Please help me improve my comment July 17, 2014 1:36 PM   Subscribe

I waded into the discussion with a comment that I thought was asking for some help understanding the argument of the article under discussion. Can it be improved, or should I not have posted at all?

Maybe I shouldn't have started out by writing "I hate to interrupt the amen chorus", but I was the first (and I think, so far only) person in the thread to raise even a mild question or concern about the article. And I guess maybe there's only one possible informed opinion about it, and maybe my thinking was inept. I did "wonder why 'the amen chorus' was so unanimous", and that's why I posted my comment, trying to ask for some clarification from people who obviously disagreed me about how clear the article was. I shouldn't have mentioned my previous deleted comment, but I did want to make the case that I'm making an effort to participate in the discussion. Was my tone that terrible? Could my comment be rephrased to be more acceptable? Was I wrong to ask for clarification at all? Help me become a better commenter.

Can someone point me to an example of a polite, well-formed comment that disagrees or questions an emerging consensus that could be used as a model for participating in a similar discussion? Is it even possible?
posted by tew to Etiquette/Policy at 1:36 PM (117 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I'm guessing it was this line: I guess I'm having trouble reading this article as saying anything other than, "Uggh, I'm just so tired of men having opinions!"
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Yes, the way you started that comment really poisoned the well, because it implied that you were going to come in and bust up the groupthink party that you apparently perceived to be underway.

I didn't get the impression you were asking for clarification at all, which was reinforced by the way you didn't engage with any of the people who tried to answer your questions. I thought your intent was to undermine the thesis of the article, not to clarify it.
posted by dialetheia at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


How about: "I'm having trouble figuring out why this article is resonating so strongly with so many people here. Help?"

If you are genuinely seeking clarification, then be clear about it, and save the paraphrasing for later, if at all.
posted by rtha at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


here's a tip:

if you are interested in learning, wait until after the initial excited, emotional, "bandwagony" type comments are out of the way - maybe 24 hours or so - and see if your comment was made by someone else. If so, learn from that comment. If not, post your comment then.

The thread will have enough momentum that hopefully even the worst comment won't derail it too much. It will mean that the conversation will have slowed down enough that there is room for listening instead of piling on. It will also give you a chance to write down your comment and then revisit it 24 hours later and ask yourself "is this really what I want to ask? Have i thought of an answer to this in the past 24 hours?"
posted by rebent at 1:54 PM on July 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


I didn't engage with anyone because I didn't want to "threadsit" - for me to respond individually or collectively to the volume of people telling me I didn't read the article carefully enough or wasn't trying very hard would have probably been the very definition of threadsitting. I got a few responses of varying helpfulness, received some browbeating, decided more along the same lines would have been super-unwelcome, so I moved on.
posted by tew at 1:56 PM on July 17, 2014


Yeah, if you see something resonnates strongly with people, the "Uggh, I'm just so tired of men having opinions!" was just like waving a red flag with a bullseye on you - it was way too disrepeckful for the discussion.

respeck. give it.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I see two questions in this post, the first being about how to ask a question about something you don't get and the second about whether its ok to be a dissenter. I think mixing the two caused the problem with that particular comment.

The comment seemed disingenuous - like you don't really fail to understand the point the article is making but that you disagree with it and are making a play to the old metafilter is too homogeneous and doesn't take dissenting views well trope in order to backhandedly critique the article and the other commenters by asking them to prove themselves. Doing that is way more likely to start a fight or derail than a respectful dialogue.

A much better comment would have been something like "I see this resonates strongly with a lot of people but I'm not sure I'm following the authors reasoning at this point "quote article here."" Or if you just wanted to critique the article you could have just done that. Asking for clarification the way you did comes off as if you're trying to start an argument in a backhanded manner.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 1:58 PM on July 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


Even with the problems with your comment which you acknowledge and others here are pointing out, it looks to me like you got some substantive responses which attempted to explain to you what it was you were asking to have explained.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on July 17, 2014


I thought emjaybee's comment was a pretty good and clear explanation of what you'd missed in the article and the response to it.

For me, I heard your tone as "Ladies, I don't know what you're all complaining about," and it was pretty clear you hadn't considered the article very carefully.
posted by gladly at 1:59 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Help me become a better commenter.

Edit! Never let your first draft into the wild. Every time I have, afterwards I have thought of better ways of communicating myself.

MetaFilter allows us to write, plan, reconsider, and rewrite; a wonderful opportunity.

This comment required two edits itself!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:04 PM on July 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


it implied that you were going to come in and bust up the groupthink party that you apparently perceived to be underway.

Just to clarify what I meant by this, the issue with saying people are participating in an "amen chorus" is that it subtly implies that they don't honestly hold the opinions they're expressing. Whether this was your intention or not, it came off as implicitly accusing commenters of agreeing with each other to fit in, not to express their honest agreement. I've never seen people respond well to such an accusation, whether or not the accusation was warranted. This approach tends to put people on the defensive and cause them to escalate the tone of their claims to make it clear that these are their real beliefs, not just an exercise in social in-group signaling.
posted by dialetheia at 2:09 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Edit! Never let your first draft into the wild. Every time I have, afterwards I have thought of better ways of communicating myself.

QFT. Also, I think live preview is a mixed blessing. I like to use the actual Preview button, in part because it lets me see any other comments that have come in since I started typing. If there are new comments, sometimes one of them addresses what I'm trying to say but does it better, and I can stop trying to make mine read well (often with a feeling of "oh yay they said it smart cuz I sure can't word good today!").
posted by Lexica at 2:11 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


but uh, yeah, don't "edit" edit, as in, don't post the comment and then click "edit" and edit it majorly
posted by rebent at 2:16 PM on July 17, 2014


I too took your comment (well, "Uggh, I'm just so tired of men having opinions") as kind of condescending. It seemed like you didn't really read the article and that you didn't really want to engage with either the article or people's responses to it-- that by starting off with a dismissive comment, you wanted to disparage those with positive responses. I think rtha's suggested rephrasing upthread is a good one, and I think that had I read that, I would have responded differently. And yeah, I'm kind of glad to hear from you even if it's here rather than in the thread, because a discussion needs to be just that-- when you left it at that one comment, I felt like my suspicion that you didn't really want clarification was confirmed. But it sounds like you do want a discussion, which is great, and that should be a part of that thread going forward.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Edit! Never let your first draft into the wild. Every time I have, afterwards I have thought of better ways of communicating myself.

This is great advice for every bit of writing you will ever generate for public consumption. Letters. Essays. Articles. Novellas/Books. Emails. Texts and IM's. Comments on random websites. Etc. Write, review, edit, re-review. Even if you make no changes, 'Reviewing' is such a valuable step.
posted by zarq at 2:35 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I didn't engage with anyone because I didn't want to "threadsit" - for me to respond individually or collectively to the volume of people telling me I didn't read the article carefully enough or wasn't trying very hard would have probably been the very definition of threadsitting.

Point of order. It is possible to post a response without threadsitting. I think that people saw your comment as threadshitting.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:35 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I thought it was fine, for whatever that's worth. It was a bit provocative in the areas people have pointed out above. When you decide on going provocative, it can go either way--people might jump on board and you get a bunch of favorites, or you become the thread's villain for a minute.
posted by Hoopo at 2:38 PM on July 17, 2014


Well, damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.

To be frank, I thought your comment was sexist, demeaning, dismissive of the lived experience women were sharing in the thread, and a deliberate threadshit. I tried to elide some of that in my comment, while still trying to show the kind of reaction it elicited in me. Despite Ryvar's ill-considered "tone argument" defense, you really weren't browbeaten at all.

If your comment was not meant to be fighty and disingenuous, then you may really need to think about reading the room better and considering whether you should be asking a straightforward rather than a loaded, question.

