How to be an ungrateful jerk

The title here is, of course, redundant. Ingratitude is the key to jerkery. If you want to be a total jerk, then you’re going to have to learn to cultivate ingratitude.

This is harder than it seems. Wherever you go, you will find yourself surrounded by and confronted with constant reminders — reasons, causes, demands — to be grateful. You must guard yourself against them. You’ll never achieve true jerkhood if you allow gratitude even the smallest toehold in your mind.

Becoming a world-class jerk is just like becoming a world-class athlete — it takes training, discipline and practice, practice, practice. Given time and determination, you can train yourself to convert even the most obvious demands for gratitude into occasions for obnoxious ingratitude.

Here we’ll just briefly look at four common hazards — four everyday potential summons to gratitude that you can learn to twist to your advantage.

1. Handicapped parking spaces.

Train yourself to complain about these. Keep the focus on you. Ask yourself: “Why should I have to park all the way back there when they get to park right by the door?” Try to perceive this as an intensely personal affront and nurture that sense of grievance. Try to think of the people who use these spaces as “lucky” — as privileged. Emphasize how this inconveniences you. Dwell on the extra 50 yards you had to walk. At all costs, do not allow yourself to acknowledge the disastrously gratitude-inducing fact that you can, in fact, walk those 50 yards, while others cannot.

2. Braille signs on ATMs and elevators.

Convince yourself that this is an unjustifiable inconvenience. Keep that thought as broad and vague as possible, since the presence of such signs can’t really be said to inconvenience you in any way. Try harrumphing something about “government bureaucrats” and “red tape.” That makes it sound like it must entail some additional cost of time or money, even if you never actually experience any such added cost. The mantra “your tax-dollars at work” can be useful here. Again, keep your focus there — on you and on your perceived inconvenience. And whatever you do, don’t allow that braille lettering to serve as a reminder that you can see while others can’t. That way lies the enemy — gratitude, empathy, and their bastard child, generosity.

3. Food allergy warnings.

They’re there on the menu at the restaurant and on the labels of much of the food you buy in the supermarket. The danger, yet again, is very real. You could easily see one of these omnipresent food allergy warnings and be prompted to recognize how difficult it must be for others to have to maintain a constant vigilance against peanuts or gluten or dairy products. Don’t allow that to happen. You want to sit around having sympathy for others’ hardships, feeling grateful that you’re privileged to be spared such challenges? Fine, you go ahead and do that — but you’ll never be a real jerk if you do. If you want to achieve jerkery, then you’ve got to turn that around. Don’t think, “Everywhere I turn I see these reminders of the difficulties others face,” but instead think, “Everywhere I turn I’m harrassed by these food allergy warnings. Give me a break, it’s like they’ll never leave me alone.” Again, keep the focus on you — you’re being inconvenienced, you’re being put upon, burdened, bled dry. If you can’t be bothered to complain unless you’ve got something substantial to complain about, then I’m forced to question your commitment to being a total jerk.

4. Trigger warnings on the Web

By this point the pattern should be clear. You should be able to recognize the dangers, and to apply the proper counter-measures. The danger, again, is that such reminders of the hurdles and challenges others face can prompt unwanted feelings of gratitude, empathy and generosity. And the response, again, is to avoid thinking about them and to keep the focus on you. Turn this into something to complain about. Train yourself to perceive the presence of such trigger warnings as an inconvenience, an affront, a burden, a personal insult. Resent them.

The theory is simple. The practice is hard. Being an ungrateful jerk is not for the lazy or the faint of heart. The perils of epiphany lurk around every corner. At any moment, you might see a handicapped parking space, a sign in braille or a trigger warning on a website and be overwhelmed with gratitude, empathy and generosity. But you’ll never be an ungrateful jerk if you let that happen.

 

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  • Donalbain

    Having read Guest’s comment and thought about it, I am going to agree. This post from Fred,  is something of a kick in the teeth.  I thought we were having a perfectly fine discussion about the range and scope of the need for trigger warnings. I don’t think anyone said that trigger warnings were a bad thing and should never happen. But suddenly, from above, it seems we are called jerks for disagreeing with the people from the other site. I’m now somewhat pissed off.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’d say the line of reasonable and oversensitive can probably be drawn within the boundary of “Do I really have to explain what this means?”

    Warning people that a discussion contents references to sexual abuse is reasonable. We all understand how this could cause a negative reaction in someone. We need no inside context, no forewarning about specific persons, no deeper understanding of the community. It goes without saying. That’s a good basis for a trigger, since it needs no further explanation. If you read it and say “Ah,” then it works.

    “Trigger warning: Ethics of Mind-Control.” Feel free to explain to me what this consists of and how it could offend an actual person. I’m struggling, I really am, and I generally try my best not to be too insensitive (because I’m largely incapable of being sensitive, so I have to fake it).

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    “Trigger warning: Ethics of Mind-Control.” Feel free to explain to me
    what this consists of and how it could offend an actual person.

    I last attempted to answer this question a few days ago, and it seems like as good a place to start as any.

    That said, I would not agree with the idea (which I’m not claiming you believe) that the person who chose to tag their own content with that advisory needs to justify that choice, or explain the events that led to it to me. If when all is said and done I do not understand how discussion of the ethics of mind-control could cause any actual person to suffer, that’s fine, I’m not required to understand everything… but if someone tells me that it has that effect on them, I still get to choose how to respond to that information, whether I understand it or not.

  • AnonymousSam

    My objection is one of efficiency and intuitiveness. If you have to explain the context behind an advisory, then the majority of people who see that advisory aren’t going to understand it. Chances are that someone who triggers on it probably won’t understand it either. O.o

    Symbolism only works as long as we can understand what the symbol represents, and similarly, shorthand functions the same way. Warnings are a form of shorthand from which we must not only understand the content, but the purpose, from shorthand or a symbol. If you look on the back of a bottle of bleach and see a skull, you understand that this means “Poisonous” and the context is “Don’t drink it, dummy.” Some of the trigger warnings I see have no easy explanation at all, and I think that means something has gone awry.

    Well, could still be worse. Imagine this:

    “Trigger Warning: Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If you have to
    explain the context behind an advisory, then the majority of people who
    see that advisory aren’t going to understand it.

    Sure, I expect that’s true.

    Chances are that
    someone who triggers on it probably won’t understand it either. O.o

    I find this really unlikely. Can you clarify your reasons for believing it?
    At the very least, if I’m including it at the request of someone who requested it, it seems pretty likely that that person understands it.

    Some of the trigger warnings I see have no easy explanation at all, and I think that means something has gone awry.

    Perhaps something has.
    Or perhaps some things just aren’t easy to explain, and nothing has gone awry at all.

    Incidentally, roughly what percentage of the trigger warnings you encounter would you say fall into this “not easily explainable and therefore awry” category?

  • AnonymousSam

    Any statistics I could give wouldn’t be worth the price of tea in China, since my experience with preemptive advisories in official capacity is limited. Then again, I recall either a movie or game that had been rated with an advisory of “Thematic Imagery” which I still have yet to decipher…

    I feel the idea here works best as a convention among a group of people who initiated it, but not so much if people unused to the concept are frequently dropping in unannounced. The example above would seem to illustrate this — we can speculate what “mind-control ethics” might mean, but the fact that no one seems to know for certain what it means is probably a good indication that something is wrong.

    How can you avoid disturbing someone if you can barely understand what it is that upsets them without someone flat out telling you what upsets them, and making a huge debacle out of what was intended for them to be able to take on under their own terms?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    * chuckle * Yeah, “Thematic Imagery” is pretty opaque. And Google doesn’t seem to help on that one. I expect it would make more sense given the context of the game/movie — e.g., if it’s based on Dante’s Inferno, I’d expect hell-themed imagery, etc. Of course, I’d expect that without the warning as well; it sounds more like a legal CYA gesture than anything else.

    Agreed that the whole approach works best within a community with some persistence; the more transient membership is, the harder it is to have any sort of convention for communicating… well, much of anything, really.

    How can you avoid disturbing someone if you can barely understand what it is that upsets them without someone flat out telling you what upsets them

    I can’t, obviously. If I don’t understand the problem, I can avoid it only by chance.

    OTOH, if someone does tell me, I can do my best to listen. And in the meantime, I can do my best to make it safe for people to tell me.

    , and making a huge debacle out of what was intended for them to be able to take on under their own terms?

    I’m not sure I understood that part. Certainly, if someone telling me publicly how they’d prefer I treat them is likely to create a huge debacle, that’s a problem… is that what you mean? If so, I guess I’d start by suggesting we talk privately.

  • AnonymousSam

    Can’t remember WHERE I saw “Thematic Imagery” specifically. I went hunting on my shelves and haven’t turned up anything, but I think I still have it, wherever it was. Not that mocking the MPAA or ESRB is challenging enough to warrant seeking a specific example, usually. <.<

    What I mean is that if the person's sensibilities are sensitive enough to a particular subject that it warrants forewarning no matter how specific it may be, they probably don't want to see a thread get derailed with people trying to explain to a newcomer why that item specifically is to be given such consideration. Much like what we've done with the "ethics of mind-reading" — can you imagine anyone not having to stop and give that extra attention, not out of caution and respect, but out of bewildered curiosity?

    The whole thing puts to mind a scenario I once dealt with. As a child, for my birthday, I was given a toy which responded to voices uttering specific words and phrases. To turn it off, however, you had to be completely silent for a period of about thirty seconds until it switched off by itself. Thirty seconds isn’t all that much time, but try telling that to someone without speaking loud enough to set it off and reset the timer. It would have been far more amusing had it not been me.

    The problem was, explaining to them that we had to be quiet for just a few seconds was really hard when, since they wouldn’t stop interrupting me in increasingly irritated, loud voices, they kept setting it off (causing it to chirp out questioning phrases) which in turn made them keep getting louder and louder as they demanded that I turn it off.

    I picture obscure trigger warnings as being the same way: If it warrants forewarning to avoid setting off someone’s nerves, they probably won’t appreciate the entire conversation being derailed when a newcomer finally has to ask, “What exactly is this?” and needs the story explained before it makes a lick of sense.

    Doesn’t help when a lot of places (such as this one) have no form of private messaging system. The only way we can take a conversation private is for one of us to give out our e-mails, and that’s something that I do not do casually, thanks to the abundance of trolls, spambot trawlers and the like.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Ah, I see.

    Sure, I certainly agree that if I’m sensitive to a subject, having to tolerate an endless parade of new people each of whom insists on a public explanation of my sensitivities would probably suck, in more or less the way you describe.

    Indeed, depending on the community it might well be worse than just keeping my mouth shut, letting people talk about whatever they want to talk about, and hoping the things I’m sensitive to just don’t come up often (and sucking it up in private when they d0).

    Which I expect is what most people in that situation actually do. Lord knows it’s what I would do in that situation (hypothetically speaking).

    Mostly, my takeaway from that is twofold: first, that I ought not insist on such explanations, and second, that I should stay aware that anyone I’m talking to might be dealing with trauma that I have no knowledge of, and no right to any knowledge of.

  • AnonymousSam

    Generally what I try to do, though the handicap I have to overcome is understanding motivations in those eventualities that I can’t follow someone’s emotional reasoning. Traumatic linkage is one of those factors that makes my life harder since it can introduce an emotional response to something that, to me, seems completely mundane. Here I am, having a perfectly ordinary conversation about durians and someone bursts into tears! It ain’t easy being a sociopath.

    (All joking aside, I do have difficulty understanding people sometimes [because my APD is quite real], and things like this make it even harder. Being expected to anticipate someone’s traumatic experiences with durians would just ruin any last ounce of pleasure I get out of socializing. I want to be considerate of people’s feelings, but to a reasonable extent!)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    For what it’s worth, I don’t expect you to do anything in particular. I wouldn’t even were you neurotypical, and still less do I expect you to do things your APD makes even more difficult for you to do.  I’ve tried throughout this thread to make any statements about what anyone but me ought to do; if I’ve slipped up on that I apologize, and if the slip-up is pointed out to me I’ll probably retract it specifically.

    All of that said, I’m curious: let’s suppose I had a traumatic experience surrounding durians, and as a consequence of that references to durian trigger panic attacks. And here I am in a conversation with you, and you pull out durian as an example, and I start twitching.

    Now, it’s absolutely clear in this hypothetical example that you did not behave at all badly as a function of my hypothetical issues around durian, which you have absolutely no way of knowing about. It’s clear that if anyone chooses to chastise you or attack you or make you feel bad about your behavior on that basis, they’re at best confused. But, all of that said and freely and fully acknowledged, and while keeping firmly in mind that there are no special expectations of you in this hypothetical example and you incur no moral culpability and you’re a fine upstanding human being who is doing his best to be a decent, wonderful member of this community and succeeding admirably…

    …what ought I (hypothetically) do?

    It seems to me the best I can do is either quietly ignore it and hope you’ll drop the example, or (if I don’t expect that to work) to say something like “Would you mind using a different example? I kind of have issues with durians.”

    And it seems that the best I can hope for, if I do say something, is that you’ll respond by using a different example. But that if instead, you ask me lots of questions about my relationship to durians, or lots of other people chime in with such questions, well, that’s just the way it is, and I ought not expect them to do anything different, and I certainly ought not do anything that might make them feel bad about that or might suggest that they’re behaving inappropriately.

    Is that your understanding of the (hypothetical) situation as well?

  • AnonymousSam

    I can’t presume to tell you what you should do — unless you’re asking what you should do if you were interacting with me specifically, how best to call attention to the fact that I’ve inadvertently said something to cause this. I’m not liable to take offense to any particular form of calling it to my attention that isn’t with a nail-embedded 2×4 (I draw the line there, sir!), but I would recommend immediacy, rather than trying to ignore it. I’ve had my too-human occasions when I simply didn’t get it, but generally, I’d rather know up front.

    The thing is, despite not having much in the way of what I understand to be a conscience, I do remember things and apply current knowledge against past assumptions. If I realize I’ve been making an ass of myself without knowing it, the one I’ll be angry at is myself.

    If you’re asking in a hypothetical sense with a hypothetical person other than myself, then it would depend on your relationship to that person and too many factors I couldn’t hope to address. It might be my egocentricity speaking, but when in doubt, I usually recommend immediacy anyway, depending on to what degree you can field the inevitable curiosity. If it’s bothering you, it’s bothering you — more so if it’s an actual traumatic experience.

    I have a phobia that’s difficult to explain, not particularly rational, and I have difficulty justifying it to others — but when it boils down to it, damn it, I’m not about to abide the presence of what sets it off and I don’t expect anyone else to torture themselves either. Sometimes you just have to say “I know it doesn’t make sense to you, but I’m the one who’s suffering from it.”

  • arcseconds

     hey, AnonymousSam, I’m always impressed by people with APD who make a huge effort to deal with people reasonably anyway.  It actually gives me a lot of hope for the human race in general.

    dunno if this helps at all, but as far as I can see, everyone gets baffled by other people’s emotional responses from time to time.  if someone says they don’t, I’d suspect that they either haven’t had much experience of people, or they’re so completely insensitive they never notice when things have gone off the rails.  so while clearly you’ve got a lot more difficulties in this area than average, most people can relate to the circumstance of having someone upset and having no idea why.

