not your typical annihilatrix (furiosity) wrote,
not your typical annihilatrix

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extreme tl;dr about pretty much everything

This post contains a crapload of stuff, some that I've been mulling over for months or weeks or days and some that came to mind as I was typing the other stuff. I have been doing so much thinking about fandom and online engagement that I decided it's time to stop spending so much time thinking about this stuff and go back to being a fandom participant rather than a person who sits around thinking about fandom. :P

And the quickest way for me to stop thinking about something is to talk about it. So, this is extremely tl;dr (I'm sure you're all astounded), totally opinion-based (another shocker), will probably irritate you at one point or another (news at 11), and is actually not very interesting. Unless you're me. :D

0001 - If you advocate or practice "getting things about people off your chest" anonymously in public (i.e. airing your petty grudges and naming people without attaching your name), I think you're a jackass. I will always think you're a jackass; I've heard the pro- arguments and they all stink of entitlement and illogic. But talking about your own oppression or offering objective (not "I hate you and therefore this sucks") criticism are not petty grudges, and in those situations, I don't see a difference between anon comments and logged-in ones. (For my part, I still refuse to post anon; I have no reason to.)

00010 - It is pointless to assume that all anons share the same personality traits and motivators. I did that for quite a while by equating "anonymous" with "gutless", and that was really stupid of me. Yeah, some people go anon 'cause they're chickenshit, but not all. It's not cowardly to have social anxiety that makes a person emotionally ill-equipped to deal with public backlash. They didn't choose their disability so they could get a convenient get-out-of-wank free card, and they have a right to hold and express strong opinions just like everyone else. (But that doesn't mean anyone has to approve of how they choose to express them.)

00011 - Some people don't want to act like adults when they're in their fun space. There isn't anything wrong with that, not unless they start hurting people -- and not unless they feel entitled to being treated like adults by everyone else. If you're going to publicly hold someone accountable for a non-oppressive thing they're doing, you better fucking be prepared to also be held accountable -- just as publicly -- for how you treat them in that situation. Otherwise you might as well be a barking dog, only far less adorable.

00100 - When you sidestep long-term public consequences to shit you say (by socking it up or logging out), you don't avoid the private consequences. The world might not know that you, in all your (public) woman-positive glory, called Fanbrat A a "worthless, miserable cunt" anonymously. But you know you did, and unless you lack self-awareness or empathy completely, you have to integrate that knowledge into how you see yourself. So socks and anons don't absolve themselves of all responsibility; they just skip having to deal with the social consequences. If they're talking on a meme, they may very well still face social consequences, just not long-term ones.

00101 - I think "your internet pseudonym is just as anonymous as I am!" is a completely illogical argument because pseudonymity and anonymity are not the same thing a priori. Equating them is objectively incorrect. Pseudonyms that are used consistently in a given social setting allow people to identify you, making long-term social consequences inevitable even if others can't physically punch you in the face if you do something evil. I trolled a hate meme once by posting logged in and acting like I totes didn't understand why the mice were so upset. It's been like 5 years, and I still hear about it sometimes. Anons like to dress it up in terms of ~anonymous does not forget~ but that's just pure self-aggrandisement. The reason anonymous is able to ~nevar forget~ is that its target had a name, fake or real. Using that name is a choice made by the target, not by anonymous.

00110 - I find comparisons of anonymous LJ/clone memes to /b/ inaccurate, because no LJ/clone meme has ever helped to save an abused animal or to bring an animal abuser to justice. (Correct me if I'm wrong, for I obviously have not read every single thing on every single LJ/clone anon meme ever. I just figure if one ever did anything like this, it'd make news somewhere).

00111 - It is my decision to gather my thoughts, to type words, to review the result, and to hit 'post'/'post comment'. That's four (three if I am too lazy or angry to review) distinct and deliberate choices I have to consciously make before anything I think actually makes it to the Internet. That I have to make these choices before anything I think reaches you makes it my responsibility if I end up saying something awful*. I won't always feel sorry for saying it, but I'm not going to act like whatever caused me to say it somehow makes me less personally responsible for what I did say.

01000 - I say this here only because I don't think I have ever acknowledged this fully in any public way before, and I think I ought to.

I've said and done things both online and offline that were, regardless of intent, racist, transphobic, ableist, and, despite my lack of privilege, misogynist and homophobic. I regret the harm these words and actions have caused, and I regret that despite efforts, I to this day continue to think and behave in ways that are oppressive. I'm committed to changing this, and I'm aware it will take years, because one of the first lessons I learned was that just because I am slightly better able to recognise fail in others' words/actions does not mean I'm somehow immune to committing it. I do not need any help or guidance; I'm an able-bodied adult with a little bit of disposable income, a library card, and access to Google. I also do not want a Progressive Cookie. I've said this part before but I think it bears repeating -- trying not to be a fucking jackass is not progressive, brave, or admirable.

