Mefi Made Me See The Light! March 23, 2008 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Has one of your long-held opinions/beliefs ever been swayed by a Mefi post or comment? I don't mean a mundane opinion like "I prefer mashed potatoes to french fries," but a really important opinion, like a major cultural/political stance (i.e. a long-held belief regarding religion, abortion, homosexuality, vegetarianism, conservative vs. liberal, etc.). If so, what thread and/or comment was the turning point for you? And how did you feel about thinking differently?
posted by amyms to MetaFilter-Related at 12:20 AM (188 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

I believe this may have been a question on one of the podcast shows as well... I think Jess and Matt had changed their views on something or other. I'd look it up, but sleep beckons.

As for me, I have never had a major belief or opinion change due to Mefi. But, I have certainly stolen some witty comments for use in defending the opinions I already have.
posted by boubelium at 12:58 AM on March 23, 2008


Ditto boubelium. I tend to agree with MeFi more often than not; there's not much to change.
posted by Phire at 1:03 AM on March 23, 2008


Before hanging out at mefi I knew as a Dutchman rationally that americans could be cultured and know about other cultures etc. but on some level I still had this image of people of the US really being shallow survival-of-the-richest egocentric boors. Being around mefi has made it very apparent to me that the US has normal nuanced caring culturally savvy people that are fun to hang out with like european countries do.

I'm curious as to the outcome of your question of people being swayed by an argument in the comments. I hardly take part in arguments on metafilter since it's my experience that people generally argue from a position and construct their arguments to buttress that argument. If one argument is defeated they construct another one that matches their position on the spot.
Also a lot of people don't argue to convince someone else but to defeat him in the eyes of the onlookers. Which does not leave the opponent any room to admit and save face.
posted by jouke at 1:24 AM on March 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


I have not had important beliefs changed, but I have had new things added to my awareness. I have new beliefs, you could say.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:44 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


today's the third anniversary of my MeFi -dom (mefi hood?) and I second Jouke's observation.

After losing my earliest community board to the early days of megamergers (the original HomeArts bulletin board in 1995-1998) it was a long time before I found another space where thoughtful intellectual discourse could be conducted, friendly snarks exchanged and the occasional troll vilified.

er... *cough* hmmm
posted by infini at 2:18 AM on March 23, 2008


I completely agree with Jouke's comment about believing all Americans were shallow, selfish, and uncultured until I found this little oasis known as Mefi. (And ironically, I *AM* American ;P, so that viewpoint isnt only held by foreigners)
posted by jmnugent at 2:33 AM on March 23, 2008


Being around mefi has made it very apparent to me that the US has normal nuanced caring culturally savvy people that are fun to hang out with like european countries do.

Whereabouts is this shadow Mefi that you've been hanging out on, jouke? Please post the link so that we can all visit.

(I keed, I keed!)

If hanging out on Mefi has changed a view for me, it's probably the view that not *all* people who espouse religious beliefs are strident, irrational, deluded fools. I'm not sure how strongly I held this view, but it was certainly my kneejerk response. However, there are a handful of posters here who have seriously challenged that mindset -- most notably miko, pater altherias (sp?) and one or two others.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:42 AM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't know if Mefi has actually changed my views on anything, but it has educated me a lot about all sorts of different things. I particularly learnt a lot from Miko during the GiveWell saga, and I remember the thread about Habitat for Humanity and the poster that worked there was very informative as well.
posted by divabat at 3:16 AM on March 23, 2008


Many times over the years, as well as edumacating me about all kinds of stuff, which are a couple of the reasons I keep coming back.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:18 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


American, living in Europe for the past eleven years and I spend as little time back in the United States as possible. Posts & commentary on MeFi have proved to me that all of you folks back there aren't totally nuts.

Well, maybe a little crazy in a good kinda way. But not that other way. No sir, no way, no how.
posted by Mutant at 3:46 AM on March 23, 2008


A couple of specific instances come to mind - I was sure both that glass was a supercooled liquid and 'flowed' over time (it's not and doesn't); and that putting alcohol in your ear to dry it after swimming was a bad idea (E.N.T. specialists say it's ok). Both of these were fairly strong held convictions and I was wrong. I'm sure there are many more, most being in the subtle-over-time evolving changes.
posted by peacay at 4:25 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


jmnugent I found this little oasis known as Mefi. And ironically, I *AM* American

So basically you're saying americans are predominantly shallow materialistic etc and that the few individuals who aren't feel isolated and alienated in the US and need the recourse of a virtual sanctuary like mefi?
And my new found image of americans is plain wrong?
posted by jouke at 4:36 AM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't say that I've had beliefs changed, because it's more like a subject will come up and while I thought I had some kind of opinion on the matter it'll turn out that I really just don't give a shit.
posted by dogwalker at 4:46 AM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


people generally argue from a position and construct their arguments to buttress that argument. If one argument is defeated they construct another one that matches their position on the spot. Also a lot of people don't argue to convince someone else but to defeat him in the eyes of the onlookers.

See those bits I bolded? "Generally" is not the same as "always," and "a lot of people" is not the same as "everyone." Try not to overgeneralize.

So basically you're saying americans are predominantly shallow materialistic etc

Unless you're making a joke (always hard to tell around here), this is just silly. Nobody can talk about "Americans" as a group from personal experience; we each have our opinions formed by whatever tiny selection we've run into and paid attention to. Unless jmnugent is just being snarky, he's run into an unfortunate bunch of fellow citizens. Me, I've liked most of the Americans I've known, and my assumption tends to be that Americans, pretty much like everybody else on earth, are by and large good people who are easily befuddled and embittered by politicians who bamboozle them into doing things against their own interests and very much against the interests of people outside the country. (Takeaway lesson: fuck countries, fuck politicians.)

Me, I've been forced to do a lot of thinking and rethinking by commenters on MeFi; in particular, I think it was an accumulation of MeFi linkage and commentary that finally convinced me about global warming.
posted by languagehat at 4:58 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


See those bits I bolded?
See how you sound like an ass?
posted by jouke at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


More like teached me to orientate myself in universe of opinions. It is like zooming into google map, you start with a general idea where to look and what you probably will find there, but more you zoom in, the more variation you see, and if you get distracted by something interesting in the way, it leads to new knowledge.

