You are free to choose how to use the internet

I’d like remind everyone that you are free to curate your internet experience however you please. When your internet experience starts to suck because people are trying to make your life miserable, you are free to deal with that as you see fit.

You are free to withdraw from a space. You are free to ban and block. You are free to call on friends for help. You are free to dig in and argue with every entitled douchebag who comes along trying to win a war of attrition in order to force you out of that space. You are free to be pseudonymous; you are free to use your real name. You are free to publicly disagree with them, even via a blog post if you so choose; or you can privately disagree with them amongst a small tight-knit circle of friends and allies. You can use any number of block-list services like Akismet, RBL, the A+ Block Bot, or even a whitelist-only setup like making your Twitter account Private. You can engage with everyone who thinks the internet is a debate club, or you can ignore those people, or you can block them.

And be damned anyone who says that this is “fascist”.

These people who compare the internet equivalent of screening your phone calls with Nazi Germany are the ones who are in the wrong, and you can even choose to ignore THEM if you so choose, despite their howls of protestation. They are the ones trying to impose upon you the necessity to treat the internet as a debate club, and they are trying to impose upon your time to educate them specifically why their views are incorrect or bigoted or morally risible or utterly laughable.

We human beings only have so much in the metaphorical gas tank to handle only so many interactions and our level of freedom of association unequivocally guarantees that we get to choose which ones we want to have. We may not WANT to have every interaction that we have, but at that moment when we encounter such interactions we get to choose how we react. We get to curate our experience as we please. The internet is an extension of meatspace — it is not its own reality, but it is a subset of reality, populated by real human beings and these human beings’ creations — even including the scripts and forumssome people use to unfairly amplify their voice by spamming or stuffing ballot boxes. And we get to choose how to interact with these other human beings.

What we DON’T get to do is tell others what amounts of bullshit they do or do not trade in order to use a particular service. What we DON’T get to do is levy a penalty for existing in a certain state, or for having certain opinions. Even people who have the most odious opinions in the world get to block people as they see fit. Even the most terrible misogynist, racist, religious ideologue gets to choose whether or not they continue to engage with a particular person.

People complaining about a real-time block list of any sort because it happens to block THEM at some level, well, they think they’re entitled to everyone’s ear. They think they get to say whatever they want to whomever they want and you’re not allowed to stop them. Spammers have that sort of psychology — how dare you preemptively block their very important information about their Louis Vuitton knock-offs? What kind of Stalinesque dictator are you, for disallowing preemptively people screaming about “niggerjewcunts”? Are you on the payroll of Big Science, blocking them from promoting their blog post where they crack the Nostradamus code using a Bible cypher, and use it to prove that time is a hypercube?

The next time someone attacks you for trying to shield yourselves from attack, block them. Or argue with them. Or tell them to go fuck themselves. Or ignore them. Do exactly what you personally deem the most healthy for you. Never take on projects that you know will require more resources than you have available. If you’ve been around a while, you may have enough resources to take on a particularly protracted fight. Or you may have had those resources eroded from years of protracted harassment.

Just remember that what actions you take — for or against particular ideas — have consequences. Every action or inaction has political implications, down to the most seemingly inconsequential. You might, by any particular action — even as innocuous as a single tweet about something you did or enjoyed or something totally otherwise innocuous — prod a hornet’s nest of angry entitled douchebags. Or you might piss off people you thought you were allies with, or you might find out you’re ACTUALLY IN THE WRONG. You might overrun someone else’s resource reserves, and they might as a result disengage with you. They may even want to make that disengagement permanent, and enforce it using the tools available to them by whatever social media service you’re using.

You might find yourself sued for libel, and that libel suit, rarely though it happens, might even be more than a simple SLAPP suit designed to overrun your resources and force you to disengage. Rarer still, such a suit might even be entirely valid! Or it might just be a call to arms to thousands of like-minded folks to try to overrun your resources, though the tell for that sort of situation is that the person simply won’t shut up about this supposed libel suit in public despite a lawyer’s explicit orders. Or it’s an attempt at destroying the credibility of the person making the accusations. You might even be the one reacting to someone else’s actions this way!

