rat4000 wrote:You seem to be offering a justification for your (educational) posts, but I think Pfhorrest's problem was--I know my problem is--with stuff like Azrael's "calling you out explicitly, shut it" inappropriateness.
That is correct about me. I've had no objections to the form or tone of any of Shro's own posts, even though I obviously disagree with her about some things. The only person who's really seemed out of line to me here was Azrael. Everything else looks to me like reasonable misunderstandings and polite disagreement.
Shro wrote:This particular place values easing the cognitive burden of these minority populations. That has been established. The people who are already here like it that way, and will take steps to ensure the balance remains in this favor.
You speak as though I'm some newcomer here challenging a universal consensus. You've not been here much longer than I have, this thread alone is evidence enough that any such consensus is far from universal, and regardless of that, I think there's always room (or should be, amongst reasonable people) to have a discussion about whether we're doing things the right way or need to change.
People like you being uncomfortable and thinking and reacting in ways that you are not used to make this place more comfortable and relaxing for me.
I want to be clear that this is not an issue of me dealing with things that I am not used to. I'm actually quite good at navigating the metaphorical social minefield. It's just really, really exhausting, and like you, I get tired of doing it, as it has to be done pretty much everywhere in "real life". Even though I personally am pretty much never on the receiving end of them, people reacting like Azrael did add unnecessary stress to places like this, that are otherwise places I feel like I can relax and not have to be super mindful of what every single person is thinking and feeling about me and my words and behavior, what assumptions they are reading into everything, what impressions I'm unintentionally giving, and whether those things will have a negative effect on me especially if those other people are in or connected to positions of authority over me -- which almost everyone I have to interact with in real life is in some way or another, and which most of the people I'd say are behaving inappropriately on here are, since like Azrael they're usually a special class of user if not outright admins.
It is one of the only places on the internet like this for me - I like having a place where I am not consistently thought of as the person who will be the social one, whose skills are the one that keeps the conversation going. While I enjoy working towards a mastery of these skills, sometimes I want to know that someone is going to take care of me, and my emotional needs.
I'm not asking you, or anyone, to take on a special burden of moderating any discussion and exercising special social skills to make sure it keeps flowing well. Quite the opposite, what I'm asking for in general (what I'd like to ask of everyone everywhere, but good luck with that in the world at large, so at least on the internet in general) is a place where nobody has especially high expectations of special social graces and discursive skills from anyone. Where we're all just basically polite to each other to the minimal extent of not being outright hostile, and beyond that are just forgiving of other people in basically every other way. So nobody
has to be doing all this heavy cognitive work of catering the tone and contents of every conversation carefully around everyone who might have the slightest problem with any of it, because everybody's just being relaxed about it all, and if something does really bother them, they just say plainly without any emotional charge what it is that bothers them and why -- and yeah, then the person being asked should generally say sorry and avoid that, assuming we're all being reasonable in the first place and not making unreasonable demands. (To be clear, I think you requesting people not inquiring into your gender, if you had done so, or other people like Azrael noting on your behalf why that might bother you, is perfectly reasonable; in contrast, sorry to repeat an example, someone asking me to keep my atheism or sexuality to myself would not be. There has
to be the possibility that a request made will be unreasonable; we cannot demand that everyone immediately prostrate themselves before anyone who dislikes anything they say).
You say that the family would be justified in demanding reasons why they should sidestep these requests when these friends tell them not to, and asking for these reasons should be okay. Say that the the IT lady's friends have asked for help before, and she's pretty comfortable with them, so she lets them know that she's not willing to do all of this work outside of her actual job. She's worried about telling her family this in the same way, because they'll end up trying to guilt trip her into feeling like that her not willing to be helpful somehow reflects badly on her character, and so on . She lets everyone know by trying to mention how unwilling she is to do this things while she's in a large group of her family members, since she doesn't want to repeat herself to every single one since it is a conversation she is dreading having because of the guilt trips she might end up having (she has a very large family). What now?