  • AnonymousSam

    We’re all in it together. I might not have much capacity for empathy, but I know that my own abilities are insufficient to get through life on my own, and if I want any hope of being able to ask for help, then I have to do my part and offer help to others in whatever capacity is asked. Only by mutual cooperation can we improve the quality of life for everyone, ourselves included. I’ve always felt a sense of bitter irony that I (a literal sociopath) understand that, but it feels like our ruling class in America has not only never considered the idea, but thinks that short-term gain trumps long-term profitability.

    Tying it to a comment made by someone on the previous page, it feels like the “harsh world” philosophy is the antithesis of my own understanding of intrinsic obligations — it’s the dismissal of responsibility for improving life by fiat. “Life will never improve no matter how many people try, so I sure as hell won’t bother doing anything for you.” Those people can eat a bag of– ahem.

    Nine thousand and one romantic comedies have revolved around the central theme of emotions being unpredictable and nonsensical, but it always feels like the world just became unhinged when it happens in actual discourse. I know it happens to almost everybody, but I always can’t help but think, “You’d hate this if I did it to you, so why are you doing it to me? ._.”

    Since I left the previous post rather vague and implicating, my triggers include hostility toward others and treatment of them like some sort of subhuman class based on summary dismissal of their perspective. It’s not a fear response per se, but my flight-or-fight reflexes are oversensitive, thanks to personal experiences. Some of the blogs I would otherwise frequent have a tendency to get downright vicious (when they’re not just making adolescent snipes), so curiously, I find myself more comfortable here than in, say, FriendlyAtheist, where even a Christian making a random blessing in praise of a point made by Hemant is liable to be descended upon by packs of dogs. -_-

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I always can’t help but think, “You’d hate this if I did it to you, so why are you doing it to me? ”

    Yeah, I struggle with this a lot.

    My usual answer, when I am doing something to someone that I wouldn’t want done to me and am faced with this question, is “Because they deserve it.”

    I try to at least be aware that giving this answer obligates me to be ruthlessly honest with myself about what they actually deserve and why. If I can’t be honest about that, I have no business handing out punishments. (It doesn’t obligate me to be correct, as that’s not an obligation I can reliably discharge. Merely honest. That’s usually hard enough, and I fail more often than I succeed.)

    We all of us deserve Paradise, we none of us deserve the least crust of bread, or however that quote goes.

  • Joe Smith

     I’m confused.  You have APD, but you are also concerned about peoples feelings?  Is that a thing?  Genuinely curious.

  • AnonymousSam

    It’s difficult to explain why without coming across like… well, a
    heartless sociopath. But yes, for various reasons, some of which are
    purely selfish, like “if I aggravate the wrong people, I may get hurt.” I
    like to think that I’m concerned with the state of the future and have
    compensated for my lack of empathy with a sense of connection with other
    people. I’ve come to understand that mutual cooperation will get us a lot further than everyone pushing and shoving to be first in line, regardless of actual feelings for one-another.

    Try watching Hell’s Kitchen. The men’s team almost each and every season is full of people who fist-bump and shout and holler and cheer, but lose almost every single night. Meanwhile, the women’s team is full of vindictive, evil wenches who backstab and plot against each other, but win almost every single night because the moment the night starts, they shut up and start working together. That’s kind of how I view myself: Individually capable of great evil, but by necessity, part of a whole which I should work to the best of my ability to improve, as much for my own sake as everyone else’s.

    Granted, when I was younger, I was bad. Really bad. Exactly the diagnosis, although back then, it’d have been classified as conduct disorder. Over time, I’ve trained myself to resist bad habits and be conscious of my impulsiveness so that I don’t do something I may regret later and now I’d be classified as nomadic antisocial, which is less “Disney villain come to life” and more “the hell are these emotion things anyway? they’re squishy.”

  • Joe Smith

     Thanks for replying, Sam.  This is fascinating. 

  • ako

    I don’t know about that. It seems like you don’t necessarily need to know the whole in-depth context behind the trigger warning. If someone requests a trigger warning for feet, then there are certain things I need to know (I need to understand the basic concept of trigger warnings, and where the line is between a non-triggering use of the word “feet” and a triggeringly graphic description), but I don’t need to know why they find it triggering. I may want to know, I may wonder exactly why they have that reaction, but I don’t need to. What I need to know is what sort of foot-references merit a warning, and hearing the details of their personal trauma isn’t the only way to accomplish this.

  • AnonymousSam

    What if the warning was “euclidean geography”? What would instantly go through my head is “Is that to be taken literally, is it in reference to something, is it a euphemism, or what?”

    It’s hard to tell what it is you’re supposed to avoid mentioning if you don’t know what it is

  • ako

    I think asking for clarification is good and legitimate. I think people asking for clarification often do better if they’re careful about how these requests are phrased, so it sounds more like “I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this. Could someone give me an idea of what types of topics can be covered?” and can’t easily be misconstrued as “Tell me the details of your personal trauma if you want me to respect your request!” Because then the person in question has more options – sharing their personal history, explaining in some other way, offering a link to more information, letting someone else who knows the story explain, etc. Basically, it’s better if people don’t feel trapped into either having their triggers ignored or having to divulge a bit of particularly painful personal history.

    I also think the atmosphere is better if anything that could reasonably be seen as a good-faith request for clarification is treated as such. And if it’s an effort to have to explain to new people, it might be better to keep a bit of prepared text or a link to a good definition handy, instead of being all “Do I really have to explain this for the millionth time?” at someone who wasn’t there for any of the previous explanations.

    Sadly, I don’t know of any way to create a perfect system when it comes to trigger warnings, and even a relatively good system requires the presumption of good faith all around to function optimally, something that’s hard to maintain on the internet. There really isn’t a good way to handle things if people don’t start from a position of mutual trust.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I can’t remember things if I don’t know the context. It was already difficult for me to do before I started needing to take strong painkillers that hurt my memory, but now it is literally impossible. My brain just does not work that way. I would need a story of why or how something triggered someone to remember it. A list I could remember to refer to before posting would probably work, but it would have to be updated by someone else, because without context, the fact of the trigger would not stay in my brain long enough to make it to a list. 

    Remembering everything every single commenter said triggered them, without context? Not just improbable, because who the heck can remember every single comment even if they read all of them in the first place, but literally impossible.

  • ako

     So it sounds like having a list would be the best solution all around?  Because that sounds like a solution that doesn’t require you to do anything you’re not capable of doing, and doesn’t obligate people with triggers to share potentially painful personal stories.  

    (If the list option is not practical, I’m not sure what would be the best approach.  I’m certainly not in favor of putting you in a situation where you’re obligated to do something you simply can’t do, or faulted for not doing it.  I also don’t think it would be good to put anyone in a “If you want to get trigger warnings for that, you have to share your personal trauma on a publicly-readable part of the internet” situation.)

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     FWIW, not that I normally comment on the ‘verse, but I completely agree that a list would be fair and desirable. That way, both newcomers and people who don’t spend their entire lives keeping up with the details would have a chance to make a good-faith effort to avoid causing harm. Without a list, it’s like tiptoeing through a minefield.

  • LMM22

    Remembering everything every single commenter said triggered them, without context? Not just improbable, because who the heck can remember every single comment even if they read all of them in the first place, but literally impossible.

    Memory palaces. :)

    … definitely not worthwhile in this case, but, from what I’ve heard, they were constructed in part to get around such issues. (A la XKCD’s “correct horse staple battery.”)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I don’t even know how that could possibly work, especially as every single Occlumency fic in the HP fandom has Harry deciding he’s REAAAAAALLLLY gonna work on it nao and

    guess what

    the frakkin’ Hogwarts Memory Palace where he somehow effortlessly organizes the mental representation of his thoughts into different parts.

    For me, I can’t visualize my memories like that at all. They have no discernible equivalent physical representation in my mind at all. Like, I can’t say, “Oh, that memory has the representation of a beach ball, so I’ll categorize that into beach-ball memories.”

  • LMM22

    For me, I can’t visualize my memories like that at all. They have no discernible equivalent physical representation in my mind at all.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily an innate ability. Memory palaces are a lost art form, really — a few people use them, but they’re no long necessary.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Years ago, I used to date this girl who had a lot of socialization problems. She suffered from a kind of worn-in visciousness that comes from having been dealt an unfair hand often enough that you feel justified in taking whatever you can get your hands on (She literally stole $200 from me, and never even hinted that she had any comprehension that she’d done anything wrong)

    Anyway, she was from a broken home. Her father was abusive when she was young.  His favorite song was “Mac The Knife”.  

    Whenever that song came on, she’d have to leave the room. She’d sort of seize up and tremble.

    None of this explains what “Trigger Warning: Ethics of Mind Control” is about. But I hope  the story illustrates why  “Trigger Warning: Mac The Knife” is not outside the bounds of possibility

  • AnonymousSam

    Surely, but then I would argue that this only works when you have in-depth knowledge of the context of the warning. And eventually… I think having to keep that specific example in mind and expecting that others intuitively understand its purpose and function with new people coming and going all the time would eventually cripple communication.

    I would think that at some point, one just has to accept that outside of subjects with a common understanding of taboo nature, one is going to run into things which are liable to provoke a negative reaction despite the best efforts of everyone to avoid doing just that. It’s inevitable. One apologizes and moves on. When it’s incorporated into the structure of a community, however, that has a tendency to turn an innocent mishap into a grievous and deliberate attack. “How could you not know this? It’s practically rule number one! WARN. US. BEFORE. YOU. MENTION. LIMBURGER. ASSHOLE.”

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I agree that apologizing and moving on is the right response when I discover I’ve inadvertently hurt someone, and I agree that doing so occasionally is inevitable. I also agree that using such inadvertent injuries as excuses to deliberately attack people is a bad thing.

    That said, it’s hard for me to come up with anything that some people don’t use as an excuse to attack others. It seems more reasonable to object to the attacks, not the thing being used as an excuse.
     

  • caryjamesbond


    Really? After pages of Cary shrieking BWAHAHA in a way that would get the villain in a vaudeville performance told to tone down the mustache-twirling, and others (prominently including you) generally sniping in the Slacktiverse’s direction in a less over-the-top way?

    Hey, that wasn’t at the slacktiverse!  That was at mmy, kit and Izzy, or as I like to think of them, the Three Stooges.  (Izzy is Moe, btw)

    As a matter of fact, pretty much all comment beyond ‘Lord, it can get toxic over there’ (which is something the ‘versers themselves have been commenting on) has focused on how Kit, mmy and Izzy have treated people. 

    Turns out not everyone worships your holy triumvirate, and some of us find them pretty unpleasant.  When I’ve said anything one tenth as harsh about them as they have about me and others (I’ve never accused them of being “potential abusers of women” like Kit once said to FC for disagreeing with her dating advice ) I’ll consider toning it down. Until then- I can only dream of achieving the same level of overreaction as Kit demonstrates to the slightest disagreement. 

  • aunursa

    I can only dream of achieving the same level of overreaction as Kit demonstrates to the slightest disagreement.

    Oh, that brings back memories (from before the split.)

  • Beroli

    I don’t know why you’re calling the Slacktiverse “my place,” Donalbain. Actually, seeing what’s going on there now, I suspect I’m done commenting there for good.

    Whether I am or not, I hope it doesn’t impair my ability to recognize laughable bullshit when someone peddles it.

  • Donalbain

     Whether I am or not, I hope it doesn’t impair my ability to recognize laughable bullshit when someone peddles it.

    OK.. I give in. Obviously you are right. None of us want people to be happy in the Slacktiverse. And now you will be able to find the quotes where anyone said any such thing.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I am severely uncomfortable with the attacking of Kit Whitfield that’s going on here. Especially when so much of it is men being sarcastic about being called out on sexism. You don’t have to be a rape apologist or anti-abortion activist to say something sexist. I used to call women who slept around “sluts” until about 7 years ago, even though I have been a feminist for over 20 years. Our culture is sexist and we are all infected by it. When someone calls you out on sexism or racism or ablesim or etc., the best thing to do is go cool off, no matter how they’ve called you out. Maybe they were wrong. But maybe not.

    Fwiw, I don’t like the way the Slacktiverse is run, and I have seen the moderators there do and say things that I found appalling. But just because they can be wrong, that does not mean that they are always wrong. It also doesn’t mean it’s right to personally attack one of them over here. I don’t want this to start feeling like the cool kids’ table — feeling like the cool kids’ table is one thing I dislike about the Slacktiverse.

  • aunursa

    You’re right.   I should not have posted that comment.  I apologize.  And I have deleted my comment.

  • Donalbain

    You know what? I give the fuck up. This was a happy(ish) community until someone dared to criticise the Holy Infallible Slacktiverse (Praise be unto Kit). Now it has become EXACTLY what made me glad we WEREN’T the Slacktiverse. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. I’ll see if the bullshit has died down then.

  • Guest

    I feel ya. 

    A break would be nice. 

  • caryjamesbond


    Incidentally, roughly what percentage of the trigger warnings you encounter would you say fall into this “not easily explainable and therefore awry” category?

    Overall?  Very, very few.  Which is pretty much what this discussion has boiled down to, those (like me) who think we should try to triggerwarn for the big ones that cover 95% of the people who have triggers, and those who think we should try to compile an exhaustive list of all triggers for everyone in the community which it will be mandatory to consult before making a comment more in depth than “gee, nice weather we’re having here in Spokane.” 

    Trigger warnings: extreme stuff Ie suggestions for trigger warnings…rape/sexual assault
    violence
    Death
    Child abuse
    Extreme nuking (of the “YOU FUCKING SHITEATER I HOPE YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY DIES AND ROTS IN HELL WHILE YOU WATCH) variety.Graphic sexual descriptions
    Extremely outre sexual acts- discussions of pedophilia, bestiality, and the more extreme forms of BDSM. IE: not, “tie me up and spank me” BDSM but “stick needles through body parts” BDSM.*****End warnings:****Actually, I’d like to hear from Lliira on this one- I argued that discussion of the more extreme forms of BDSM may be something we want to trigger warn for. Like, you know.  REALLY extreme.  How would “TW: Extreme BDSM” that make you feel, if you don’t mind me asking?Between those, I’d guess we’d catch the vast majority of triggers.  Perhaps we could put up a warning that these are the only things we trigger warn for, thus alerting anyone else with other triggers to be forewarned?  But that’s a list of seven things, only four of which are common, that would sucessfully protect a whole slew of people, I think.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Cool. I share your sense that the “hard-to-understand-and-therefore-something-has-gone-awry” stuff is a pretty small subset of the content warnings on the Web, despite the fact that it’s what most of the conversation seems to be about. I agree that it would be profitable to focus on it less.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Are you acknowledging that words have impact now?