But I'm just one guy.
posted by OmieWise at 2:42 PM on July 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Maybe I shouldn't have started out by writing "I hate to interrupt the amen chorus"

That is a good thing to consider!
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:58 PM on July 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


To be frank, I thought your comment was sexist, demeaning, dismissive of the lived experience women were sharing in the thread, and a deliberate threadshit.

That was sincerely not my intent, and I apologize for giving that impression.
posted by tew at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


This comment required two edits itself!

To be clear, editing before hitting post is great and taking the time to re-read and review what you're typing before it goes public is probably the best overall thing you can do for gut- and sanity-checking what you're saying and how you're saying it.

Editing after hitting post, to do other than fix a missed word or a typo, is not okay and is not what the comment editing feature here is for. Once you've hit post, you've hit post; if you need to add or clarify a thought, post another comment. People should not be reading different comments depending on when they loaded the thread, especially in anything that is at all fast-moving.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:15 PM on July 17, 2014


> it was way too disrepeckful for the discussion.

respeck. give it.


WTF?
posted by nangar at 3:31 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


R E S P E C K
That's How Kids Spell It Today
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:40 PM on July 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


Hey - I think it's really swell that you posted this MeTa and appear to be engaging in good faith. That's awesome.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:41 PM on July 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


That was sincerely not my intent, and I apologize for giving that impression.

Thanks for clarifying. That might explain some of the overall confusion. My comment must have been pretty surprising, not to mention the other reactions.
posted by OmieWise at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hate to interrupt the amen chorus I read this as "I feel defensive and I expect to get attacked and I am going to say it anyway." And I understand why that sometimes happens but starting off on that foot is kind of a good way to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But I think the place you went wrong is really here:

I guess I'm having trouble reading this article as saying anything other than, "Uggh, I'm just so tired of men having opinions!" Which is fine, as far as it goes, and I'm all for telling people "I don’t fucking care if you like it." when appropriate, but I'm not sure that it's a good organizing principle for a society, or even a particularly good career strategy for a celebrity.

Because you are basically saying "Women are entitled to their opinions but are not allowed to alter the organizing principles for society that are all calibrated to dude. The system we have WORKS and you are being stupid for questioning it."

And what people are saying is "Hey, it isn't working so well for women. k? thx." The idea that women have long been second class citizens in part because the default measures are all geared to men is not at all new. I can't think of any specific titles at the moment but this idea goes back some decades at least. So I think part of what people are reacting to is that the degree of ignorance you are expressing reads as "willfully ignorant" rather than "clueless."

It's intended to be helpful, not attacking. I was not participating in the discussion. I wrestle plenty with feeling like an outsider, so I am sympathetic to your position and I respect the way you framed the MeTa. (It is in stark contrast to the usual framing of "My comment got deleted. Please side with me against the meanie mods who are interfering with my right to free speech." which tends to seriously annoy me.)
posted by Michele in California at 4:21 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I read the first several responses. For the most part, they directly addressed your questions and ideas. They seemed pretty even-handed, helpful even. I didn't see anyone excoriating you. Some of the responses gently raised their eyebrow at you. OmieWise was a bit harsh, but did address your comment. A couple people later raised specifically described issues with your comment. Especially considering the obnoxious wording at the beginning of your comment, you were positively babied in that thread:
I hate to interrupt the amen chorus, but...
Really? You want to engage in a constructive debate and you start by calling your audience an "amen chorus"? Did you start with "sheeple" then decide to tone it down a bit?

So my opinion is you got what you asked for, and were handled quite nicely considering your tone. There was nothing wrong with the content of your comment, except for the fact that your opinions on this topic are poorly informed and conceived, but that's ok, most peoples' are.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:39 PM on July 17, 2014


Despite Ryvar's ill-considered "tone argument" defense, you really weren't browbeaten at all.

Uh, no, dude. Fuck that.

My argument was not about tone, it was a condemnation of you flatly declaring dissent against popular opinion to be a sin, which you absolutely did:

"Did you think you were that much smarter than the choir?"

This is the beating heart of authoritarianism, right here, and it shocked me to find something so ugly and sneering coming from the side I agree with. I cannot readily conceive of a context in which that sentence would be acceptable, ever.
posted by Ryvar at 4:40 PM on July 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you pose a question, you're assumed to actually have an answer in mind. "Nobody is ever sincerely asking a question on the Internet" should be one of those laws alongside Godwin's. Think about what would be the worst possible secret answer based on what you've written. That's what the majority of people will read into it.
posted by michaelh at 4:43 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree that OmieWise's comment was heavy on the "how dare you", but I understand the sentiment - he's reacting to the idea that runs deep in the American consciousness, dunno about elsewhere, that when people agree about something, it inherently makes them more likely to be foolish and wrong. It's a silly sentiment that fuels such movements as the anti-vaxxers, 9/11 denialism, birtherism, and creationism.

Of *course* it's wrong and damaging to the discourse to assert that minority opinions are, by default, wrong, but it's also obnoxious and foolish to say that by agreeing on a topic we are forming an "amen chorus", which is a sneaky rhetorical trick that implies we must be blindly parroting some false sermon fed to us by an authority with questionable motives.

So I agree with you that it wasn't a very positive way to respond, but I agree with what I think OmieWise meant by it.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:49 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


If you pose a question, you're assumed to actually have an answer in mind.

So you're saying all questions online are either rhetorical or trolling. That's...well it's not something I assume at all.

the idea that runs deep in the American consciousness, dunno about elsewhere, that when people agree about something, it inherently makes them more likely to be foolish and wrong


What on earth is even going on here today, I feel like I'm in some Sliders episode and it's a strange new dimension where shit I never heard of is taken for granted by everybody.
posted by Hoopo at 4:56 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm learning something about the usage of "amen chorus" - I wasn't aware it had a strongly pejorative connotation. Cursory Googling hasn't resulted in any great definitions of the idiom. I was using it in the sense that if somebody asked "Isn't ice cream great?" or "How about The Wire? Pretty good, right?" the response you'd expect would be an "amen chorus" - not that anyone's been brainwashed into liking ice cream, but that there's widespread and enthusiastic positive response.
posted by tew at 5:00 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm learning something about the usage of "amen chorus" - I wasn't aware it had a strongly pejorative connotation.

I have never heard the phrase before. But, to me, it smacked of perjorative connotations similar to 'echo chamber' or 'groupthink'. I thought you were being critical.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:02 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I did "wonder why 'the amen chorus' was so unanimous"

Something which I am seeing happening a lot these days on MeFi (likely confirmation bias) is this habit of posting in a thread where people are sharing their personal experiences with the topic of the thread and implying or stating that there is some sort of organized response, a la a chorus or groupthink.

I tend to find this response to people expressing their personal experiences particularly galling because often these are points of connection for the people in the thread - essentially the dynamic is that a lot of people are finding a point of commonality, and then a single person walks in and goes "Why are you all brainwashed to think the same thing" which directly ignores what people have indicated in the thread - which is that we are speaking from personal, lived experience.

This seems to happen a lot to women in particular. I don't know a single woman who doesn't have her "first street harassment" and "worst street harassment" stories, but very few men with the same experience - so I can bond to a woman I don't know in a thread about street harassment over how early and how awful, but I'm unlikely to bond with a man on the same grounds because men, so far as I know, are vanishingly unlikely to be targeted for street harassment.

But the fact that I and other women can bond over something which excludes most men (and often over usual barriers like race and class) doesn't make our bonding a result of groupthink or some sort of organized chorus; instead it's a sad statement on the universality of women's experiences in public.

