MetaFilter does vampires fairly well for the most part, I think July 10, 2015 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Given that MetaTalk posts are generally reserved for when things go not-well, I just want to say that the recent Real-Life Vampires post is -- to my eyes -- a great example of people with in some cases strongly opposing views having an open, respectful, and interesting conversation.

Thanks to restless_nomad for modding off what I guess was a pretty early easy trivialization of the subject, and, well, everybody for disagreeing with each other in generally constructive ways. It's also been good to see that conversation not go in certain directions that have been kind of super not-constructive in the recent past.

I'm learning a lot from the conversation and have had my mind changed on a couple of things in a couple of ways.

Maybe I'm out in left field and everyone else thinks this is the New Grar, but for me it's been a silver- if not gold-plated standard for MetaFilter working well.
posted by Shepherd to MetaFilter-Related at 10:57 AM (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

but for me it's been a silver- if not gold-plated standard for MetaFilter working well.
ISWYTD
posted by kagredon at 11:58 AM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


it's been a silver- if not gold-plated standard for MetaFilter working well

We all have a stake in this matter!
posted by carmicha at 12:03 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


ISWYTD

I See What You There Did?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thankfully we have MetaTalk to valve off the petty spellign corrections and pointing out of stupid mistakes, leaving the Blue for more substantial conversation.
posted by carsonb at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


ISWYTD

I stay with you 'til death. It's a vampire thing, you probably wouldn't get it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2015 [49 favorites]


I thought it was a classic case of people talking past each other. Almost everyone was disagreeing with things the other people didn't actually mean.
posted by Segundus at 12:11 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wow - I thought that thread was a complete mess and that people were really talking past each other, sometimes frustratingly so.

I thought about making a meta but I couldn't see any good coming from it - so kudos to raising this on the grey and framing it in positive terms, but I came away with a much different take than you. (Also - yes, big ups to restless_nomad on modding!)

(It's great that you learned a lot from it though.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:19 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


(When I say 'complete mess', I don't mean to overlook that people were trying very hard on that thread.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I came away with a much different take than you. (Also - yes, big ups to restless_nomad on modding!)

Yes, I agree with this as well! I thought that it was a fantastic thread in terms of people disagreeing without getting overly fighting or descending into personal attacks, and that was great! That is a huge accomplishment on the internet!

I also think that, if we can go for some constructive criticism, there wasn't a whole lot of actually listening. There was a decent amount of strawman paraphrasing on both sides but it felt to me like the thread turned into people saying "vampires aren't real" and people saying "everyone deserves access to healthcare and social services" and this was somehow an argument even though I think everyone in the thread agreed with both premises. Still great that can it can be done without too much overt vitriol, and I think that should definitely be celebrated, but it didn't seem, to me, like there was actually a ton of real discussion or communication happening.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:27 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I...am not totally seeing what you're seeing I guess. I hate it when people jump to armchair-diagnosing people as mentally ill or delusional. But to be fair it could have been a whole thread of that, rather than some of that and a good deal of people calling for respect. So yeah, it wasn't completely hateful but I'm not sure it was pat ourselves on the back great, either.
posted by billiebee at 12:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


If it makes anyone feel any better, I'm mostly just embarrassed at my participation in that thread. I've tried very hard to just avoid threads I know will push my buttons. I just didn't realize (until last night) that I had a (pale, deathless) button labelled "vampire." I sincerely apologize if I was acting like a knob.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 12:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


Remember everyone, "B positive!"
posted by Kabanos at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


I don't have any problem with people who self-identify as vampires just as long as they're not stuck-up Clan Ventrue assholes I mean get over yourselves amirite
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm glad some people got things out of it.

I got reminded, again, of how my clients are regularly dismissed, and how I was called mentally ill by an ex-friend because I was religious.

It kind of sucked.

I'd appreciate it if fewer people did shit like that, or defended it with a weird "telling truth to power" sort of "well, they have to know I think their ideas are WRONG and possibly BAD and STUPID", as if that isn't an explicit part (and indeed sometimes the point) of being in any fringe group. Yeah, I know if I told people like this about what I believed they'd mention delusions, and mental illness, and suggest I should get therapy to treat my being religious. I know they'd say this even if they knew I was a therapist, because clearly if I'm a therapist and still believe these things there is something EVEN MORE wrong with me. I know these things happened because they happened to me, including the "if you believe this you're either stupider than I thought or mentally ill" in pretty much those words.