I'm not sure if you're asking me what the IT person should do next, or what I expect the next events in that scenario would be. I can't answer the latter question without knowing their family and how they would react, but I think that IT person's actions thus far in this scenario have been perfectly fine. Another thing that could happen is their friends, who know this background information already, could help IT person out by explaining to the family why IT person wouldn't want to comply with their requests, just plainly and without emotional charge again. That last bit is the part I'm really most concerned with. Saying, in a neutral matter-of-fact way, that you are (or someone you're concerned about might likely be) bothered by something, and why
, is always fine. That's important information to be communicated and omitting it will only make things worse. Lashing out at someone with assumptions of maliciousness and no explanation, either for your own sake or for someone else's, isn't going to help anything and is only going to make the people being lashed out at defensive and less likely to go along with what's being asked of them. Of course, if the neutral matter-of-fact approach continuously fails to work, then maliciousness or at least negligence can reasonably be inferred, and lashing out angrily to underscore the damn point that's not sinking in can then be warranted.[Edit to add an important "if" missing from that last sentence].
Azule knows he's not like that. What evidence do I have that he's not like that? On the internet... none.
I'm not asking you to take him at his word, and I left open the option for you to simply refuse to answer on the grounds you already gave before, or the grounds you gave in the rest of this paragraph. But for Azule himself to deny such accusations of his character should not put him in even deeper shit. That's something really, really disconcerting to me about a lot of threads in modern culture, a sort of tendency for accusation to be tantamount to guilt and attempts to defend oneself from anything being an even more glaring sign of guilt. It's a tone that demands that everyone feel preemptively guilty about everything anyone else might assume about them -- and then even takes that preemptive guilt as evidence to back up the assumptions.
(My previous girlfriend did something like that, and the impossibility of it drove me mad. She was very skittish and nervous and defensive and afraid of possible threats from men in general, so I went out of my way to not do things that might make her uncomfortable, and that effort in turn looked to her like deceptive behavior just trying to falsely give her the impression that she could be comfortable around me to lull her into vulnerability. Behave naturally, and have my motives for every innocuous thing questioned; behave unnaturally cautiously to avoid doing anything to incite that, and have my motives for that
questioned. It's not fair and it's unhealthy both for people like her and for everyone they interact with. I understand what could bring someone to behave that way, having either been hurt before or else just having been spun up by too much talk of threat and danger, but understanding the cause of the unhealthy behavior doesn't suddenly make it healthy).
And I do understand how this behavior can end up hurting - I am stereotyping $population in to having $reaction during $event. I ask people of $population to ensure that they won't have $reaction, and that I won't believe that they won't have $reaction until I am satisfied with their actions until they don't. What makes this different than asking a Muslim to renounce all of the terrorists, or asking a girl random trivia to ensure that that she's a "real" nerd girl? Why does anyone have to prove they belong anywhere by distancing themselves from a small minority of their population that ends up being troubling? How can we make this fairer to people who have associations with a group of people through certain characteristics (through no choice of their own) to not try and paint them with the same brush of the troubling minority that share the same characteristics?
I'm not sure I understand you clearly here. It sounds to me like you are comparing your own behavior to stereotyping all Muslims as terrorists, or to stereotyping all apparent nerd girls as "fake" nerd girls... and then, here's where I'm most unclear, asking how and where to draw the line between the latter behaviors (which I'm assuming we both agree are bad) and your behavior? If so, I don't think there is a line; I think all three behaviors are comparable, and comparably bad. I don't think there is a socially appropriate way to suss out the non-terrorists Muslims from the terrorists, other than waiting for the terrorists to try to do something terroristic and then catching and punishing them appropriately; and to think that there's a need to do that sussing-out in the first place is rightly offensive to Muslims in general. Substitute "men" for "Muslims" and (say) "rapists" for "terrorists" and I'd say the same holds true.