The experience of being judged by external factors over which we have little control but which have major control over us is a fairly common experience for women. It often comes in two very painful forms: from the men we are closest to in our lives, and in laws which directly interfere with our lives. I'm seriously unsurprised that women who have experienced this will bond over it, and the growing cultural shift among women in general, and white affluent women in particular, to start demanding respect without the requirement of being attractive to the person "respecting" us (and the point that if we have to be attractive, it isn't really respect).

Interestingly, there is a valid dissent with regards to the racial and class issues eluded by this article, and I'm currently considering a lot of different responses to that as I think it's an important intra-feminist discussion to have.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:03 PM on July 17, 2014 [51 favorites]


tew, fwiw, I got some seriously negative reactions here for using the expression "thank you for playing" to express sincere gratitude for people participating. People let me know I was merely being dismissive for using the standard phrase game show hosts use when someone loses. (I actually think game show hosts are being sincere when they thank losers for participating and I also don't watch a lot of TV.)

So, yeah, sometimes phrases get interpreted very differently from the way we were thinking of them. But I also understand what other people here are saying about it.

(Is this where I can insert group hugs?)
posted by Michele in California at 5:12 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was my tone that terrible?

Yeah, it was pretty bad. Reading that thread for the first time now in parallel to this, and your comment does come across as deliberately fighty and dismissive of women's lived experiences; indeed, an example of what the article itself was talking about. More specifically, the "uggh" section - you're paraphrasing what a woman said in a way that misses the point of what they actually said, and then promptly dismissing it with some mansplaining about how that thinking is basically a bad thing.

It didn't look like you were asking a question, but making a statement about what you think, in the shape of a question. If I'd been in-thread at the time, I suspect I'd have been piling on a bit myself.

By the sounds of it, that really wasn't what you were going for, so um, oops? I do genuinely like that you're trying to figure out where you went wrong here, rather than going full on fighty in the thread.

Could my comment be rephrased to be more acceptable? Was I wrong to ask for clarification at all? Help me become a better commenter.

It's not wrong to ask for more understanding or clarification for something you don't get. Just bear in mind it's no-ones job to enlighten you, particularly on a tricky topic. It's much better to leave it as an actual question, rather than fill in what you already think too much, as then others will probably comment on the latter, not the former.

As already said though, it can often be better to just read and listen for a while, and see if you can get understanding that way first - jumping in feet first early on in a topic you admit you don't 'get' can be taken somewhat negatively, and then later you can still try and get clarification.

I might have phrased such a question this way (trying to channel clueless 20YO me) - which is not to say it's the ideal way to do so, obviously, or even that I've fully 'got' your miscomprehension.
Sorry, but I genuinely don't get why this is resonating so much with people. Do women really feel that their entire life is judged by men's standards? Is it wrong for men to have opinions at all - or is it that they're considered the be-all-and-end-all? Is it really true that "every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to 'dude,' whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes." Help me understand, metafilter, you're my only hope!
To which I might have answered as '20 year later' me;
I'm a guy too. But when women say that's their lived experience, I believe them. Us men think it's all about us because we're so used to being the centre of attention, of having the opinion in the room that matters; that even when the conversation is between and by women, we get to have our say. And that's what's meant by 'being calibrated to dude'. It's not even about individual men, but how society is still shaped far too much by what men in general think; because most of the power still rests with a small group of old powerful rich dudes, and other men generally want to become an old powerful rich dude, and men are judged by the same metrics, so the way we act and think is very much shaped by that - and anyone that doesn't fit that mold will be put outside of it, and judged by those who do. Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (and the followups) explains it much better than I can.

(total edits while composing this; about 50)
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:13 PM on July 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


This is the beating heart of authoritarianism, right here

You may need to re calibrate your outrage meter.
posted by OmieWise at 5:22 PM on July 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Was my tone that terrible?

Yes.

Could my comment be rephrased to be more acceptable?

Yes, and ArkhanJG has done a good job at that by stripping out some of your more inflammatory (albeit apparently not intentionally so) characterisations

Was I wrong to ask for clarification at all?

Not at all, and it's good that you did.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:30 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


You can't disagree with people sharing their experiences.
Correct procedure:
"Wow, lots of people are reporting experiences that I don't find familiar. I'm integrating this information into my experience-and-understanding matrix so that I will find it familiar next time."
I do this all the time.

Unfortunately it gets people riled up because there's always someone who pops into these threads who basically refuses to try to understand on their own and demands that other people understand it for them. As a subtle way of saying "Hey! I reject this knowledge!" Something which is never done in contexts outside of minorities (women, ethnicities other than white, non-cis, etc.) relating their experiences. Maybe you're not aware that this happens in every single thread, because you have never read one of these threads before. It's rude to make these demands of a conversation you're joining.
posted by bleep at 5:46 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


I really didn't intend to end up writing an apologia for my comment, but I did anyway, seeing as people seem to be assuming I'm a dim undergraduate encountering online feminism for the first time. My question wasn't about whether women actually felt one way or another. That would be a super dumb question: "Hey, I read this article about how a woman feels about being judged according to male standards. I know a bunch of you in this thread also expressed feeling that way, but it seems impossible. Do any women actually feel that way?"

My question was "Are even the criteria by which women evaluate other women [...] ultimately calibrated to 'dude'?" The article made a sweeping argument that "every barometer by which female worth is measured" is calibrated to "dude", and my reaction was, wait, you're saying that even the criteria by which women judge other women are all inherently based on male opinion? That strikes me as a reach. Surely women have some ideas (right or wrong) about how other women ought to look, act, or be that have nothing to do with men. I know that women have a wide variety of strong opinions on the choices other women make w/r/t having kids and working, and I don't think all of them are calibrated to "dude".

I also don't understand what "calibrated to dude" even means - even if there were some kind of monolithic male opinion about how women ought to act or look, is the argument that these rules have been set up to be most favorable to men, writ large? Like, is this the best of all possible worlds, for men? Why would men choose to create and enforce (and conscript women to enforce) a beauty standard that isn't achievable by 95% of the women they love and spend their lives with? What's the sense in that?

It stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point to consider that not only are women constantly judged by (not all!) men according to unfair standards (possibly chosen by men), but even when women are judged by women, they are always judging each other by standards originating solely from men or chosen with respect to male opinion.

As for "Uggh, I'm just so tired of men having opinions!" - the article states explicitly that even if Junod had been perfectly feminist, or if Chait had correctly characterized the piece, the author would still not have been happy, in fact, she posits that should have felt worse, because she "would have felt obligated to feel grateful for it". So, even "enlightened thinking" and "slightly nuanced improvements" in how men view women are, to the author, odious. Which makes me think, "Gosh, if both the feminist and anti-feminist views of men are hateful to the author (for different reasons), apparently she finds no male opinion on women to be worthwhile."
posted by tew at 5:59 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Surely women have some ideas (right or wrong) about how other women ought to look, act, or be that have nothing to do with men. I know that women have a wide variety of strong opinions on the choices other women make w/r/t having kids and working, and I don't think all of them are calibrated to "dude".

How in the nine worlds are we supposed to tell? I am 100% straight and I knee-jerk judge how women look in comparison to the thin/white/blond ideal even though a) I don't believe all men actually find this "most attractive" and b) I LIKE GUYS.

A lot of the reinforcement of sexism is homosocial - meaning women impose it on other women in order to please the Platonic Man and men impose it on other men so they don't accidentally become too much like women. This makes it incredibly difficult to tease out "what I really think" from the morass of "what everyone just knows."