And I suppose knowing who I can trust to respect me and who I can't is useful information, but it isn't fun information to acquire.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:44 PM on July 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


Btw your comments in that thread were great Deoridhe.
posted by billiebee at 12:47 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm sad that we had such misreading and that we had that huge derail, but I really appreciated Deoridhe's input.
posted by halifix at 12:48 PM on July 10, 2015


> Btw your comments in that thread were great Deoridhe.

Yes, that, a lot. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2015


Yeah, this is one of those situations where I'm kind of like, yay? For the good stuff that came out of a thread that also had problems? Like I think I see some of what you're seeing, Shepherd, and do think there's some quality Metafilter in there, but I also get where folks are coming from with frustrations about it too (and I didn't even have to do any of the work in there, mod-wise).

Which is, I guess, Metafilter. And more broadly discussion with an open group. In practice this is how it is going to be sometimes: good, insightful conversation doesn't exist in a vacuum and doesn't exist without some costs and some misunderstandings and probably, especially for anything that is complicated or touches on the esoteric, some thoughtlessness that some people will shrug at and other people will find kind of actively crappy or painful to deal with.

I'm glad that a lot of folks were making an effort, and am super appreciative of some of the thoughtful responses that showed up in there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:56 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Not the best, not the worst. Some good moments to be sure. Got better as time went on but it seems like there were folks who just HAD to let us know they think vamps are delusional like multiple times and that without pushback that would have been the whole thread.

There're several folks I'm really grateful for having had their voice in that thread (without a re-read hippybear, Deoridhe and rtha come to mind) but there were also a poster or two where I really just didn't get their motivation. The content and frame of the post was basically as clean a frame to avoid mockery as I can imagine (proviso folks read the content).

I think my take away from that discussion is that once you've said your piece you might come off as a bit of an ass if you're continually reiterating one point of cursory analysis that other participants clearly don't quite agree with even after hearing your rationale. Surely some things need to be argued and those things need to be argued soundly but I don't think there was a sound argument or a real need for argument in light of the aspects of the topic presented. I'm going to endeavour to avoid that sort of senseless reiteration myself and I hope after reflection others might consider it too.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:25 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm heartened to see that we can have a vampire discussion that doesn't suck.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:31 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah but just wait till the next contentious vacuum cleaner thread.
posted by item at 1:34 PM on July 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm heartened to see that we can have a vampire discussion that doesn't suck.

I totally snuck that joke into one of my comments. I couldn't help it. It was so perfect.

Also, thanks people who appreciated what I said. That does help a bit, and I'm glad to ride my hobby horse a while if people really get something out of it.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:42 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Which is, I guess, Metafilter. And more broadly discussion with an open group. In practice this is how it is going to be sometimes: good, insightful conversation doesn't exist in a vacuum and doesn't exist without some costs and some misunderstandings and probably, especially for anything that is complicated or touches on the esoteric, some thoughtlessness that some people will shrug at and other people will find kind of actively crappy or painful to deal with.

ZOMG we're growing up.
posted by infini at 2:06 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I especially appreciated what Deoridhe had to say, because I couldn't really articulate (even to myself) what made me so uncomfortable about the "they are delusional" angle, and she could, very well. That was really worthwhile, and I think those points on mental health impact more than just this specific conversation.

I just hate that it took so much energy from everyone to get there, but maybe that's the best you can hope for sometimes.
posted by teponaztli at 3:11 PM on July 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, after reading that thread, I wanted to award Deoridhe a medal of some kind.
posted by joyceanmachine at 4:07 PM on July 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I accept offerings of chocolate and comments on my blog in lieu of medals. ;)
posted by Deoridhe at 5:29 PM on July 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'd also like to say--hey, Xavier, I do really appreciate you catching yourself, saying "wow I misread," and publicly taking a step back like that. I thought it was really awesome that you caught the misconnection and defused the situation like that, especially when I ramped up the irritation and snappiness right before your last post there. I mean, sucks that it turned out to be a hot button issue for you, but I'm glad you realized that and posted to let people know what was going on and then let the derail die. That can be really hard to do when you're caught up in an argument and people are getting snide, but it's really good for overall conversation.

