Digital Rage: Don’t Engage the Crazy


It is a lot like road rage, but worse. In a car, one feels a certain amount of separation from the environment, like being in a highly mobile, protective cocoon that allows for a sense of omnipotence and disconnection from the consequences of one’s actions. If I flip someone the bird, the recipient of that rude gesture will most likely not know who I am, nor will we be going in the same direction for long, if things don’t take a turn for the nasty.

In cyberspace, incivility is even more tempting, in that a person can say anything, no matter how rude, from the relative comfort of their home, or at a wi-fi hot spot while sipping a delicious beverage. It is also more pernicious and cowardly. Anonymity and remoteness are the drivers, and retreat into obscurity is just a click away.


I am not without sin. A few days ago, I noticed in the comments to a post at a blog, someone identifying themselves as a PhD. The PhD left a comment that I thought could too easily be construed as overtly pompous. With little aforethought, I wrote, “There is nothing quite as unattractive as a PhD acting like a superior SOB.”

Sure, I thought my retort was especially clever and cute at the time. After a spell, I changed my mind. As my wife has to frequently admonish me, “Don’t engage The Crazy.” But, no matter how uncivil I thought the doctor was being, so was I, and that falls into the category of “not helping.”

The PhD replied to my comment. “My mother is not a BITCH. The Hinds name is quite distinguished in heraldry, [and] it appears to have ended with you.”

I am wholly ignorant of any dubious claim to heraldry I may have, but I replied, “Touché. I apologize.”

My conscience got the best of me, mostly for the reason that I know there is a very good chance that if the doctor and I had been physically in the same room, we would never have said the things we said to each other–at least not in a baiting, strident tone.


Last weekend I stumbled into a blog. What caught my eye was the title to a post. The title explicitly suggested that anyone who likes President Obama ought to perform fellatio on him. The post and comments, all cheering for the author, were of the lowest order of rude and crude. Said blog is a liberal-progressive “hard left” blog.

There, I stood mute and invisible, and left.


Would those same people say those sort of things, in the same way, straight to someone’s face, in the street? Probably not. Most people like to be liked, and make it a point to avoid violent altercations.

Part of the problem is anonymity. For some it may be necessary to avoid getting fired or ostracized within their communities.

The other part of the problem is remoteness. The ability to virtually fly around the world with nothing but a wireless connection is, to date, the greatest accomplishment of humanity, for humanity. But, it is damn easy, and tempting, to throw bombs and flame from your home with one hand, while the other is shoveling through a bag of Cheetos.

Mature people should make it a point not to use anonymity and remoteness as a weapon. Each of us should make it a point to be considerate enough to not write anything on the internet that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

No matter what, never insult another guy’s mother.

I promise to try to do better, and not engage The Crazy.

Originally published here on July 30, 2011.

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26 Responses to Digital Rage: Don’t Engage the Crazy

  1. Tim

    July 30, 2011 at 10:51 am

    For the record, I hide from no one or no thing. Unlike some I actually post my real name. My email is on my post. Do you need a map to go with it? For the time being it’s still a free country. (Well kind of) How manly you didn’t leave a comment. Yes there are those who see no wrong in Obama. I think he’s nothing but panty waste. You don’t like what I have to say? Don’t read it or stop by. If you think that’s bad, just wait…As he turns a blind eye to us, I will be relentless in my attack on him. As a matter of fact he’s up for an award I give on my site. It’s called the golden stiffy. A giant golden dick. He deserves it. As a matter of fact so do the lemmings who follow him blindly and without question.

    • Holte Ender

      July 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

      There are plenty of attacks on the president Tim, by lots of people, but mainly from the far right and hard left. Some of them offer well thought out critiques of his presidential performance, it is, as you say, a free country, so I guess it is OK to post something with the headline:

      “If you want to suck his Dick, go ahead”

      Although I didn’t get past the headline, I’m sure it was a well thought out critique.

    • jenny40

      July 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      I doubt the POTUS will lose any sleep one way or the other over what you write Mr. Tim. What some character with a mediocre little blog says is hardly relevant in our world. Your post was without class or basis, as was most of the trash you wrote. You should be ashamed. There is a difference between civil discussion and name calling, but apparently you lack that requisite civility.