Or you might be the one finding yourself blocked from someone else’s site or social media network. Or you might find yourself the target of angry stalkers who demand that you must never block or ban them from your spaces, and you must absolutely engage them in debate on their terms and on their time. You might find yourself on the receiving end of demands for your attention from perfect strangers, or an army of sockpuppets from a single person trying to steal the mantle and megaphone of the Vox Populi.

And still, despite their demands, you’re free to curate that experience how you please. You can ban, block, withdraw, ignore, engage, or abstain entirely. You want different rules in a space, and can’t convince the owner of that space to agree because they’re curating their own space differently, then you can create your own damned space. And you enforce your rules in that space however you damn well please.

Welcome to the internet. That’s how this shit works.

You are free to choose how to use the internet

92 thoughts on “You are free to choose how to use the internet

  1. 52

    Here is how I see it. My attention is limited. It requires time and I only have so much of it. If someone presents something that I feel would undervalue that time, then it doesn’t make much sense for me to pay attention to it. A good example would be some “birther” spamming my Facebook wall with birther “evidence”. This is something that deserves none of my time. I won’t consider it irrespective of how politely it may be presented. I won’t argue with them. I won’t try to help them. I will say goodbye and adjust whatever I can to prevent that from happening in the future.

    Could I engage this person? Sure. Do I want to? Fuck no. It isn’t that I feel I wouldn’t be able to help them, but the resources requisite in getting them to come around compete with other activities. There is an opportunity cost to this engagement. In the same time that it would take for me to engage an Alex Jones acolyte, how many other people that are on the fence could I instead interact with? Wasn’t that precisely why the God Delusion was successful? I believe that Dawkins addressed it specifically to fence-sitters.

    This doesn’t mean “only take on easy arguments” it means prioritize your interactions with those you judge as capable of doing so in good faith. Or, tell me to go fuck myself. I assure you that it won’t bother me in any way.

  2. 53


    You don’t want to be a close minded jerk just because you have strong beliefs or worldview. And you also don’t want to reduce your ideological enemies to caricatures…[But] you hit some point where you’re just staring into some moral abomination that doesn’t allow you to feel particularly charitable or open minded.” – Chris Hayes on Bill Maher

  3. 54

    You are free to ensure that only those who fall straight in line with your particular point of view are heard on your platform, and that any dissent is immediately silenced.

    Kacyray, your post has so many word and syllables in it that it does not meet the definitions of “silence” or “silenced”.

  4. 55

    smhll (#54) –

    Kacyray, your post has so many word and syllables in it that it does not meet the definitions of “silence” or “silenced”.

    Kacyray does have a valid point. Just as readers can choose not to read things they disagree with, bloggers and other writers can choose not to post if they don’t want to hear disagreement or criticism. The same rule applies to both sides.

    If someone in “meat space” says something controversial and unsolicited (in public or on private property) the speaker can’t act surprised if other disagree. Sure, those who disagree can leave (or be told to leave private property or a private website if they don’t like it) but that doesn’t make the controversial statements true. Just as there are trolls, there are petty people who want to live in echo chambers and have only sycophants posting comments.

    Take, for example, Lou Dobbs lies on Fox Nuisance back in 2007, claiming non-white immigrants were bringing leprosy into the US. Do people have to watch his show or that channel and listen to that garbage? No, viewers can turn it off, and Fox Nuisance can ignore and delete comments from people who try to state facts. Dobbs and others are naive to think that nobody will try to refute their lies, especially when statements like that are deliberate attempts to incite intolerance and violence.

  5. 56

    Right, I know kacyray was aiming that polemic at me, but it absolutely DOES apply if you actually start silencing criticism — people may think you’re a coward if you use the internet as a one-way communications method, where you only output your own opinion and never accept others’ rebuttals. However, that’s still a valid way to use the technology. And a lot of those rebuttals aren’t going to be worthy of your time, and you’re ultimately the only steward for what time you spend on what things you want to do.

    If you want to ban and block the people who call you a coward, that’s fine too. Trolling the internet like so many people do, in the non-traditional sense of treating it like a debate club where every opinion must be challenged individually and in the same space (e.g. that every site must play by YOUR rules) is the real “fascism” creeping here. If you think someone else’s site must host your rants, you’re wrong. You’re free to make your own site. You can host your rants there. I thought that was absolutely implicit in what I said in the original post, but I’m happy to make it explicit down here.

