He took his user name from the 18th century philosopher, David Hume…and he used the picture of Albert Einstein, which he never changed, as his user avatar. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of HumeSkeptic, Huffington Post’s most legendary and enduring poster who, I understand through the usual grapevine channels of HP, died recently of cancer.
Hume, according to his profile, had been posting since Huffington Post’s inception in 2005. He had made the most comments (more than 90 thousand) making him the most prolific and recognized poster who was, arguably, the most popular if not controversial poster in HP’s short history based on the amount of people who had “fanned” him. Beyond that, I personally knew nothing about Hume. I didn’t even know his real name. For all I know it was, indeed, “Hume,” though that’s doubtful. How much can one know about a poster on a blog as Huffington Post, which is likely the most well-know blog in the history of the Internet? If you’re lucky or unlucky as it were, to actually get to personally know a handful of Huffington Post posters, this can be a good thing, I suppose, depending on one’s perspective. After all, Huffington Post (like all blogs and like the larger picture of the Internet) is a place where anonymity converges and becomes familiar, even intimate (or as intimate as one can be via words written on a computer screen), and where people who will, likely, never meet beyond sterile comments back and forth to each other, have written discourse as if they are best friends….or worst enemies.
One could make the case that you have to have some pretty impenetrable armor to venture into Huffington Post….especially if you, like Hume, are viscerally opinionated to the point that you are, seemingly, not afraid to “put yourself out there” each and every time you make a comment “at the top of the thread” as we say. But why should one be afraid? After all, whatever one gets in the way of replies from one’s comments on Huffington Post are just words, right? That would depend on who you talk to. I’ve noticed during my time on Huffington Post that there are many different types of posters but really only two major categories: those who post “at the top of threads” (meaning those who make comments as an original post and not as a reply to someone else’s original post), and those who simply reply to others’ original posts. Hume was definitely the former (an original, top-of-the-thread poster) who, from time to time dabbled in replies as well.
Hume set the bar to its initial height in original posting….and was never really surpassed no matter how hard others tried. When he posted a comment it seemed to command more attention from other posters simply because he was Hume. And he was both revered and reviled simply because he was, seemingly, unafraid to say what others would not necessarily say or, perhaps, simply because he was “Hume” and so recognizable. And that’s the way it is with Huffington Post. If you, like Hume, are a “top of the threader” prepare to be brutalized by those who may have different ideologies from yours. Sometimes replies to one’s comments can be so vicious as to cause people to quit Huffington Post altogether which begs the question, why the person who quits was willing to sign on to this blog to begin with. Yes, you do, often, have to have the thickest of skin to post here. But why? Why should any of it matter when, again, they are just words from god knows who from god knows where from god knows what background posting from god knows what perspective. It matters because we are, first and foremost, human with human emotions and human feelings who, like in any aspect of life, want to be regarded…even validated. One could make the case that our need for regard and validation is why we signed up for HP to begin with.
As for Hume, I’m not entirely certain he cared one whit about validation or ever wanted anyone to know much more about him beyond what one could learn about him from his extensive body of work of comments. If one were to define Hume based on his comments alone, one could perhaps conclude that he was, as he was so often accused by others over the years, insufferably arrogant, aloof, cold, bitterly calculating, even mean-spirited from time to time particularly when he was pompous and dismissive of others. But, if you followed him as much as I and others did over the years and examined his exhaustive body of work in its whole as opposed to the sum of its parts, you could conclude that he was our “great informer” on HP. He gave us the information, couched that information in his opinions, and then left it up to us how we wanted to use it. He could be very impatient with people if they made the mistake of replying to one of his informative comments in what he may have deemed in a naive or obtuse fashion. He could, in fact, take some more vulnerable repliers to his comments to pieces with ruthless abandonment. But was this done with malice? I guess the only way to know this for certain is to have known Hume…which so few of us actually did. My guess is, it was not with malice as much as it was with impatience coming from a man who wanted people to take the wealth of information and opinions he offered and “run with them” in order to formulate their own opinions and, subsequently, improve upon their personal knowledge base by virtue of having done so.
One of my HP friends made the comment today that he seemed to mellow recently in regards to his patience, or lack thereof. Perhaps this “mellowness” came from his illness and his impending demise. Perhaps he just grew tired of “gnashing teeth” with both friend and foe. Who’s to say? One thing is certain however: this prolific poster should not just die and go unrecognized as if he never existed in the first place because he was, for such a long, long time, our standard bearer and our defacto leader who was, seemingly and completely, unafraid to put himself out there on the proverbial “firing line” taking shots from all sides and seemingly unaffected by the things that people would say to him in the ruthless netherworld of the anonymous blog. Hume was a stalwart leftist who was uncompromising in his opinions that were certainly more often right than wrong.
But whether he was right or wrong about anything hardly matters. What does matter is Hume was always there to defend his cause…a cause shared by many of us….and had the guts and the courage to do it day after day after day which made all of us, including yours truly, a little less apprehensive….and, indeed, a little braver about venturing into the scary world of the anonymity of the blog. For that, he earned my admiration….and for that I shall miss him.