The latest noticable change of mind about something was from Tupac's bookshelf. I thought that he was just a thug. I was wrong.
posted by Free word order! at 5:01 AM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


See how you sound like an ass?

This from somebody who says:

So basically you're saying americans are predominantly shallow materialistic etc and that the few individuals who aren't feel isolated and alienated in the US and need the recourse of a virtual sanctuary like mefi?


Check the mirror, pal.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


lh Unless you're making a joke
Yes that was very much a joke. Sorry if that was not clear.
posted by jouke at 5:14 AM on March 23, 2008


I was about to comment again... but I'm now so thoroughly confused about who is joking and who is not... whats intentional and whats snark... that it seems keeping my mouth shut is probably the best course of action.
posted by jmnugent at 5:26 AM on March 23, 2008


MeFi has taught me that people love to fight about fighting.
posted by Dizzy at 5:32 AM on March 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm rather taken aback by those who say they haven't changed their opinions much because of MeFi. Some people have an intellectual plasticity that allows them to keep growing and changing throughout their lives, while others don't, I suppose. It's no coincidence that, in this thread, it is those for whose intellect and erudition I have the highest respect (i.e., stavros, languagehat) who freely admit this site continually educates them.

I've learned so much here. I can't begin to specify what, but I suppose the most important one is that while reading MeFi I've gradually shed the remains of my fundie upbringing.
posted by orange swan at 5:39 AM on March 23, 2008


you seem to have gotten some on me.
posted by quonsar at 5:47 AM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I used to think that William F. Buckley was a well spoken jerk. But now I realize that he was a complete asshole.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:10 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mundane? Mundane? My friend, you'll get my mashed potatoes only if you wrest them from my cold, dead, sticky hands.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:32 AM on March 23, 2008


It's Mister Rogers and Doctor Pepper.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:33 AM on March 23, 2008


Oops, I meant Dr Pepper.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:35 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Lots of great (and not so) anwsers here, I have few strong opinions and while I like to think I'm open to change, and have on several issues in the last 10 years the only thing that has been changed by Mefi so far (I'm still a baby here after all) is that MetaMan made me fall into passionate man love with Obama.
ok that last bit is snark but the rest is true
posted by dawson at 6:39 AM on March 23, 2008


A lot of my beliefs/opinions have been changing over the past few years, but I would be reluctant to pin the blame on mefi specifically (as opposed to 'an influence') for most of them. However, my opinion of the US as a place to live has gone waaaaay down, specifically from mefi. All those questions like "I hate my job and my supervisor beats me and I never get paid...what can I do? (Note: I can't quit because I need the health insurance)." Also, I always thought that the whole 'public schools are for killing young minds' trope was a hackneyed stereotype, but the impression I've gained from mefi anecdata is that it might be more true than not.

And to piggyback on languagehat, mefi is probably where I got a lot of my opinion on climate change: I'd still say that I don't know, but most of the people I'd expect to know agree with it.
posted by jacalata at 6:50 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've learned that the humorless have to ask if there's a joke afoot, and that the hilarious can't tell when you're playing it straight.
posted by breezeway at 7:03 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's hard to know if I've full-on changed opinions about a particular stance, but little things here and there go a ways toward shifting it, bit by bit. Usually, it's that if someone is acting like a decent human being, I'll look at some of the ideologies they subscribe to as being possible contributing factors towards their radness.

Most of the value metafilter's had in shaping my belief system, though, has been the exposure to things I don't think much about, like coding or economics or dogs.

One of my favorite posts for this kind of exposure was this one, in which folks were talking about what to do to commemorate a girl's first period. It was something I'd never even thought about before, and it was really cool to see the breadth of responses to a phenomenon I had absolutely no experience with. My first reaction to the question was more or less "WHAT THE FUCK A PERIOD-PARTY IS FUCKING CREEPY AS SHIT," but the various personal anecdotes about what did or didn't make mefi-women uncomfortable ended up contributing to a more nuanced view. If I ever have a daughter, that's one thread I'll be able to point to and say, "I'm better at being a father because of metafilter."
posted by Greg Nog at 7:09 AM on March 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


jacalata, "anecdata" is my new favorite word.
posted by nkknkk at 7:14 AM on March 23, 2008


Nobody can talk about "Americans" as a group from personal experience; we each have our opinions formed by whatever tiny selection we've run into and paid attention to.

I don't think this is what people are talking about when they talk about Americans. I think they're talking less about individuals, and more about the dominant features of the culture -- features that are so ingrained that they shape the attitudes and values of a majority of that population.

There are a couple of things that, for me at least, being typically American. That tendency to go in for a lot of flag-waving patriotism. In Europe, even the right are a bit embarrassed to do it, though they tend to feel they've at least got to make the effort. But the US seems to spend so much of it's time indoctrinating its citizens into the idea that 'we're number one' that it's hardly surprising that it's second nature to many of them. I mean, what the fuck is that Pledge of Allegiance thing all about?

The second thing is work. They all work far too goddamned hard. I mean, two weeks annual leave a year? Fuck that for a game of soldiers. You're a long time dead, so time spent working is time you're never going to get back, but Americans don't seem to question the fact that they work far too much.

Of course, there are piles of other, similar things and none of these mean that American A isn't nice as could be, or that American B isn't a solid lefty with a rigorous critique of post-industrial capitalism. But presumably even Americans believe they have national cultural characteristics that differentiate them from even their closest neighbours, and so it doesn't, IMO, make it unreasonable to talk collectively about Americans as a group.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:19 AM on March 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Like many other posters here - I've had more value in MeFi as something that brings up interesting things I wouldn't otherwise have known about, whether it's about things I know about already or things I had no clue existed.

As for values or beliefs - I've only been here a short while, and so far, my substantive position on anything important (for the sake of brevity, those listed in the topic) hasn't changed much, if at all.
posted by WalterMitty at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2008


Very well said (your entire comment) PeterMcDermott

"The second thing is work. They all work far too goddamned hard. I mean, two weeks annual leave a year? Fuck that for a game of soldiers. You're a long time dead, so time spent working is time you're never going to get back, but Americans don't seem to question the fact that they work far too much."

