One annoying trend I notice in the whole Web 2.0 Livejournal/Twitter/MySpace community thingy is that, whenever emotions run high, there is a tendency for the self-proclaimed moral crowd to insist that everyone either be with them, the good guys, or be against them. We have seen that happen with Cassie Edwards' plagiarism scandal, and I am starting to see that happen in RaceFail09 when some people said in the Livejournals that they felt that they had to say something or their silence would be taken by the self-proclaimed good guys as sign that they are with the bad guys.
Okay, I'm Chinese. I have lived for decades in a country where open discrimination is practiced from the top to bottom of the government. For a short time, I lived through a period of emergency when the Communists plotted to overthrow the government and, with the Communists being predominantly Chinese, my family was considered guilty until proven otherwise by the law enforcers of that time. Fortunately, the Communists decided to pack up shortly after... only to have Malaysia plunged into a year of violent racial unrest as the Chinese and Malays went at it. I'd seen former Malay friends who overnight considered me an evil heretic. And yet, at one particularly troubling moment, it was a Malay family, who didn't know my family that well, that willingly hid us in their house for three days when a particularly violent of Malays vroomed up in town with their motorbikes, hungry for blood. When my eldest sister went into labor, a Malay cab driver kindly agreed to help my mother and her to go to the hospital when we couldn't afford the fare. I was a little girl then, and such events left an indelible mark in my mind. So, you see, I've lived through racial unrest, and I know also that, even when we seem to know for sure who the bad guys are, sometimes, we can't still be too hasty to judge.
That is why my reaction when I read RaceFail09 is to roll up my eyes. Yes, racism is wrong... but perhaps I'm just too old or jaded, but I see no glory in taking part in a e-penis measuring contest that seems, to me, more like a screaming match between people who had way too much time on their hands. I'm not saying that those people who are screaming racism are wrong, let me make this clear here, I just don't see the point in screaming and ranting and running around 300 Livejournals to make the same observations of disgust. (The other side didn't acquit themselves gracefully either - in fact, being that they are supposed to be adults, and professional adults at that... oi vey.)
So, to me, I feel that taking part in the drama is a waste of my time and energy. This is different from me agreeing with the stance of one side or the other. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way whenever some overwrought Internet soap opera threatens to submerge one completely. Some people refuse to participate in mass online hysteria. And we have the right to do this. It is the ridiculous kids beating on everyone's door, shouting that you are with them or against them, that should get some sense into their heads.
And - I'm going to be very blunt here - I do not take too kindly the patronizing lectures from people telling me that I do not know what racism or, or the suffering of some segment of persecuted society, or whatever it is that these armchair Web activists decide to embrace as their latest fad. Especially when these lectures come from very young people who often get their facts, examples, and third-hand anecdotes all mixed up in the process. If these people genuinely believe that they need to make a difference in the world, then by all means, spend less time haunting blogs and participate more in community awareness programs that will allow you to help the needy and make a difference in your own way. If they genuinely believe that winning a war of words and getting to high-five each other for proving that the other faction is homophobic, racist, whatever are actual examples of making a difference in real life, then they are the ones who need to take a step back and gain some perspective.
You want to really make a difference, make a difference in real life. Stop cheapening affirmative action and using the real need for change in the real life as an excuse to gather support in your online war with so-and-so. Stop pretending that if you don't win, Evil will triumph and the end of civilization will follow. Do not insult my intelligence by telling me that I can learn from your constant tirades against some perceived racism or what not in some other fellow's blog. I am an adult, let me pick my own fights.
And really, some of us have better things to do than to validate your sense of importance.