You must wear appropriate behavior at all times

When I read that the Indian Ocean quake had altered the earth’s rotation slightly and may have even caused the earth’s tilt to wobble a bit, my first reaction was to write a post pointing to this writing at Jonathon Delacour’s, referencing the comment he made last year about …the only way “the planet will slow on its axis, stop, and then slowly begin to rotate in the opposite directionâ€? is if I switch back to the Macintosh. I was going to ask in the post if he’d received his new Mac yet, but just as I titled the post and was about to publish it, I came to my senses.

“Horrors! What are you thinking, Shelley!” I remembered the condemnation that met Robert Scoble’s post on Sunday, when he wrote in complaint about the lack of first hand experience coming out about the tsumani:

It’s really disappointing. Citizen Journalism is really failing here. Almost no first-hand reports.

Scoble actually had to take a vacation from weblogging a day or so, as penance for his words; returning with link after link related to the earthquake, like doves of peace scattered across his page. If the reaction to his words was scathing condemnation, imagine what the reaction to mine would have been?

So I then thought about just sending Jonathon a quiet little email, pointing to the planetary wobble and asking if he’d received his Mac. After all, I’ve known Jonathon for years, surely he wouldn’t think that my comment showed that I was indifferent to the tragic nature of this event. I thought if anyone would understand the nuances of black humor, it would be him.

But I hesitated. Yes I’ve known Jonathon for years online, and have helped him through server-side issues, as he’s helped me with design; exchanging emails, phone calls, even books and music. We are friends as much as anyone can be in this disconnected environment. But I’ve never met Jonathon, face to face, and black humor is one of the most subtle and complex communication forms that exists (though the Shaklee Relief Pack comes close). I had to ask myself would he really understand the nature of my note, without there having been direct interaction between us? Or would he think that I was being, as Robert was to later call himself, “an insensitive boor”?

In the end, I didn’t write the post, or send the email. Perhaps this is just as well, because now I’m reading comments such as the following, in a post by Dori Smith:

How was the geek dinner tonight? I ask you that also regarding the recent tragic events in South Asia! Was it mentioned and if yes, was there some fund raisings for all the poor having lost shelters and loved ones?

or in a post at Joseph Duemer’s (who has been involved in rather fascinating cross-weblog comment discussion, more of which I will write about later):

Hey Joe, how about pouring those prodigious verbal energies into attention to our neighbors in South Asia? Lest the wail of suffering make all of us look small.

How uniquely 2004: the wisdom of the guardians of our conscience now being delivered to us as comment spam.

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