I havent had a vacation in 5+ years. I started a new job about a year ago, in that time I havent asked for a single day off ("sick" OR "vacation"). And thats just my full-time job, I have 3 other part-time responsibilities.

Why do I work so hard ?... :
--because I want to make a difference in the world
--because so many others arent
--because 80hrs of computer work a week is NOTHING compared to the 12hour days of manual labor I did growing up.
--because someday I want to retire, and I honestly dont at all expect Social Security to be there for me
--because employment trends change quick, and having a varied skillset is good "insurance" to get through hard times
posted by jmnugent at 7:34 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I learned to see the "forest" of people with diverse ideas from the "trees" of my fellow red-staters dittoing Rush Limbaugh all the time. I changed my belief that humanity was totally fucked.

They all work far too goddamned hard.

Don't let 'em fool you -- not everyone over here is loading sixteen tons a day.
posted by SteveTheRed at 7:41 AM on March 23, 2008


DO NOT TALK ABOUT AMERICANS COLLECTIVELY AS A GROUP.

They hate that.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on March 23, 2008 [27 favorites]


Metafilter has demonstrated to me that zealots of all stripes are equally ugly. I had the Fundamentalist Atheist thing going on in my youth and it's been an ongoing source of personal shame to watch the casual pain and denigration handed out by people who still carry that torch.
posted by tkolar at 7:48 AM on March 23, 2008 [11 favorites]


The stupid plane on a conveyor belt. I was absolutely sure it wasn't taking off, but that was because I was conducting a different experiment in my mind than the way it was presented. Etherial Bligh's endless bloviating in that thread kept reassuring me that I had to be right, just to spite what I thought of at the time as a pompous windbag. I struggled with that problem for 3 days, revisiting the thread again and again. I was eventually able to break out of that mindset and accept that the plane could indeed take off, but it was tough. I had to overcome not only the physical aspects of the problem, but also my emotional "Fuck these guys" reaction to what I saw at the time as a self-righteous pontificant so infatuated with the sound of his own keyboard chattering that he just wouldn't shut up.

Turns out EB was right. If you're out there somewhere, EB, I apologize. Happy trails.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


Meh.

Preacher, choir. Choir, preacher.

What I love is all the MeFi posts over the past 5 years that have been like, "The war in Iraq is bad" and then when it gets deleted the poster gets so angry and says, "Why are you trying to censor the truth?"
posted by Deathalicious at 7:56 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had no choice but to change my opinions on portabella mushrooms. The scales have fallen from my eyes and they do nothing.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:11 AM on March 23, 2008


the most important opinion, obviously, was to switch out the os for as. portabella indeed.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:11 AM on March 23, 2008


The war.

To be more specific, I started lurking on metafilter in late 2001, while still in high school. My political opinions were generally a self-contradictory amalgam of neo-con rah-rah kill and Green Party atheist evangelistic liberalism. I was all about the wars, somehow (even Iraq, stupidly)... I think my justification for supporting them was the Marshall Plan, and that striking enemies before they struck you seemed like a good idea. It was not an informed opinion.

In any case, along came the facts (from metafilter) and I realized it was a retarded idea in the first place, and that with my initial support I was probably complicit in the bankrupting (morally and financially) of the US, and the destruction of two other nations, and (as a President McCain would have it) a third coming.

My political opinions have become more reasonable over the last few years, more considered, and more considerate. Thanks guys!

In all, this is a good example of why 18 year-olds *shouldn't* be allowed to vote.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 8:13 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I lost my faith in humanity, does that count?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:15 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've learned a lot of new things on the Green. May have even changed a few beliefs without knowing it. But then again, the Green really lends itself to that. Since it has a well-cultivated (and meticulously-maintained) atmosphere of civility, people are open to accepting new knowledge without feeling weird or humiliated about it.

However, never ever ever, not a single time have I ever changed my mind about anything as a result of a discussion on the Blue or the Grey. I agree with Jouke's point about the dynamic of arguments here - people just want to make their opponents look stupid. I'll also point to the pile-on phenomenon as a multiplier of vitriol. This doesn't make either site bad or anything. It just means that I'm hesitant to join in on any discussion where I don't already agree with the majority.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:30 AM on March 23, 2008


I've spent the last seven or eight years trying get away somewhat from the instinctive (American?) need to have not just specific beliefs but platforms: consistent, self-contained platforms of belief on various political and social subjects, etc. USENET and highschool/college life made it easy to argue from positions, everyone entrenched for the sake of a good row and nobody trying to learn anything so much as trying (in some combination of youthful hubris, novel exploration of the Really Good Argument dynamic, and free-flowing booze) to come out on top, to win, to make the better point, etc.

And that arguing for arguing's sake was a lot of fun and still is when I know I'm doing it with people who are in the mood for the same thing; but one thing I saw as I came out of school and into the real world was that many people were taking this way of seeing issues and opinions and the people who held them and treating it as a default way to interact with the world. And it was a little maddening and dismaying to see that and to see it in myself when I wasn't careful, so I've been knocking it back step by step ever since.

And I think mefi has been a big part of that in general. I can peek back through my commenting history and see areas where I was being a (knee-)jerk in a way that I try really hard to avoid now. I don't always succeed, but I've gotten better about it and I credit a lot of that to the time I've spent here—both because I have seen other people making the same frustrating argumentative stands and been bothered by it, and because I have seen people doing it the right way, arguing to substance carefully and dynamically and with respect to the folks they're arguing with. And, wonder of wonders, actually conceding the point or changing their take on something following a good exchange or arc or exchanges.

On a more specific note, I'd say that mefi more than anything has been instrumental in the evolution and refinement of my (limited) knowledge of and views about linguistics and about the practicalities and realities of language usage in general.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:39 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think MeFi has coloured my opinions more than outright changed them. To some extent, it's helped me to understand why I feel a certain way, or emphasized the importance of a given issue.

To use an example, I've always, if I've thought about it all, been in favour of gay marriage, same-sex partner benefits, etc, even if I didn't know what the right words for those things were. Reading about the issue on MeFi has definitely helped me think about it, realize that it is a truly important issue, and clarify, beyond just 'well, it's not really any of my business what they do, so why should the government care?', what the reasons are for supporting gay marriage.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:42 AM on March 23, 2008


Afroblanco wrote...
I agree with Jouke's point about the dynamic of arguments here - people just want to make their opponents look stupid.

