Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Patterns in Commenting

So, after 7 years or so of blogging, it turns out I've picked up a pretty good sense for when commenters here, and others I encounter on Internet, are going to be not great for me to interact with.  It also turns out that in my older and wiser years, I care less about falling into The Tolerance Trap wherein, in order to be a Good Blogger, one must allow all opinions and voices just because people have them and that's the tolerant thing to do.

See, although it might not seem like a big deal if it looks like a commenter strolls by and "slightly" mischaracterizes what I wrote in a post, for a commenter to come right out of the commenting gate with something like "First of all, [insert mischaracterization, proceed to write a novel rebutting it]", signals that they're reacting more to what they think I said than what I've actually said.  Which is rarely fun for anyone.

In my experience, engaging with such people often means having to be on guard against repeated mischaraterizations, having to continually correct people's interpretations of my arguments, and ultimately having to try to decipher what I think they think my argument is so that actual conversation can happen. It's a tedious process and, honestly, I'm not always up for it.  It can be infinitely easier for me to be like, "Welp, it looks like we disagree about some stuff, how about we just leave it at that, yeah?"

Secondly, I've previously discussed sock-puppeting with respect to Internet commenting and entitlement.  So, "two people" showing up to comment on the same site, both of whom are in pretty much 100% agreement with one another and who have the same IP address is suspicious.  It tells me, wow, this person probably really wants to appear to be right and that there's a good chance it's one person pretending to be two different people or two people sitting together manufacturing support for one another.  

Yes, two friends or roommates can both be in agreement about stuff (and likely often are) and both be posting on the same site from the same location, but I think a less suspicious course of action to take when two people in the same household are engaging in debate in the same forum would be for them to make substantive contributions to the conversation beyond merely rubber stamping what the other has said.  An important consideration when commenting with a friend is, I think, "What we're doing might be 100% innocent, but how might it appear to others and how can I/we appropriately clarify and engage?"

Saying something like, Well, uh gee, my roommate's computer was broken and, um, she used mine and must have found your blog too and decided to comment, is.... entertaining, I guess.

Third, in my experience when someone says something akin to how they consider themselves a feminist although, really, they prefer the term "equalist" because feminism should really be "about equality," I know that said equalist and I are likely at fundamentally different places in how we understand and think about feminism.  Which, you know, fine.  Lots of feminisms exist, and people are at lots of different stages in their feminism.

I'm just not always super interested in having the same conversations I've had about zillion times before about how stuff is hard for men too, so can't feminism focus more on men.  I mean, there's a place for that convo to happen for people for whom it's new and stuff, but I don't really see Fannie's Room as the place for that Important Convo at this moment in time.

Fourth, I never know quite what to do with the commenter who will just drop a link into a comment with something like, "See, read this, these people agree with me," and meanwhile, the content they've linked to is like novella-length.  It's just, like, really lazy and I'm always wondering, which damn part of this piece am I supposed to respond to?  Do I just drop everything I'm doing and rebut the entire thing? 

I just find it more conducive to a conversation when people formulate their own arguments and then link to other content or arguments to support a specific argument they themselves are making.  "Go read this whole thing" is just too broad for me to work with given the other constraints on my time and, frankly, my interests. 

Lastly, if I've asked a commenter to not comment here, then don't fucking comment here.  When someone does so, especially if they claim to be a feminist (or "equalist") despite me directly asking them not to do so, that's a big signal to me that they and I have fundamentally different understandings of feminism and boundaries.

Relatedly, I mostly skim those Parting Last Words (ie, insults) banned commenters so often feel the need to leave.

No comments: