They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

Hate Bait

One of my Clarion 2004 classmates advised me the other day from the other side of the world -- Don't read the comments.

Can't tell you how many times I've read a published piece or news story where I've looked at the comments. I don't have a lot of use for echo chambers, so comments that actually discuss something can be enlightening. And also damned rare. Given the West Michigan political alignment, I can reliably predict which way the comments will go on any given story and how quickly things derail. Alas.

We thought we were so cool and enlightened and liberal and all encompassing in the 1970s. Right. From where we sit in 2014 we were full of deluding horseshit. And yet... from tiny acorns do mighty oaks grow... every journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. And while I have observed tremendous gains in opportunities for women and minorities, we still have long to go, even as we have to push back against those who want to backtrack to the good old days.

But it doesn't matter what I think. I am still a default white male in America. I shan't engage in trying to compare my problems with others. My status means I have to deal with privilege, whether intentional on my part or not. I try to broaden the characters and situations in my SF stories beyond the unrealistic blandness of default white males that Central Casting in my mind keeps trying to sell me on -- and I fail and stumble along with everyone else.

Why am I talking about this? Because a friend of mine has been vilified on the Internet twice now in the last couple of years and in neither case has he deserved the poo flinging he has gotten. The Internet, you say? Who cares what people say on the Internet, you say? Don't read the comments.

Except in full burning-torches-and-pitchfork mode, you can get flooded from multiple sources. And hate, real hate stuff emerges. Death threats. Crap to wade through day after day. It doesn't make getting up and checking the Internet exciting or fun any more. And there is no defense.

There is nothing you can say to make it right. Nothing you can do to prove you aren't what the name calling says. In part, the trouble is that the real assholes have coopted any mode you can imagine.

And then there's Twitter. I have my hands full with Dreamwidth/LiveJournal and Facebook. I don't do Twitter. But when Twitter erupts, it's a tsunami, whether for good or for ill.

My friend Jim Wright turned 52 this weekend. He wrote a very thoughtful piece about turning 52 and getting to where he is today. And he made the point that he wouldn't have gotten there if he'd let other people define him. You can read the piece here -- and stay for the comments:

http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/02/reflections-of-middle-aged-blogger.html

And then the shitstorm hit:

http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/02/defensive-wounds.html

I'm sorry. I don't see it. Jim is a honorable man and a wonderful writer. I thought his birthday piece was personal and well-told. And please note that, despite the hurt and some breadcrumbs, he did not name the person who fired the shitstorm. Character is something you build, you earn. And Jim's character does not deserve this treatment.

I think someone owes Jim Wright one helluva apology. ***

Dr. Phil

*** - But I'm not holding my breath.

PS -- Usually when I rant I use a Borg icon is such. But I didn't want to hide behind 7-of-9 or Kate tonight, so here I am.
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