I disagree with you. Idiot.


Whups, sorry. My real point was that I find that style of argument rarer on Metafilter than in many other places on the web. It certainly goes on a lot here, and I tend to bail out of arguments when it starts up, but there actually are a reasonable amount of reasonable disagreements that occur around here.
posted by tkolar at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2008


Oh god, have you ever read the relationship questions in Askme? Reading and learning from them is like a Phd program in human affairs.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:53 AM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


In the same way that wallowing in a cesspool is like a PhD program in microbiology.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:00 AM on March 23, 2008 [18 favorites]


I haven't really had any major epiphanies on the topics you mention, amyms, but then I think I fit in the MeFi ideological bracket quite well, if I may say so myself, so most of the time it's just preaching to the choir.

Which brings me to the corollary, that MeFi can be a pretty tough place for, say, a born-again pro-life gay-bashing omnivore. I don't mourn that fact per se, because most often I agree with the criticism, but it has made me more sensitive to the fact that people with minority opinions in any given community have a difficult time being heard - or taken seriously, even.

Not that I somehow learnt to embrace the MetaMen of this world, nuh-uh - but I have become more curious about people who have opinions that differ from mine, as to what makes them tick, and being more curious is never a bad thing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:10 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It probably could happen, but I haven't been wrong yet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:15 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someone should write a book about Anonymous on Metafilter... Track down all the people who posted relationship questions, find out more about them and what ended up happening to them.

You can still keep them anonymous for the book, of course..
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on March 23, 2008


"Oh god, have you ever read the relationship questions in Askme? "

Usually posted by anonymous? Well, those questions are almost always disgusting, frequently tawdry, far too often vulgar and sometimes downright crude.

And, of course, I read every single comment.
posted by Mutant at 9:24 AM on March 23, 2008


Has mefi changed my opinions? I'm not sure. But at least it warned me about that creepy robot thing.
posted by washburn at 9:30 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've changed my mind on countless things after seeing them explained by posters here. I can't name any major ones off the top of my head, but it happens every six months or so.

I guess the more common thing is that I have no opinion/no knowledge on something and people seem to have firm opinions on them while I don't because I've never thought about it before. Then a link or a question or a comment or an answer comes along and reveals what that world is like for someone close to that subject, and I come away informed in a "walked a mile in their shoes" kind of way. It has definitely helped me appreciate more points of view and got me thinking about things that never crossed my path before.

As mefi has grown, I think even though it does have a similar political bent, it has become more diverse in terms of where in the world members are from and what kinds of subjects come up, and I feel like I understand a lot more points of view and can tolerate and understand even those I don't agree with.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've learned that I should DTMFA, lawyer up, and see my doctor (not necessarily in that order.)
posted by loiseau at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Reading Mefi has gradually made me more authoritarian...in a good way. I've seen how a benevolent dictatorship (triumvirate?) can work in practice, and gradually less sympathetic to libertarianism after being exposed to more in-depth discussion and background here. (Before I joined Mefi, I might've considered myself libertarian-leaning, but now I'm sure that was more a misunderstanding of terms than anything else.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2008


In the spirit of this thread I'd like to point to the excellent post today by hadjiboy. Seems I've known way too many people in real life who could benefit from reading that with an open mind. It's something I was forced to change my views on many, many years ago.
posted by dawson at 9:41 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think this was a MeTa question some years back.

For me, the answer is "duh, yes", but as the chicken of wonder and #1 said above, it's generally through education rather than rhetoric. I'm not likely to be argued off a position, but I've been taught that my opinions and beliefs are on shallow foundations. (The Green is especially good for this, because where there are disputed positions, they're almost always argued with a battery of evidence; the Blue, slightly less so, because threads run longer, and people dive in half-way through with entrenched positions.)
posted by holgate at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2008


Off the top of my head,

I no longer blame every fat person for their being fat.

I switched to Mac and have never looked back.

You can't win an argument with a libertarian, so don't try.

Mr. Rogers may have been actual honest-to-God saint.

I am going to work now, so any libertarians should just MeMail me.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't know that I've outright changed any major opinions, but I definitely think that I've become more thoughtful about a variety of subjects, and that my opinions have become more nuanced.

I hope so, anyway.
posted by gaspode at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2008


I'll echo Stav and Matt and say that generally here it's learning about something of which I knew nothing.

The two anecdotes I can think of about changing my thinking were an argument with XMLicious over whether life is deterministic really made me evaluate the claims there when I'd only vaguely dipped in prior (still believe in free will though), and one where I argued with EB over women's bathrooms at stadiums. That's one of those times when changing my mind sticks out most to me, where I'd previously favored a fairness in process and came to favor a fairness in outcome.

Oh, and the corny indie fuxxors have made me abandon a musical genre that I once held dear, and I'm richer for it.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've learned in a big way to see people with opposing viewpoints as, in most cases, well-rounded individuals who arrived at those positions through processes and priorities, not as knee-jerky "this is what I think SO THERE" so it's really helped me understand their positions and learn what sort of approaches are good for talking about those issues. Sometimes here I only learn that via bad example (here's how NOT to talk about US politics) but it's learning nonetheless.

So, for example, I grew up in a sort of liberal area and went to a sort of liberal college and then moved to Seattle. And it was there, for the first time, that I encountered both a wide range of different sorts of people [because I wasn't living in the country for the first time] and that I realized the group of people who lived near me and looked like me were always saying "Seattle is so WHITE" and I was always surprised because of course it isn't, and especially compared to, say, New England.

Anyhow, this was also when I fell in with a bunch of tech people and learned the sort of different politics of the online/tech & early internet worlds (more language based, somewhat less reality/location based, in my world anyhow. More male, more libertarian leaning, more humor, more international, etc) which was already a big eye opener. When I finally started participating in earnest in MeFi, I was already used to the online world, but I rarely used it to discuss issues of substance (except on my own website which were really not discussions in any real sense) and I'd moved back to the country where there was less diversity and that same "Gee Vermont is so WHITE..." talk among the sort of NPR crowd that was my small IRL social group.

