The idea for this story came to me whilst taking a bath and staring at my white bathroom walls - not sure why . More or less based on my own experiences, but I have cut out a great deal of my life to do with the change of mind outlined below. Even so there is truth to be found here, in that the art of being a true, keyboard warrior partially helped destroy my desire to be one.The Enlightened Keyboard Warrior
Months of rabid discourse. Months of drunken intolerance. Months of fun though - no question about that. Sure it had been exhilarating at the time. Still was in a way and probably always would be, then why did he feel so deflated? 'He who shouts loudest only hears his own voice', could well apply in some cases, and in all probability applied to the prior months of torrential on-line ravings. Even so he didn't feel guilty for abusing people in such a manner. Why would he? You give as good as you get on such sites - or to give it better in return is the winning way.
The addiction was a strong one. Where else could you hide away and assault people in such a manner with so few repercussions? 'Assault', isn't really too strong a word either, because in full flow words flew with such potency they really hit home on many levels, but it was mainly on a personal level when things really got going. The art of undermining people wasn't an easy one to master, but once you had you were sufficiently promoted to become a major cutting force to be reckoned with - he had earned his stripes.
Surely he was a forum posting God? Any thread he took part in would become alive, with responders queuing up to take him on. If the argument went against him then he would always resort to Plan B - the bread and butter of the keyboard warrior - the insults. If they were only partially interested before they would become totally transfixed once the emotional, verbal attacks took place. They were like putty in his hands. Yes, they had been good times. But that was many months ago. He wasn't the same.
There was definitely something wrong with his character. A major flaw in his psyche maybe, but he never felt guilty about his actions - not initially anyway. They were just faceless opponents - this was the way he looked at them - as if they didn't really exist - it was merely a game to him. Even when he had learned a few posters had been reduced to tears he wasn't the least bit concerned. In fact he found it hilarious. It spurred him on more than anything. And under the influence of drink? Well, everything just took on a whole new meaning - dishing out the dirt on steroids approach.
Some forums, such as those regarding gaming, were the breeding ground for hostile interactions. It was on such a forum he had learned his art. Gamers were incredibly passionate about their creations. But, he had backed up his words with actions in the game itself. One thing they couldn't criticise him for was a lack of thoroughness: 'preparation was indeed the name of the on-line role playing game'. His best on-line time ever was during this time. He would pour over the old disputes even now on occasion. Hilarious banter - the blood used to flow hot and strong in his veins, as it must have done with all. Good times, but slated in accusations and threats. When branching out into the rest of the internet world his caustic approach worked the same there too - and on and on it went.
Reading was a hobby of his, as was becoming informed on certain matters by watching videos and reading the news. If you were to take part in discussions you had to have knowledge of the subject matter being discussed else how could you argue a point? No, he had considered himself quite well informed on many topical issues, and even if the argument went against him he could always derail proceedings with some snide remark. For a long time this practice had been enough - until he joined a forum where many of the well informed were in residence, that is. Some were incredibly well gifted with putting someone in their place and for a while he had struggled to make his mark, but his competitive instinct gave him resolve and resilience, even so he had to up his game in the knowledge department as many thought provoking ideas he had little prior knowledge of had been thrown at him. To win after all by any means necessary was a mantra he told himself over and over - it was a competition plain and simple.
The months rolled by and there was no let up - post after post - argument after argument - drunken binge after drunken binge, but all the while more news was being read and videos were being watched. Strangely enough, just now and then, the arrogance gave way to a slight doubt: did he really know as much about certain topics as he thought, or was he merely skating on the surface? Such feelings didn't last long though, initially, so stating counter arguments in a bold manner still did the biz for him nearly all of the time. Eventually it was inevitable that a great deal of info became stored in this man's head, to a point he began to feel as if the protagonists were hardly worth the effort of rising to the occasion in response to their fairly insipid ideas - or to rile them either come to that. It was a disconcerting feeling, effectively undermining his fun at times. On top of that, part of his skill set was to do with analysing a person's weakness so they could be brought crashing down to earth when necessary with a well aimed kick in the sensitives - this skill too was also improving so why the increasing disconnected feeling and lack of interest?
When did being a 'keyboard warrior' finally stop being so important to him is really the crux of this story? The need to keep abreast with the news definitely played a major role in this - he become intrigued - no, embroiled in major concerns, not only of a major concern to himself, but also to many others - and yet the feeling of being ignorant on certain matters kept niggling him. Why this unease? Surely news was news - simple as that? Then again - something just didn't feel right. Did he need to dig deeper? Was he missing something - something he could use to give him the edge? So, instead of taking news at face value, background checks on obscure websites became the order of the day. Thus began his journey - a journey that would change his attitude entirely - you could say it was his own journey of personal enlightenment.
The deeper he dug in to matters the more the realisation took root he knew so little about anything at all - just what journalists had made available to the general public - and he concluded many of them had ulterior motives. This was a greater kick in the pants than any forum poster could have dealt him. So, he dug deeper and deeper in an effort to dispel the unnerving realisation, but no amount of digging could satisfy his curiosity, as a greater understanding on so many issues regarding many aspects of human existence were accumulating, and all the while his distrust of people in general drove home to him that everything he ever read or could read might well be flawed - in other words how could anyone possibly know everything or anything absolutely? Such an understanding eventually took the wind out of his sails completely, as he too could well be mistaken on many matters - doubt had crept in. This research had effectively undermined his whole keyboard bashing strategy - and there was no way back.
Wisdom? How is it defined? Here is one such definition ...
'Wisdom or sapience is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight.'
Fair enough, but the one sobering, recurring explanation of just what wisdom could be that kept bothering him was the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo in Lord of the Rings when discussing Bilbo Baggins and his reluctance to kill Gollum ...
Frodo: [of Gollum] It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance.
Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
'Even the very wise cannot see all ends.'
It was this thought that kept eating away at his confidence. And the more he learned the more the thought took root. No longer was his interest in discussing anything at all with anyone, as he now had other fish to fry - the pursuit of truth. This was of much greater interest than any he had before. How can you state anything at all if you do not have all the facts to hand? And there were so many threads to follow. Unearthing the truth became a major preoccupation, but thankfully the fog did become a little thinner - the more he learned the clearer his mind became. So, he read and read - watched video after video - followed the trail of breadcrumbs in an attempt to fully understand the world around him. All the while his head was soaking up more and more information - and all to do with human endeavour and existence. Wisdom was definitely knocking on his door, but the difference now was that he knew it and why.
So, where do we leave this 'broken' keyboard warrior? This story does not have an unhappy ending. He still posts - a great deal of the time, but no rancour exists - no animosity - no goading, as the style and content of his posts are the polar opposites of the way he used to post, yet, responses are as forthcoming as ever. The once rabid, keyboard warrior is now a forum, posting diplomat of more or less impeccable manners.
Even the very wise cannot see all ends, but at least they can see some.