The "obligated to feel grateful" is a reaction to a growing awareness that doing things like thanking men for babysitting their own kids, or thanking men for finding us attractive when we just happen to be here and living our lives, or thanking men for acknowledging that some guys rape us and that sucks is part of a shitty paradigm where men get a lot of praise for placating behavior that actually doesn't change the underlying paradigm that kids are the responsibility of women, women are supposed to be attractive all the time, and some of us have been raped and it sucks.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:11 PM on July 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


My experiences suggest that women's opinions about how women should behave are strongly influenced by the overall societal (ie male) expectation. Excerpts from previous comments of mine:

When I went to GIS school (a 2/3 male field, at least at the time, and school was 2/3 male), about a week before the end of this 8 week intensive "boot camp" style program I realized that I was the only woman who consistently sat up front. I occasionally did not, if there was no front row seat available, but, when possible, I was typically in the front row. Maybe two or there other women floated around a bit.

All other women filled the entire last row of seats and part of the second to last.

comment 1


When I sat up front in GIS school, I initially had no awareness that was weird behavior. Even with realizing that the majority of the female students chose to sit as far back as possible, I still did not think too much about my tendency to sit up front. I feel I do it for reasons like: I have crappy eyesight and I am just trying to make sure I see the black board. But other women have crappy eyesight and still do not sit up front.

I did not realize how very socially problematic this was and that personal choices like where I sat in group setting were likely part of why I was such a lightening rod for controversy until I worked at a Fortune 500 company and, one day, the highest ranking woman in the department commented aloud (to me and others in earshot basically) about "Look at MiC, sitting all up front" or something like that. She was not in the front row. She only sat in the front row at meetings when it was required of her due to her high rank. So this very powerful woman found it literally remarkable that I would be so bold as to sit in the front row. Like that was some kind scandal.

comment 2
posted by Michele in California at 6:14 PM on July 17, 2014


That has little to do with this thread.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 6:16 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


It was in answer to tew's above question about "do women really judge each other using a male metric?" My hope is that a specific example will help clarify the issue for him.
posted by Michele in California at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gender issues have been really heated on metafilter lately, although you may already know that, and a lot of what you're seeing is probably a reaction to people being on edge about the issues. For what its worth I think the way you've addressed this has been really mature and I think the above comment is interesting and would have led to better discussion.

My thoughts on the "calibrated to dude" part is that its not about men as individuals or even men as a whole but a calibration towards a culture that values the wrong things about women and that it's incredibly difficult to think around the ingrained ideas that we've developed from living in that culture. Like as a woman I might not like it but more attractive women have greater value to a lot of people in a lot of situations. Even if it's subconscious to those people and that's something women judge each other on because its a reality that exists independent of how stupid we know it is. Really important things in life are pinned on pretty shallow and stupid attributes. Women live and work and exist within a framework that we know, and many men probably know, is pretty dumb but its not within our power to exist without it and still belong to modern society. "Calibrated to dude" may not be the best way to phrase it though, its a complex problem.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


Which makes me think, "Gosh, if both the feminist and anti-feminist views of men are hateful to the author (for different reasons), apparently she finds no male opinion on women to be worthwhile."

It seems to me that her point is that women should be assessed on their merits, on not how much 'worth' men consider them to have. In that respect, yes, extraneous opinions on women - developed from and for the male perspective (for example, whether 42 year old women are fuckable or not) - are not worthwhile or valuable.

This bit stood out for me:
Men still run, or at bare minimum have shaped and codified the attitudes of, the churches, the courts, the universities, the police departments, the corporations that so freely determine women’s worth. As Beyoncé observed last year, “Money gives men power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”

It is ridiculous, and I wish we could all tell them how little it matters what they think. Except that of course most women, those who bear the brunt of these assessments, aren’t Beyoncé or Amy Poehler—who, not coincidentally, was on Junod’s list of newly un-tragic 42-year-olds. Instead, they are women who may not be able to pay for Pilates, let alone for day care or contraceptives, who may need but not be able to afford drug treatment, who Esquire would likely still rate as not-hot or more likely not rate at all, but whose fates nonetheless rest in the hands of empowered committees on the general value and status of womanhood in America.

the article states explicitly that even if Junod had been perfectly feminist, or if Chait had correctly characterized the piece, the author would still not have been happy, in fact, she posits that should have felt worse, because she "would have felt obligated to feel grateful for it".


Because it sucks to have to be grateful for crumbs from the table. Because the bar is so low that any male public figure who rises to the extremely basic decency to women is seemingly an outlier. Can you really not see why that would be frustrating?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


I really didn't intend to end up writing an apologia for my comment, but I did anyway, seeing as people seem to be assuming I'm a dim undergraduate encountering online feminism for the first time.

There was good reason for that assumption, in my opinion.

Your apologia still rubs me the wrong way.

Also, you've been on this site since 2005, but your question here makes you sound positively new. I don't get it.

(But then I do, because a lot of social justice work is invisible, even when it happens right in front of you all the time or directly AT you all the time.)
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 6:42 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you're going to say something a person said rubs you the wrong way, I think you owe them some details about why. Regardless of content, I'm appreciating how tew is explaining what she or he means, and taking responsibility for the responses people are having. Your response strikes me as pretty antagonistic.

(And yes, I'm making a tone argument. I am all about the tone argument. Yes, it can be used as a desperate last step to try to stifle valid complaints, and SJW may indicate that tone arguments should be ignored, but here, on MetaFilter, where I want to hear from diverse and thoughtful sets of opinions, I think meeting low-GRAR comments with low-GRAR responses is good.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:02 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


benito.strauss, I didn't elaborate because I thought that elaboration would actually be more antagonistic. But, sure, in addition to what's been said above, an/the apologia doesn't work for me because it reads not as "oh, I see ...." but rather "I don't think my first comment was wrong; I think I was misunderstood; let me explain to you."

It is doing what an early comment upthread by dialethiea said they (mistakenly?) thought OP was doing (sorry, still need to learn how to link):

I didn't get the impression you [OP] were asking for clarification at all, [...]. I thought your intent was to undermine the thesis of the article, not to clarify it.

(Apologies to dialethiea if I am mis-using their words).

The apologia read to me as undermining, not clarifying. I got this impression because of the way the apologia was framed by the OP.

But, benito.strauss, I'm not trying to say my comment wasn't antagonistic. I just want to clarify that I was attempting to be as --least antagonistic-- as possible. I own my tone.
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 7:41 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


It stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point to consider that not only are women constantly judged by (not all!) men according to unfair standards (possibly chosen by men), but even when women are judged by women, they are always judging each other by standards originating solely from men or chosen with respect to male opinion.

So, tew, it sounds like you actually already know that you disagree with the writer of the article and why, and that you weren't asking for clarification in your original comment after all?

I'm not sure what you're looking for here. It's not that people don't understand the content of your comments about this article, it's that they (or rather, we) don't agree with them. So if what you're looking for is a way to rephrase your opinion so that people agree with it, then no, that's probably not possible.

If you're looking for a way to rephrase your opinion so that it doesn't rub so many people the wrong way and come off as rude, you'd probably have more luck if you dropped the hyperbolic language ("amen choir" "stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point," etc). That use of hyperbole and sarcasm, to me and it seems like to others, comes off as condescending and disrespectful. You'd also probably have better luck engaging others in a productive, rather than antagonistic, discussion if you used concrete, specific examples to back up your points. Bombastic incredulity isn't that useful or convincing to others on its own, especially when they meanwhile *are* offering specifics in support of their point of view on the issue (such as when people bring up specific anti-abortion laws as examples of patriarchal control over women's bodies and decisions, or such as when people use specific stories/examples from their lives to illustrate the their points). If you can't think of any good, specific examples to support your points, you might try a close read of a quote from the article in question, though in that case, try not to get too nit-picky in your analysis, because that can end up narrowing your argument to a degree that will be irritating to others as well.
posted by rue72 at 9:13 PM on July 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


Is it even possible?