So to the original question here, I've had a lot of sort of weak opinions on topics I didn't know much about that I've learned a lot more about and cemented my opinions on through my time here [money management, debt, relationship and family issues]. I've had some topics where my own personally felt opinions are even stonger than they were previously [politics, rural issues, how much I love the post office]. I've also gotten some perspective on how other people who are not like me view some of the issues that are important to me [most notably my college-era politics beliefs like feminism, recycling and waste issues, the value of community and why people spend so much money] that's really helped me develop a more nuanced approach to discussing topics that I care about.

And, though I don't mean it as snark, I used to believe that everyone had something redeeming about them if you just knew how to get at it, or get it out of them. I still believe that's true in real life, but I think there are some people who view the online world as one big joke or playground or place to torment other people and (as someone who now works here as well as participates here) and I have a much shorter fuse for those people than I used to. I don't think it's very hard to prove that you are trying to participate sincerely in a discussion or debate. The fact that there are some people who still can't seem to make their supposedly sincerely held beliefs EVER apparent without using them against someone else or being totally destructive and/or hateful, well, I've become a little less tolerant of them as supposed "community members" in a general sense [here on MeFi and elsewhere]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:15 AM on March 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


The single most important thing I've learned from Metafilter is to shut my mouth. I don't type a tenth of the comments I think of, and I don't hit post on half of the comments I type*. (I had a whole other thing typed up on this thread an hour ago, and I wiped it away).

I certainly learn more in threads in which I don't participate. Just reading to learn what other people think is better than reading while looking for the soft spot over the argument's heart to plunge the dagger. (Too much time in the Minotaur thread?)

*I was going to not post this comment either, but the irony got to me.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:16 AM on March 23, 2008 [15 favorites]


I decided to try eating peanuts and other nuts because of a post Miguel made years ago, and now they're my favorite snack. So, you nuts taught me about nuts.
posted by jonmc at 10:16 AM on March 23, 2008


I have learned a lot from AskMeFi. The relationship threads taught me that stuff from the movies can also happen in real life with even more angst.
The grey is also interesting with its metadiscussion of the community.

For the most part ,MeFi has expanded and complemented the opinions I already had, with some exceptions, like the homeless thread.

However, I still blame most fat people for their being fat.
posted by Memo at 10:31 AM on March 23, 2008


And I still want to try that recipe that mixed Sprite with Chicken.
posted by Memo at 10:31 AM on March 23, 2008


MetaFilter talked me out of getting tattoos on my knuckles, and trying to score weed in South Korea. Thank you MetaFilter.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:43 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure. I was a liberal before I started reading Metafilter.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:53 AM on March 23, 2008


Oh, yeah, and over the past week Metafilter has gotten me into metal, which I had been resisting for years. My girlfriend hates you.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:06 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


\m/
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on March 23, 2008


I can't think of any specific beliefs that MeFi changed for me. But in 2004, troutfishing made a post that introduced me to the issue of peak oil, and also to the term "hagiography".

And damn, the linked-to BBC article is *still* a good read!
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:11 AM on March 23, 2008


Metafilter helped my learn why Ayn Rand is dumb.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:13 AM on March 23, 2008


I won't say it changed my world-view completely but it did soften my view on abortion - Baby_Balrog's quotation of Spurgeon on the topic.

I don't think its any one post in particular so much as years worth of being battered and beaten in my views here - in good and bad ways I suppose, like an iron in the fire.

I think Metafilter has helped make me a better person than I was before I found it.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:16 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


whoa, how's that for timing?
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2008


(pssst Bookhouse May 22 is paganfest in NYC and I am PSYCHED for some viking)
posted by Greg Nog at 11:18 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


MeFi also taught me that chicks dig me.
posted by jonmc at 11:19 AM on March 23, 2008


I'm taking in paganfest 28th Apr, can't wait
posted by Wolfdog at 11:23 AM on March 23, 2008


Metafilter has been great for learning about all sorts of non-controversial topics, but that doesn't qualify as a change of opinion. As for political and religious discussions... well, my initial exposure to the partisanship of American politics was probably through the ridiculous Clinton sex scandals, and later through the 2k election, leading me to dismiss the religious right as whiny nutjobs divorced from reality. Here, I learned that members of the secular left can be just as extreme, closed-minded, hypocritical, and intolerant, both in the US and elsewhere in the world.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:42 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, Krrlson, you've discovered that people are people.
posted by jonmc at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Learning? Lots. Actual change of mind?

Plane. Conveyor belt.

(but actually it was linkage from here that actually got me. the post plus comments. I haven't had a blinding lightbulb moment like that since I was 9)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:46 AM on March 23, 2008


If it weren't for Metafilter, I wouldn't think something like Metafilter could possibly work.

Specifically, I would have said that reactive moderating of front page posts -- letting people post what they want, then removing the crappy entries -- could never work, and you'd have to use some variation on the Slashdot/Fark "you submit, we approve" model to get a useful set of posts.

I'm still boggled that it not only works, but provides an incredible amount of depth and variety compared to most other link-of-the-hour sites.

On the other hand, the front page has only strengthened my belief that mystery meat navigation is a venial sin.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2008 [6 favorites]


I refuse to have beliefs precisely so that I can deny others the ability to be smug about having changed them.

MeFi taught me that.
posted by Eideteker at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2008


I used to believe that there are people who are just generally smart. Instead, I see there are people only smart in one or two areas and completely ignorant or crazy in others like the stereotypical hotshot computer programmer who is voting for Ron Paul. Serisously, it was kind of a shock, like meeting an attractive funny girl who you have a good night with but then leers at some people outside the club and says something like "Jews" underneath her breath. Items like compassion, character, and patience always trump smarts. I didnt always believe that.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:59 AM on March 23, 2008 [12 favorites]


Also that groupthink and zealotry affects all parts of the social and political spectrum. The idea that its just the right that engages in this has been proven false for me.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


This site made me change my mind about colour.

