From the delightful chancre on the backside of public discourse that is get-off-my-internets dot net:
“[T]he thing that drives me consistently crazy about [the bloggers we criticize] is that they think because we’re nasty or explicit that they can write us off as haters. Gurl this ain’t Vindication of the Rights of Women, we’re not going to be careful and eloquent. It’s a goddamn internet forum about dull as shit bloggers and none of us have the time or inclination to triple-check our phrasing. You can decide if GOMI’s a negative place or not but what do you expect, polite suggestions for improvement?”
…yes, as a matter of fact. I do.
Your nastiness doesn’t make your statement wrong (actually a common fallacy!), but it makes it hella likely that I won’t want to stick around long enough to fully understand it. You cannot bombard someone with harassment and then sneer at them because they decided it wasn’t worth their time to stick around and find the gem in the pile of shit.
GOMI users are big on personal responsibility – at least, for anyone who isn’t them. When called out for body snarking/name calling/needless speculation about bloggers’ private lives, the defense is invariably “well, she shouldn’t have posted that picture if she couldn’t handle being called ugly.” Which is a pretty impressive goalpost shift. Of course we know you have the RIGHT to say awful things. The point is that perhaps you shouldn’t. If you want to be vicious, then own it. But don’t act as though it’s the natural course of things and you ~just couldn’t help yourself~.
And if your party line is “once you put it out there, you deserve any response you get”, you really don’t get to complain that someone was too put off by your meanness to continue engaging with you. You put the malice out there. You got what was coming to you.
I am afraid every day that I do not have the stones to be a storyteller. I want to change the world, but I want to do it gently. I’m so out of touch with the shouty self-righteous discourse that seems en vogue these days, and I have no desire to get in deeper touch. I’m not aggressive, I’m not militant, I’m not a radical of any kind, and I fundamentally disbelieve that any cause, any message, is worth abandoning kindness and empathy for.
Writing is all I’ve ever really wanted to do. But I am deeply, truly afraid of becoming the next Laci Green, Justine Sacco, Matt Taylor, Dan Savage, or Iggy Azalea. Yes, I know I’ll get a dozen messages explaining why the aforementioned public figures are problematic, and no, that’s not the goddamn point. Of course I don’t endorse everything they do or say. But here’s the thing: driving them underground won’t change a thing. Flawed ideas and flawed people won’t go away because you shouted them down. Belittle a person, and they’ll come back in force. Present a reasoned critique, and you just might change a few minds.