01001 - If I say something and it gets interpreted in a way I didn't intend, it is still my responsibility. I'm amazed at how many people I see -- especially people who call themselves writers -- hide behind "you're just misinterpreting what I said, so it's your problem". Hell, I've been guilty of this, too, particularly while I was in the Matrix fandom. The thing is, if you're worth anything as a writer, you are supposed to try and find a way to write words that will not be misinterpreted unless it is deliberate or malicious, or the reader actually lacks reading comprehension (and that could be due to a disability or a lack of proficiency in English; it doesn't necessarily mean the reader lacks intelligence). Writers write; writing is the process of using words to convey meanings and concepts and images. If the meaning, concept, or image I end up conveying is not the one I intended, I have failed to use the right words.

01010 - If I write "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog", no one knows there was also a bunny unless I fucking well follow up with a bunny. [This is probably why I'm so damn long-winded. /o\] Obviously there's room for interpretation in any piece of writing; authors may be intentionally vague, and authorial intent may be dismissed entirely for analysing character behaviour and motivation, but people usually don't claim to be offended when there's objectively nothing offensive there. People are often accused of "looking to be offended" but that's just a derailment tactic; marginalised people taking offense for no good reason ~just because they can~ is a myth in that, ok, maybe it will happen once or twice to individual people, but for every one of those times, there are thousands of times the offense is real. As far as I am concerned, those are the only times that actually matter.

01011 - If I make a statement like "can you not fucking see the words I typed?", I am the one who is failing to remember that not everyone using the Internet has the same degree of ableness as I do. It's my job to use more inclusive terms -- or to try and express my frustration in a way that doesn't erase blind people (or people with learning disabilities). Ideally, that rephrasing should happen before anyone reads. But if I am called on it, I don't get to be all "well, MOST people can see, so I didn't say anything wrong. How was I supposed to know blind people used the internet?~!?!" It's not the blind reader's job to not get offended because ~they should understand that people forget they exist~. :(

01100 - ETA: If descriptions of learning-disability-related bullying bother you or cause you pain, please don't read this part. I was recently reminded of this while lurking on the Kingdom of Loathing forums; there's a player who makes misspelled posts that take some doing to comprehend -- he's never said a mean thing that I've seen, but a lot of people dismiss him as a troll or troublemaker. His player profile explains that he's got a learning disability, but apparently this is not enough. Not too long ago he made a post that he'd obviously taken care with spell-checking (and possibly running by an abled friend), explaining more about his disability and asking if people really thought him such a huge nuisance. And it just broke my heart. Why is this kid supposed to share details of his private inner world with a bunch of strangers just so they won't shun him for something he can't help? Why can't we take two seconds to consider more than one possibility for poor spelling? And we're not talking about a bunch of teenage boys in a typical pack dynamic; most longtime KoL players are adults and many are women. And yet, in his post, someone was like "fine, you have a learning disability, so use spell-check; it's not hard!". Thankfully, one of his clannies stepped in and explained to this jackass that when you have a disability, spellcheckers are often useless, because they give you options between words that all look like gibberish, and it can be even more frustrating than just typing as best you can. Again it becomes a situation of abled people feeling that since he's in the minority, he should cater to them instead of the other way around. And the thing is, he did disclose his disability -- he shouldn't even need to do that (in a perfect world), but that disclosure alone is more than enough catering to the majority, ugh. It made me really angry.

01101 - If I'm saying something and the words I'm using might contribute to oppression or erasure, it is my responsibility to try and foresee every reasonably possible reader reaction. If I fail in this, a reader becoming upset with me is not at fault; I am. This is a responsibility that I have to myself: to consider the words I say before I say them if there is a chance they might be offensive. [What's an unreasonable reader reaction? "I bought an apple yesterday, and it was delicious." "That's ableist, because some people reading your post might not be capable of going out and buying apples on their own, and you've just ruined their day by reminding them of it. Also, some people can't taste apples due to a genetic mutation, and you've just totally ruined their day, too. Shame on you." (I've never seen this happen, obviously; I'm just making random stuff up to illustrate an unreasonable reaction.)] Context matters a lot, obviously, but my point here is that if I'm going to talk about oppression, I am responsible for making sure I don't say something offensive.

01110 - Obviously when I say "offensive" I mean it in the general sense -- something that could potentially offend any member of an unprivileged group. Not in the "you hurt my unique snowflake feelings" sense. If I hurt your feelings in a way that wasn't oppressive, you still have every right to get upset and to tell me not to say such things to you. You don't, however, have a right to claim I should never have said it in the first place -- or to expect me to put your wishes above my own. (In other words, even if you ask me not to make fun of your fic because it hurts your feelings, I still get to do it if I want to, because I'm not making you read my criticism and you are bloody well not being oppressed.