    Nobody is obligated to host your attacks on them personally, kacyray. I allowed those attacks here because you helped prove some of my other points. I am in fact extremely lenient with allowing postings here with the expectation that they will all be challenged. When people abuse their right to post, I toss them in moderation and only let them out when I personally have time to deal with them. You’re in that state now, because of other times you’ve pulled that same nonsense, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make it through now and again when I have a larger point to make.

  6. 57

    What I’ve never understood is this: Why would you ever WANT to block or ban anyone? How does that even benefit you? Surely if your positions are wrong, you would WANT to know and you would WANT people to tell you.

  7. 58

    Wow, I would have never expected a feminist of all people to support freedom of association, something I strongly oppose.

    “freedom of association unequivocally guarantees that we get to choose which ones we want to have”

    OK, so I suppose you are against anti-discrimination laws. If people wish to associate themselves only with people their own race or gender, they should be allowed.

    Oh wait, you DO support that. Hmm, on second thoughts, it’s not surprising at all that a feminist would support freedom of association.

  8. 59

    And some people wonder why I don’t own a TV.

    Come to think of it, I don’t understand what those who cry “Drama!” are complaining about. Haven’t they ever tried flipping the channel?

  9. 60

    Surely if your positions are wrong, you can learn that they’re wrong without being subjected to years of slurs and harassment by an individual. Saying you shouldn’t want to ban or block someone assumes they’re not just there to make life hell for you. And there’s good evidence that you don’t have a functioning sense of empathy, so I totally understand why you’d suggest that, prodegtion.

  10. 62

    Typically I’d get bullied pretty badly if I used a name for more than like 3-4 days, so I learned to alias very well online.

    Please give specific examples of such “bullying,” or admit you’re full of shit.

    What I’ve never understood is this: Why would you ever WANT to block or ban anyone?

    How old are you — five? Even at that age, I understood why I didn’t want some of the kids I knew in my house. It’s really not that hard a concept to understand.

    It’s truly amazing what laughably infantile responses you get when you state such simple, obvious common sense about ordinary human interaction.

  11. 63

    Commenting on a public forum or blog is not the same thing as inviting someone into your house. It is impossible for them “make life hell for you”. The ONLY reason you would block or ban someone is to close your ears to evidence contradicting your dogma.

  12. 64

    You have evidently never met the sorts of people we’re talking about. Possibly because you don’t have an opinion that draws people who think they are entitled to harangue you wherever you go in order to try to disabuse you of your notions. You’re actually the one going out and attempting to disabuse others of theirs. So there’s a perspective thing you’re lacking.

  13. 65

    People ARE entitled to harangue you to disabuse you of your notions. That is a GOOD thing. Consider ALL of the evidence, not just the ones that confirm your preconceptions. It’s part of freedom of speech.

  14. 66

    No. They are not. Nobody has more entitlement on deciding how their time is spent than you do. Not unless you want to be the fascist dictator who gets to choose how others spend their time.

  15. 68

    Because there are other ways to debate them than harassment. You ARE aware of that fact, aren’t you? Like, you can actually talk people out of rational decisions WITHOUT mistreating them?

    No, evidently you aren’t, since you seem to think “Canadian” is a slur.

    Bye! Nice talking with you! See you around. Or not.

  16. 69

    The ONLY reason you would block or ban someone is to close your ears to evidence contradicting your dogma.

    Really? So rape threats, threats of violence aren’t reasons to block someone? Thousands of spam (being repetitive, not necessarily commercial) isn’t reason to ban someone?

  17. 70

    No, what he’s actually saying is that his bald assertions are evidence that my ideas are wrong by dint of his mere assertion, and my shutting them out is only because they are so well-argued.

    I’m totes convinced. Why aren’t you!? The evidence is all right there! And he said it’s evidence, so that’s evidence that it’s true!

  18. 71

    prodegtion @58:

    Wow, I would have never expected a feminist of all people to support freedom of association, something I strongly oppose.