Brown is acctually 'gray'.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh one more, I used to think that journalists were like saints. After seeing many posts about how much fraud there is in the field, especially photojournalism, they are now, in my mind, somewhere between used car salesman and politicians. Their motives arent selfless. At the end of the day its just a job, no better than any other, perhaps worse considering the amount of self-promotion and asskissing for access involved. Ironically, I find myself having to be more skeptical with journalism from the more 'trusted' sources.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:10 PM on March 23, 2008


damn dirty ape, I realize this wasn't yr intention, but yr 2:59 post made me cry with laughter.
And I agree with LFS, I'm still amazed at how well this site operates, even most heavily moderated sites are jammed with MetaMen, trolls ad people who, whatever the tragedy and or seriousness of a given subject insist on making 'ironic' jokes. yeah fark, i'm looking at you.
well not literally, not this year anyway
posted by dawson at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2008


Malor's comment in the D.C. v. Heller thread made me realize that, regardless of my personal opinions on gun control, individual gun ownership is the probably closest modern interpretation of the Framers' intent.
posted by djb at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2008


"Congratulations, Krrlson, you've discovered that people are people."

So why should it be…
posted by klangklangston at 12:44 PM on March 23, 2008


The sexism thread was probably the biggest eye-opener I have ever had here. I had long assumed that a man actively challenging sexist comments would be overwhelmingly seen as a condescending, sanctimonious douchebag by women and men alike so it was a big surprise to see so many female members saying that they actively appreciate it when men do their share of policing.

More trivially, I also remember a discussion which started out along the lines of "Isn't it annoying when posters make little followup comments "fixing" spelling mistakes in the comment they've just posted?" and there were several people saying "No, I actually appreciate that". I haven't started making my own post-comment corrections as a result of that discussion, but they don't annoy me now that I know that someone else likes them.
posted by tomcooke at 12:46 PM on March 23, 2008


Also, Bookhouse, my girlfriend just enjoyed a track by Helloween and said "Maybe I do like speed metal," so there's always hope.
posted by klangklangston at 12:48 PM on March 23, 2008


Metafilter helped my learn why Ayn Rand is dumb.

I think this, by itself, can justify this site's entire existence.
posted by 1 at 12:49 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Congratulations, Krrlson, you've discovered that people are people.

. . . no matter how small.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:53 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


But seriously, if I had had any sudden MeFi-inspired epiphanies about major values or viewpoints, I would tend to distrust them. I'm old; on most issues I care about, I've considered all the major rational and ethical arguments already, and there probably aren't going to be too many new ones -- although incremental additions of empirical info and anecdata [love that word] on various sides certainly help me to see new perspectives in a way that is probably shifting my views. Sort of like plate tectonics.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:04 PM on March 23, 2008


Actually, the snark here is what's taught me the most.

I used to be pretty uncricital of the things I read, especially if I agreed with them. I don't know how many times I've read a link that made me nod reflexively, only to dip into the comment thread and see the author torn apart for unrevealed biases, sloppy thinking, incorrect premises and so on. Even if I'm not participating in the discussion, it sure is educational to watch.

Anyway, nowadays my litmus test for bad journalism is, "What would this article get trashed for on MeFi?" Asking that question has helped me notice a lot of things that I would have glossed over before.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:04 PM on March 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


I learned that I'm a cheese murderer.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. I may have to buy some more cheese and murder it today to find out.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:06 PM on March 23, 2008


Congratulations, Krrlson, you've discovered that people are people.

I know, and it's been a huge bummer. I have removed the preset kill limit from my killbots.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:07 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I learned to respect people with a Liberal Arts background. In real life, my experience with liberal arts people has been quite negative.
posted by proj08 at 1:13 PM on March 23, 2008


What this site has most changed for me is strengthening the notion that there rarely if ever is an authoritative source for anything. News and science are just as subject to extreme spin as any other topic. Also, I've learned to have a healthier dose of skepticism surfing the net - though that's a constant battle. Mefi is where I go to realize "wait a second, what about X" - such as the domain a site is on, or the link between the site and another more obvious indicator of falsity. Thanks for keeping me oriented.
posted by birdsquared at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2008


On non preview - or what nebulawindphone wrote...
posted by birdsquared at 1:24 PM on March 23, 2008


I have learned little from the Blue and much from the Green.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:35 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I know, and it's been a huge bummer. I have removed the preset kill limit from my killbots.

Somebody alert Zapp Brannigan!
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:36 PM on March 23, 2008


Somebody alert Zapp Brannigan!

*twitches*

I love Futurama with all my heart, and this is more a credit to the writers than anything else, but everytime I think about this character, or he appears on-screen, or someone else mentions him, or someone quotes him, I want to stab something. Leila has my true admiration for handling him the way she does.
posted by Phire at 1:37 PM on March 23, 2008


It's Leela, meatbag. Turanga Leela.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2008


Eponysterical?

But no, I realized that immediately after I posted. And spent 10 minutes reading her Wikipedia entry. Oh Wikipedia.
posted by Phire at 1:48 PM on March 23, 2008


It certainly changed my perspective on the value of online communities.
posted by owhydididoit at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2008


Sorry, I should explain.

I've been a fan since my first visit. There's tons of stuff here, most of it carefully prepared, usually by intelligent, interested people. There are plenty of other online communities that have good stuff, but none of such consistent quality, in my opinion. Moreover, there are personalities here, yet almost no rancor or banality--people are decent and respectful here, of time and feelings.

Sure, there's politics, but one can look past that (or enjoy it, as preferred).
posted by owhydididoit at 2:00 PM on March 23, 2008


From reading MetaFilter, I've learned that Yahoo! Answers is a valuable Internet resource, and that professional web site moderation is a dour, depressing occupation. Also, I've learned that everyone needs a hug.
posted by paulsc at 2:20 PM on March 23, 2008


Portobello Mushrooms, ".", the news that Hunter S Thompson had shot himself, zombie goasts, the secret to great bread, Elephant Day.

Metafilter didn't change any of my long held opinions on these, but it made me remember them. In that way it helped change my view of what a website can be, and that such a thing as a web community can exist in a real sense. That it can have a culture of its own that can exist outside of the internet. I was never of the opinion that a website could exist that I would associate memories with; that would persist. So yeah, now if only it had changed my view on posting comments while drunk...
posted by Elmore at 2:24 PM on March 23, 2008


I've learned that /dev/null isn't just for cowards.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:31 PM on March 23, 2008


Really, it's a pretty great occupation that has some dour, depressing moments.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:35 PM on March 23, 2008


MeFi showed me that YouTube has a purpose beyond playing music I don't want to pay for.
posted by andythebean at 2:38 PM on March 23, 2008


I learned that the coffee I like sucks.
posted by found missing at 2:42 PM on March 23, 2008


I was expecting to come in here and cite my MeFi-inspired loathing of Ayn Rand and, to a lesser extent, Libertarianism, but am comforted that I'm not the only one.
posted by mkultra at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2008


I think this, by itself, can justify this site's entire existence.

