Sunday, August 12, 2012

Forex, comments, anonymity and discussion

Here's this week's ForexPros comic illustration.  As always, I was given the illustration subject without an explanation of the subject matter and, because I'm only marginally aware of current financial news, I can only place an educated guess on the exact subject matter.  I believe this cartoon has to do with Mario Draghi's recent hints at a European Union round of Quantitative Easing.  This is something Germany's Anghela Merkel may oppose, as Germans strongly oppose anything that might lead to inflation.  I learned from "Planet Money" that many Germans point to out of control inflation as one of the main reasons for Hitler's rise to power, hence their vehement aversion.

Here's the link to the ForexPros Facebook page where the cartoon is posted:

I took a brief look at the comments on this cartoon, which I normally don't do, and was pleasantly surprised at the number of "likes" and positive comments.  I'm a bit gunshy about internet comments on my work because of my days as a political cartoonist.  I think many of the criticisms I received were fair enough, as I was never a great political cartoonist.  I could draw well, but I don't think many of my cartoons were well-conceived.  Many were knee-jerk emotional reactions to complex political and social situations.  I will say, however, that many of the comments could be described the same way.  Some of them were personal attacks and many of them sincerely hurt my feelings.

As a brief side note, the blog on which many of my cartoons were posted recently made national news over a fight on internet anonymity.  One of the commenters was accused of libel and the paper that owns the blog was sued to discover their identity.  The issue was whether or not internet anonymity is a valuable tool that foments discussion or whether it's a way for trolls and jerks to hide behind a shield of anonymity and make nasty comments with impunity.  I think both are actually true, but I'm against anonymity in forums where intelligent and educated discourse are meant to take place.  Basically, my opinion is that using your real name in an internet discussion is a little closer to talking face to face.  There are things most decent people just wouldn't say to someone's face, regardless of how much they disagreed with their social or political opinions.

There has been some discussion in this country (U.S.) about the ever-increasing hostility between the two main political camps.  There seems to be less and less civil debate on the issues.  There's a lot of accusation and saber rattling and a lot of oversimplification and exaggeration that demonizes the "other".  But it's all done at a distance.  It's done over the news and on the floor of the Senate and on talk shows and on the internet.  Maybe this hostility could be curbed if we had some of these discussions while we're looking each other in the eyes.  The irony of typing this up on my blog is not lost on me.  But nonetheless, I think using our real names when we're talking to each other on the internet is a good place to start.  It might allow us to think of the person on the other end of the internet as a human being rather than as an abstraction to which we can say whatever comes to mind, however hostile.

The illustration itself: I'm really satisfied with this one.  It was probably 12-14 hours' worth of work, but I love the way it turned out.  I think the expression in the faces of Usain Bolt, Mario Draghi and Michael Phelps are all funny.  I think the likenesses are good, and I think it's the right amount of exaggeration (with some of the past Forex work, I've struggled to find proportions that are expressive and cartoony without being ridiculous).  All in all, this is one of my favorite pieces for Forex.


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