    [blinks, then runs to Wikipedia…]

    Freedom of association is the right to join or leave groups of a person’s own choosing, and for the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of members.

    You can’t think of a situation where feminists would take an interest in collective action or protest? And you’re opposed to the notion of collective action/protest?

    …. wow. Wow.

  19. 72

    prodegtion @ 65:

    People ARE entitled to harangue you to disabuse you of your notions. That is a GOOD thing. Consider ALL of the evidence, not just the ones that confirm your preconceptions. It’s part of freedom of speech.

    And if I do consider ALL the evidence (not just the ones [sic] that confirm my preconceptions) and decide that someone’s harangues and attempts to disabuse me of my notions are BULLSHIT, I can use my freedom of speech to tell them to go fuck themselves.

    Which is also a GOOD thing.

    If those people continue to harangue me and continue to employ the same or similar bullshit as before in further attempts to disabuse me of whatever it might be, I can use whatever means are at my disposal to avoid any further interaction with them, including but not limited to the following: ignoring them, killfiling their comments, avoiding spaces where they might be, banning them from my blog or blocking them on social media.

    In small words: yes, people have the right to say things to me. However, I am not obliged to listen to those things. I have the right to ignore those people. I have the right to shut the door on them in spaces which I control.

    Nobody has any obligation whatsoever to listen to anyone saying anything, anywhere, even if it does violate some (apparently) really important and sacred principle of Listening Respectfully To Any & All Dissenters, Even If They’re Demonstrably & Completely Full of Shit™.

  20. 73

    Right, I know kacyray was aiming that polemic at me, but it absolutely DOES apply if you actually start silencing criticism — people may think you’re a coward if you use the internet as a one-way communications method, where you only output your own opinion and never accept others’ rebuttals.

    Only indirectly. It was actually aimed at other bloggers on this network, with the hope that you would reassess your tacit support of such behavior.

    Putting me in moderation, however, causes me to reconsider which category you fit into.

    See? Prodegtion, with his junior-varsity comments that barely rise above creationist-calibur gets to go on and on and on… no threat to you, right?

    However, when I articulate a legitimate point, and it is even acknowledged as such by other commenters, I’m immediately put into moderation. And was it for behavior? No, it was for content. I would never criticize a blogger for deep-sixing someone based on disruptive behavior. But for expressing an opinion you don’t like?? Really??

    Nobody is obligated to host your attacks on them personally, kacyray. I allowed those attacks here because you helped prove some of my other points.

    Jason, do you still not know the difference between a critique and an attack? Really? I think you do. I think the word “attack” is an emotion-driven characterization of my comment. Brayton, Myers et al draw this distinction at least every week in their blog posts. You of all people should know the difference. I have not attacked you personally. I hardly know anything about you, and I bear you no ill will.

    But it should serve as a good case study of the difference between the way we perceive criticism directed towards ourselves, and the way we perceive it when it is directed towards others.

    I am in fact extremely lenient with allowing postings here with the expectation that they will all be challenged. When people abuse their right to post, I toss them in moderation and only let them out when I personally have time to deal with them. You’re in that state now, because of other times you’ve pulled that same nonsense, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make it through now and again when I have a larger point to make.

    And by my comment, I abused the right to post a comment? In what way was it abusive?

    Here’s a better question… in what way was it abusive such that it was distinctly different from other comments that challenge your opinions and ideas and therefore merited my relegation to moderation?

    Full disclosure: I do not agree with the way many of the bloggers on this network handle their blog comments. I do not consider myself a feminist in the sense that it is expressed by the general commentariat at those blogs. If “Feminism” is defined as “the belief that all citizens merit equal treatment under the law”, then I do qualify, but I know that such a definition is well insufficient to play out in practice ‘round these here parts.

    However, the reason I frequent this network is because I support just about everything else on here. I am an avid, outspoken advocate for reason over faith. I oppose sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. I oppose anti-science initiatives, breaching of church-state separation, anti-choice initiatives, and anything that comes out of the mouth of Glen Beck/Alex Jones-style conspiracy sensationalists.

    And if that’s not enough, I repudiate anyone who initiates hostile behavior, including threats of death or injury. I condemn stalking, harassing, threatening, haranguing, spamming, trolling, socking, doxxing, etc. You’ll never see me support that kind of behavior.

