Sunday, June 25, 2006

Passionate AND Polite?

It's been a hellacious week in the ol' blogosphere. Lots of hot topics, heated exchanges and differences of opinions. I'm all about asking questions and raising issues and engaging in debate. What I'm not so thrilled with is how quickly some of my fellow bloggers resorted to name-calling, leveling unfounded allegations, spamming, and just plain rude behavior. I saw this happen on several blogs and with three or four different topics. I'm not going to list the blogs or the issues, because that's not the point. The point is that there seems to be a trend of poor blog etiquette developing.

What's up with this? Telling someone to shut up because you are frustrated and don't agree with their position on a topic is NOT OKAY. Accusing others of being "industrial butt kissers" because you didn't like how they tried to explain the topic is NOT OKAY. Posting spam on a blog to underscore your disdain for an individual's opinion is NOT OKAY. Resorting to name calling and threats is NOT OKAY. Twisting facts and falsely accusing others of impropriety and then saying it over and over again so that others will believe your lies is NOT OKAY. Accusing someone of attempting to intimidate when they are simply responding to allegations is NOT OKAY. AND TOLERATING THIS BEHAVIOR IS ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY.

I'm not getting up on a soapbox and pointing fingers here. I've been a total rude-o, and sometimes on purpose. I'm not proud of it. The problem is that while it feels good in the moment, it doesn't usually get me what I'm looking for and it's hurtful to others. When I took a comparative lit. class, I learned this the hard way. There was a debate about whether women are naturally inferior to men and another student (yes, he was a dude) started talking about how men and women were just made differently (genetics argument) and that's how it was. I got pissed off in the middle of the debate (I found his assertions completely outrageous for reasons I won't go into here) and in a fit of self-righteousness said he was "just stupid." After class, my teacher pulled me aside and pointed out that calling people stupid isn't likely to help change minds. He was right. I was deeply embarassed and have never forgotten that experience. I still think the idea that women are inherently inferior to men is stupid, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start calling someone names because I can't keep my temper long enough to present my argument. Besides, that just feeds the stereotype that women are emotional, irrational creatures. I like to think I can balance my emotional and analytical sides.

So what's the thing to do when confronted with rude/out of line behavior? I like to think that most of the time rudeness is unintentional. Pointing out in a polite and reasonable way that someone has been offensive and/or asking for clarification is usually a good first step. And if the ugliness continues? Well, I usually just stop participating in the conflict. Rude-o's look pretty damn stupid if they're spouting off and no one's rising to the bait. Sounds simple, but sometimes it's very, very hard.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. Whew! I feel a lot better now! Here's wishing you all lots of lively and respectful blogging.


At 10:29 AM, Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

Angie, I think this is a fantastic post. Sometimes, we really do need to bite our tongue, think about what we're going to say...

I was rude to someone on a blog once, and I did go back and apologize. There was a two-way context to it, a long story, but to those strolling by I looked completely ignorant. And I was. It taught me a lot about how you phrase what you say.

I've seen other people be completely rude and said something about it, only to have people come in and defend the person's right to say whatever they want. Which is absurd, because they're defending one person's free speech at the expense of another's.

If you're true to yourself, though, at least you can live with yourself. Not perfect, but working on it. And if that's not good enough for some people, well, what can you do? Nada.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger anne frasier said...

great post, angie.

some people seem to be using blogging as a weapon or as a way of getting back at someone. i find that very disturbing. i also wonder how much of it is about getting blog traffic. were some of these people salivating over their stat counter? who knows. i can usually shrug this kind of thing off after 24 hours, but that's not happening this time. it was a deep cut.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger angie said...

Thanks, Sandra. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see something fucked up going on. Sometimes silence is a form of tacit approval, but often continued participation just keeps the fire going. Like I said, I'm all for debate & questions, but things got seriously out of hand.

And Anne, I know it's been awful - no point in sugar-coating it. Still, why let a few idiots ruin anything? Be pissed, be hurt, be whatever, but don't give up any more time or thought than you have to. You're worth more than that & your time & energy are valuable.

For all its flaws, the blogosphere has been good to me. I've "met" some awesome folks here, and for that I'm really, truly grateful.

At 4:35 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Christmas Tree on a cracker.

What the fuck has been going on while I've been gone?

Is this all over that ITW award stuff?

At 4:39 PM, Blogger angie said...

Ahahahaha! Christmas tree on a glad the great & groovy M.G. is back.

No. It wasn't just the ITW hoorah. Like I said, multiple blogs, multiple topics. All the stuff I said I think is NOT OKAY happened at various places in the blogosphere. Just venting re. frustration over bad manners.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

Manifesto Madness, eh?

I started to post a blogpost about it, but decided to remain shallow.

then I thought I'd post about editing, but that sounded like work.

So, I should just go post this.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Bill Cameron said...

I go back and forth on this. Some days I think the negative drift of discourse on the internet is a symptom of a larger problem, a wholesale degradation in our great societal discourse. In this formulation, internet sniping is a side effect of the disdain people have fed to them via cable news channels and talk radio, and exacerbated by humiliation-as-entertainment that we see in things like reality TV and pop culture media. Sometimes it's political, sometimes it's personal, but mockery and derision is the way people get attention, and all too often the way people find amusement. It's the way news is provided, political campaigns are run, the ways pop stars and actors talk about each other.

But then there's the anonynmity of the internet. You can stick your nose in anywhere, a digital Kilroy, and stir up some shit. It might be just some random mouthing off, but we've also got this weird phenomenon of the "troll", the person whose personal pleasure apparently derives from seeing how riled he or she can make others. This is obviously something particular to the internet.

And it's scary sometimes how intense it can be. A friend of mine, a cop, was telling me about how he made a comment on an online video game forum. People in the forum knew he was a cop. Furthermore, he admitted what he said was controversial (within the context of the fantasy roleplaying environment, not necessarily in a real world sense), but one of the comments that followed unleashed a fury on him that was truly astounding. People were saying things like, "I hope you get shot in the face, pig, and it's so bad that your funeral has to be closed-casket." That was actually one of the milder comments. Now he laughed it off to me, said he's heard as bad or worse from the backseat of his patrol car. But we're talking about a discussion about roleplaying elves and orcs. Disagreements can happen, but where did anyone get the idea that it was okay to wish mayhem and death upon someone over a disagreement about elves and dwarves?

I admit to finding the whole thing befuddling, but I also find hope in posts like your own, Angie, and the conversation that has been going on over at Sandra's place (and others). Obviously, for as hot and frenzied as it sometimes gets, not ALL our computer monitors are spittle-flecked. (At least not all the time!)

At 11:04 AM, Blogger M.E Ellis said...

I've seen a couple of posts that have made me feel uncomfortable, I ranted on one then deleted it. Decided it was best to keep my mouth shut. I do tend to not comment if it doesn't directly involve me, which it doesn't.

It just goes to show that although we are adults, we still revert to childhood at times. I like being my age. I've made a conscious decision this past year to act it. I've found I see thing differently than I did before.

A deep breath and then clicking onto another blog works wonders!

Hope you're having a good day!


At 10:51 AM, Blogger M.E Ellis said...

Popped in to say hi! Am on my daily designated blog hour!


At 4:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is a great post. It's great advice for the real world but even more invaluable in the blogosphere. In the real world it's much easier to have a conversation and clarify things. Whereas on the net it stays there forever.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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