    Regarding BDSM, what’s extreme for one person is another person’s Tuesday. Some things I do have in fact been called “extreme” or something only someone unhealthy would do or etc. (Psychologically, not physically, but I really don’t want to get into it.) Every single person I know in my little sex-talking internet community has posted something that totally squicks me out, BDSM or not. Some of what any of us do are things that could trigger people, and I understand why, and I don’t want to do that. But seeing it after a trigger warning implies it’s bad, and that does hurt. Even when the person writing the trigger warning doesn’t mean to imply that, all those memories of all the times BDSM has been called evil and wrong and oppressively patriarchal and etc. come up.

    Trigger warning: tomatoes, say, wouldn’t have the same implications of badness, because people who like tomatoes are not told that we are bad and wrong and psychologically unhealthy and hurting feminism and hurting ourselves and causing rape (from some feminists) and justifying rape (from a whole lot of rape cheerleaders) and yada yada. But straight submissive women in BDSM are told they are bad and wrong all the damn time, and nearly everywhere. Except when they’re being told they’re submissive because they’re women, which is at least as hurtful.

    So, not wanting to hurt other people and also not wanting to be hurt myself, CONTENT NOTE. Or rutabagas.

  • Launcifer

    Dude… seriously? I don’t want to pick a fight, but I find a phrase like “extreme BDSM” threatening and somewhat insulting and it’s not even my neck of the woods, as it were. I’d personally go with something like “content note” if only because it’s lacking the blatant value judgment inherent in your own suggestion.

  • Anton_Mates

     

    IE: not, “tie me up and spank me” BDSM but “stick needles through body parts” BDSM.

    Isn’t that coverable by “Trigger warning: needles/injury/bloodletting” or something like that?  Or “needles in uncomfortable places,” if the important thing is which body part?  I don’t really see why the warning needs to invoke BDSM at all, unless some readers are known to be particularly freaked out by the presence of a sexual aspect, in which case you could do a BDSM content note as well.

    Agreed with a few others that “extreme BDSM” is both a value judgment and pretty uselessly vague.

  • Guest

    “I argued that discussion of the more extreme forms of BDSM may be something we want to trigger warn for. Like, you know.  REALLY extreme.  How would “TW: Extreme BDSM” that make you feel, if you don’t mind me asking?”

    Not Lliira, but that would bother me. Your idea of REALLY extreme BDSM might be my Tuesday night. What would “extreme” mean in that context, who decides, and no matter what, isn’t it stigmatizing? 

    This is one of several reasons I think “content notes” works better. So that people don’t have to see parts of their identity listed after the word “WARNING” and classed with things like sexual assault.

    Another reason: you get a lot less of people questioning “How could that be a trigger?” or “Are you mocking triggers with this warning?” if you label with “content notes” or “content advisory” followed by a list of topics. It also sidesteps a lot of questions about what needs warning for. If you routinely give notes for anything that’s majorly touched on in posts/comments, there’s less of a need to memorize everyone’s unique triggers. Plus it covers lurkers and readers who haven’t disclosed their triggers. “Contents: sandwich-making, BDSM, clowns, mention of a house fire” is easier for a new reader to understand than a “warning” about those four things, which might provoke questions about why sandwiches need to be warned for. It potentially protects more people, and as a bonus it’s also useful for people who just aren’t interested in, or are particularly interested in, kinky clown sandwich-making.

  • Guest

    Heh. Still not Lliira, I swear, even though we used the exact same ‘your extreme might be someone else’s Tuesday’– even the same day! Did we both pick that up from somewhere else? I’ve forgotten…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Heh. Still not Lliira, I swear, even though we used the exact same ‘your
    extreme might be someone else’s Tuesday’– even the same day! Did we
    both pick that up from somewhere else? I’ve forgotten…

    Possibly the memetastic “For me it was Tuesday” speech from the Street Fighter movie.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think I picked it up from a comment on Slutopia’s critique of 50 Shades of Grey.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I may think certain trigger warnings are absurd. That said, the TWs were issued, clearly someone doesn’t want to read the material so that’s why the warning was made.

    I value TWs as generally useful, and that’s all I really want to say on the subject.

  • Joshua

    Since you say you don’t want to say more on this subject, I understand if you choose not to reply or carry on a conversation. However, for anyone else reading this far:

    the TWs were issued, clearly someone doesn’t want to read the material so that’s why the warning was made.

    I have found this in not always the case, either in general or in the specific case that is coming up repeatedly in these threads. Ana Mardoll, on her blog, has stated that she likes to put content notes just on the off-chance, in case it helps somebody. (My phrasing.) And good for her. Slacktiverse seems to translate those into trigger warnings, in accordance with the norms there. OK. It will therefore often be the case that no-one ever asked for a particular warning, or felt that they needed one.

    The Ethic of Mind Control warning appears to be in this category. I admit I haven’t read every comment on her blog, and may have missed something, but I think I did read the conversation, or argument, that led to that note. No-one I read asked for that particular warning, it seems to be just on the off-chance.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

    I find it ironic to realize that what triggers me is the kind of unclear but threatening-feeling policies that the Verse has just announced (which is a kind of predictable result of a childhood spent learning that the rules were random, punitive, and contradictory, to be invoked whenever an adult was in a bad mood). Not the Versers fault; but I’m going to have to watch and wait to see how they’re applied.

  • Beroli

     

    Not the Versers fault; but I’m going to have to watch and wait to see how they’re applied.

    I think what just happened in the now-locked “Marchons, marchons” thread there was…telling. And I’ve just deleted the Slacktiverse from my bookmarks, myself.

  • Caravelle

    I’m mostly mad that the last comment before the cut is an asynchronous throwaway reply I made to Chris, and one I now regret to boot. I had an awesome semi-flounce to follow but I tried to post it too late.
    And now I’ve been unable to sleep and my cute one-liner has blossomed into a depressingly serious wall of text. I hope I’ll get to post at least that tomorrow, but it probably won’t do any good to my blood pressure, or that of anyone I’m responding to.

  • Alex B

    now-locked? Most recent post is 2 mins ago

  • Beroli

     

    now-locked? Most recent post is 2 mins ago

    Is it? *goes through the sidebar links and looks* No, still locked, most recent post there three hours ago, consisting of TBAT explaining that its not being locked after they said they locked it was because they hit the wrong button.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    I think what just happened in the now-locked “Marchons, marchons” thread there was…telling.

    It pretty much confirmed for me that the things that drove me away in the first place are well-ensconced.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    oh THAT one, I thought you were talking about this one. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Joshua

    Whether Fred decides to write a list of desirable content warnings for commenters to follow is obviously up to him, but I personally would be interested to know whether anyone here has personally experienced a PTSD-like reaction to a comment that could have been avoided if the commenter had used a warning or note.

    I mean, I’d hate to do that to someone, and would like to do my part to ensure I don’t in the future. I would also like to know that whatever custom we adopt is actually solving a concrete problem that the previous customs did not. I mean, this doesn’t strike me as a community which habitually dumps this kind of stuff on people now, even if we do do things differently to other blogs. But I’m just one person and I don’t read all the comments.

    I realise that the tail-end of a long comment thread may not be the best place to make such a request, and that no-one has any particular duty to cater to my request anyway, but it strikes me as relevant.

  • caryjamesbond

    Ok, BDSM retracted.

    Look. This isn’t the ‘verse.  Most notably- this isn’t OUR blog.  This is Fred’s blog.  And while the commentators on the ‘verse are FINE with their community not growing, I’m gonna guess Fred, ultimately, wants this place getting bigger. More regular readers, more comments- its good for his life.  I’d hope that someday he’d want to publish a book- having a popular blog is a fantastic route to that.  I don’t know what his deal with Patheos is, but I suspect having more readers doesn’t hurt.  More people who might drop a dime in the tip jar. More readers because that’s part of why people HAVE blogs.

    In other words- we just hang around here. And if we start with long lists of more and less obscure things that you have to check before commenting, it is going to strongly discourage the wide open, wide ranging sort of debates that is a significant part of the reason people come here. This is a point they raised on Slacktiverse- whatever the ‘verse is, its has the distinct primary goal of being some form of “safe space.”  (And honestly, that phrase irritates me, because it carries inherent value judgement that if we aren’t doing what they do, we’re “unsafe.”)  We are not.  This isn’t a “safe space.”

    Which leads to people like Ross going “Well, you just want to spit in their faces while triggering them, DON’T YOU???” Which, no.  Any more than a bike manufacturer wants to break kids arms.  But that is a thing that sometimes happens when you ride bikes. And yeah, you could say “YOU EVIL BASTARD DON’T YOU KNOW KIDS BREAK THEIR ARMS WITH YOUR PRODUCT??? MAKE IT SAFER!” And what do you do?  I mean “making a cool bike” ain’t in it with “breaks kids arms.” So you make it safer, and it goes slower, and it has training wheels and foam and this and that and…no one wants your bike, because 99% of the kids just want to ride around fast.

    So if we put our heads together, we’ll get a list of probably- ten items, at most.  That will cover 95% of people’s triggers. Easy to remember, does a lot of good. But beyond that, we’re talking about very specific, personal things that trigger one person.  Which is fine, if that one person is someone you know personally. But there are hundreds of people who read this blog and hopefully, as time goes on, there will be hundreds, if not thousands more. Any comprehensive list we try to generate will very, very quickly become far to large to be effective.  

    At what point are people just gonna go “fuck it, I just want to post a damn comment about buck and Chloe, I’m not cross checking my comment against”…20 items?  30?  40? What about when its a list of 100 separate things from “rape” to “feet” to “chickens” to “clowns” to “fire” to….

    What is more, to make this at all effective, it takes significant, constant, moderator input. Like Shakesville and the ‘Verse have, for better or worse. Because otherwise, people come in, don’t trigger warn, and then, what? We yell at them?  Again, and again, and again?  No more discussions- just whoever is left constant cross checking every new comment against a LOOOONG list to look and see if they have to call someone out, not to mention people who think that because their trigger is on THE LIST, they won’t have to stumble across it.  Is Fred gonna start moderating? Are we gonna elect mods?

    And I’ve no doubt that Ross will just go “AH HA! You care more about your precious comment threads than people’s agony!”  But the reason people want to come here at all, triggers or no triggers, is because this is an interesting place.  Not just Fred’s posts, but the fascinating, obscure, twisting comment threads that range from graduate level ethical debates to silly song contests.  And if we go from a community where unfettered discussion is the goal to one where never triggering anyone is the goal,  discussion just…dies off.  Because, yeah. Discussion as an issue ain’t in it with PTSD flashbacks.  But people want discussion too. 

    Lemme try this another way-There’s this book I read when I was younger, about a kid who gets blinded, and goes to a school for the blind. And on his first day, the new headmaster takes him by the hand, into the main hallway, and shows him this place where there is a sharp corner of marble on a mantle piece, right at head height. 

    And the kid goes “Shouldn’t you put a piece of padding on that?”

    And the teacher says: “No. The world isn’t going to pad its corners for you.”

    Do I want to trigger anyone? No. Will I do it deliberately? No. Will I take reasonable precautions to avoid it? Yes.  But this isn’t a place where every corner is padded, and for anyone to expect that, outside of spaces like Shakesville and the ‘verse that explicitly say “every corner is padded,” is unrealistic. And we shouldn’t catch flack for just wanting a place where we can have interesting discussions without having to cross check a list every time we want to post.

  • Caravelle

    And the kid goes “Shouldn’t you put a piece of padding on that?”And the teacher says: “No. The world isn’t going to pad its corners for you.”
    The world won’t obligingly show you in advance all the bits of it that can potentially split your head open either.

    Sorry, I just hate all “the world is a harsh place, therefore schools and home environments should be too” arguments. Not only does it make for shitty schools and home environments, it completely misses the point of how humans actually work (namely, unsafe childhoods do not make for stronger, more resilient adults; if anything it’s very much the opposite).
    I’m fine with having a limit to how safe we make schools, nobody wants to live in a padded cell, but “the world is a harsh place” is a terrible argument in that conversation.
    I’m not saying anything about trigger warnings, I just hate that particular example. Yes, that was a total tangent that’s mostly irrelevant to anything but my pet peeves. Sorry bout that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Have trigger warnings ever even been an issue on this blog before?  Maybe I’ve missed something.  Seems to me that whatever happens at Slacktiverse isn’t really all that relevant to here.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    No, but in the usual topic drift we get around here, one poster expecting us(*) to behave like they do over there turned into a discussion of many of the things they do over there.

    (*)Well, Fred, actually, since he brought up Casablanca in the first place.

  • Joshua

    Hey I think I know of a blog where Ross may be happier.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

    Just want to clarify my comment about lists of triggers being a Good Thing, because some of the last few comments might (or might not) have been referencing it: When I said a list of “official triggers” would be a good thing, I was talking about the ‘verse, not here. And yes, it’s true that I have no right to dictate policy on either blog.

    But I’ve been reading Fred’s posts, and sometimes the comments, for years, and occasionally I take a look at Slacktiverse, and I’d like to see both blogs and their respective communities thrive. I have frankly felt afraid to comment on Slacktiverse, for reasons that are at least partly due to my own quirks – the tone over there is often scary for me because I never feel sure what will be condemned.

    And that’s why I, personally, would be pleased if TBAT at the ‘verse would provide a list of the issues that posters there find threatening or problematic. A trigger list here at Fred’s current Patheos blog? It doesn’t seem as if there’s a big need for that; stay away from the obvious issues, and don’t be a jerk, ought to do it. I hope.

  • Joshua

    Ah yes, I definitely was referring to your post, among other things, and I definitely read it as referring to here, not the slactiverse. So thanks for clearing that up.

  • ako

    I would also like to clarify my position.  I did not intend to say that this blog should have a trigger warning list.   (For one thing, we don’t have any significant moderation, which would make it hard to have much of any policy on trigger warnings.)  I was thinking about ways that blogs which wanted to include rare triggers could make it worse, and it seemed like a lists would solve a lot of problems in those circumstances.  I sometimes get a bit intensely into problem-solving and trying to figure out how to make things work, or defending the idea of a solution that sounds really cool in my head, and that probably caused me to come off as unclear.

    I think that the internet being a big virtual place, it makes sense to have a range of different online environments with different approaches to the whole trigger warning issue, including places that are explicitly established as making a strong effort to avoid triggering people, and places where it’s made clear that people who read do so at their own risk.

  • Dan Audy

    I don’t remember who initially linked this but I found Natalie Reed’s post on trigger warnings to be an insightful and even handed look at what purpose they serve and how they are used.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/07/19/trigger-warning/ 

  • Kiba

    I read that article when it was first linked and it’s really interesting and what I see here is a group of people trying to have the same conversation. I also want to say that I think the real criticism that’s been going on isn’t about trigger warnings but that certain people felt unsafe commenting over at the other site if they weren’t in the “in group” and that any disagreement was met with hostility. That’s not really being addressed because the conversation has basically become “you hate trigger warnings and think people that use them are stupid.” 

    Now before I started coming here I never knew about trigger warning but I do now. Are they important?  Yes. No one here wants to actively hurt anyone (that I can see), that’s one of the reason this conversation is going on. To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.