01111 - There are people in every community, online and off, who just like starting trouble and/or who delight in the pain or misfortune of others or begrudge them good things and wish to see them fail miserably. There are as many reasons for their personalities and behaviour as there are such people, but in my experience with online and RL communities, across multiple fandoms and in five distinct (Western hemisphere) RL cultural milieus, these people are always in the minority (and not the oppressed kind). Sure, everyone has moments of wishing to see another person fail, of Schadenfreude, of not wanting someone to have something nice when we don't have it -- but most people don't subsist on this stuff. If they did, we'd all have fucking killed each other long before we had a chance to be fruitful or multiply. So when I see claims of this kind of personality/behaviour combination applied to entire online communities without distinction, I'm gonna gently suggest that person needs to swap out their funhouse mirror for a regular one and maybe even take a long hard look in it. If they happen to feel like it.

And I will go ahead and admit that this bullet-point is passive-aggressive and petty, because I am talking about something a specific person said recently, not a general trend. I hate being PA, but I really don't feel like directing additional attention to what I feel is a demand for attention. FTR, I have not discussed my opinion with that person, and I don't want to.

10000 - Don't get me wrong; I have always had issues with the way HP fandom engages in discussion. I'm not going to deny that there are certainly popular and prevalent attitudes in fandom at any given time. But aside from the fact that these do change with time and discussion, of course it is normal for communities to have rules of engagement. It's also normal for those rules to bend and shape themselves, usually around the community members with the loudest voices. And yeah, that's one of the things I really dislike, that the less-vocal members of fandom are not treated equally when they do speak up, especially if they're contradicting the vocal ones. But that's not a function of a common personality, for Kinney's sake. Fandom is not a cruel hive mind or a flock of sheep; each member of fandom is capable of making up their own damn mind about whatever happens to be the topic du jour. Yeah, some people in fandom will do and say horrible and evil shit just because they wish to and can, but the choice to just ignore them is always there.

10001 - After I came to HP fandom, it took me some time to figure out how different it really was from my previous fandoms; of course I did this publicly while flailing, because fandom participation is just not a solitary pursuit for me. I felt like I had to ~defend my honour~ every time someone said something shitty to or about me, especially when they were lying. But really, there is no point spending any time or energy trying to explain myself to someone who isn't even interested in listening. The minute I stopped paying attention (and it was no loss; see also 01111), my fandom experience improved by 200%. No, it's not always easy not to comment on hateful shit that's flung about, and sometimes, like when anon creatures question and mock my ethnicity, it hurts [because I have hang-ups about never having belonged anywhere due to being mixed-blood]. But I don't have to react (see also: 00111). If someone really gives a shit, they'll talk to me about it. And if they don't give a shit, why should I?

10010 - FictionAlley has withdrawn from the Pepsi Refresh project. I actually don't care that they don't apologise or admit it was a dick move to apply (or, if they honestly didn't know what the competition would be, not to withdraw as soon as they did see what it was); IMO it's enough that they're not doing the thing that was wrong in the first place. I know there will be cries of "you'll always be wrong until you post a self-flagellating apology, and maybe not even then" but the problem is gone. That's really all that's important; I think apologies are really only necessary when you can't just fix the problem. (like, you can't unhurt someone's feelings). But the problem was that FA was essentially competing against tiny adorable puppies, and that is over. So I'm going to give FA a break on this one. Though I admit I can't help looking askance at the OTW supporters who are using this as an opportunity to trot out pro-fanfic (and broader pro-hobby/entertainment) arguments when people are still understandably incensed on behalf of inner-city kids and abused kittens. Entertainment is a privilege, not a right.

10011 - On the flip side of "entertainment is a privilege, not a right", though, I was for a long time stumped on how to feel when someone said "I live in a developing/third-world country and [fun thing] is not available to buy here, so I have no choice but to pirate it". Or "I am poor and can't afford [fun thing], so I have no choice but to pirate it." Because as much as I believe in supporting creators financially, it would be just vile and wrong to go "well, poor people don't deserve entertainment if they can't afford to pay for it". [Is this where capitalism is at its ugliest?] So I have decided that I'll buy even more licensed crap I don't need because hey, it IS pretty, I CAN afford it, and it's like paying someone else's way. SHUT UP IT TOTALLY WILL WORK OUT OVER TIME. >.> So yeah, entertainment is certainly a privilege, but it's not one I can personally justify denying to those who are less fortunate financially (than the majority of fans, who usually hail from developed countries and usually can afford to pay). [Fucking socialism, how does it work?]

* No, "your fic blows; I'd wipe my dog's ass with it but I don't wanna waste good paper, plus I don't even have a dog" still doesn't count as awful. Or oppressive.

Go stand in the hallway, you bastard.


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