I do not think so. For discussions that accommodate a wider range of viewpoints on certain topics including this one it is best to look elsewhere.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:22 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I do not think so. For discussions that accommodate a wider range of viewpoints on certain topics including this one it is best to look elsewhere.

I disagree. You're entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to have people agree with you.

If you put your opinion out on the Blue, and people disagree with you, they'll counter. If you put your opinion out in a way that is fighty and condescending, people will respond in kind. But if you put it out in good faith, and (ideally) support your contrary view with evidence, then foten you can have a decent discussion with people who will do the same.

What I'm trying to say is, you get what you give with MeFi.

But there's a limit to that. Many arguments have shades of gray, but many don't. The sky is not green, and if you say it is, the vast majority of people will never agree with you. In that respect, save alive... is correct - if you want people to agree with your view, when your view is objectively unsupported by evidence or incorrect, that's not likely to happen here.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:30 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


So, tew, it sounds like you actually already know that you disagree with the writer of the article and why, and that you weren't asking for clarification in your original comment after all?

No, I actually agree with the writer of the article, in that I think that Junod's article in Esquire is a "piece of sexist tripe", agree that "lots and lots of women are not good, for reasons far graver than anything having to do with Esquire", agree that it's extremely unjust (and bad public policy) that Debra Harrell was arrested, agree that women deserve access to contraception as part of basic healthcare (including thinking that "deserve" isn't a strong enough word), agree that putting mothers in jail for using meth while pregnant is terrible for all sorts of reasons, agree, agree, agree. I totally understand and get why for many people in the thread, the article resonated personally, I think it's great that they posted comments, feel terrible that the world is set up the way it is and that people can be so shitty to each other, and often have no idea that they're being shitty. Agree, agree, agree. Sign me up, I'm on board.

I am not sure why anyone would think that I have any other opinion about women or social justice, other than the fact that I had the stupidity to interrupt a thread of positive responses to the article by asking whether one of the more hyperbolic statements in the article (every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to “dude,” whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes) is actually a position with any support. Change "every barometer" to "way too fucking many barometers" in the quote, and I'm perfectly happy co-signing it.

I wanted to comment and pick nits with the Traister article because I think the underlying issues are way too important to get wrong and I wish the article had been better.
posted by tew at 9:52 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am not sure why anyone would think that I have any other opinion about women or social justice

Because all you had was nitpicking. You didn't say any of those things, you provided no basis for agreement, you established no common ground before nitpicking.

MetaFilter is not a narrowly-focused site. If you want people to know that you actually agree with the writer of the article, you have to say so.

(Two full-pass rewrites and three typo corrections!)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:08 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm done talking about my stupid comment and my stupid self and I'd much rather talk about the etymology of "amen chorus".

I think the colloquial use of "amen chorus" (which isn't in my OED) might be a recent corruption or confusion with "amen corner" (which is). "Amen corner" certainly has some negative connotations, as it's "seats, usually near the preacher, occupied by those who lead responses from the congregation" and "A group of people that give unwavering support." Also a play by James Baldwin about religious hypocrisy.

The 1908 American History and Encyclopedia of Music defines "amen chorus" as "a chorus which is written chiefly on the word Amen." Most famously, it's the final part of Handel's Messiah, and it's pretty.
posted by tew at 10:28 PM on July 17, 2014


I am not sure why anyone would think that I have any other opinion about women or social justice

For me, it's your apparent incredulity that patriarchy is a thing that has ramifications, for example:
It stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point to consider that not only are women constantly judged by (not all!) men according to unfair standards (possibly chosen by men), but even when women are judged by women, they are always judging each other by standards originating solely from men or chosen with respect to male opinion.
To 'breaking point'? Really? The idea that men, who control nearly all social and power structures in society, are able to set the standard by which other groups, including women, are judged? That stretches your imagination? The idea that prejudices can be embedded and internalised to the point that oppressed classes become complicit in their own oppression is nigh unbelievable to you?

That suggests that you aren't well versed in the issues, because this - the scope of the influence of the group in power, and the pervasiveness of the attitudes that they build and perpetuate - is pretty foundational, well worn stuff in social theory.

Plus, you literally said 'not all men'. I'm not sure whether you were being ironic, but in the context of your other statements that's going throw up a red flag.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:29 PM on July 17, 2014 [23 favorites]


So the use of "Amen Chorus" would be nonsensical, and the presumption that the writer meant something like "amen corner" is entirely sensible.

In fact, it's almost *literally unbelievable* that that was not the original intent.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:33 PM on July 17, 2014


...for all sorts of reasons, agree, agree, agree. I totally understand and get why for many people in the thread, the article resonated personally, I think it's great that they posted comments, feel terrible that the world is set up the way it is and that people can be so shitty to each other, and often have no idea that they're being shitty. Agree, agree, agree. Sign me up, I'm on board.

Sometimes people think they are in agreement, but agreeing with sentiment isn't the same as agreeing in depth and quality. I, for example, find the above phrasings dismissive and trivializing. It suggests that I am badgering you to agree. Kinda like: "OK, got it. Let's move on." If we were in the same room, I would not identify you (i.e. your comments) as in alignment with mine. WHICH IS FINE. Except that you keep insisting you agree. And that bothers me more than you recognizing that maybe you just don't (or at least not yet), because it means you are missing the nuances of the objections/clarifications that are provided here by others.

I am not sure why anyone would think that I have any other opinion about women or social justice, other than the fact that I had the stupidity to interrupt a thread of positive responses [.....] Change "every barometer" to "way too fucking many barometers" in the quote, and I'm perfectly happy co-signing it.

Really? Because if it was just this one clause or comment that bothered you, perhaps a comment such as, "Totally on board with the author, though I wish Author had not resorted to hyperbole in xYz statement. Anyone feel this way, too?"

The problem isn't that you interrupted a thread of positive responses, or even that you disagree (or not). It's problematic that you keep reducing it to those things. The problem (to my mind) is that you took a position of out-smarting the author (and indirectly, everyone who posted before you who agreed) by pointing out what you identified as a GOT-CHA! moment, which you reiterate here.

And now you are downplaying it by suggesting it was just semantics or a stylistic choice of words.

---
(Aside to everyone: If I am quoting previous comments too heavily, please send me memail to let me know.)
posted by RaRa-SpaceRobot at 10:56 PM on July 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Always" statements are always false, including that one, since there are, like, universal constants, but I'll leave those to the math and physics people. Strip away the hyperbole. This is why the "not all men" thing is stupid. Of course it's not every man who ever lived who does something. Assume members of all genders/races/whatever are all capable of using the same level of rhetoric, and stop arguing against the rhetorical device and start arguing against the argument if you actually disagree with it. If you don't disagree with it, let it be.

If you see something as an echo chamber, an amen chorus/corner, whatever you want to call it, does calling it that actually contribute something useful? Almost never. If a lot of people have agreed with something, then post your reasoned disagreement, don't just snark about the consensus. Consensus isn't always a good thing, but it isn't always a bad thing, either. Nobody is a hero for being the first person to be contrary. That's not an argument, that's contradiction, as a very wise man once pointed out.

If you have a real point, make a real point. That's not limited to social justice discussions, it's across the board. Arguing against tone or rhetorical technique or the odds of a certain number of people sharing an opinion is useless unless someone's specifically asked for feedback as to, say, their rhetorical technique. If you want clarification, just ask for clarification. If you want a real explanation, people are generally happy to explain. If you disagree with something, present your evidence against it. Participate in good faith with the substance. That doesn't mean never having opinions about style, it means making a deliberate effort to set that aside, even when other people don't. If you can't be objective about that in the moment, step away awhile.
posted by Sequence at 4:40 AM on July 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


> It stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point to consider that not only are women constantly judged by (not all!) men according to unfair standards (possibly chosen by men), but even when women are judged by women, they are always judging each other by standards originating solely from men or chosen with respect to male opinion.