    Put simply, I find myself irked that I am ostracized from a conversation because I disagree with about 5% of it, when I know for a fact I am on board with the other 95%. Yet that’s the position I find myself in at FTB.

    Keep me in moderation if you like. If you do so because you think I’m disruptive, I can forgive that (although I emphatically disagree). But if you do so because you don’t like the idea of someone coming in, upsetting the intellectual balance, and creating cognitive dissonance in your mind… then perhaps my comment did apply to you after all.

    I guess I’ll find out.

  21. 74

    My general rule of thumb: if someone is so argumentative, so unwilling to have a respectful discussion that you would walk away if talking in person, you get to walk away online. I don’t have to continue to endure an unending war of words with someone who, over the course of about ten comments, just keeps getting more and more belligerent. Right-wingers do it over abortion all the time. Whenever I explain why I think a person becomes a legal person at birth and not at conception, and object to strangers and their government controlling my body when pregnant, they act as if I am personally yanking fully formed babies out of their mothers’ wombs and disemboweling them right on the street. After a bit of commenting, it’s obvious they just want to condemn anyone who disagrees with them to their Hell. Not worth it.

  22. 76

    @ 67. prodegtion :

    Again, why wouldn’t you WANT people to harangue you to disabuse you of your notions? Put your beliefs under scrutiny? Or do you wish to remain a Canadian?

    Scrutinising one’s beliefs and subjecting them to criticism is NOT the same thing as being harangued.

    Do you really not see the difference?

    Haranguing and harassing anyone, threatening and abusing them and shouting at them aren’t good ways to “scrutinise their ideas” – or convince them you have a good case that’ll sway their minds.

  23. 77

    Hello, ParhelionSky here

    I am a Slymepit poster who was genuinely curious as to who this RainbowSlushie^.^ person is/was, and I took the liberty of doing some detective work to find out exactly who she was and what she’s posted at the Slymepit. As it turns out she did post as Marianne, but there is only one post, directing people to this disturbing document called Red Queen. Having read this document, which all can do here utilizing the second pastebin link in the reference post below, I am not sure if this is a jest on her part or what have you, could this be serious? If it’s serious then this poor gel is in need of qualified medical attention, if it’s jest then I suppose she was trolling the Slymepit; that was her only post and she doesn’t seem to have any other posts nor any other names there, as well it’s not at all obvious whether she was banned or not, only that this was her only post on the Slymepit. If one reads down to the end of the Red Queen text, she puts the name ‘Simpleflower’ down there, and simpleflower, as I found out when I asked around, was an A Plus forum member that was only on A plus forums for 3 months or so, and the whole huggate incident saw the departure of that person from that forum, with nary a sign of her anywhere for months apparently, I checked in other places. If this so called Red Queen document is ‘true’ or what have you, and not some troll or Poe, then it’s certainly in line with this simpleflower person’s batshit persona, and let’s hope she gets some professional help very soon indeed. If it is, as I suspect, merely a troll, then it’s concluded the Slymepit has been trolled by this person and this was the only post, ostensibly, that they’ve ever made in the Slymepit, from what I can tell. I think it should be obvious by now this person has quite a few names online, to say the least.

    I am glad I could be of service, such as it is, but due to the unfriendly back and forth going on between our boards, I think it would be wise for me to exit now before I turn this diplomatic success into something less than such through my bumbling mouth.


    Original post in Slymepit can be found here by poster Marianne:

    The post itself, quoted in full:

    My manifesto:

    It is extremism, it is evil, it should be accomplished nonetheless. Sometimes the evil must be done that the good may come about; the inhumane accomplished to the end that the fundamentally inhumane be eradicated forever.

    My name is Molly, your toothpaste will burn through your tongue and teeth and your strawberry cheesecake is loaded with explosives 😆

  24. 78

    kacyray, being put into moderation means you get put on a short leash. It means I can’t trust you not to blow shit up in my absence, because you’ve abused that privilege in the past. I therefore won’t let things through until I approve each, and if it contains something I need to disagree with on moral or philosophical grounds or feel it makes an environment that is toxic to other commenters, I damn well won’t let it through until I have a chance to set the record straight.