I also appreciated the heck out of Deoridhe for articulating the issue, while we're at it.
posted by sciatrix at 5:55 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


For what it's worth, and I don't know if this is a subjective thing, but this past week I've felt the discussions have been more interesting - bubblier, funnier, sparklier (?). Sure, I haven't commented at all, but I have read a lot, and it's been fun.

In any case, I've really enjoyed reading MeTa this week. The Girls Wanting thread was superb, the Vampires thread in question also really enjoyable. Unless I missed something horrible and contentious somewhere else, it seems like a "hey, well done people!" is in order. It felt like everyone was trying harder, not just to fight less, but to contribute well and interestingly.

Also, could it be that lots of "older" users came back from vacations this week? (Or ist it like that thing when you're in a crowd looking for someone with a red sweater, and suddenly there's nothing but red around you?)
posted by ipsative at 6:01 PM on July 10, 2015


I didn't participate in that thread, but count me as another reader who went in thinking, "oh, come on, 'self-identified vampires' are just another rhetorical tool to ridicule trans identities" and went out feeling like I'd gotten a hard lesson in empathy for stigmatized subcultures and for people whose subjective experiences are routinely placed in the category of "delusion" and dismissed. I'm truly sorry some folks were hurt so that others like me could passively learn something. Education and dialogue are messy and painful, but damn if Metafilter doesn't do this stuff better than anywhere else I've been on the web.
posted by thetortoise at 6:16 PM on July 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Count me as someone who went in thinking "oh, come on, 'self-identified vampires' are just another rhetorical tool to ridicule trans identities" and left extremely frustrated with the posts like this one placing vampires on a continuum with POC/gay people/women/trans people's civil rights.

When people called out this stuff, they were met with responses like this, which read to me something like you can't call out this attitude here on MeFi because the article is about accessing services.

That first comment was particularly maddening because it associated establishing and maintaining the differences between trans (and POC and gay and women's) identity and that of self-identified vampires with TERF tactics. I do not need TERF tactics cissplained to me, especially in such a bizarro flip-flopped context.

There were definitely multiple conversations happening, along with all the attendant talking past one another, but the resulting waveform was still very uncomfortable for me personally.
posted by Corinth at 11:14 PM on July 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


you can't call out this attitude here on MeFi because the article is about accessing services.

I don't want to sound angry, but that is so totally not what I meant at all.

There's a difference between sexual/gender identity and identifying as a "real vampire," but the foundation of the argument in that thread was that there's a distinction between one group with real problems, and another group made up of delusional people whose problems, therefore, aren't real.

Look at the language in some of these comments that talk about "real issues" and "real problems," and how neither term applies to this group. Everything was couched in language that said "you seriously believe this is a real problem for people?" But what the survey respondents (as few as there were) were talking about was that they get ridiculed and ostracized from people who are supposed to help them. Does ridicule therefore stop being a problem because someone's identity goes too far?

That's why I brought up the original article. It wasn't about "guys, we should be talking about access to services," it was about the implication that the lack of access for some people is less real or less important because of who those people are. And in this context, I just don't know where else the argument could be going if people are continually asserting "no, these are delusional people," while saying some other people actually have real problems.

Maybe I articulated all of that poorly, and maybe I'm continuing to do that here. Maybe I'm flat out wrong, or can't read, or whatever. But I thought the "they're not the same thing" argument was missing the point, and maybe this clarifies why.
posted by teponaztli at 12:31 AM on July 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Anyway, I have a lot of reasons to care quite a lot about how people stigmatize mental health and how "delusional" is often used to describe some peoples' beliefs. If I was, or still am, just reading past what people had to say, then I'm sorry for that.
posted by teponaztli at 12:41 AM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I do too, and I recognize that in reality we are all on basically the same page here. I was just trying to explain why that thread made me feel bad. It kind of sucks to constantly be the example, or part of the example, when advocating for compassionate treatment and understanding of everybody, especially in the wake of Dolezal. It would be nice if we could just say "yes, absolutely these people deserve services and respectful, appropriate experiences when seeking them" without tacking on a "you know, like we are trying to do for trans people and gay people before them."
posted by Corinth at 3:56 AM on July 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


And yet the impulse to support people needing services and respectful, appropriate experiences comes from the same part of the heart in all cases. It's not like the impulse to support some people's needs comes from your feelings of common humanity and the same impulse to support others--depending on who or what they are--comes from your reptilian reddit brain. That's one of those delusions.
posted by jfuller at 6:54 AM on July 11, 2015


N.b. when I say "in all cases" that refers to all metafilter users who commented in the vampire thread, and in this one.
posted by jfuller at 7:33 AM on July 11, 2015


It kind of sucked.