With respect, you are not as feminist as you apparently think you are if that stretches your imagination beyond the breaking point. To anyone who has actually listened to what feminists have had to say and looked at the world with that in mind, the statement that you find incredible is plain, obvious truth. It's like you were saying "I'm down with science, you won't find me badmouthing scientists, but it stretches my imagination beyond the breaking point to consider that the earth goes around the sun. Look up there, you can see the sun going across the sky!" Stop being so satisfied with your own worldview and have the humility to genuinely listen, think, and absorb.
posted by languagehat at 7:26 AM on July 18, 2014 [20 favorites]


Looks like tew has closed their account, so there's probably no need to get any more kicks in.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:33 AM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


If this MeTa can be described as people "kicking" tew, then there is apparently no level of discourse other than enthusiastically agreeing with them that would have been acceptable.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:00 AM on July 18, 2014 [27 favorites]


Which is ironic, given the accusations of facism regularly leveled here.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2014


I wasn't actually volunteering to take his place!
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:11 AM on July 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Most people would benefit from an occasional swift kick, and some of us more than one. I need about six today because I'm supposed to be off getting my life in order and instead I'm hanging around here again. So.
posted by Sequence at 9:24 AM on July 18, 2014


that's a very sensitive view of "taking his place," strangely stunted trees.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 AM on July 18, 2014


I once made a joke about facism and somebody flagged it as offensive and I will probably never know if it's because they the didn't get the joke and thought I was actually accusing someone of fascism or if they got the joke and just thought it was that bad of a pun.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:38 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


wow that's really facist cortex.
posted by sweetkid at 9:40 AM on July 18, 2014


cortex, just what have you got against Faces?!
posted by scody at 11:34 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Looks like tew has closed their account, so there's probably no need to get any more kicks in.

If this is kicking then soccer balls get gentle massages.

A shame s/he's gone; I was going to comment (and apparently still am) that the issues in the comment remind me strongly of MeFi's Own Scalzi's observation about the the failure mode of clever. It's a valuable reminder, for me at least, that what I think are fun rhetorical/verbal flourishes are a hell of a lot riskier in a more charged subject.

Quipping about being the lone voice outside the amen chorus may seem like more fun than saying you feel a little dumb to be the only person who doesn't see what the big deal is, but it is way less likely to get you glared at if someone doesn't read your inaudible vocal tone on the page.
posted by phearlez at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


cortex, just what have you got against Faces?!

No, he just really hates bundles of sticks.
posted by winna at 2:14 PM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Damn you (no) autocorrect!
posted by zombieflanders at 2:23 PM on July 18, 2014


It's a valuable reminder, for me at least, that what I think are fun rhetorical/verbal flourishes are a hell of a lot riskier in a more charged subject.

Yeah. In difficult or touchy threads, I tend to drop humor entirely. I realize this means that my presentation in such discussions may wind up veering towards overly earnest, but that's okay with me. I'd rather err on the side of "overly earnest and maybe a bit tedious because of it" than "appears to be disrespectful or dismissive of other people's experiences and seems to think that's okay".
posted by Lexica at 3:45 PM on July 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you're still out there, tew, please let me offer my experience.

I rarely comment in posts about feminism, race relations, glbtq issues or any other topic that involves the experiences of people who are different from me in relation to the actions and attitudes of people who are like me. I fear that will write some stupid, tone deaf statement that reveals an as-yet unexamined prejudice for all the world to see and scorn. So I carefully read about the feelings and experiences of others who don't enjoy the many privileges that I do. As I read each comment, I try to ask myself honest questions within the safety and privacy of my own head. Is this something that will help me examine and eradicate one of my prejudices? Is this an example of a bad behavior that I do now that I should stop doing? What can this comment tell me about the reality of The Other that I don't experience in my own life? That I can't experience in my own life? I let these ideas percolate in the back of my mind as I go through my day. I see everyday interactions between people in a new light. I try to envision how I would feel if the roles were reversed. I try not to be an asshole.

For me, it's not a matter of agreeing with a slate of ideas. It's the tortuous process of examining and attempting to remove or modify the many thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that comprise the negative and ugly parts of my personality. It's a difficult life-long process. Being silent and carefully listening makes it easier, or at least less embarrassing.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:46 PM on July 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


Good job chasing another user away, everyone!
posted by misha at 11:09 PM on July 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I really don't think that this thread can be blamed for "chasing anyone away" when the poster came into it asking for critique. I debated whether to mention this, but I'm not trying to encourage a witch hunt or anything--tew showed up posting a few months ago, according to his comment history, after five years away. He'd been a regular if not prolific participant for the previous several years. I don't need anybody official to confirm or deny this or anything, I'm just saying that it would not be inconsistent with this history to suggest that this isn't the only account he's had here, and that under the circumstances he might prefer to post in future in a way that was less conspicuous?

This at least seems as plausible as the notion that he somehow took this to be so upsetting as to require leaving forever. Maybe he left. Maybe he's taking a break. Maybe he's still here. If we can't really know, then it seems not useful to try to assign responsibility for that state. I think that some good advice came out of this generally, at least, there's a lot of bits that I found useful for me, so I hope other people will find bits useful for them.
posted by Sequence at 1:18 AM on July 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


I thought most people here did a pretty good job of trying to productively engage the question posed in this post. I always hate seeing people leave, but for whatever reason some people will find that this isn't the site for them, maybe permanently, maybe just for a while... and of course, the barrier to rejoining the site is typically an email and maybe a 5-minute wait, so it's not really usually a problem even if someone rage-quits (which doesn't seem to be quite what happened here) and feels differently later. I hope tew comes back if/when they feel like it.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:29 AM on July 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


He may not be gone. He may just be taking a break. Sometimes, that's a good thing for all parties. So I really see no reason to start jumping to conclusions, hurling accusations, etc.

It seems to me that, historically, people tended to not ask for critique on MeTa of how they could do things better. Critique was given for how the site was run or how the group as a whole behaved but individuals coming here (to talk about their own deleted comment or similar) often were coming to complain that they were being discriminated against or whatever, not ask for critique. So I think this is a new-ish trend and there will be a learning curve.

Public critique (in good faith, without being an abusive asshole) is hard (in terms of skill) to give and hard (emotionally, at least) to receive. It is very easy to mean well and come across all wrong, for myriad reasons. And most folks have relatively little experience with getting constructive feedback. They are used to getting attacked and defending themselves, not getting meaningful, useful feedback given in good faith on how to do something better. So it is super hard to not feel like "Y'all are just attacking me and being mean to me!" even if you asked for the feedback and even if people are really trying their damnedest to give good feedback and not just get their licks in.
posted by Michele in California at 9:24 AM on July 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Good job chasing another user away, everyone!
posted by misha 10 hours ago [4 favorites +]


God job making another ugly comment about "everyone" in a thread about feminism!
posted by sweetkid at 9:38 AM on July 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Good job at letting it go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:47 AM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess sometimes some people have no greater joy than in slotting something info their existing narrative.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Things I am doing a good job at right now: thinking about what to have for brunch; making a mental list of errands we should do today; contemplating another cup of coffee; typing this comment without making typos.
posted by rtha at 10:14 AM on July 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


According to HR, your thoughts about brunch efficiency has degraded several points over the year and they're adding you to their action items list.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:22 AM on July 19, 2014


I've done a good job at supporting my teammates in Destiny multiplayer, but I'm not sure how much positive change that has effected in the world. Honestly, I'm not even sure I agree with Dead Orbit's politics.

(Also, as far as I can tell the Tower has no creche. Flagrant prejudice!)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:44 AM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Aw, shucks, sweetkid, keep flirting with me and people will think we're in love!