      • Bradley scott

        August 1, 2011 at 12:47 am

        You called a post of mine bullshit, Jenny, and me a religious wingnut. Not that I’m, you know, trying to say anything, but I’m just sayin’. 😉

    • Holte Ender

      August 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Another thing Tim:

      Unlike some I actually post my real name

      Who are you referring to: Holte Ender; Krell; Oso; Mother Hen;, it can’t be the subject of your comment because Collin Hinds is his real name? Perhaps you should ask your little friend on how to reply.

  2. Gwendolyn H. Barry

    July 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Personally, I thought the headline Tim choose was perfectly MMA style. Very very Enquirer. I’m surprised you didn’t give it a read Holte. That seems a bit automated. But to each their own. I am foraying in here to post a supportive comment on Tim’s work… his humorous critiques are really pretty good, they have won him re-posts on more heavily traffic-ed and notable sites. A rising star in national snark, *as it were*. So, equally, the accusation leveled here at him calling him a digital coward seems uninformed (is this some kind of prerequisite for writing here?) in the least and attempting cruel in the expanse. Collin, I call that high talk from a bankster lawyer who is currently making his way in the world by dispossesing folks from their homes during this awful period of history. You have clearly defined yourself and the side of street you stand on. And you have the gall to accuse a more imaginative fellow of being a coward? Shame on you for being on the wrong side of everyday people and then accusing a good man of being a coward. Happy to meet up face to face to repeat this.

    • Holte Ender

      July 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      You are mean Gwen, and your attempts at eloquence do nothing to disguise it. Tim does not need your support, he handles himself pretty well, still it gives you something to talk about. While defending Tim (why?) you attacked me, Collin (calling him a banksta lawyer who is putting people out on the street) and MMA. You are enjoying every minute of this and it shows. Like I said, mean.

      • Holte Ender

        July 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        BTW this post was about being civil, I guess nobody read it.

        • Gwendolyn H. Barry

          July 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

          I was very ‘civil’, Holte. Did I lie? No. I’m still being civil. You can go ahead slam away. I have no reason to attempt anything. I made my point.

          And you know, Collin, if you would like to rebuke me fairly, I invite you to come onto Here Be Monsters tomorrow and do so. Cordially.

          • Holte Ender

            July 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm

            “Did I lie?” – well yes you did. Called me automated, outrageous lie, said Collin was throwing people out on the street, another whopper. Where do you get your information from? I wonder.

            You said MMA was “Enquirer” look at today’s front page. Your heart is full of something and it’s not love and peace. Said you dropped by to give Tim support, another lie, you were sent or warned, but you dropping by was not a coincidence. Not born yesterday.

            And what about someone “Not being a team player” is this your way of making amends?

            uninformed (is this some kind of prerequisite for writing here?) Not since you quit.

            You insult in a public forum, not for first time, but probably apologize in private. It’s what liars do.

            Stick with hanging with your thousands of friends who think you are wonderful, stay away from here.

            • Gwendolyn H. Barry

              July 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

              I guess that means “no”? Ok, Holte.

              • Holte Ender

                July 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm

                I guess that means “no”? Ok, Holte.

                What the hell does that mean? Goddam gibberish.

                I will have the last word on this. I hope this is it.

          • greenlight

            July 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm

            I was very ‘civil’, Holte. Did I lie? No. I’m still being civil.

            Honesty and civility are not one and the same. “That dress looks nice” is a civil comment, but may or may not be honest.

            “I call that high talk from a bankster lawyer who is currently making his way in the world by dispossesing folks from their homes during this awful period…” Honest? Maybe, I truly don’t know. But civil? Not so much.

            If your face-to-face interactions follow these same lines, g*d help you in your personal relationships, sincerely.

            • Holte Ender

              July 31, 2011 at 2:12 pm

              I thank you for your honesty and civility.

    • Peter Lake

      July 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      You are a monster Gwen and I hate to see you on this wonderful site. You poison everything you touch so please stay away. I was so happy when Mike fired you because your writing was gibberish and mindful of a rambling druggie and apparently nothing has changed.

    • jenny40

      July 31, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      I just noticed your crazy rant Barry, but I have NEVER seen a headline like Mr. Tims either here at MMA or at the National Enquirer. It is garbage, pure garbage rather like your goofy defense of it. I’m with the other posters ….please just go away. We are a family here and we don’t like people like you.

    • Erin Nanasi

      September 23, 2012 at 9:11 am

      “…his humorous critiques are really pretty good, they have won him re-posts on more heavily traffic-ed and notable sites. A rising star in national snark, *as it were*.”

      Well, I for one have never heard of either you, Gwen, or Tim. A rising star in national satire. So, Tim is of the same caliber as Rude Pundit or Andy Borowitz? If so, why haven’t I heard of him? As to the Enquirer comparison, what does that even mean? The last time I checked (albeit infrequently), The National Enquirer has articles on which celebrity’s butt looks like cottage cheese, who’s divorcing who and water skiing squirrels. Pretty sure they aren’t covering the events in the Middle East, or posting articles on science, religion or tracking the whereabouts of Dr. Schadenfreude. With whom, I respectfully suggest, you might want to make an appointment.

  3. Joe Hagstrom

    July 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t think Tim’s crazy. I think he’s pissed off. That proves he’s sane and knows what’s going on.

    I gotta say that although I’ve been tough on President Obama myself, I also realize the shitty hand he was dealt when he took office. An economy on the brink of collapse. Say what you want about a democrat Congress. It was still infested with DINO’s like Ben Nelson who pressed their own agendas above the Nation’s. Now he has the tea party caucus dicking with everything.

    I’d like to see less of Obama pandering to the right on issues, but he has all the information and if that’s his strategy we’ll have to see it play out.

  4. Bradley scott

    July 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Well said, Collin. I, like you, am not without sin. I have snipped and snarked right back at the snippy and snarky from time to time, and you’re quite right; doesn’t help. But, while I will lambast Tea bag politics, I doubt I’ll ever go to one of their meetings. I mean 3 seconds of reasoned discourse before being hooted down and hustled out the door by security doesn’t help either. And that doesn’t even adress the more fanatical forces in our society. While I will simultaneously assualt and insult a group like the KKK, and chide others not to call them a Christian organization, I won’t be going to any Klanbakes, telling them that they are farther from reflecting anything of Christ than East is from West. I like to come home from events I attend. Maybe that is the element missing here. Why not all make a commitment to attend more public events in support of our views, and/or opposing the ones wtih which we disagree? (fondly recalling the Peace rally in Forest Park, the demonstration in front of B of A, Pridefest) I believe that it is vitally important that our adversaries see, as well as hear from us with increaseing frequency, and in larger groups.

  5. lazersedge

    July 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I must say that Timmy and Gwendolyn are both a bit in a snit today aren’t they. Well written post Collin as usual. As for Tim there, before he accuses me of hiding behind my pseudonym, see W.A. Formby, as we are one in the same, but I have been the Lazersedge probably as long as you have been Tim (not really but it sounds good). But as long as I have been logging onto computers which is now about 30 years. I like the name and I choose not to change. If you want to know better let me know and I will send you an invite to my home and the darling in my avatar will gladly introduce himself to you.
    Now as far as what Tim and Ms Gwendolyn think about our President thankfully they live in America and not Syria and therefore can express their feelings any uneducated way they choose. I have from time to time also voiced my displeasure at President Obama and in fact I am not necessarily his, or anyone else in Washington’s cheerleader right now. But, expressing my displeasure at him or anyone of the other politicians who are not doing what I would like for them to do can be done by using the English language with resorting to gutter drawl. I mean. come on Tim, where did you dig up that headline, at a local truck stop. Right next “for a goode teme call BR 593”.

  6. BigHarryH

    July 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I never saw a Tim post here, did I blink or something, but I remember Gwendolyn J. Barry, I thought she had gone with that mob over to Oak Tree something or other, along with the 7 Dinners guy who was as crazy and judgmental as a loon. What is she doing back, is she writing here again. Welcome back Gwen.

  7. Junebug

    July 31, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Yes she’s back Harry, but only to fight. Read the comments dammit.

  8. Sagacious Hillbilly

    August 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

    There is a lot of entertainment value in engaging the crazies.

  9. John Myste

    August 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Mr. Hinds,

    I agree philosophically. It is difficult sometimes, because the Crazy acts sane, and you delicately engage him while you act sane. The Crazy steps it up a bit; temporarily bested, you challenge, more crazily than before, but less crazily than the Crazy, for sure. Pretty soon you realize that you have engaged the Crazy, and so did he! Holy crap!