  • Dan Audy

    That’s not really being addressed because the conversation has basically become “you hate trigger warnings and think people that use them are stupid.” 
    Now before I started coming here I never knew about trigger warnings but I do now. Are they important?  Yes. No one here wants to actively hurt anyone (that I can see), that’s one of the reasons this conversation is going on. To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.

    Which is a real shame because I think that is an immensely important conversation for the parts of the internet that care and use trigger warnings to have.  Fundamentally, the way they are used is a very new technique for communication and the fact that there are sometimes problems with how they are used or unintended side effects is very typical of society coming to grips with how to use a new ‘technology’.  I remember periods in various BBS’s, Usenet, and early fandom webpages when spoiler warnings were first being used.  The arguments that took place over that were very similar to the ones taking place around trigger warnings.  Eventually I expect that ‘Content Notes’ (or similar verbiage) will be the generally accepted end point for what is now called ‘Trigger Warnings’ and will be used on a widespread, though limited in most communities, basis with all the excitement and concern that including a spoiler warning generates (which is to say very little).

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     Thanks, Dan. Very interesting – she discusses a lot of the things that leave me feeling unsure how to proceed. Just how much idiosyncratic protection do we owe to anonymous adults who might happen to read something we put on the internet? (And that question is not rhetorical; I’m not assuming that the answer should be “ha ha none at all lulz”. But we can’t protect everybody from everything; for one thing, as she points out, somewhere along the line readers’ eyes will glaze over so that warning about almost everything becomes, for practical purposes, the same as warning about nothing.)

    It’s difficult, and I think it can only be managed – if at all – by assuming good faith until people prove themselves malicious. And recognizing that each of us is likely to draw the line between good faith and malice in a somewhat different place.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Just how much idiosyncratic protection do we owe to anonymous adults who
    might happen to read something we put on the internet? (And that
    question is not rhetorical; I’m not assuming that the answer should be
    “ha ha none at all lulz”.

    Well, rhetorical or not, my answer pretty much is “none at all.”

    That is, I don’t think anyone has an obligation to protect me from my post-traumatic twinges, nor do I think I have any obligation to do the same for others.

    Neither do I have an obligation to wave to my neighbors in the morning, to smile at strangers on the street, to give apologetic-looking drivers who seem to have accidentally gotten into the wrong lane a chance to correct themselves, to donate money to the ACLU, etc. etc. etc.

    I do these things, when I do them, for some reason other than obligation.
    And when I don’t do them, I incur no punishments, nor should I.

  • AnonymousSam

    No direct punishments, anyway. I find that lack of consideration for others carries an eventual, earthly punishment all the same. Name ten Republican politicians you would offer a jump to if their car’s battery had died. :p

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Well, I’d probably offer a jump to most if not all of them, but that’s me.

    I do agree with your point more generally, though: certain kinds of lack of consideration for others do incur punishments, both direct and indirect. And in the cases where I endorse those punishments, I consider that equivalent to saying that those considerations are obligations.

    That said, those are precisely the kinds of considerations I wasn’t talking about.

    My point was that some forms of consideration are both valuable and optional, and those ought not incur punishment when they aren’t observed.

    Not everything permissible is mandatory.

  • AnonymousSam

    I wouldn’t, but the “why” of it isn’t entirely out of spite. I would make them pay for someone to offer them a jump as a service. Other people might be able to afford that service as well, but if I could offer it for free, then they shouldn’t necessarily have to.

    Otherwise, I suppose my ethos have a bit of a Kantian slant at times. :p

  • aunursa

    I would offer a jump to anyone, regardless of their political views.  Hell, I would offer a jump to an anti-Semite, just to screw with his negative view of the JOOOOOOOOS.

  • caryjamesbond


    “They’re a bunch of offense-drunk tyrants banning people left and right for daring to oppose their dicatorial rule” is unacceptable.

    Have…have we even been talking about the ‘verse? I used it as an example of contrast in my posts but…dude, again.  Deeeeep breaths.  

    And hey- now you’ve got a taste of what its like to, oh, say be an atheist that doesn’t think “please don’t hurt me kind God-folk” is the way it should be, or a fan of TVtropes, or someone who thinks Kit isn’t persecuted, PERSECUTED I SAY, or thinks that maybe cultural oppression is somewhere below Genghis Khan on the “rape and pillage” front, over at the slacktiverse.  

    Also, if you wanna bring up “Stockholm Syndrome,”  passionately defending people who’ve made you feel threatened and belittled would be….what now?

    Look, homes.  You’ve basically accused everyone who doesn’t think we should draw up a list of everyone’s triggers and slacktiverse* it all to hell of wanting to trigger people on purpose, of being the equivalent of someone purposely inducing a potentially-fatal allergic reaction, thinking trigger warnings are silly and mockable and worst off all….accusing us of laughing like characters in a Chick Tract. Some things are just too far!

    *To Slacktiverse: Verb.  To pile on anyone not familiar with the rules in a fashion that would make screaming harpys go “daaaaaaaamn, boi.”

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    @Ross:disqus — Right, that’s why my comment saying I was uncomfortable with the attacks on Kit Whitfield has 14 likes, including from at least one of the people you’re attacking.

    Imputing bad motives to people is not a good way to have a dialog with those people. Putting words into peoples’ mouths is also not a good way to have a dialog with those people. 

  • Dan Audy

    I liked your post Lliira and hope that Kit, mmy, and hapax can take that thoughtfulness in.

  • Donalbain

    Yeah yeah.. failed to stick the flounce.. I just want to say, for the record (as if the record cares), that the rot13ing of the comment over at Slacktiverse sums it up perfectly. In a discussion about what makes people feel comfortable and safe, it is not acceptable to say that Kit Whitfield makes people feel uncomfortable. You must not criticize the Kit.

    And the comment from the mods after it, perfectly encapsulates their combined douchebaggery. You dared to criticise the Holy Kit, but she is so wonderful and magnanimous that she alone argued for your reprieve. Truly you are blessed by the Holy Kit.

    To sum up: Fuck them. Fuck them and the horse they collectively rode in on. They are a bunch of massive, insufferable douchebags.

  • arcseconds

    As far as I can see, virtually everyone here agrees on virtually everything?

    i.e.

    1) no one wants to hurt people who get triggered
    2) we’re prepared to do things to prevent this, but
    3) we don’t want it too onerous to post here for regulars or newcomers
    4) some concern that trigger warnings may end up with annoying, repetitive discussions which could be embarrassing or even triggering for the people we want to protect

    given the above:

    5) a shortish list of triggering topics could be considered.
    6) some support for them to be used in the construction of ‘content notes’ rather than ‘trigger warnings’.   I haven’t seen anyone disagree with this.

    and also,
    7)  we really, really don’t want this place to turn into Slacktiverse or otherwise turn into somewhere heavily policed, where people are scared to post, feel strongly inclined to rebel, or the rules are unclear or enforced arbitrarily.

    any thoughts on how best to encourage their use?

  • arcseconds

    thinking about what everyone has said, I’m actually struck by how much agreement there has been.

    I’m also struck by how much common ground there actually is with Slactiverse’s position on the matter.

    If I had found I had upset, driven off, scared into silence, or even triggered a dozen or more thoroughly reasonable and nice people with whom on paper I have very substantial agreement with about the very issue I think I’m defending, I would be taking a very long, hard look at my strategy.

    (hell, i even question myself occasionally when abusive dickheads accuse me of being power-mad or whatever)

  • arcseconds

    that’s not to say I don’t agree with Lliira. 

    I think her diagnosis is very apt. 

    I do want to add though that heavy-handed justice encourages rebellion, especially when it’s perceived to be unfair, so it’s likely there’s a feedback loop here.  as i alluded to before, I’m not without sympathy for them, and it seems that a situation has been created which is going to be difficult for them to recover from.

    although, in these sort of circumstances, it’s reasonable to hold those with the power to higher standards than those without.  Every open forum on the internet of any size has to deal with trolls and flamewars. 

  • Lori

     

    If I had found I had upset, driven off, scared into silence, or even
    triggered a dozen or more thoroughly reasonable and nice people with
    whom on paper I have very substantial agreement with about the very
    issue I think I’m defending, I would be taking a very long, hard look at
    my strategy.  

    So much word.

    The ongoing debate about how to deal with trolls has good points on all sides, but this just about trolls. I’ve “known” people like Ruby & Hawker for years now. They’re not trolls. If they feel unsafe and unwelcome then something is seriously off. When people like that are not only driven away, but told in a rather nasty tone that they are of course welcome at the ‘verse any time as long as theybehave properly that is Not OK.

    I can be prickly and snappish and my clique meter is very sensitive , so I chalked my discomfort with the set-up at the old site to personal stuff and moved on. Hearing about some of the other people who have left over there because they felt unsafe or disrespected or abused has really been shocking to me. I mean seriously, holy shit. I had concerns, but I never in a million years expected it to get to this point. There is either a major disconnect between the stated goals and actual goals of the site, or something is has gone awry.

    You know how we say that if a whole bunch of people are saying that you’re wrong then you might want to take a step back and consider that? Well, if multiple people who are absolutely not trolls are saying that they feel mistreated then the folks involved should probably take a step back and consider the possibility that something is wrong. That includes Fred. He has no responsibility to fix any of it, but I think it would be good if he considered that the victimization under discussion is not all a one-way street.

    As an example, the fact that some of the people who responded to Froborr’s post are trolls does not invalidate the concerns and feelings of everyone who objected at the time or who is less than comforted by the fact that as recently as a couple of days ago the mods were either doubling down on their decision to allow the post to go up or hand-waving the distress people felt about it.

    Just to make 100% sure that I’ve been clear—The Slacktiverse will deal with its own stuff and I wish them well. I have only two concerns. One, that people I know and care about have been hurt and I didn’t even realize it.  Two, that this space not become that space, because that would break my heart.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    If I had found I had upset, driven off, scared into silence, or even
    triggered a dozen or more thoroughly reasonable and nice people with
    whom on paper I have very substantial agreement with about the very
    issue I think I’m defending, I would be taking a very long, hard look at
    my strategy.

    Agreed. This is the sort of thing I worry about all the time, usually concerning my areas of privilege.

    I realized that I haven’t actually addressed my views on trigger warnings here. I’m in favor of them in general. I think communities that use them should have an easily-accessible list – and as others have noted, 10 or so covers about 95% of people’s triggers. Failure to use them should be met with a reminder and a request that they be used.

    BUT I don’t like the term “trigger warning.” Part of it is the value judgment implied, as others have noted. If something you like is listed as a trigger warning, it carries the message “this is bad and you are a bad person for liking this.” I DO like the term “content note” because it is value-free.

    Not every trigger is quite so simple, of course. I have a phobia of a particular type of animal. I can read about the animal with no problems, even accounts of attacks, but a photograph (or even a realistic drawing) triggers me.

    Furthermore, as I have noted here and in other threads, a major trigger for me is the feeling that if I speak at the wrong time, or say something slightly critical of the wrong person, or just use the wrong tone/phrasing, I will get a harsh response. That’s not something you can put up a content note about. It is part of the community environment that you create in an effort to make a safe space.

  • Launcifer

    Other people have mentioned the phrase “content note” on various threads. I frequent at least one blog which uses that, rather than “trigger warning”. In truth, I think I prefer the former because it brings with it more of a feel that “these things will crop up in this post and people might want to know in advance”, rather than the feeling that the things highlighted are bad, threatening or whatever that I sometimes when I encounter trigger warnings. That’s just me, though; I’m quite happy to admit that some of my triggers are bizarre – even to me.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     

    Furthermore,
    as I have noted here and in other threads, a major trigger for me is
    the feeling that if I speak at the wrong time, or say something slightly
    critical of the wrong person, or just use the wrong tone/phrasing, I
    will get a harsh response. That’s not something you can put up a content
    note about. It is part of the community environment that you create in
    an effort to make a safe space.

    Yes. This, so much this. It’s why, even though I used to like many of the people who are still active at Slacktiverse, I seldom read it; it just feels very dangerous. Even though I keep my head down and don’t post comments, I never know when I’ll find myself metaphorically in the middle of a battle; anything at all, as far as I can tell, may start one at any time. (And, again, some of this is overreaction due to personal history. ‘Twould be okay, I guess, if they didn’t make such a point of being a safe space…good thing I love irony.)

    But I’ve also come to the conclusion, after reading through the closed / reopened thread at ‘verse, that (a) they don’t understand what people in this thread and the previous Left Behind thread are upset about (b) they like things as they are and (c) they don’t plan to change. So there’s really nothing we can do here except make things worse, as several people have posted before me. Anybody want to go back to talking about the proper use of “thee” vs. “ye”? (Previous thread, for those who weren’t following there.)

  • Saffi

    Apropos of nothing and 
    at the same time apropos of everything said so far , I note that it’s Thursday, which makes it Tipjar Friday*-eve. 

    Thank you, Fred, for providing both this wonderful space and your insightful columns.

    _____________

    * Tip-jar Friday: The day we remember to tip at least [i]one[/i] free-content provider

  • Caravelle

    What a good idea ! I must have missed it if it was proposed here but I’ll have to try and remember observing it. (seeing as I can afford it and all, not everybody can)

  • Dash1

    Well, that sounds like one thing we can (I think) all enthusiastically agree on. And remember to bring up on Fridays, if no one else does.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Instead of going on with the massive Whitfield-bashing, I’m just going to say that the fact that I tend to not visit the Slacktiverse very much is indicative of my lack of comfort with the aura of the forum. That will be all I say on the matter.

  • http://formerconservative.wordpress.com/ Formerconservative

    By the way, I didn’t realize you were the same person as Pius Thicknesse/Apocalypse Review.   Good to see you!

    Now its really only one fast moving blog, because they’ve slowly driven away most of their commentariat.

    …but really, I have said what I need to say and I think I’m done talking about them.   I only chimed in because I was hoping that possibly if I brought it up somewhere that was outside of their little protective bubble and had some outside support that possibly they might come around and see what they were doing, because I used to admire and like almost everyone over there and I really don’t like seeing them turn into *that.*   

    Also when I get into nasty arguments with people, I tend to feel really awful until amends are made, but in this case, I don’t think amends can be made.   They think I’m awful person and all in all, I actually feel pretty good about myself, better than I have in a long time actually, so that’s on them, not me.

    I did what I could.  It didn’t work.   Time to move on.

  • Caravelle

    I did what I could.  It didn’t work.   Time to move on.

    Seems it’s my turn to say that. I did have high hopes because people seemed to be in a listen-and-reevaluate position, and I’m really glad they re-opened the thread so I could say the rest of what I felt needed to be said, but my role seems to be over now. I do hope that regardless of the immediate reactions they take a step back and listen to what’s been said. Even if they don’t change their system (and a lot of them seem quite happy with it), at least so they understand its effects.

    PROFANITY-CONTAINING EDIT :
    Well fuck, Literata, now who’s making uncalled-for parting shots ?
    Sorry people, I wanted to get that off my chest but it was too gratuitous to do there. (it’s a lot gratuitous for here too but at least I probably won’t be mortally offending people)

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Caravelle, I saw what happened and I sympathize. I don’t want to get into the details of just what I see wrong with what just happened to you, because it would mean talking about someone who I do like behind her back and in a different venue, but I saw that mod post and thought WTF.