    I misspoke before — posting “rights” on someone else’s blog is actually a privilege, not a right. If you’ve shown yourself to support damaging ideas that create a toxic environment, as you’ve done here by demanding rights to post unfettered in a post that explains very clearly that you have no such rights, nor the privilege to make those sorts of demands, then you’re going to get put in moderation.

    And yes, prodegtion is in the same boat. That’s why you won’t see any posts of his any more without a commensurate reply from me.

  25. 79

    parhelionsky: We may not agree about much else, but that Red Queen document is absolutely disturbing, yes. Killing all men is no more the answer to patriarchy than killing all white people is the answer to racism. And it’s self-defeating. I understand the sort of place this anger comes from — it’s obviously from a position of utter rage at otherwise being helpless — but it’s absolutely extremist and evil. At least she’s got that much introspection to admit it.

  26. 81

    Simpleflower/Rainbow Slushie/Marianne/Alyss also posted the Red Queen doc over on Pharyngula a while back on one of the Lounge threads, if I’m not mistaken.

    Raging Bee @ 62: I don’t know why you think she’s lying about being bullied/harassed online. For all that she ‘nym-morphs and posts disturbing screeds, there’s no reason to think she’s making that up.

  27. Oob

    I am in support of this message, with one qualifier. Scale changes everything.

    I can’t possibly call anyone running their own log a fascist for banning someone harassing people there (or just banning them for whatever arbitrary reason they like).

    However, scale that up to a big enough voice, and it has the potential to become “chilling”. If an ISP started kicking people off their service for stating views they disagreed with (in this case, maybe things like “I don’t like Verizon Wireless”), that could be considered silencing. If Youtube started taking down any and all videos criticizing religion or cultural sexism or Youtube’s blocking policies, we would rightly say THAT would be silencing behavior. I only bring up this qualifier to point out that there IS a limit, and that limit depends on scale. It’s one we shouldn’t forget and should bring up with these “critics” as examples of what actual silencing COULD look like in an online space. It is the difference between a local newspaper refusing to print certain editorials and a city ban on atheists posting anti-religious billboards.

    These are a set of small web logs though, and criticizing blocks here as fascism is ridiculous. It is a far cry from, say, a massive institution like Youtube that is effectively the ONLY available voice if you actually want people to WATCH your videos. EVEN THERE, it would only be Youtube itself that could be said to be “silencing” ideas. Individual Youtube account holders are a completely different matter, and banning commenters or even disallowing comments is certainly something anyone on Youtube should be free to exercise. So there it is. If you can argue that a comment section on ONE log is SO important to the public discourse that a ban there is tantamount to silencing, you have a point. Otherwise, you got nothing.

  28. 83

    At this point I realize that when I post and I get a message that says submitted for moderation, this isn’t “normal”. I guess I’m not trusted to “blow shit up” in Jason’s absence. I can’t imagine what I did. I understand that people on this board and A+ in general must get a LOT of flak and it can be very difficult to differentiate between criticism and attack as kaycray points out. I don’t remember “blowing shit up” anywhere else, then again maybe I’m misunderstanding the comment system.

    Also, reading through this thread, I thought it was pretty clear early on that RainbowSlushie’s had a HUGE chip on her shoulder that did not originate from…a particularly stable place.

  29. 85

    Oob: your qualifier is a good one. However, some people seem to think that if a single blog becomes high-enough traffic, then suddenly it shifts to a public utility instead of a community. The people most concerned about being “censored” seem to have either been banned at, or (more likely) laughed out of, Pharyngula’s comments section. (I say more likely because I’ve seen Pharyngula’s block list, and it’s smaller than most, even despite the hit count and number of return visitors.)

  30. 86

    cotton: Since a series of attacks by 4channers sympathetic to the antifeminist cause, I’ve turned on First Comment Moderation. That means if I’ve never approved a comment, your post will be held in moderation til I can clear it.