[Everybody = "All us remaining Mefites." Because at least three users have pushed the big red button after Metatalk threads in the last three days. Seems like maybe not such a good trend, is all.]
posted by misha at 7:29 PM on July 19, 2014


There's way, way more productive ways to broach an idea like "I'm concerned by the recent account closures" than a sarcastic blurb late in an already-bumpy thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 PM on July 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


Cortex, seriously? You just made a comment about facism, people are joking about brunch, and I get a lecture for not commenting in a "productive" way? Did you favorite sweetkid's swipe at me, too?
posted by misha at 9:13 PM on July 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Y'all need to quit riffing on that lame "great job everyone" line, is what.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:16 PM on July 19, 2014


You just made a comment about facism, people are joking about brunch, and I get a lecture for not commenting in a "productive" way?

Idle chitchat is idle chitchat. Shit-stirring 'You should all be ashamed of yourselves' is not idle chitchat.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:21 PM on July 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Good job chasing another user away, everyone!
...
You just made a comment about facism, people are joking about brunch, and I get a lecture for not commenting in a "productive" way?


What is it you are trying to achieve here?

Do you think those of us that answered tew's request for guidance on how he could have done better in the 'I don't care if you like it' thread were not gentle or understanding enough? Why?

How do you think we (and I was one of them) should have given our criticism differently?

Because I really can't see what your problem is. It's nobody's fault if tew didn't like the advice that they asked for.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:51 AM on July 20, 2014 [3 favorites]


Cortex, seriously? You just made a comment about facism, people are joking about brunch, and I get a lecture for not commenting in a "productive" way? Did you favorite sweetkid's swipe at me, too?

Assuming good faith here, yes - that is absolutely what just happened (although your bar for "lecture" is set very low - cortex's comment was one sentence long).

Joking and larking about - about the tendency of angry people on the Internet to accuse others of "facism" (sic), or in the form of diversions about brunch - is a traditional way for MetaTalk threads to wind down when they appear to have run their course, along with recipe swaps. This practice is not universally welcomed, and at times is used aggressively by people who want a discussion to conclude when others still want to talk about the issues, but it's a thing that happens.

You were accusing the people involved in this discussion and other recent discussions of driving members to disable their accounts. You now appear to be arguing that this was a part of the end-of-thread joking about. If you sincerely believe this, then that's a thing you sincerely believe, but it seems that this is a minority view, and it might be worth thinking about that.

(Also, and by a similar token, "Aw, shucks, sweetkid, keep flirting with me and people will think we're in love!" reads to me as kind of creepy and inappropriate.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:38 AM on July 20, 2014 [15 favorites]


Dark and light, yin and yang, grar and hug. Harmony is only achieved when each is kept in balance with the other.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2014


for whatever reason some people will find that this isn't the site for them, maybe permanently, maybe just for a while

Also: They may want to rejoin under a username not linked to this metatalk thread. It doesn't necessarily always mean they are hounded out and gone.
posted by Brockles at 5:04 AM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also: They may want to rejoin under a username not linked to this metatalk thread. It doesn't necessarily always mean they are hounded out and gone.

Also also: Since I don't think they publically flounced out, even if they left in a stew THINKING they will never come back, if we all just focus on "Sometimes people take breaks, no big deal" it makes it a helluva lot easier for tew, who can still read our remarks even while not logged in, to decide "um, yeah, that's totally what I was doing. The kitchen got too hot. I went and got some air. And now I am back and we're gonna just not make a scene and go back to trying to have normal interactions or something. And thank you for the feedback, everyone."

It is super common for people who leave in a huff to later change their mind. And it's just a lot easier for them to come back if the rest of the group doesn't make it into a big damn deal that they chose to quietly, without flouncing (unless I missed something), give things a rest.
posted by Michele in California at 9:27 AM on July 21, 2014


Those are both good points, Brockles and Michele_in_California, thanks.
posted by misha at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2014


(Also, and by a similar token, "Aw, shucks, sweetkid, keep flirting with me and people will think we're in love!" reads to me as kind of creepy and inappropriate.)

Hey, runningordersquabblefest, you don't have to like my humor, but at least my comment was completely in context with this thread. You can (and I know you will!) attribute any secret dark agenda to me that you want, but we did just have three members leave in rapid succession, all after Metatalks.

All of which I pointed out in my next comment, of course...you know, I had every reason to be annoyed by what sweetkid said (false paraphrase and all) and could have gone off on her, but instead I laughed it off. So you can just cool it with the "creepy and inappropriate" stuff.

Did you just not recognize the reference?
People Will Say We're in Love
From Oklahoma, Rodgers and Hammerstein

Why do they think up stories that link my name with yours?
Why do the neighbors chatter all day, behind their doors?
I know a way to prove what they say is quite untrue.

I asked Cortex why he singled me out, no one else; his remark about my tone not being 'productive' bothered me with its WTFness, because that has never been a criteria for a MetaTalk comment.

Incidentally, I submitted a contact form on the seventeenth and still have not heard back from anyone, so if any of the mods could let me know what is going on with that, it would be appreciated. Thanks.
posted by misha at 11:37 AM on July 21, 2014


I had every reason to be annoyed by what sweetkid said (false paraphrase and all) and could have gone off on her

I don't know what false paraphrase even refers to but "God job" was a typo if that's it.

I mean, "go off" on me if you want but I stand by what I said.
posted by sweetkid at 11:44 AM on July 21, 2014


Incidentally, I submitted a contact form on the seventeenth and still have not heard back from anyone, so if any of the mods could let me know what is going on with that, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

I responded to that right away - did you not get it? I can resend. Wondered why we hadn't heard back from you.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2014


Your comment wasn't productive. The two directly above yours address the OP and their concern without any snark and without escalation. You came in with your first comment blaming everyone here for doing a thing that you acknowledge cannot be established as a thing that was done. Nobody else riffing on brunch or whatever was poking at the OP.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, it's entirely possible for people to get the Rodgers & Hammerstein reference and simultaneously find it inappropriate in this context.
posted by scody at 12:11 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, it's entirely possible for people to get the Rodgers & Hammerstein reference and simultaneously find it inappropriate in this context.

This. Got the reference, love the song, found your use of it creepy, dismissive and rude.
posted by dotgirl at 12:47 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I asked Cortex why he singled me out, no one else;

Because you had singularly jumped into the thread to lob a sarcastic bomb at everyone, is what it looked like to me and so far apparently just about everyone else. I wasn't saying the thread needed to be productive in general; I was saying that the specific thing you did, that great job running someone off, everybody! bit, was crappy and if your goal with it was to promote some actual meaningful discussion (which you seemed to in a later comment imply) then it was a terrible approach because what it actually did was come off as chucking a grenade into the thread.

People can be chuckly and unproductive and I don't really care. Being jerky and unproductive is more of an issue. If you were not trying to be jerky with that original comment, the seed of everything that came after, you really profoundly whiffed at whatever it was you were trying to do. "Not productive" was about the most polite way I could describe it. The exchange that followed was tedious as well, your part and others', but that wasn't really what I was addressing in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


You can (and I know you will!) attribute any secret dark agenda to me that you want, but we did just have three members leave in rapid succession, all after Metatalks.

Out of curiosity, am I one of the people you're referring to here?
posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mention it not to say "gotcha" in any way. Just that if needed I can explain why I left and came back. If that helps.
posted by zarq at 1:16 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, zarq, runningordersquabblefest only.
posted by misha at 2:46 PM on July 21, 2014


I don't think I left after a MetaTalk either. I mean, I might have at some point - I periodically close my account, for various reasons, usually when I have a lot of work on - but I think the last time I reactivated my account was to talk about the World Cup, so I can't have deactivated it less than about a month ago...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2014


Okie doke.
posted by zarq at 2:56 PM on July 21, 2014


RestlessNomad, have checked All Inboxes, and then, just to be thorough, All Mail including my junk mail, deleted messages and spam folders. I have no response from you in any of them.