    It does not bode well for how those new rules will be applied.

  • Caravelle

    Thanks. It’s funny in a way, because one thing I wanted to reply to Chris’s concerns about dogpiling that he didn’t need to worry, there was no chance I’d feel unsafe there because I just didn’t care that much – I mean, I care, I like the people there and I’ve got a warm nostalgic feeling for the place, but as I don’t feel part of that community anymore I could feel it was no skin off my nose either way.
    Apparently not so much because I was on the verge of tears for a few minutes there.
    But oh well, I’m feeling better already and talking about it helps, so thank you again :)
    (then again I cry at the drop of a hat, it’s probably a physiological thing)

  • GDwarf

    Nah, it’s got me pretty badly depressed, too. Whether or not we’re active there now, we were active there once, so the place has memories, and it always hurts to have communities and people from our past change like that.

    Going out and confronting them over it just means you’ve invested even more in the conversation, so the hurt’s only going to be moreso.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t see you go out of line at all, and the fact that, yet again, in a thread where people were asked to provide specific examples there was a backlash about actually, y’know, providing examples. Just argh.

  • Lori

     Yeah. I’m finding it depressing too.

    At this point what I’d really love is for us all to agree that we aren’t going in that direction and then just let it go. There really doesn’t seem to be anything left that’s worth saying. Even attempts at constructive criticism and engagement have been summarily dismissed and there just doesn’t seem to be a point any more. The people who are important are content. The people who left don’t count and apparently never really did, and that’s that. 

  • Caravelle

     What makes me really, really sad though is that there are still people there who feel uncomfortable to some extent. Or one at least. And one person who said they’d left because they felt uncomfortable was hailed with open arms and seems to want to stay. So it’s not a closed system where all those who didn’t like it left and all those who stayed love it.

    But I guess there isn’t anything left to do about it, and as you say the role of the Slacktiverse in the question of what we want this place to be like has been hashed out enough.

  • http://formerconservative.wordpress.com/ Formerconservative

    I agree with Lori on this.   That’s why I said what I said earlier in this thread.  I thought maybe if I mentioned why I was upset with them over here instead of on their turf, maybe they’d see the light.  It didn’t work.  There’s nothing else really we can do except continue to sit here and bash them, which won’t do anything but give them more reasons to claim that they are horribly oppressed and being viciously attacked, which is really just feeding the monster.

    The good thing about this is that it gave me a reason to comment here again!

    Caravelle, if it makes you feel any better in a “misery loves company” sort of way, I noticed they were doing the same thing they did to me.  They’d get me to the point that I’d either flounce or refuse to talk about a particular subject.   Then they’d make a nasty comment after I made that declaration so I’d backtrack in order to defend myself, which would cause them all to point fingers at me and say “…but, but you said you weren’t gonna do that.”

    They love that one.  It pisses me off to no end.

    That being said, despite the fact that Kit Whitfield said something to me that made me so angry that I was literally shaking and she has yet to apologize or indicate anything other than pride in her making that comment, I’d still probably stop and offer her a jump if I saw her car on the side of the road.

  • Caravelle

    They’d get me to the point that I’d either flounce or refuse to talk
    about a particular subject.   Then they’d make a nasty comment after I
    made that declaration so I’d backtrack in order to defend myself, which
    would cause them all to point fingers at me and say “…but, but you
    said you weren’t gonna do that.”

    Oh, is THAT the last comment they left after my final one ? I haven’t read it yet, I felt the curiosity wouldn’t be worth the effort to keep my desire to respond bottled up, and if that’s what it is I am VERY GLAD I made that choice. I’m still curious but I’ll probably put off reading it to tomorrow at least.

  • hidden_urchin

    Don’t bother.  They just clarified which part of your statement prompted their response (the part where you said you’ll give specifics if you are challenged on specifics) and reiterated their previous position.  I’d say it’s not worth eyeballing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    At this point what I’d really love is for us all to agree that we aren’t going in that direction and then just let it go.

    I never thought we were going that direction anyway.  I keep seeing comments along the lines of “I don’t want to seet his blog turn into the Slacktiverse”.  But I didn’t see any signs of that happening anyway.  Not that I’ve been reading the other site lately, so what do I know.

    *sigh* This sort of thing seems to happen every time an online community splits into two separate-but-overlapping ones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Nah,
    it’s got me pretty badly depressed, too. Whether or not we’re active
    there now, we were active there once, so the place has memories, and it
    always hurts to have communities and people from our past change like
    that.

    Same here. It was a place I used to like spending a lot of time, even just lurking.

    Going out and confronting them over it just means you’ve invested
    even more in the conversation, so the hurt’s only going to be moreso.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t see you go out of line at all, and the
    fact that, yet again, in a thread where people were asked to provide
    specific examples there was a backlash about actually, y’know, providing
    examples. Just argh.

    This is why, while a part of me really wants to post there to explain how hurtful I find the atmosphere Slacktiverse created and maintains, I just don’t have the spoons to do it or deal with the response (based on the responses to others that have made fair, specific criticisms). The reason I can’t deal with posting about it now is the exact reason I left in the first place.

  • Dash1

     Caravelle,

    That was a difficult conversation for you to jump back in on. I agree with GDwarf: there have been many cases where people have been criticized for not returning with responses to questions directed at them. So, in terms of that conversation, rock and hard place.

    I too was disappointed in the response and I thought you handled your end of a very difficult situation with admirable grace and aplomb.

  • Termudgeon

    Yes, my complaint at the time (and this was some time ago, so things may be different now) was not so much with the modding, but with the lack of modding, so that certain individuals regularly nuked other posters to an appalling degree with no apparent concern for consequences. It was carnage.

  • aunursa

    Aaaaaaaaaannnd the separation is complete:  Slacktiverse: Further changes

  • Nathaniel

    And it looks like all the precisely wrong lessons were learned.

    Can’t say I’m in shock.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think it’s time for cute animal videos. Here’s a classic: http://youtu.be/J8b5v4USEWY

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     Oooh! Love cute ickle slothies! Yes, yes, happy shiny butterflies! With sugar on top. (Sarcasm muchly present but directed at the whole mess, NOT at Lliira.)

  • GDwarf

    Sloths! So cute!

    Also, that one in the hanging wicker chair’s got a meme based on him. Wonder if he gets royalty cheques. :P

  • Kiba

    I see your sloths and raise you a baby bat.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWPJ9DTjI8U&feature=relmfu 

  • Kiba

    I read that new post and all I’ve been able to do is go “Wha? Huh? …. ” /headdesk

  • Nathaniel

    And it looks like all the precisely wrong lessons were learned.

    Can’t say I’m in shock.

  • GDwarf

    *Sigh*

    So now you’re not allowed to criticize the mods*.

    Well, at least it’s been codified.

    Guess my attempt at an olive-branch was beyond pointless.

    *Yes, I realize that’s not the exact wording, but that’s what it boils down to, isn’t it?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s the perfect way to become the subject of wank on various places around the internet. When people can’t criticize you in any way on your own space, they’re gonna go elsewhere to do it. Hope they have fun with that. After the comments I read there last night, I’m about as likely to click there as on AskMen, and I do not say that lightly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    When people can’t criticize you in any way on your own space, they’re gonna go elsewhere to do it.

    Apparently it isn’t “criticizing” the mods, it’s “hating on” them, which is also apparently what this site is now dedicated to.

  • caryjamesbond

    Apparently it isn’t “criticizing” the mods, it’s “hating on” them, which is also apparently what this site is now dedicated to.

    You know, these two threads aren’t the longest I’ve seen.

    These two threads COMBINED aren’t the longest I’ve seen here.  And not all of those were hating.  There have been plenty of threads this long dedicated to, oh, say…Doctor Who. Oddly enough, no one came in and said “Oh, so doctor who is now apparently what this site is dedicated too.”

    Well, I tell a lie. There were people who said that. They were, however, very silly.  As you are being. 

    Right now, the Big Topic is the slacktiverse.  I, among plenty of others have found it very cathartic to be able to vent.   (Albeit in a way which some people have found over the top, for which I’m somewhat regretful.)

    Next week, the Big Topic will be Buck, or Rush Limbaugh, or the Elections, or whether the Green Party is a good idea, or, quite possibly, Doctor Who.  (Tree souls!  Am I right, people?)  If you do not like this discussion topic, there are several other active threads. Where people are commenting. Right this very second.

  • aunursa

    Next week, the Big Topic will be whether Romney’s Olympics gaffe will cost him the Hertfordshire vote.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    David Cameron won that particular battle of wits.  At this point, it just feels like Romney is trying to lose.

  • Oppen

    Yes, what a disaster for him.

    You’re familiar with the John Scalzi post about privilege – how some folks get to through the videogame of life with the difficulty level set low – I can’t help but think that Mittens has gone through his entire life without facing any sustained personal challenges and how it must just … gall him that people are not more appreciative of the fact that he is willing to be the leader of the free world.

  • Launcifer

    I didn’t really pay much attention to that, to be honest, but I have to admit that watching old Boris getting the the crowd to chant “Romney, yes we are” in response to questions concerning London’s readiness to host the Olympic Games was downright hilarious.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    Are you speaking to Patrick? If not, I’m sorry, but because of the “in reply to” put in by Disqus, it seems like you are. If you are, you should know that he was only quoting the post from Slactiverse: 

    “We have a final decision: we will no longer be linking to Left Behind posts on Patheos. The reason for this is quite simply that at intervals it turns into a site dedicated to hating on us – at the time of writing it has been doing that for the nearly a week without stopping – and we see no reason why we should direct traffic towards it. We remain opposed to letting this place become an equivalent We Hate Patheos People Club, but we don’t feel required to send people towards Patheos either. “

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    *snigger*  I notice that they also deleted my blog and Personal Failure’s blog from the blogroll.

    I was wondering when they would get around to that…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    The “nearly a week without stopping” line is hilarious to me now that you have to go to a comment thread on a post on the second page to find mention of them.

    EDIT: It’s a strange universe where two comment threads two pages apart constitutes “without stopping”

  • Turcano

    Remember, this is a site where the in-group can apparently act however it pleases and everyone else has to walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting them at the risk of ostracism and now outright banning, and any criticism whatsoever, no matter how politely delivered, is seen as a personal attack.  That is not a “safe zone;” that is a hugbox, plain and simple.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    The reason for this is quite simply that at intervals it turns into a site dedicated to hating on us []

    Oh, honestly.  I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this really makes them look bad.  I think someone in the role of moderator needs to be open to constructive criticism, and they don’t seem to be up to the task.

  • Lori

     

    The reason for this is quite simply that at intervals it turns into a
    site dedicated to hating on us – at the time of writing it has been
    doing that for the nearly a week without stopping   

    If I hadn’t already had some doubts about their assessment of how abused they have been and many people have been targeting them, this would do it.

    The fact that this was their take-away from 2 threads, one of which was initiated by Fred, tells me a great deal and it’s not flattering.

  • Dan Audy

    Pretty sure you misinterpreted Patrick there caryjamesbond.  That sounded distinctly like snark to me.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That’s the perfect way to become the subject of wank on various places around the internet. When people can’t criticize you in any way on your own space, they’re gonna go elsewhere to do it. Hope they have fun with that. After the comments I read there last night, I’m about as likely to click there as on AskMen, and I do not say that lightly.

  • aunursa

    Aaaaaaaaaannnd the separation is complete:  Slacktiverse: Further changes

  • Chad

    Well this thread is probably dead, but I have to say, as someone a few trigger warnings are designed for, I find them condescending and patronizing and ultimately pointless.

  • Oppen

    As someone once said, its more complicated than that …
     
    In California, with about 30 million people, there are nearly 3 million people with the disability placards – about 1 in 10 people overall and it’s even worse when you remember that millions of people don’t drive.   That suggest that the system is being abused.  Yes, there can be people with hidden disabilities or conditions, but, c’mon people let’s be realistic here. 
     
    The”special parking spaces” idea has started to creep.  One store near me has special parking places for hybrid vehicles and “families with children.”  I kid you not.  Perhaps next we will have special spaces for people “who are in a hurry and just need to pick up a few things.”
     
    About trigger warnings:  They’re pretty much bullshit.  Yes, I understand that SOME people with severe PTSD can be triggered by some things.  But if you will seriously be reduced to rolling on the floor in a panic when you read words on a page – you should probably spend more time in therapy and less time surfing the internets.  (And I’m not making that up, some commenter on another site which will not be named claimed that is what happened to him/her when they saw triggering WORDS.)
     
    Just look at the old site to see how the prickliness over trigger warning was just another stepping stone on its path to self-parody.   Even if there can be a legitimate argument for trigger warnings on WORDS, consider the idiocy in the real world – trigger warnings for “fire” or “speciest” or “transhumanism.”  One one hand there is an admirable impulse to spare certain abnormally sensitive people exposure to things that might make them uncomfortable.  But in reality this degenerates into “XXXXX is so horrible that you can’t even post about it without implicitly agreeing with me that it is horrible as well.”  Just silly.
     
    In short, things that are good in practice can have unintended consequences in the real world.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    There are a lot more disabled people in the world than you appear to think there are. There are also temporary disabilities, such as sprained ankles and broken legs, which require disability cards.

    I’m someone for whom every step causes more pain, but who does not need a wheelchair and who sometimes forgets their cane (subconscious rebellion against my disability). Disabled people tend to be invisible. Those of us with physical disabilities often don’t get out much, for reasons that should be obvious. So to have people complain about one of the rare times we’re not invisible — handicapped parking spots — is extremely upsetting.

  • aunursa

    In California, with about 30 million people, there are nearly 3 million people with the disability placards – about 1 in 10 people overall and it’s even worse when you remember that millions of people don’t drive. That suggest that the system is being abused. Yes, there can be people with hidden disabilities or conditions, but, c’mon people let’s be realistic here.

    Yeah, that’s a big problem.  The application requires certification by a medical professional.  I don’t have an answer on how to prevent fraud.

    And I’ve read many complaints from members of the disabled community about additional abuses of the system.  Apparently many people declare pets as service animals* in order to take them into places where pets are prohibited.  And able-bodied people request wheelchair accessible accomodations in hotels and especially on cruise ships in order to take advantage of a larger living space.  These rooms then were sold out, preventing wheelchair-bound guests from being able to travel.

    By law the staff may not ask for proof of a disability or inquire about the nature of the disability.  This will be controversial, but I think they should be able to ask for proof (but not ask about the nature of the disability.)  The added inconvenience of having to obtain, carry, and present a government-issued ID card would be offset by the preservation of benefits for people with disabilities, and a reduction in abuse by people who take advantage of the system to get benefits that are not intended for them.

    * In many cases the reason a person requires a service animal is not apparent.  But the complainers were adament that they had witnessed clear abuses.

  • Lunch Meat

    Perhaps next we will have special spaces for people “who are in a hurry and just need to pick up a few things.”