    When I discovered this was a really good way of stomping out all the spam that we’ve been getting, and that I don’t actually get all that many “new” commenters around these parts as compared to other blogs, I’ve found that it’s actually not a huge hassle for me to clear each commenter or comment. It also lets me directly challenge certain bad ideas that hit my comments *before* others get to see it and have them contribute to a hostile commenting environment for them. I throw people back into moderation if they have a history of making such comments after going “slow past the shields” and getting through my first post moderation before tossing hand grenades.

    Ultimately, my moderating style isn’t for everyone. I get that. But nobody gets to tell me that I have to do more work or allow more damage to my commenters. If you don’t like how I moderate, you can go elsewhere. There’s no need to climb up onto crosses preemptively. It doesn’t behoove atheists like us.

  31. Oob

    Thank you for saying so. The sorts of libertarian types that come and go here screaming about “oppression” have done a lot of damage in the form of the (justified) backlash against them. I sometimes fear that our own backlash becomes such quick sound bitey scripted comments (namely because their arguments are so scripted) that we can lose a sense of nuance, or at least fail to explain that nuance. They’ve been accusing us of some rather ridiculous strawmen for such a long time that, for at least a few commenters, it seems they’ve swallowed the bait and taken those strawmen as their own beliefs, when that’s simply not the case.

  32. 88

    Oob I tend to agree with you and the instinctive snarled reply, especially when repeated, can be an irritation in itself. However, thinking of the ftb blog this is most likely to happen on, while one or two will tend to respond with a snarl at the nth ad nauseum repeat of an oft refuted argument, invariably others will, initially at least, respond with a detailed refutation of said argument along with cites where relevant for the benefit of any lurkers, especially if the OP’s nym is a new one to the regulars. I.e. the three post rule that most regulars there adhere to where they will often take to task anyone ignoring that with someone who appears new to the blog. However, as is often the case, if the response by the OP is to either shift the goalposts and totally ignore the refutation or, another favourite move, concentrate on the one or two snarly responses, then as far as I am concerned it is open season on them.

  33. Oob

    I understand what you mean. I’ve been guilty of such things myself on my own “pet” issues, and honestly can understand those far more affected by other issues being justifiably emotional in their responses.

    The only problem is a sort of confusion of ideas that can crop up every now and then. These hit and run types will use these off the cuff remarks as representative of all of us and, perhaps purposefully, misrepresent an abbreviated version of our argument as the entirety of our point of view. I suppose that’s not our fault, it’s just something I occasionally worry about. As a result, I tend to be EXTREMELY wordy in my responses, giving way too much detail on what would normally be a simple point to make, namely just to avoid any misinterpretation. (Such as, I’ll say “none of us are saying that we should treat any accused as though they are guilty, we are saying that claims of a serious crime should be taken seriously and investigated seriously”, rather than something quicker but easier to misunderstand like “You should take a woman’s claim of rape seriously, because the vast majority of the time, they’re being honest!”. You wouldn’t think that’d be hard to misunderstand, but the constant string of outsiders saying we actually ARE saying all accused rapists are guilty has reached such a din that apparently they are misunderstanding it.)

    It’s all a mess sometimes, and so I often stay away from the comment sections of a few of the more populated places here. Worse, they happen to be my favorite logs, but I just don’t feel up for joining the mosh pit a lot of the time. I’m “easy going”, the sort that doesn’t respond with due urgency in an emergency. The advantage is I don’t panic, and the disadvantage is that I’m the most likely to still be in the building when it burns down. I have no idea how “initiative” works, is what I’m saying.

  34. 90

    Oob, I get what you’re saying, however, if I worried all the time how someone would misconstrue what I said, I would say nothing, Especially, as you probably know only too well, some people will twist even the mildest criticism into an all out attack on them, often deliberately, as they have no actual argument. But as for not getting involved beyond lurking and enjoying reading it, I can well understand as that aspect of the blog is not for everyone 🙂 and I occasionally step away for a while after a particularly fraught few days, even though I am only an occasional commenter there.

  35. 91

    @Delft #43: Yup, and keep talking at women in bars who are ignoring them or asking them to go away, etc. That sense of entitlement to the time, ears, experience, whatever of others is a pervasive aspect of cultural privilege that manifests in ways as disparate as rape culture, capitalism, trolling, cultural hegemony, racism, authoritarian legal systems, nationalism, authoritarian religions, conformity norms, and on and on.

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