Vampires, amirite? Thank you, thank you, I'll show myself out.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:23 AM on July 11, 2015


It should be entirely possible to say that you think access to services is important without suggesting that vampire identities have as much legitimacy as trans ones, as the first comment corinth linked effectively does. If vampire identities are valid, they are valid on their own terms, you do not need to being trans people, or gay people, or people of colour into it. And if you cannot see how drawing parallels between those groups is possibly a wee bit problematic given the history and even current arguments happening around the legitimacy of trans identities, then I just don't know what to say. And if it's about access to services rather than identity validity, why draw that comparison at all?
posted by Dysk at 2:33 AM on July 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


i thought a lot of people in that thread were cruel. i also hated the comparisons to gender and sexuality stuff. i'm glad some people found some good, i guess.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 AM on July 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think some of the gender/sexuality comparisons are attempts (not elegantly articulated, but still honest) to come to terms with the nuances of trans-issues that aren't intuitive. Going from all the insight gleaned from the trans threads in the past year, to the [deleted] Dolezal threads with several forceful comments about transracialism "not being a thing", to the vampire thread, I can understand the interest in unpacking self-identification issues i/r/t things that we're told simply don't exist.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:16 AM on July 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


i still don't understand comparing it to those things instead of comparing it to beliefs. we don't compare reiki practitioners or catholics to trans people, so i don't understand the leap in this case.
posted by nadawi at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well yes, in fact there is a body of case law that tries to distinguish between beliefs and religions for First Amendment reasons. Reasoning by analogy is an important form of analysis. If reiki practitioners were trying to claim they were subject to 1st Amendment protections then we would have to compare them to the other institutions that have been considered religions.
posted by yarly at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2015


Oh sorry, I think I misunderstood you nadawi - you think vampires are about belief and not identity. But I am not sure that has been established?
posted by yarly at 12:58 PM on July 12, 2015


And if it's about access to services rather than identity validity, why draw that comparison at all?

I know I was on the defensive because identity validity had already been brought up in terms that came across as extremely unkind and narrow. I think I was assuming that the people who brought up the comparisons were taking it as a given that we all, on this site, agree about the validity of trans and racial issues - as in "we have seen legitimate identities written off as delusions, and that should give us pause in judging now."

All that said, what I wasn't taking into account personally was that my assumption of mutual understanding, even on this site, still doesn't affect the degree to which there is still an ongoing battle for acceptance of trans and racial identities. I didn't want to wade into the comparisons personally, but I didn't see them as problematic the way other people did, and that may have been because I wasn't giving enough credit to the ongoing fighting that trans people face. It's not a given anywhere, probably even here, and that changes things.

I didn't, and maybe still don't think a comparison trivializes anything, but a few of these comments have helped clarify where other people were coming from. For me, the biggest issue was that the argument against trivializing things seemed rooted in statements about belief and mental health that I found offensive. Saying "these people are delusional" drew on stigmas about mental health, which should be and usually are challenged, to say some peoples' identities aren't valid. I want to acknowledge nuances and not trivialize anything, but I don't want the alternative to be based around unfairly denying peoples' agency using logic that sets harmful precedents.

If I should drop this, I'm sorry and I will. I just want to be fair to everyone, and for what it's worth, I appreciate what people have had to say in this meta.
posted by teponaztli at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm actually really puzzled by comparisons to a trans identity, because (with the caveat that I'm a cis dude) the analogy doesn't seem to work on a basic level: nothing in the linked articles suggests these vampires are interested in making any kind of "transition," nor do they seem to feel that they were assigned an identity that doesn't match their own. If you were going to pick another subgroup to compare to, it seems like gay people, or perhaps people in the kink community, would be a better point of comparison (in that they are adults who have practices that are legal and consensual, but also unusual and stigmatized) — and even then I don't think the analogy goes particularly deep (are kids often bullied on suspicion of being vampires, for instance? Does being a vampire have any impact on one's romantic or sexual life?).