    We…have those… They say “30 min parking or less” or something like that.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    The”special parking spaces” idea has started to creep. One store near me has special parking places for hybrid vehicles and “families with children.” I kid you not. Perhaps next we will have special spaces for people “who are in a hurry and just need to pick up a few things.”

    I’ve seen those “moms with children” (it’s always “moms,” never “dads”) spaces, and though I don’t have a problem with a few of them in principle, their location confuses me.  They’re always next to the handicapped spaces–closest to the entrance.  But for people with little kids, shouldn’t their spaces be located next to the cart corral?  Weird.

  • Oppen

    “There are a lot more disabled people in the world than you appear to think there are”

    Okay, how many do I appear to think there are and how many are there actually?

    Do tell.

  • Oppen

    “There are a lot more disabled people in the world than you appear to think there are”

    Okay, how many do I appear to think there are and how many are there actually?

    Do tell.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You appear to think that fewer than 1/10 of the people in the world are disabled. That has me gobsmacked. Consider the aging population alone. 

    At a guess, I’d say there are… oh about 3 million people with disabilities that require having a handicapped parking sticker or card in California.

    And by the way, the fact that many of us don’t drive does not mean we don’t require a handicapped card on the car in which we are driven. 

  • 7044817

    You apparently have some strong feelings about this, so I assumed that you would have some actual numbers or facts something that fueled your opinion.  But, it seems you are just going with a guess.  That’s fine.  I don’t have a well-researched opinion on this either.

  • arcseconds

     There’s also people with injuries.   If you had an impressively active population, you might expect even a percent to be suffering from sports injuries.   Amongst the more active people i know, I reckon there’s been times when 1-2% have been injured enough to seriously affect their mobility.

    I think when people think ‘disabled person’ they think of someone who’s permanently in a wheelchair because of spina bifida or something.

    They don’t see that it may well be them one day, either because of an accident, ill health, or old age.

    (some of those may be temporary, of course)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    So here’s a baby guinea pig popcorning:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgfhq1dVBLs&feature=related

  • Dan Audy

    Goodness.  They make the exact squeeky sound that those dog toys with a little thing that slides back forth pushing air around makes.  I had always thought that it was a profoundly artificial sound.

  • caryjamesbond

    Oh,  whoops. Sorry Patrick!  My bad- sarcasm on the internet and what not.

    (You’d think I’d be more aware of that, wouldn’t you?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Oh,  whoops. Sorry Patrick!  My bad- sarcasm on the internet and what not.

    (You’d think I’d be more aware of that, wouldn’t you?)

    No problem. Given some of the responses to criticism of the Slacktiverse’s mods, it’s easy to take snark at face value.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Ok, so in the vein of moving away from Slacktistuff, can I ask if any of all y’all are in Chicagoland? Going to be there for a week in August. Further details, please contact me privately.

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Testing an actual username.

    (This is the original guest from the first few pages (but not the guest who posted after I said I was taking a break, which I obviously couldn’t hold myself to now).

    Edit: Hey, an edit button!

  • Rowen
  • L. David Wheeler

    Sigh.  I’ve tended to be supportive of Slacktiverse TBAT and tried to understand where they’re coming from — and by and large appreciate the immensity of the conundrum they’ve found themselves in as mods, and am appalled at the level of abuse they’ve had to put up with over the past months and understand how that can make one a tetch more sensitive to criticism and more likely to see it as an attack.  I get all that.  And I like all three mods, and have had good and positive interchanges with each in the past, I believe, in and out of the Verse.  I think they’re some of the more intelligent, forthright and incisive people I’ve come into contact with online …

    But.

    But the way they’ve characterized these discussions — which to me seems a largely civil couple rounds of largely constructive criticism (sans a few exceptions) from former regulars there — as some sort of non-stop attack, as somehow “hating on” them … it puts a very bad taste in my mouth.  That whole concept — of criticism being interpreted as attack, as “hating on,” and, possibly, as misogyny — is the very reason many people here have cited as being uncomfortable there.  (And yeah — sometimes there have been attacks, and sometimes they have been misogynistic in nature.  But it seems like they’re now seeing attack where there is none … where there are people trying to offer reconciliation or explanation.   It wasn’t their presence in discussions that was the problem — they were three of the most well-spoken and insightful commentators on the site.  It was fear that anything one said would be interpreted as an attack, and that attempts to defend oneself from such an accusation would be interpreted as further attack.  (As seems to have happened to Dan.)   They took the extreme action of removing themselves from discussions, when all they had to do was simply … give people a bit more of an assumption of good faith from time to time.  A caveat:  I personally have never experienced this myself; I’ve never had anything but a good experience there and have never had such fear myself … but I’ve seen the above happen a number of times to other people and I don’t minimize their experience (plus I’m not exactly a frequent commenter there or here for that matter).

    So … while I didn’t feel uncomfortable at the thought of posting over there before … I kind of *d0* now.   Because I wonder what perfectly innocent statement I or anyone else may make might be misinterpreted as an attack and carded.  Me, I tend to be diplomatic to a big fault, so it’s less likely — but y’know.   And it’s really less of an interesting community if mmy, hapax and Kit aren’t commenting and posting, so it makes me sad that they felt it was necessary, especially since, in my view, it was not.

    And I hope the above isn’t interpreted as “hating on” a community I highly valued and still care about and regard.  Though I fear it will be.

  • Dash1

    I feel very sad about the whole thing. As L. David Wheeler points out, hapax, Kit and mmy were asked to serve as mods because they were fair, articulate and involved commenters. And Kit was usually the peacemaker of the bunch. Curiously, some of the loudest voices protesting that it was vital to their mental health for Slacktivist not to go to Patheos didn’t stick around to be any help to the Slacktiverse.

    So hapax, Kit and mmy have decided to try to keep the community going by gagging themselves, and the whole thing at this point reminds me of some strange fairy tale where someone can only insure the happiness of someone else by giving up something very precious to them.

    And, like one of those tales where people are well and truly stuck for eternity, none of them can ever give up the job, or they’ll shut the whole place down.

    So, like others, I’m feeling this is getting to be the end of an era.

    I’m a bit curious about one thing, though. I tend to read the LB series and comments pretty religiously, and I don’t recall much criticism of the Slacktiverse or its commenters in any of those threads. Certainly, it wasn’t my impression that this place became a locus for Slacktiverse criticism on a regular basis. Am I misremembering?

  • Nathaniel

     No, you are not misremembering. This place has barely, if at all, mentioned the slacktiverse before this dust up. Its yet another self serving editing of reality they are engaging in.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I had never seen any criticism of the Slacktiverse here before the Marchons thread. I don’t read every single comment on every single thread, but if it were as pervasive as they seem to be claiming, I don’t see how I could have missed it.

  • zmayhem

    Seconding this. I missed the last LB post and so was completely mystified when I got to somewhere around page 3 of the comments on this post and saw the turn things were taking; I’m a crap poster but a pretty diligent lurker, and that was about the first post and comment thread I’d missed out on in months. If the constant trash-talking the other community ever happened at all, let alone all the time, I can’t imagine…

    Wait. I hardly ever go into the alphabetical music post threads. Is that where all the rage-outs have been hiding?

    Also, sigh. That place was so huge, and such a second home for so long, and I had such fondness and respect for so many members; even though the last few months before the move to Patheos were increasingly tense and fractured, and I migrated here and haven’t been back, I just liked knowing it was there. But it doesn’t feel like there there, anymore.

    Also also, it would indeed be utterly fantastic to see more posts by Ruby and FormerConservative.

  • Lori

     

    Am I misremembering?   

    No.

    This is the only significant discussion of the old site that I can remember us having. I at least glance at most of the comment threads so I doubt that I’ve somehow just happened to miss every single conversation hating on the ‘verse.

  • L. David Wheeler

    To be completely fair, now that I think about what I posted above, sometimes the overreaction to criticism went both ways.  I remember Kit mentioning that she was sometimes reluctant to get into discussions about, say, science fiction/fantasy and how she doesn’t consider herself in that genre despite the fantastical elements in some of her writing … because every time she mentioned it, somebody out there would take it as her being dismissive of the genre or attacking it when she was just saying, “Not my thing and here’s why.”  So, yeah — they aren’t the only ones who sometimes see attacks when none was offered.  That may be something that humans are prone to — it may even be a self-preserving hindbrain function.

  • GDwarf

     

    That may be something that humans are prone to — it may even be a self-preserving hindbrain function.

    Indeed. Sci-Fi and Fantasy only became mainstream recently, and Geeks/Nerds are used to being mocked for liking them.

    The thing is, being a Nerd is now cool. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic Books, they’re all very mainstream now. So our knee-jerk attempts to defend them and ourselves can be a problem, ’cause in most cases we now have the power, rather than being the ones under attack.

  • Hawker40

    Lori, thanks for the shout out.
    I must say that I abandoned Slactiverse because I was spending too much time re-writing what I intended to post.  I only have so much time to waste on the internet, and don’t want to spend too much of it making sure I don’t get flamed for a honest disagreement.  I will remember the majority of my time in the Slactiverse fondly, as I learned many things, but I will not / cannot spend time in a place where I am afraid to speak.
    Hawker40 aka Hawker Hurricane

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    *waves at the poster formerly known as Hawker Hurricane*

    Another person I have missed!  Hi!

    I don’t have any cute animal pictures ready, but in the category of Things I Am Psyched About:

    There is a movie coming out in January called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

    This may be the single greatest idea for a motion picture in the entire course of human history.  And I’m not just saying that because it will feature Jeremy Renner kicking ass while wearing leather armor.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1428538/

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Ruby, have you ever read Fables?  I ask because there are storylines focusing on Hansel’s career as a Witch Hunter.

    Of course, I also ask because Fables is generally awesome and well worth reading.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Yep, read it, love it. 

    I have never been one to go the theatre just to see a preview, but I just might for this one.  :D

  • Lori

     

    And I’m not just saying that because it will feature Jeremy Renner kicking ass while wearing leather armor. 

    You’re not saying that, but I think I am.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Well, I said I’m not just saying that.  ;)

  • Lori

    There have been a couple of discussions in the comments at Tom & Lorenzo about the appeal of Jeremy Renner. Some folks see it, others do not. At one point those who do were attempting to explain it to those who do not (as always in matters of taste, this was pointless but it was done in a totally friendly way and so made for fun conversation instead of a tiff).

    I literally LOLed when someone finally summed up her feelings by saying, and I quote, “He’s one of those guys that may not be conventionally attractive, but looking at him you can bet he’s NASTY in bed…in a totally good way.”

  • Hawker40

    Handicap parking…
    I enforced handicaped parking at Naval Hospital San Diego.  I was often amazed at who had a placard.  (The man with the cleft pallet was a personal favorite).  People would argue with me about thier handicap (If you can’t convince the doctor, you won’t convince me.)
    And, in front of the OB/GYN clinic, were the “Third Trimester Only” parking.  There was no system for identifying who was allowed to park there for a year, then they started issuing placards, which we then found were being used by men who worked in that building to get good parking…
    Ah, memories.

  • Dan Audy

    Wow.  I hate how people who game the system ruin it for people who have legitimate need for it and empower people who desperately want to be ungrateful jerks.

  • Caravelle

    This is a train of thought that started with the Slacktiverse but ended up being pretty general; last night I was actually building a whole post out of it in my head (which would have been nice if I had, oh, a blog), but now I don’t really feel like it anymore. But I’m still interested in throwing it out there.

    Basically, one thing that was said in a comment on Slacktiverse and that had been said before, was that some posters were very smart and very good with words and very good at arguing, and that this made it intimidating to argue with them. Of course the problem with that is that, well, what are we supposed to do about it, have them not argue to the best of their ability ?
    It’s plain absurd, so that concern was generally dismissed when it was brought up (often by the very person bringing it up).
    But recently I’ve started thinking of it in terms of an article from Less Wrong, A Prodigy of Refutation, which talks about how young Eliezer Yudkowsky was good enough at arguing that he would win all his arguments, and deduce that his position must be correct – except that it wasn’t. And ultimately you don’t get second prize for being wrong but only because nobody you met was smart enough to prove it to you; you’re still wrong.

    This key point, that you can be so smart and so clear-thinking and so good at debating that you will “win” all your debates whether or not you’re actually right, does suggest that being steamrolled by someone because they’re just that good can be a legitimate problem. But better than that, I think it also suggests a solution : not arguing worse than you can, but arguing better.

    It’s like playing a game with a small child. You’re so much better than they are that it isn’t really a game; you want to level the playing field somewhat and there are two ways to do so. One is to play deliberately badly; ignore opportunities you see, play your third or second-best move instead of the best one, etc. The other is to help the small child play better : suggest to them a better move they could make, give them strategy tips, show them how to look at the games a few moves in advance instead of what they’re doing… in effect you’re playing with the child against yourself, and it’s a much more rewarding way of doing it.
    Another analogy is handicap systems in sports – they’re not there so that better players play worse, but to ensure they’re also playing to their full potential while still giving worse players a chance.

    So how would you up your game in an internet discussion ? Well, to draw a bit on my own experience, how many times are we in an argument and we see the glimmer of a point someone might have, or a way our counter-arguments might not be airtight, but we move on because if it’s true the other side will bring it up and we can deal with it then ? And we aren’t making other people’s arguments for them after all. But maybe we could.
    Or how about when we dismiss someone’s argument because of a specific way it’s phrased, or a specific thing they said, how about we also ask ourselves “…but if this argument hadn’t been phrased in a way that makes it unacceptable, what would my counter-argument be ?”
    And when you end up in an argument where your argument has been pretty much demolished, and you can agree it doesn’t seem to hold water, but you still feel you’re right. Often it’s just inertia and you’ll change your mind over time. But maybe you are right, and you just aren’t finding the right reasons. And if you’re in that situation but on the winning side, the natural response is “well, come back when you have an actual argument”. But what if instead we said “if you still feel you’re right even though your argument was demolished, how about we both try and find out where that feeling comes from ?”.

    It also strikes me as similar to when activist groups confront the question of how they can improve their diversity. The approach tends to be “why do minorities not want to belong to our group ?” and when reasons are given, they will argue with those reasons (often in perfect good faith, because if they agreed with those reasons to start with they’d probably be diverse already). It’s well-understood this is a problem because it puts all the burden of making a space welcome on the people who feel unwelcome in the first place. But it really is the exact same problem Yudkowski describes : relying on other people to convince you in order to change your mind. And the answer, again, is not to abandon your opinions or give up on your reasoning abilities, it’s to work those abilities harder, by actually trying to understand what others are saying  and where they’re coming from, and not just batting away at their arguments.

    … so um, yeah, I did end up writing the post after all, except now I’ve run out of steam. Sorry about the length. But is there a glimmer of an idea in there ?

  • St. Jebus

     What you’re asking is for people to decide before they get into an argument to have an open mind. That’s good – I think that your analysis of how to argue while still having an open mind was great. Unfortunately, it requires the person arguing to decide beforehand that A.) They don’t necessarily have all the answers already and B.) The person that they’re arguing with just might have a point.