That's the first and only thing you've said since joining that has made even a glimmer of sense.


MetaFilter has taught me I can be an asshole.

And sometimes this a fine thing. Sometimes not.
posted by loquacious at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2008


With new topics, I'd like to call myself open minded, but sometimes, I'm wishy washy until something's set in stone. And a lot of times, I am afraid to voice my real opinion at the sake of offending someone in real life, but MetaFilter is full of people that, even if our opinions differ, approach thinking through things and standing up for things in a way I admire - from wacky pop culture stuff to "big political issues."

When I read MetaFilter through RSS feed, I'll look at the links and then read the commentary. And the commentary often changes my understanding and filter on the links. There are times when I wish something I've seen elsewhere was a FPP so I can witness an intelligent conversation about it that will help crystallize my own beliefs.

With politicians, a few months ago, I was a "They're all the same" ranter, disappointed that Dennis Kucinich was being sidelined as a kook. There was no one thread that convinced me that "Yes, that's my candidate", but commentary in a few directions gave me good cause to look deeper into Edwards, Clinton and Obama and actually explore voting records and history beyond the Yahoo! News clippings.

Ask has had the biggest effect on my life and beliefs. From getting out of a bad marriage to learning how to properly care for and train my dog, I've gotten great but harsh advice that's directly influenced how I want to live - especially when I didn't even ask the questions. You know that adage that you don't really know something until you teach it? I can't count the number of times contemplating what advice a Ask questioner needs has actually made my own life make sense to me.
posted by Gucky at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't think of one specific thing that I can point to that I've read here over the years that has changed my mind, but my ideas about a wide range of topics continues to evolve and I think Mefi is a part of that evolution, that and beer.
posted by nola at 3:15 PM on March 23, 2008



tkolar said: Metafilter has demonstrated to me that zealots of all stripes are equally ugly. I had the Fundamentalist Atheist thing going on in my youth and it's been an ongoing source of personal shame to watch the casual pain and denigration handed out by people who still carry that torch.

Well yes, but as for me, I knew that before mefi. Actually, Mefi has taught me that not all atheists are like this. People like languagehat and grumblebee helped change my perspective of atheists. Prior to finding Metafilter, I had always experienced internet atheists as a bitter, strident, intolerant and juvenile group of people (regardless of age). Rather like the kind you find on sites like digg. I had formed the strong impression that most atheists were just rebelling against their upbringing. I had encountered these sorts of atheists everywhere, including "conservative" websites like Freerepublic (anyone who thinks all conservatives think the same has surely never encountered one of the mammoth Crevo threads on Freerepublic, where nobody respects anybody and the atheists are the loudest and nastiest). I had very little respect for them.

But at Metafilter, while I think there is an abnormally large number of atheists and agnostics here, by and large whenever people start getting juvenile and LOLXIAN, they are challenged by other atheists. The best thing is some Mefi atheists acknowledge that there is depth and even beauty in religion, regardless of the question of God's existence. That's the true BRIGHTNESS and open-mindedness. Otherwise I was beginning to think that atheists and religionists are pretty much the same, just with varying degrees of power.

Or, as jonmc said, people are people.
posted by Danila at 3:28 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Green's taught me a lot of different things; nothing I can think of offhand.

The Blue's taught me that even intelligent, nominally perceptive people can create a boyzone, which, naively, had never really occurred to me before. Eh, I still like the place, but it's true.
posted by bettafish at 3:58 PM on March 23, 2008


Or, as jonmc said, people are people.

I should add: this is not usually a bad thing.
posted by jonmc at 4:00 PM on March 23, 2008


-- Addendum: for completeness' sake, it's probably a straightwhiteliberalboyzone, but I am speaking of the 'zone I have experienced/perceived. YZMV!
posted by bettafish at 4:01 PM on March 23, 2008


MetaTalk made me change my mind about how to run a community.

I didn't know before that it was possible to have meaningful exchanges while letting people flame out and throw insults at each other and at admins.
I didn't know it was not only possible but wise to have flexible guidelines and to not draw clear moderating lines in the sand.

And I didn't know we could still have lively conversations without images.
posted by bru at 4:03 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


While I may think it in quieter moments, or discuss the matter with friends, I no longer publicly express my opinion that Ann Coulter is a c*nt.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:13 PM on March 23, 2008


Not to be personal, but MeFi finally convinced me and my low self-esteem that I had something to offer the community and that some people would listen to, even appreciate what I said.

So, thanks for listening, even you Sultans of Snark.
posted by dw at 4:16 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


who the hell are you again?
posted by jonmc at 4:25 PM on March 23, 2008


I don't think anyone who reads the Blue frequently can claim that they haven't learned a substantial amount about a range of really fucking awesome topics (and a few really lame ones).

As for my opinions - I think, as others have already said, as I'm exposed to new issues, ideas and information, I form new ones. I don't think I've had a major opinion changed, and that kind of makes me sad, because maybe it means I'm close-minded.
posted by kbanas at 4:27 PM on March 23, 2008


The Blue's taught me that even intelligent, nominally perceptive people can create a boyzone, which, naively, had never really occurred to me before. Eh, I still like the place, but it's true.

That's the main thing it's taught you?
posted by kbanas at 4:28 PM on March 23, 2008


Just by reading the number of rhetorical things that he's compared to that I like, I learned that Hitler was a pretty swell guy.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


MeFi made me realize that it behooves one to be prepared for the potential of an hostile encounter with a roving pack of five-year-olds. And ... how to dispose of any of their bodies without getting caught?
posted by ericb at 4:45 PM on March 23, 2008


There are times when I wish something I've seen elsewhere was a FPP ...

There's a solution for this.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:57 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is odd to me that among the most illuminating threads was the real vs metaphorical viking one. Honestly. I don't want to get too far back into it, but I found it pretty distressing. I, let the record state, was a 'metaphorical viking' person, and I felt truly attacked - more so than I have in any other thread here.