You are discovering the reasons for why we code switch. This term comes from the linguistic context of switching language/slang based on who you're talking to - but it's much broader than that. I am a proud atheist, but I'm not going to say the things I say to my religious friends as I do to my atheist friends. I don't talk to a person I'm just meeting the same way I talk to someone I've known for a decade. I don't talk to my boss the way I talk to my sister. All of these different populations require different interactions... and you have to be adaptable enough to know that different things are acceptable or offensive to different people. We don't have a master list of offensive behaviors to avoid at all times, but functions that tell us when $x and $y are certain values, to not say specific things.
Yeah, I get all that, but on the internet especially or in mixed crowds in general, the question comes up of how to deal with multiple overlapping "codes". Say you're hanging out in person with a bunch of people, mostly strangers, who for all you know are a wide mix of religions and irreligion; should you have to hide your atheism in that crowd just in case some of the people in it might be offended by it? That seems to be the kind of lowest-common-denominator standard you seem to be defending: that we want a mixed crowd here, and so to facilitate that we should avoid saying anything that anybody might not like. But that seems as unreasonable here as it would in the real world, in a literal crowd of people of mixed backgrounds and opinions and such. If you're talking to a particular
person in that crowd and they tell you they don't approve of your atheism and don't want to hear more about it, then you can be polite to that person and avoid the subject with them. But they need to ask you first, and they need to ask politely; they or their friends angrily "calling you out" on your "atheistic bullshit" would be completely inappropriate behavior.(Minor aside, something about your paragraphs above and also below strike me as mildly condescending, though I can't quite place what about them so I'm just going to take my own advice and note it, forgive it, and move on).
That is not how it works. If someone is hurt by something I did or said, I immediately stop those things in the presence of the other person. Offense is usually an emotionally charged response, and I know if I try and ask for a polite, rational discussion, it isn't necessarily going to happen because of how emotions work.
It might not work, because people are emotional and irrational and imperfect, yeah; but to give it the opportunity to work is better than the alternative of just giving in completely to let the discourse be dictated completely by the most irrational reactions.
I'm mostly talking here about how the community in general should view and react to an interaction between two people, one of whom has accidentally offended another, who may or may not be capable of giving a polite reason for why they found it offensive in the first place; not about how the two people in that dispute themselves should behave. What you describe here, "I will find other ways to discuss it, I may wait until I sense an opening for this discussion later on with that person, or I may talk to other people to try and understand why my actions or words were so offensive.", sounds like a good pragmatic way for the offender to diffuse the situation, but is "advanced level social skills" as someone else in this thread said, and not something that should be obligatory and expected, or the lack of which vilified. It's perfectly reasonable to ask for an explanation when someone is asked to change their behavior, and completely unreasonable to expect anyone to do something just because it's angrily demanded of them. It is also perfectly understandable
why someone who is emotionally overwrought would be incapable of responding to such a reasonable request reasonably, and it is also laudable
to be able to cope with people who are behaving that way in the ways that you describe, but it's at least equally understandable why someone would not be able to cope with that in that way, as it is why that reaction would have occurred in the first place. What I'm concerned about is the surrounding community seeing and treating such disputes as between two people of equal worth having difficulty communicating politely and reasonably, and not
of them as a villain who is totally out of line for having an understandable, if not entirely reasonable, response to the other.
"I just want to be polite and rational, so why are you staying offended and not answering my questions?" is not a reasonable reaction. The things that cause offense are generally rooted in an emotional response, so asking for this polite, rational discussion right away is in a way disrespecting the reactions of that person. Offense also doesn't occur serially in the vacuum of isolated social interactions. A day filled with microaggressions can be just as exhausting as one blatantly offensive encounter. This is not my first polite discussion, nor will it be my last. But I can tell you that I have had far more interactions that I just had to dismiss because I just had too much going on in my life to calmly and rationally explain why I was bothered by someone's behavior. Nobody owes you these explanations... I do not owe you this discussion because I was offended.