    If the person is unwilling to do either of those things, then the whole thing falls apart. And the problem is that people who are good at arguing, whether by rhetoric or simply shouting the opponent down, are the people most likely to be unwilling to do either of those things.

    In short, great idea. Difficult execution.

  • Caravelle

    There are many reasons people argue (or generally have back-and-forth on a subject, I’m prone to using terms like “conversation” or “discussion” to avoid the adversarial connotations of “arguing”, but the fact is there isn’t a clear demarcation between the two). Sometimes you really want to shut somebody down, and in that case intidimating is what you want to be.

    In other cases however you want to know the truth, or you want to learn different perspectives, or you want social interaction, or you want to convince the other side, not just shut them down. And if being much better at arguing than others is a problem for those purposes then it’s another story. In Yudkowsky’s example it absolutely was, and it might be for the Slacktiverse – or maybe not, just because some people feel intimidated and attribute it to how good some people are at arguing doesn’t mean they’re diagnosing the issue correctly.
    For that matter another context where I’ve been thinking about this is in a creationist forum I go to once in awhile where a talk.origins-style takedown would be very easy (because they often have very, very stupid arguments) and very pointless (because they’re very, very deep down the rabbit hole), and I’ve been challenging myself to find ways to get to them. And it makes me realize just how reactive I really am, and how little I try to understand what’s going on in people’s minds. Which I think is understandable given the incredible amount of effort it turns out the latter requires, but still. Anyway, I had a few people there talk about how smart and well-educated I am and I tended to dismiss it as a way of camouflaging how they were losing the argument, but maybe I should be seeing it as a cry for help.

  • Dash1

     

    I had a few people there talk about how smart and well-educated I am and
    I tended to dismiss it as a way of camouflaging how they were losing
    the argument, but maybe I should be seeing it as a cry for help.

    Or a way of saying something nice to the person they felt they were winning against. (“Smart” and “well-educated” aren’t particularly virtues among the creationists I’m familiar with. In fact, they take seriously the biblical verses about people being “wise in their own eyes” or the gospel causing the wise to stumble.)

  • Caravelle

    That is also a possibility. The instance I’m thinking of was a very strange conversation I have to say :)

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     

    Sometimes you really want to shut somebody down, and in that case intidimating is what you want to be.

    In other cases however you want to know the truth, or you want to
    learn different perspectives, or you want social interaction, or you
    want to convince the other side, not just shut them down.

    I think this is why I’m so very disappointed in how the mods at Slacktiverse have responded. (With all due allowance for the point that they’ve been under stress; but how can readers allow for your stress when they don’t know about it?) I greatly admired hapax/mmy/kit back in the old days, because they had such perceptive things to say – as did a lot of the other oldtimers when I first stumbled into Slacktivist, long before the split. So I know they’re capable of intelligent argument or discussion.

    Now? I’ll grant there were a few trollish posts, though I’m not sure they were much worse than MadG’s original provocations. The majority of the comments both here and there, though, were worried people struggling to articulate why today’s ‘verse feels so hostile.

    And the mods (Kit seemed most active, hapax least, but I have no way of knowing how their behind-the-scenes interactions went) – anyhow, the mods were NOT interested in considering different perspectives or convincing the other side or figuring out whether there was a truth they hadn’t noticed.

    So they shut us down. And I’m sad and disappointed that it’s ended like this.

  • renniejoy

     MadG didn’t say anything about the Slacktiverse or the people who post there. How did she provoke anything?

    Is she just the unofficial scapegoat again? Lovely.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

     The arguing began with MadG objecting to the scene in Casablanca in which the Nazis are singing (I believe someone explained) Die Wacht am Rhein, and then the rest of the bar patrons, one by one, start singing La Marseillaise, as a “good guys vs. bad guys” scene on the grounds that the French were, at the same time, oppressing the Moroccans. (I don’t recall if MadG equated the French to the Nazis at this point.) Other posters disagreed with the complaint, and MadG escalated it. This, to my reading, seems to be the starting point of the whole “why is the Slacktiverse a hostile space?” discussion, which hasn’t died down yet.

    Short version: No, MadG isn’t the official or unofficial scapegoat. I don’t see that we have those over here. Her post, and the followup, started the current agita.

  • Kiba

    And the mods (Kit seemed most active, hapax least, but I have no way of knowing how their behind-the-scenes interactions went) – anyhow, the mods were NOT interested in considering different perspectives or convincing the other side or figuring out whether there was a truth they hadn’t noticed.

    This.

    Also, the community response of, “Well, they don’t do that to me” isn’t particularly helpful at all. Just because they treat you differently/better than someone else doesn’t negate the feelings of the person who feels unsafe/uncomfortable and tends to actually reinforce it. It also makes it very hard for that person to try and express exactly why they feel the way they do if they are just going to be dismissed out of hand anyway. 

  • Dash1

     

    But what if instead we said “if you still feel you’re right even though
    your argument was demolished, how about we both try and find out where
    that feeling comes from ?”.

    I really like this idea. (Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but still….) As my father used to say, “He who argues best is not always right.”

    The other thing this brings to mind is Suzette Haden Elgin’s rule, in one of her Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series that, when someone says something is true (and you don’t think it is), try to figure out what it’s true about. I’m not entirely sure what that means, and the book isn’t ready to hand, but it seems to be, if memory serves along the lines of, “if someone is saying something that doesn’t seem accurate, figure out what they’re trying to get at in saying it.”

  • Caravelle

    The other thing this brings to mind is Suzette Haden Elgin’s rule, in one of her Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense series that, when someone says something is true (and you don’t think it is), try to figure out what it’s true about.

    Yeah. I’m very, very nervous about that advice, because it always strikes me as a concession, or a statement that truth is relative. But I think I might be prejudiced and that it can be a great way to promote understanding. I also think it can be misused, since it can lead to armchair psychoanalysis or ignoring people’s stated words.

    But an article I remember talking about something similar used the example of a woman talking to her mother with Alzheimer’s, and who would at first answer her questions literally and her mother would get upset and have more questions, and things got better when she started addressing the insecurities behind those questions. Like for example, instead of answering “Where are you now ?” with “In New York” (and having to do it seven times) she’d say “I’m not home now but I’ll be back to see you soon, I love you” and that would work much better.
    So on the one hand, yeah prone to armchair psychoanalyzing and disrespecting the other person’s agency, but on the other hand it does look like it can sometimes be the better option. A tool to have in the toolbox I guess.

  • arcseconds

     I liked your post too.

    On the recent thread about wheaton college which referenced Good Jackie and Bad Jackie we discussed briefly how people often have a lot of emotional investment in their beliefs and in being right. 

    That’s apropos here, I feel, because to most people a lot of the time, an argument isn’t so much an opportunity to learn something (or to teach something) but a personal attack or a dominance game.  They’ll see it that way even if the other person doesn’t.

    I’m someone who generally has a stronger argument and I’ve got some emotional distance between myself and my beliefs (arguments are more like tennis matches), and many of my friends over the years have been like that too, and it can often be a problem when there’s a mixed group of folk, people who don’t see a debate as being a personal affront and those who do.  Suddenly some people start feeling like they’re being bullied and dragged across broken glass, and the other people have no idea why anyone’s upset.

    While I do think it would be better if people were less emotionally invested in their current beliefs and more invested in the process of discovery and learning, I do think that for those of us on the other side of the fence discussions end up being too much of a game on one hand and too much of a war on the other.

    Too much of a game because you can deploy all of your skills in the defence of anything so you can have a decent scrap with someone.   Too much of a war, because you still have a cause, and it becomes more important for that cause to prevail than anything else.  You can pretend that their are no causalities (or ignore them) on the one hand, because you’re never hurt (so how could anyone else be?), and justify them on the other because of the all-importance of the cause.

  • arcseconds

     I’ve been concerned about these matters for years, and I don’t have any
    worked-up answers, but my take on it these days is to try to work on the
    notion (in myself and in others) of a discussion as a discovery
    process.  You’re either trying to mutually work out the truth, or
    mutually trying to work out what each other’s position is (maybe at the
    same time).   You can always default to working out each other if there’s not enough agreement to work on the truth.

    It is of course a problem if one party has no intention of altering
    their beliefs, no intention of understanding the other, and will accept
    nothing less than absolute capitulation and conversion (which may of
    course be to atheistic materialism as much as evangelical
    christianity). 

    So don’t be that person.

    Other things to keep in mind is that argument isn’t the only way of
    changing people’s belief, and actually I think seldom works qua argument
    on its own (I’ve got a few ideas of what does work which I may relate later).

    (and also, it’s not the only way of interacting with people!)

  • arcseconds

    discussion as a process of discovery of course immediately legitimizes steel-manning.

    if you’re more interested in the process  than in the outcome, and recognise the process is a mutual one then that also means that something else you’ve mentioned, which is quite important to me, comes into scope, namely trying to improve each other’s mental skill-set.  to the extent that the participants have a skill differential this part of the relationship is likely to be asymmetric, but the more skilled person can still often learn something, even if it’s just how to teach better.

    this is important to me because I’m far less interested in people believing the right things, than I am in them being able to reason well. if they believe in the wrong things but can reason well, then they can correct this themselves.  If they believe in the right things, but can’t reason to save themselves, then they can easily start believing in wrong things.   (  I actually think that being able to reason is a good in itself that’s worth far more than believing true things, but even if you’re just thinking about it instrumentally it’s more important than believing true things.)

    the other thing that I’d recommend is learning to ‘bracket’ your own beliefs, so that discussions can proceed entirely about what the other person believes.

    plus, be open to things not making any sense at all. the way they structure their beliefs and think about them may not be at all what you’re used to.

    (For example, I’ve become aware recently that non-western cultures aren’t necessarily big on logical consistency.  they just don’t see it as a problem to tell one origin story on one occasion and then a different origin story for the same thing on a different occasion.  once I used to think this meant something was obviously nonsense and didn’t bear any further thought, but now I think it’s kinda cool! )

    as I alluded to earlier, having emotional distance from argument and belief I think can end up meaning you’ve actually got nothing at stake in the discussion, so ironically it becomes a way of protecting your beliefs once again.

    I think what I’m saying here means that in a sense you’re putting more at risk in a more meaningful way than simply your sense of self-worth.  the bracketing doesn’t mean your beliefs are taken off the table entirely, in a way they’ve been neutralized from playing an active role, so they’re now more vulnerable than formerly.

  • arcseconds

     the final thing I have to say for now is picking up on Caravelle’s mention of ‘what if you’re much better at arguing than someone”.

    what if other people are too?

    what I mean is, it’s common to wish that people were more swayed by rational arguments.  But there’s a considerable danger here.  Imagine someone who’s not all that knowledgeable or either good at or inclined towards thinking through things themselves, but can recognise a rational argument when they see it, and always changes their beliefs on the basis of a rational argument.

    That means that they’ll agree with you when they’ve just spoken to you.  But if they meet a libertarian tomorrow, they’ll be a libertarian, up until the point where they meet a marxist, then they’ll be a marxist, and therefore a materialist, until a few days later they meet a Christian, who convinces them of the existence of God…

    Or, alternatively, they might just get bewildered and become totally unsure of everything.

    So maybe we should be glad that rational argument doesn’t always persuade.

  • Caravelle

    Thank you for you replies arcseconds, they’re awesome ! ^^ And it occurs to me this last bit :

    Or, alternatively, they might just get bewildered and become totally unsure of everything.

    does mesh well with people here talking about feeling “gaslighted” after arguments in the Slacktiverse that prompted them to leave.

    For the record though I’ll note two big problems with my post, one that I didn’t include because it was too long already and another that only occurred to me later.
    First, doing all that stuff takes an enormous amount of effort so I don’t think one should try to do it all the time, let alone require it of people. Unless not doing it actually leads to problems, in which case… dunno.
    And second, while the stuff I brought up would definitely help with getting to the truth, and it might help with convincing people (I mean, convincing people is such a negligible part of arguing that I’m not sure anything can really help, but it certainly won’t hurt), but it isn’t clear to me anymore that it would make a good arguer less intimidating to others. I think I’d want to know more about what it is that makes an intimidating argument intimidating. Fear of losing ? Fear of all the effort one knows it will take to respond ? Fear of disapproval ? It’s probably lots of things but some may be more important than others.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    You’re thinking of Miller’s Law: “In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.”

    (I don’t know who Miller is; this is what Dr.Elgin calls it.)

  • Dash1

     Thank you. You’re right. And Elgin, now I think of it, was careful to give credit.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Yup.

    In that same community, the phrase ‘steel-manning’ is sometimes used as shorthand for a similar idea. A steel man is the opposite of a straw man: it is a version of someone’s argument that is stronger than the argument they actually made.

    Many years ago, when I first observed that I was in the habit of doing this with people, I used to describe it (self-mockingly) as “you don’t really need to be in this argument at all, I can have it much better all by myself.”

    I have since then gotten better at not actually doing this out loud, which has generally made me more pleasant to be around. It’s still a good tool, though.

    All of that said, I agree with what you say here.

    Part of the difficulty, though, is that this only makes sense if what I’m interested in doing is getting at the position that is supported by the strongest available argument. (Which is sometimes referred to as the truth, although that word gets used to refer to a lot of different things.) Not everyone is interested in doing that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Do you have friends with blogs who would be willing to run this as a guest post?

  • Caravelle

     Hah ! The Slacktiverse ? xD
    Less Wrong occurred to me too, I’m signed up there, but given the overlap it would have with Eliezer’s post I’d probably want to give it a “social justice for x-treme rationalists” angle and I’m not really sure how that would work.

    If I were to run this somewhere  as a guest post I’d want to re-write it and add some things, and while I’m less demotivated than earlier (since I ended up writing most of it anyway), it would still be intimidating.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    If you want your own blog, I believe Dreamwidth still has open account creation.

  • Lori

     Caravelle, thanks for posting this. It has given me something to mull over.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    This key point, that you can be so smart and so clear-thinking and so good at debating that you will “win” all your debates whether or not you’re actually right, does suggest that being steamrolled by someone because they’re just that good can be a legitimate problem.

    You just described my first boyfriend. At one point, he had me thinking Ayn Rand was mostly right. *shudders*

  • Anonniemouse

    So, when asked to be polite to other human beings, Kit, hapax and mmy decide instead that they simply won’t speak at all. 

    That’s telling.

  • Launcifer

    @Caravelle: I think that’s a very valid point, actually. I know for certain that I once mentioned it, half-jokingly, when the two communities were still one over on Typepad. I probably also did the jocular dismissal as well, partly because I found it vaguely embarassing myself.

    I think that St. Jebus might also have a point, though, in the fact that it requires conceding at least one thing to the person or people with whom you’re having the discussion, right out of the gate. And, as someone who used to make a habit of holding completely untenable positions simply to see if he could win the verbal debate, that can be a very difficult thing to do.

  • http://newpillowbook.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/friday-fictioneers-lunacy/ esmerelda_ogg

    BTW – I just took another look at the ‘verse – pressing the bruise – and saw what struck me as a sensible comment from kisekileia arguing that what’s really needed is a better way to shield the mods from abusive spam, maybe by moving to a different platform, so that the mods can heal emotionally and be able to open up the site to dissent again. ‘Twill be interesting to see what the reaction to this post is – as I write, it’s apparently been up about fifteen minutes.