God [sic] job making another ugly comment about "everyone" in a thread about feminism!

Dotgirl, et al, this is the comment I responded to, for which I have been declared creepy, offensive, dismissive and rude on top of the original specious allegation. I was attempting to avoid just this kind of pile on by making light of it. Not a word about the comment or commenter making it, of course.

Sweetkid, email me if you want to, as the thread does not need to be derailed any more by whatever your problem with me is.

Since no one else feels like there's any constructive discussion to be had about people leaving the site recently, I'm out.
posted by misha at 3:20 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


Assuming good faith again, Misha, I think it might be worth considering the possibility that "making light of it" didn't actually work in this case, regardless of your intent. And also the possibility that people are not saying that your response was inappropriate because they are bad people, or because they are out to get you, or because they think you have a "secret dark agenda", but because they are responding honestly to how your comments came across to them, and how exceptional/exceptionable they seemed.

[To be honest, I don't think I can think of a situation in which telling somebody who has just made it clear that they are not happy with your behavior that they are in fact flirting with you is going to de-escalate, or lighten the mood. I mean, maybe if you're Han Solo, but even then I'm going to say 50/50 at best.]

So, assuming good faith, if you sincerely believe that your first comment was a non-confrontational attempt to begin a constructive discussion on recent departures, and if you sincerely believe that telling Sweetkid that they were flirting with you was an honest, best-practice attempt to defuse a potential conflict, then those are absolutely things it is possible for you sincerely to believe. And if you sincerely believe those things, the reaction, from Sweetkid and others, must be very confusing.

However, I think it's not a bad idea to take on board that these comments have not been experienced in the same way by other people - any other people, it seems - and further to assume that those responses are also sincere.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:52 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


Since this whole thread started with someone asking for feedback on how a comment could have been written with a smaller chance of being misread or going sideways, I'm going to suggest that if genuine dialogue about the phenomenon of people closing their accounts is what is wanted, an accusation that everyone here is driving them away (with bonus sarcasm) is probably not an ideal way to get that dialogue started.
posted by rtha at 5:16 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Since no one else feels like there's any constructive discussion to be had about people leaving the site recently, I'm out.

If that was what you wanted, you might have been better served by not starting out by sarcastically accusing people of deliberately chasing tew off the site. Did you really think that was going to be the beginning of a 'constructive discussion'? You essentially said 'YOU ARE ALL BAD'. What you didn't say was, 'Oh, another user has left - can we talk about why this is happening?'.

But, to me, it seems more like you just wanted to get a jab in and, now that you've been called on it, you prefer to cast yourself as some sort of martyr. And that is extremely poor form.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:26 PM on July 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


any other people, it seems

Any other people who are willing to get their fingers dirty typing in this crap hole. Obviously, they are not the only people.
posted by 0 at 4:21 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Misha I misread your response. You didn't answer my question.

You said: You can (and I know you will!) attribute any secret dark agenda to me that you want, but we did just have three members leave in rapid succession, all after Metatalks.

I said: Out of curiosity, am I one of the people you're referring to here?

Meaning, am I "one of the three members who left in rapid succession, all after Metatalks"

You said: No, zarq, runningordersquabblefest only.

Presumably you are referring to rosf attributing a "secret dark agenda" to you. Since you said, "only" rosf.

So I ask again: am I one of the three members you say left in rapid succession, all after Metatalks?
posted by zarq at 6:35 AM on July 22, 2014


Any other people who are willing to get their fingers dirty typing in this crap hole. Obviously, they are not the only people.

Valid point, fellow member of and contributor to MetaFilter! Obviously, there are many people in the world, and many viewpoints. However, I think we generally feel OK with concentrating the discussion on MetaTalk on the membership of MetaFilter - that finger-dirtying crap hole where we not only chose but paid to hang out - and probably considering as the next layer potential members of MetaFilter, who will largely have Internet connections and a degree of fluency in English.

Having a kind of global ombudsperson to consider the impact of MetaFilter on, say, Uyghur people in the Tarim Basin, or Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites in South America could be interesting, but it would be a largely theoretical pursuit.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:55 AM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Since no one else feels like there's any constructive discussion to be had about people leaving the site recently, I'm out.

I have been thinking a lot about this and I think that people are giving pushback about this not because there is no constructive discussion to be had but because the premise with which you opened that topic is extremely blamey and, also, there is no evidence that your finger-pointing assertion is true: Good job chasing another user away, everyone!

One of the things multiple people are saying is, basically, "correlation does not prove causation." You are starting from the premise that if there is some kind of public confrontation and then someone leaves, they left because of the public confrontation. Not only that, but your are saying they left because other people behaved badly in that confrontation. Those are both unfounded assumptions.

When I was very ill, it was kind of common for me to go down in flames publically and then disappear for a time. However, I did not disappear because I had gone down in flames. Instead, the underlying mechanism at work was that when my chronic health problems took a turn for the worse, I got crankier and less able to handle other people being jerks to me in a diplomatic fashion and, also, my ability to write in a way that did not sound inflammatory deteriorated. So, basically, there was a high correlation between me having a bad day in a very public way online and then ending up in the ER within, say, the next 24 hours. And then I was too sick to get online for a time.

I would be really, really shocked if this kind of pattern did not generalize to some degree, in some sense. No, other people do not necessarily have serious chronic medical conditions. But when stress on the job or at home is coming to a head, people tend to get generally crankier and less able to be diplomatic in difficult social situations. So I strongly suspect that it is fairly common for people to mix it up a bit online as their IRL stressors are just about to blow up in a big way. People who are, say, facing divorce or who suspect they are about to be fired are probably crankier and less diplomatic than usual during the lead up to those events and then may disappear when IRL events reach a crisis point and take all their time.

In all fairness to you, I have seen a situation where I felt "everyone" on Metafilter "chased" someone away. It was apparently a long-standing situation that resulted in the individual leaving and I have received information privately which strengthens my assessment that it was true in that specific instance. So I understand your concern. I think it is a legitimate concern. But the problem is that there is no evidence that it is true in this specific case and the "come out guns blazing" approach is not a constructive way to open it for discussion and say "hey, I think there is a pattern here and I feel we should talk about that and work on how to better handle (something)."

Thus the combination of the fact that it may not be relevant in this case and, also, really poor, counterproductive framing is why people are not engaging you on the topic in a manner that is satisfying to you.


PS: Free hugs for anyone who wants them: ((((((HUGS))))))
posted by Michele in California at 10:16 AM on July 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


So I strongly suspect that it is fairly common for people to mix it up a bit online as their IRL stressors are just about to blow up in a big way.

This definitely happens to some people. Every once in a while someone will be grouchy in MetaTalk and then apologize, noting that they were dealing with real life stress. Heck, Jessamyn once pointed out to me privately that I tended to be crankier on MeFi on days when I complained on Twitter that my (at the time infants / toddlers) had kept me up all night. Or that I was extremely stressed with work.
posted by zarq at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Totally agree, there. One of the things we do when someone closes their account and doesn't leave a note is glance through their comments (to see if it was a site conflict in particular that helped them decide to pull the trigger.) Often we'll see comments indicating that their life has gotten crazy, instead, whether in AskMe or whatnot. Or they may actually use the "why I'm leaving" field to tell us that they're stressed out over something and need to cool down, often with reference to a thread in which they blew up. It's regular enough that it's my default assumption when an active user closes their account.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:33 AM on July 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


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