I'm not saying anyone owes anyone anything, only that's it's not unreasonable (and should not be itself offensive) to ask politely. It's the difference between (analogously) "excuse me, can I squeeze through here?" and "GET OUT OF MY WAY". Though they have the same pragmatic content (asking someone to make way), the latter is entitled and totally inappropriate, but the former is completely acceptable, even if the answer to it should turn out to be "sorry, no, because...". And conversely, "FUCK OFF" would not be an acceptable substitute for "sorry, no, because..." if the request really was "excuse me...". Now if someone really is bellowing "GET OUT OF MY WAY", then yeah, "FUCK OFF" is a fine response; even though there could probably be better responses still, nobody should be expected to just oblige a "GET OUT OF MY WAY" without question. But conversely, nobody should be expected to just oblige a a "FUCK OFF" without question either.
I am offering this discussion because I know people have some difficulty in wrapping their heads around social interactions, and I want to help, because it makes me sad to think that no one ever showed you guys the ropes, and that there really aren't any new player servers around where you can practice without the full weight of the real world consequences of your mistakes.
Some of the people here sound like they are appreciating this conversation because of their own lack of social skills, but I'm not one of them. I don't generally have difficulty interacting with people and working around their irrational shit all the time; most people who voice any opinion of the matter to me, online or off, usually say laudatory things about me being exceptionally civil and reasonable etc etc, even in the face of people who aren't; I've literally got multiple awards for it on Wikipedia, just for one example. I just get really really tired of doing it; like it sounds like you're tired of doing it too. It's not difficult
, it's just tiresome
. Just because someone's a really good soldier doesn't mean that they don't mind war zones; they'd still like it if most places would let them lay down their arms without worrying about getting shot as soon as they do. Even if nobody's shooting at them
, as I'm generally not on the business end of reactions like Azrael's, the fact that people are still shooting in the general area makes one feel they can't let down their defenses. I guess to complete this analogy, and maybe connect to your own terrorism analogy before: turning the place into a police state in order to crack down on the state of war doesn't especially make for a better state of affairs, as one way or another there's still people with guns who might potentially try to shoot me if I look at them wrong. Which is troublesome even if it doesn't often happen to me personally, and even if I could probably handle it; the prospect of maybe needing to makes it difficult to relax.
Shro wrote:[...]People get "jumped on" for seemingly (to some people) innocuous behaviors because this is the millionth time we've had to deal with it.[...]
...what about the people where the thing they've had to deal with a million times is people enforcing rules that they couldn't have known ahead of time (without giving a warning the first time), socially jumping on them an calling them a jerk, interpreting anything ambiguous in the worst way, and making assumptions that their motives are worse than they actually are?
Re: social skills and diversity
There's also tolerance and preferences regarding social interaction; some people have a preference against and/or low tolerance for an environment where there's a lot of conflict and people calling each other out, even if they have the skills to deal with it and avoid being the target of it.
(I find that the way people call each other out on this forum makes me annoyed and angry and uncomfortable, even though I'm not usually the one being called out here and I often agree with the person calling the other person out.)
Yeah, basically what chridd here said.
Quercus wrote:Yeh, it's crappy that people would do that. To me that's actually a demonstration of those people's poor social skills: hey should ideally have been thinking through the consequences of their actions a bit better. Case 1: it's someone abusing a disabled space, in which case they likely don't give too much of a crap about being called out, because they are the sort of person that abuses a disabled space. Case 2: it's someone with one of the myriad of disabilities that aren't immediately obvious, and you've just made a potentially quite vulnerable person feel shitty. Weighing that up that's neutral to mildly positive, against really negative, so they probably shouldn't do it.
I'm not sure if you intended this or not, but I think this makes an excellent analogy for the kind of behavior I'm concerned about here. To be clear: the type of misogynist jerk that Azrael took Azule to be is analogous to the people abusing the disabled spaces, and people unwittingly doing innocuous things that might make someone erroneously think they were a misogynist jerk are analogous to the people with invisible disabilities.