  • Caravelle

    It sounds like a good idea; I don’t know whether it would fix things but I can’t imagine it could hurt. And certainly Kit, Mmy and hapax having less stress in their lives is a good thing on its own.

  • Lori

    To go along with the links to baby sloths and stuff for those who need a bit of a breather, I give you a small collection of inks to cool animal webcams:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2012/07/strangely-compelling-8-more-animal-live-cams-to-crush-your-productivity/260408/

    That includes a link to the totally awesome bears fishing cam, but also has one for long-time slacktivite favorite, puffins. There’s also a puppy cam for those going through withdrawal now that most of the shibu inu puppies have gone to their new homes*. The puppies are goldens, so they’re just balls of cuteness and they’re going to be trained to help wounded vets at Walter Reed, which adds some extra “aww”. There are also whales, polar bears, ospreys and a kelp forest. Nice bits of awesome to provide a break when things are difficult.

    *There’s also a link to the shiba inus cam, which I confess I’ve been addicted to for years (this is the 4th year for the cam). They are “die of the cute” cute and an excellent pick-me-up on a bad day.

  • Dan Audy

    I really liked your thoughts on how to argue better Caravelle.  While it certainly could be cleaned up or expanded to be even better I tucked it into my ‘Smart things people said on the Internet and I want to be able to reference when this topic comes up again’ folder so I don’t run into the problem of ‘I know someone smarter and more articulate than me already covered this but I can’t find it so I’ll just poorly paraphrase’.

  • caryjamesbond


     But if they meet a libertarian tomorrow, they’ll be a libertarian, up until the point where they meet a marxist, then they’ll be a marxist, and therefore a materialist, until a few days later they meet a Christian, who convinces them of the existence of God…

    I would argue that a hypothetic person with no inherent beliefs of their own but an ability to recognize rational arguments by others would…not be converted to any of those three things.  Especially since it strikes me that the most “rational” argument is from observed reality which….more or less rules out Marxism. And probably libertarianism, unless this hypothetical person LIKES the middle ages for some reason. Christianity…I’ll leave alone. 

    Also, where’s my homie Dan Audy?  Dan! We’re yellow card comrades!  *fistbumps dan*

  • Dan Audy

    * awkward fistbump*

    To be honest I wish we weren’t though because that would be an indication that the Slacktiverse mods were listening to criticism and trying to change how they operate. 

  • http://formerconservative.wordpress.com/ Formerconservative

    Man if you keep bragging about your yellow card everyone will want one!

  • arcseconds

    Well, this is an excellent case in point.

    i think every day for the past couple of years gives us further proof that Marxism has a lot going for it.  I think it’s pretty clear that the rich, capital owning people really do have very different interests to ordinary people who trade on their labour, and they act on those interests, and this results in bad outcomes for working people.  Marx (and Hegel) also foresaw that capitalism would result in perennial crises, which has basically been a fact of economic history for the past century or so.

    It’s the people who think free markets and enlightened self-interest results in the next best thing to utopia where everyone’s wants are met to the best they can be that seem to be divorced from reality to me.

    My point here isn’t to argue for Marxism, but that I don’t think it’s as bankrupt as you appear to think it is, and I’m pretty good at arguing my corner.  So if our epistemic wanderer happens to encounter me, they probably would come away thinking Marxism has something going for it.

    (actually, i also have some understanding of free market arguments and libertarian arguments, so I could probably turn them that way too, if I felt inclined.)

    BTW, I don’t have it in mind that they’re ideally rational, more that they avoid obvious fallacies.  I’m not even sure what discussing something with an ideally rational but fairly ignorant person would be like — it would probably be very strange, and you might not be able to convince them of much.

  • Lori

    I think Marx correctly diagnosed the problem and then managed to come up with a solution that’s actually worse. If you’re looking for a useful lens for analysis then Marx is your man, it’s when you start shopping for solutions that the term “bankrupt” applies.

  • Gotchaye

    Presumably arguing with an ideally rational person would be pointless; they’re ideally rational and would already have worked out everything that it is rational for them to believe given whatever they’re taking as given.  You don’t argue with ideally rational people who are wrong; you /show/ them that they are wrong.  They can’t respond to new arguments (there are no new arguments for them), only new information.

    But your general point is an interesting one.  I think the best response here is that we definitely do want everyone to avoid obvious fallacies, but that “avoiding obvious fallacies” doesn’t come anywhere near completely describing how someone forms and updates beliefs.  Obviously such a person is doing more than just that, unless they’re thorough skeptics, in which case you probably won’t be able to convince them of anything no matter how good you are.  They’ve got a set of pre-existing beliefs, and some tendency to modify/expand those when encountering new arguments or information.  If this person first encounters a bad proponent of libertarianism, perhaps they’ll become libertarian.  And then they might become a Marxist after encountering a good proponent of Marxism.  But I don’t think this person would flip back to libertarianism unless they encountered an even better proponent.  They still remember the argument for being a Marxist, presumably, and will only switch back if the argument for libertarianism outweighs or refutes the Marxist argument, and if it’s of comparable strength one would expect agnosticism to result.

    Basically, rationality isn’t sufficient for functioning, although perfect rationality might still be a nice thing to have, and a weaker ability to merely avoid “obvious” logical fallacies still sounds pretty great to me.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    an ideally rational person [..] can’t respond to new arguments (there are no new
    arguments for them), only new information.

    There are many different ways to envision an “ideally rational” person; that’s true for some but not all of them. It’s not incoherent to separate being rational from having certain data, for example; I might present Rational Sam with an argument based on data they hadn’t previously been exposed to. Nor is it incoherent to separate rationality from intelligence; I might have worked out a line of argument demonstrating something that Rational Sam didn’t work out, because I am smarter than they are.

  • arcseconds

     Well, as I mentioned what I’m trying to get at here isn’t some kind of super-ratiocinator person, but someone like an ordinary person, just with no particular investment in their beliefs, has some ability to follow a rational argument, and always updates their beliefs when presented with a rational argument.

    Kind of like, you wish upon a star that your friend was more rational and not so damned set in their ways and prepared to believe in things for emotional reasons.  and you get your wish, and they turn into someone who’s still not exceptionally bright, but end up turning into a kind of epistemic weather-vane.

    i don’t think i want to assume that they can necessarily remember the arguments, because people don’t.   I don’t (it’s very annoying) and I’m a lot better at this than average.

    But even to the extent they can remember, I’m not sure it helps as much as you think it does, or at least it might take some time for their beliefs to stablize.  They meet a bad libertarian who gives them two reasons for being a libertarian – so they become a libertarian.  All the marxist has to do is to knock down those two reasons and give two more reasons for being a marxist.  If they encounter another libertarian, they don’t need to be an awesome libertarian, they just need some counters for some marxist points and some arguments that our friend hasn’t heard before.

    ‘two reasons’ is just a sketch – my point is initially it won’t take very much.   Also, I have it in mind that our friend is not very good at doing their own reasoning (no better than average), so they won’t necessarily be able to come up with fresh counters. 

    If they had been following this discussion, they might be going “yeah, yeah, arcseconds is right, they would be pretty flippant” then later, “yeah, yeah, Gotchaye is right, each proponent would have to be much better than the last, so it wouldn’t be so bad” and now “yeah, yeah, arcseconds is totally right, they’d forget stuff, so in a few months time the initial libertarian can just reconvert them. they’d be flippant”.

  • Gotchaye

     Yeah, I got that.  But I think you’re limiting this person more than you ought to.  Like you say, we all sometimes forget arguments.  But it would be a very strange person indeed who always remembered /what/ his or her factual positions were but had no sense at all of how strong the arguments for those positions were.  I have beliefs that I don’t necessarily remember the arguments for (of course some of my beliefs don’t have arguments for them, and this is important and not necessarily irrational unless thorough skepticism is the only rational thing to believe).  But I still have a sense of how sure I am of those beliefs, which, if I initially establish my degree of certainty only by rational argument, is going to be a decent measure of how good those arguments were.  Your friend will still be attached to his beliefs for emotional reasons, but the emotional significance will have initially attached to the beliefs just because and to the extent that they were argued for.

    Shorter: An epistemic weather-vane would be an odd sort of person.  But I don’t think that a regular person, plus avoiding all obvious fallacies, gets you there. The person doesn’t have to remember the arguments, exactly, as long as he or she at least has a sense of how convincing they were.

    Maybe some of our disagreement here is the deductive/Bayesian distinction you get at later.  Obviously most interesting beliefs about the world, like whether libertarianism or Marxism are true, aren’t going to be established on the basis of deductive argument from reasonable premises.  I assume that even this rational-but-ignorant person is going to object when the libertarian says “first, assume that all humans are rational maximizers” or similar.  Non- question-begging arguments for libertarianism or Marxism depend on contingent facts about humans, and the evidence for them is in large part observational.  So standard deduction isn’t going to help much, and it seems to me that someone who “avoids obvious fallacies” in this context is something like someone who assigns rationally appropriate weight to evidence presented.  There are different ways of defining what that is, exactly, but I think we more or less expect that better arguments and stronger evidence will push up the person’s confidence in X more than weaker arguments and weaker evidence.

    At the very least, one could present this rational-but-ignorant person with an argument that, given their tendency to flit back and forth from belief to belief, they should hesitate to affirm something unless they get to the point where a handful of somewhat plausible arguments for the other side won’t sway them.  Possibly people without much ability to evaluate the strength of arguments /should/ generally be very hesitant to affirm many things for which the primary evidences are complex arguments.

  • Caravelle

    BTW, I don’t have it in mind that they’re ideally rational, more that they avoid obvious fallacies. I’m not even sure what discussing something with an ideally rational but fairly ignorant person would be like — it would probably be very strange, and you might not be able to convince them of much.

    In fact if we assume the ideally rational approach is a Bayesian one, you wouldn’t be able to convince them of anything if you aren’t providing them good evidence, i.e. making them less ignorant.

  • arcseconds

    How ideal do we want an ideal rational agent to be?

    i mean, arguably anything short of deductive closure is a departure from ideal rationality, but someone with a deductively closed set of beliefs is not something that it’s easy to imagine.    They’d believe an infinite number of propositions, for example.

    The Bayesian analog of deductive closure I think would be someone who on the presentation of new evidence would immediately update all propositions in their belief-set with new Bayesian probabilities  (sometimes the probability might not change, but then it ought not to change), so that no further application of Bayes’s theorem will result in a probability change.   They’d be a super-Sherlock Holmes at the very least – no sitting around smoking enormous quantities of shag tobacco ruminating on anything, every case would be solved immediately the last piece of evidence is gained.  Every piece of data would immediately yield them all the data it was possible to gain from it.  They’d be fantastic on the stock market, presumably.

    Again, it seems very hard to say what such an agent would be like. Even just having numeric probabilities for everything would make them very different from any actual human being.

  • Caravelle

    That is something like I was imagining, yes.

    Of course they’d be very different from any actual human being, because just like perfect logicians they’d have infinite computing power (or arbitrarily high computing power). Aside from that difference… let’s put it like this : I won’t argue the point because I haven’t finished reading Jayne’s “Probability: the Logic of Science” yet, but the bits I’ve read made a convincing case that humans do reason in a Bayesian way even in cases where it isn’t intuitively obvious they do (for example, some apparent contradictions disappear when you account for the level of trust one has in a source).

    But any ideal reasoning agent is going to be quite different from humans, however you define them. Otherwise you wouldn’t call them “ideal reasoning agents”, you call them “Joe, in Bournemouth, see who I mean ?”.

  • arcseconds

     Presumably with both deductive and bayesian closure, they could just decrypt any cyphertext using a known algorithm as easily as reading it.

    They’d already know all finite ASCII strings on reading the ASCII standard (deductive closure), and for each of those strings, they’d have a probability of it being the plaintext already in this case given what they know (i.e the plaintext is English, the plaintext has been written by a South African male working in the banking industry (so it’s unlikely to be a mathematical discussion of astrophysics or a synopsis of the Noh theatre scripts), etc).

    There’s a mapping from every plaintext/key combination to every cyphertext.  So the agent already knows the mapping of all finite ASCII texts to every possible cyphertext knowing the algorithm and key length.

    On reading the cyphertext, the agent would then know what plaintext/key pairs could result in that cyphertext, and given what they already know about the message probably only one mapping will have any significant probability, and that probability would be quite close to 1.

    I’m just saying this as a trivial example of the sorts of magic this being could perform.

  • caryjamesbond

    See….THIS is why slacktivist is the greatest website ever.

    i think every day for the past couple of years gives us further proof that Marxism has a lot going for it.  

    I would agree that a marxIST viewpoint is incredibly useful- its essentially “dude- follow the money” combined with “HELL with rich people.”  MarxISM, the political idea that we should all feed our products into a centralized overarching government distribution center that then redistributes the goods produced based on need….has some issues.   The reason I think capitalism works so well is the close relationship between action and payout. I go to work, I get a check every week. I harvest grain, I sell it, I get money.   Marxism puts a significant delay in there. I make an amazing amount of grain, ship it off to the warehouse and later on I get…the same amount of grain + toilet paper as always.

    The key is to look at capitalism as a useful tool.  A rock on a stick was a useful hammer. But we refined and tweaked and developed new technologies and now I can get a shatterproof well balanced hammer with a claw and ergonomic grip with a titanium head. Same basic thing, much more effective.  Capitalism needs rules and checks and balances to work as effectively as possible. Unfortunately, some people see it as a religion instead. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Capitalism also works very well because as a society we’re very willing to throw poor people under a bus in exchange for popular shoes.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Surprisingly, I agree with you :P

    (Cue shock from the people who wonder how a self-proclaimed socialist lefty would agree with this assessment of capitalism :P )

    I’ve heard it said that capitalism is a good servant, and a bad master.  The basic principles of capitalist economic functioning – linking effort and reward – are very powerful and direct. But they must serve the broader community, not be ends in and of themselves.

  • caryjamesbond


    (Cue shock from the people who wonder how a self-proclaimed socialist lefty would agree with this assessment of capitalism

    I’d say the chances of you seeing this are slim, but if you do…

    I consider myself more or less a socialist. However, the distinction I make is different from the common one. As the media uses it, it’s the middle spot on a continuum that goes liberal>socialist>communist.  But I fundamentally disagree with that. Communism is type of economic structure. Communism isn’t the opposite of conservatism, it’s the opposite of capitalism. It is a different way of regulating and dealing with commerce.

    Socialism, on the other hand, is a type of social structure, so in that sense it is comparable to conservatism and liberalism.  It is a statement of how a society is structured. You can have a conservative communist state (which is what I would argue the USSR was at some points) or a socialist capitalist country, which is essentially what Sweden is. You cannot, however, have a communist capitalist society. 

    So, I wouldn’t say that was odd.  More common sense.  Communism works well in outline, but is absolutely destroyed by the details. (Like- WHO determines what your “need” is?  And how do we keep that guy from being corrupt? )


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