It fascinates me how we get really defensive with people we don't really know. Meaning, somebody we only really know through a message board post, a comment in a comment section, a random e-mail or even a phonecall. Yet we somehow take stock in these people. I wonder why.
It's one thing to get slightly defensive with a good friend over something like a record. But it seems much different when it's somebody you don't really know. I recently had a friendly debate with Matt over Metallica's St. Anger. He absolutely hates that record while I think it's an underappreciated gem. Is our friendship hanging in the balance over which one is right? Nope. This is a matter of personal opinion. He hates the record for his own reasons and I love it for my own reasons. If this was on a message board and I had never met Matt in real life, this would be a whole other matter.
For so long, it seemed like the only places I could discuss my various favorite bands was online. Be it e-mail discussion lists, message boards or comment sections, it seemed to fill a void. Back in college, I didn't really know anyone else personally who cared that much about Jimmy Eat World, Stavesacre and blink-182 as much I did. So, I joined in the discussions and chimed in whenever I felt I had something to say.
It's not like all of the discussions got ugly and personal, but plenty of them did. Debates about faith and selling out were had and I usually steered cleared of them. Usually I didn't think I had anything interesting to add or whatnot, so I just read. On the times that I did, sometimes I'd get rather defensive. Looking back, those debates seemed like a warped reality based almost completely on my imagination. People can be very vicious, even more in the written form than anywhere else, and this was a turnoff.
Now I realize that life's too short to get defensive with people I don't really know. I don't have the luxury to get to know everyone I talk to, but I choose to focus more on the people I know. Anonymous bickering may be a release for others, but it's not the life for me.