And moreover it seems like we've had a lot of comparisons to trans identities recently and I can definitely see why trans MeFites would be annoyed by this, particularly given the context that there are a lot of very public conversations going on elsewhere that are using frivolous comparisons to attack trans identities. So I think that even if it's well-intentioned, maybe it would be good for people to try to refrain from going to that particular well so often.

Apart from that, I do think there were a lot of interesting and compassionate comments in that thread.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:51 PM on July 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


All that said, what I wasn't taking into account personally was that my assumption of mutual understanding, even on this site, still doesn't affect the degree to which there is still an ongoing battle for acceptance of trans and racial identities. I didn't want to wade into the comparisons personally, but I didn't see them as problematic the way other people did, and that may have been because I wasn't giving enough credit to the ongoing fighting that trans people face. It's not a given anywhere, probably even here, and that changes things.

I was attacked and very nearly strangled to death by some dude at a train station on my way home from a gig this weekend because I had the temerity to confront him about the transphobic abuse he was throwing at me. In my sleepy little spa town where I've always felt safe. More than one trans person I knew has committed suicide in the last year and left messages blaming a lack of acceptance from family and those close to them. No kind of acceptance is a given, anywhere. I for one am not going to be pleased if you co-opt the shit trans people have to go through for the sake of an analogy. It's not alike. Whatever parallels you're trying to draw, do the work of explaining your point instead of lazily pointing to another group and saying "it's like this" (and be less likely to be misunderstood in the process).
posted by Dysk at 3:21 PM on July 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


as in "we have seen legitimate identities written off as delusions, and that should give us pause in judging now."

...and this argument gets trotted out facetiously by transphobic trolls and TERFs all the time, along with some argumentum ad absurdum like 'if trans women are women, then aren't people who say they're dinosaurs/Napoleon/vampires actually dinosaurs/Napoleon/vampires [trollface.gif]' That is the context in which people are reacting.
posted by Dysk at 3:25 PM on July 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Count me as another trans person that sees these attempts at comparison to trans identities as both extraordinarily lazy and wrong. I read the thread and was surprised at how quickly the comparison was drawn. It was completely unnecessary and it's exhausting to continuously find elements of my identity constantly under a Klieg Light whether or not it's the real topic at hand.

I was, OTOH, pleased with many of the comments that dealt with stigmatisation of people seeking help within the (Mental) Health community by professionals who should know better to check their biases and preconceptions at the door.
posted by michswiss at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


Just chiming in to say that I was also pretty unhappy with the immediate jump to draw analogies to trans experiences in a thread that really had no relevance to trans issues. I actually dropped a note to the mods saying so in thread and asking that they nudge the conversation away from that comparison. You guys, there is no axis of marginalization that we have "won" on. I get the temptation to go "oh well if this was women/gay people/black people/trans people NO ONE would let people say this shit, so we shouldn't let them say this shit about $PEOPLE either!"

But seriously, they would and they do and that needs pushing back against too. Making that comparison to help people "see the light" mostly has the effect of trivializing the very real issues faced by someone else in comparison, because it implies support and societal sanction that is not always there. If it was, you wouldn't make the comparison in the first place! No one says "oh if you were saying this about white dudes there would be such an uproar." On a related note, when you are trying to drive home the reality of a specific form of marginalization it's easy to say "well, $IDENTITY is the last acceptable target of marginalization!" But unfortunately, there's plenty of marginalization to go around. Let's not get ourselves stuck in playing oppression olympics by comparison even when we mean well, okay?
posted by sciatrix at 6:24 PM on July 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Je$u$, yes.
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 PM on July 12, 2015


I know this thread isn't about me, but thanks to the last several comments, I really, really get where I went wrong in how I was looking at things. I feel like an asshole for even continuing to write stuff here, but it seems like it's worth mentioning when peoples' voices are heard by the people who should hear them.

There's more I could say, but the short summary is that I went into all of this trying to be sensitive, and I kind of ended up uncritically accepting things that might have hurt/pissed off/frustrated other people along the way. That sucks, and I'm sorry.
posted by teponaztli at 12:22 AM on July 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


You so needn't feel like an asshole, teponaztli.
posted by Dysk at 3:22 AM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, all in all, I think that thread could have gone a whole lot worse.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:35 AM on July 13, 2015


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