I’ve been gearing up to get back to more regular blogging here for a while without actually doing it. As commenting has shifted to social media, so have a lot of my observations of the world. But I don’t want to be dependent on sites that aren’t mine for retaining the things I have to say, so I’m going to try to put more of this here.
Today, I posted an anonymized snippet of conversation:
Them: If I’m wrong, why won’t you try to educate me instead of saying I’m ignorant?
Me: Have you read the article you’re commenting on yet?
I posted it because it amused me. Then a friend commented that the original sounded a lot like sealioning. Of course, that’s exactly what it is.
This person has already been arguing (read: asserting their opinion) at length. I’ve been commenting mostly short posts in return, pointing out they’ve already told me they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re frustrated because they’re working harder than I am and getting nowhere. So they’re trying to challenge me to do more.
Sealions: You can’t talk about this topic without doing a lot of work to defend yourself.
This person: You telling me I’m ignorant isn’t valid unless you do a lot of work to fix it.
Same argument, slightly different wording.
So why am I blogging this? Because my friend’s question made me realize that this is why sealioning fails so badly around me.
Even before we had a name for this kind of bad-faith arguing, we had sealions. Oh, did we have sealions. And I developed strategies back then that still serve me well dealing with them today. Namely, if someone wants me to do work, they need to demonstrate they’re willing to put in work themselves. Also, they need to do it first.
A lot of people don’t like that last part. Not just sealions, but onlookers too think it’s unfair not to go into this with the assumption people are really there for conversation. I don’t really care. It’s my labor. They’re my conditions.
At the same time, I’m already doing work. These interactions tend to start something like this: Continue reading “Putting Sealions to Work”