general demeanor. But none of this would matter to the Travis blogger: he is a blogging warrior in stealth, secretly in the process of purging the world of its filth, when he is not taking the emasculating orders from his female boss at work.
The Travis blogging world often has one universal message: be afraid, be very afraid. The world is going to hell, the barbarians are coming, the moral and societal filth is on the verge of collapsing on us all. Be afraid. The impersonal, virtual online world would perfectly fill his delusions of grandeur and his own paranoia. Be afraid, and listen to the prophet who alone has the insight and knowledge to save you and the world.
I used to read some blogs like that. At first I found them entertaining. Perhaps they even provide some relevant information about the world today. Certainly there are very real and very serious problems out there. They need to be addressed. But after a while I found these blogs or websites did little more than fill me despair. Often they are so lost in their own sense of importance as to become ludicrous. Finally I stopped reading them altogether. My mind began to clear and my soul became happier. I still read the irreverent stuff, but less so than before. I still think the old Roissy is the finest example of a completely irreverent blog, yet with brilliant insight, all done in a great satiric style. Ferdinand Bardamu (In Mala Fide, see blogroll) is good too, although I do not like the format of his new blog. Too serious with too many voices. I like to laugh and be entertained. But the bloggers who are all so serious about transforming the world through this silly medium, well, they have become a bit too much. Anyone is now a prophet, and many of these online prophets are as clearly unhinged as Travis.
Instead of the hopelessness of so many of today’s web sites, and their message of fear, I prefer the message from John Paul II: “Be not afraid”. It is a message the Pope used to recite quite often, a message he himself learned while, as a young seminarian in occupied Poland, the Nazi soldiers searched his underground seminary. He hid in a closet and evaded capture. If captured, he probably would have been killed. After that terrifying experience the Pope learned first hand what true fear is, and it became a source of strength for him, renewed through Christ. Don’t be afraid, because even in the worst of situations, God is still there.
Now being hunted down by soldiers who want to kill you is a bit more of a serious situation and cause for concern than most of what our heroic warriors out there in the blog fantasy world are fighting against. That was real. That was true fear. Today’s online warrior is often afraid of a female boss at work, among other things.
Yes, the world is filled with pain, evil and injustice. It always has and it always will. Living in America or the West in general does not somehow magically exempt us from that. But there is hope too. Be not afraid.