The fact that the sincere voicing of an alternate interpretation of a throwaway line in a fucking cartoon could cause such venom to be spewed - real, full-on, viciousness and dismissal - made me sad and claustrophobic and lonely.

I am not sure if the thread got cleaned up (it's not rainbows and lollipops in there, but it's not the Combat Zone either) or if I just got a weird impression at the time, but I really was troubled by it.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:30 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I nearly bought a macbook pro at one stage because of mefi but was saved by the awfulness of the giant SINGLE mouse button.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:08 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mefi has opened up so many varied viewpoints for me that I feel it is the best roi I have ever enjoyed. I have lots of tennis and bridge pals. All persuasions. But when I want an in depth discussion of anything I go there. Of course I would never make such an admission in the blue. Those folk already have big heads. lol
As an aside, I am 70+ and only discovered the internet in 97. From my retirement in '92 I had no one here in Fl. that shared any of my (cough, cough) intellectual interests. For me metafilter has been a literal mental lifesaver.
posted by notreally at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I've learned that internet communities--even the best of them--can't compare to real-world communities of people I can punch and hug.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:37 PM on March 23, 2008


Metafilter is responsible for my purchase of and appreciation for the Nintendo DS.

More profound: When I've got something to deal with, mentally assembling an AskMe question and imagining the inevitable answers* is more often a part of the process than not.

*yes there have been times it's gone to imaginary MeTa
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:38 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've gained more respect for Gen Y as a result of reading Metafilter. Being 41, I don't associate with many twenty somethings, so my impression of them was based on pop culture stuff, and let's face it, they don't come across too well from that source. But the young 'uns on Metafilter are incredibly smart, erudite, cultured, moral and well-read (and great writers too). It's always shocking to discover a reg whom I hold in high esteem is much younger than I previously thought. Usually those discoveries come about when they mention their age at the time of a landmark occurance e.g. the Challenger disaster.

The last one of those moments was when Ambrosia Voyeur mentioned that she was just 8 years old when Silence of the Lambs hit the screen.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2008


I've learned that we Americans need to get our collective intellectual shit together and realize we are not the be all and end all of the world.

That said, we Americans have value as human beings, despite our leaders and policies, and we are not the fucking scourge of the Earth, and I'd really like it if people from other parts could stop villifying us based on one sector. America is quite large, geographically, and thus, we have many geographic sectors with different political beliefs. And within each sector or region, there are multiple belief systems. And within one of those, I reside. And within myself, I love all people and respect their rights to believe what they want as long as they don't kill others or push their beliefs on me in a forceful manner. Live and let live, I guess.

I am all for no countries and no borders and just saying, "oh, you cook like this? Show me how!"

Until then, I am all for communicating across the borders here, and having worked for an international company where all my co-workers/friends were from around the world, I wish there were more posts here from other countries. I'd like to get rid of my American-centric beliefs and stereotypes, and I'd love it if people from other countries would post more. I see a few here, but I'd like to see MORE. I cannot begin to tell you all how enriched my life was just by working with a few people from other countries for a short period of time. I learned so much, I met so many great people, and I shed so many stereotypes, some of which I'm ashamed to say I'd been brought up with.

I've learned a lot here and I'd like to learn more.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:52 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've written and rewritten something in this box about 10 times today, and erased all but this one. If Metafilter has taught me nothing else, it's that there are times when it's just not worth it to open yourself up to the abuse from others.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:04 PM on March 23, 2008


I didn't think I had another thing coming, but I had another think coming.
posted by stopgap at 7:12 PM on March 23, 2008


Which brings me to the corollary, that MeFi can be a pretty tough place for, say, a born-again pro-life gay-bashing omnivore. [emphasis added]

There's a decent number of bacon posts that would seem to disprove that notion. Bacon apparently gets a free ride.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:25 PM on March 23, 2008


Oh, and Metafilter has taught me that there are an awful lot of individuals who have no troubles displaying the depth of their perverted depravities.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:27 PM on March 23, 2008


Oh wait. That's YouPorn I'm thinking of...
posted by Dave Faris at 7:27 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's the main thing it's taught you?

Assuming you were asking honestly: yes, according to the precepts of the question. FPPs about homelessness and Hitler's home movies and cats with cerebellar hyperplasia and Bobby Dunbar (thinking back on the past few days) are great and all, but they haven't changed my mind about any part of my worldview.

If it makes you feel better about your worldview, I only started lurking here late last year. Look me up in five years?
posted by bettafish at 7:42 PM on March 23, 2008


Er. your worldview, not your worldview. Damn html.
posted by bettafish at 7:46 PM on March 23, 2008


No precise examples spring immediately to mind, but I honestly believe reading and taking part in Metafilter has made me a better person.
posted by item at 7:46 PM on March 23, 2008


I've gained more respect for Gen Y as a result of reading Metafilter. Being 41, I don't associate with many twenty somethings, so my impression of them was based on pop culture stuff, and let's face it, they don't come across too well from that source. But the young 'uns on Metafilter are incredibly smart, erudite, cultured, moral and well-read (and great writers too).

Yeah, I was thinking about this thread this morning, and that's something that came to my mind too. Although once they get started on their can haz cheeseburgers and their rickrolling and other youthful hijinks, I must admit I sometimes do get a strong urge to start yelling about my lawn.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:52 PM on March 23, 2008


Since I started posting here I noticed I used a lot more hyperlinks in my emails at my job.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:53 PM on March 23, 2008


Seeing as this has turned into a 'what I have learnt' post. I've learnt that it is hard to use an ironic reference to sites like Digg and for people to get the irony. Which, in an incorrect usage of the word, is ironic.

Also, your momma is fat.
posted by Elmore at 7:59 PM on March 23, 2008


Sorry, that was supposed to be youre momma is fact.
posted by Elmore at 8:01 PM on March 23, 2008


No precise examples spring immediately to mind, but I honestly believe reading and taking part in Metafilter has made me a better person.

Actually, you could spring to mind as an example of what meFi's done for me. About the only thing me & item have in common is that we're both bipedal carbon-based lifeforms, but I've grown to like and appreciate the dude.
posted by jonmc at 8:07 PM on March 23, 2008


I'm now a descriptivist about language (it's a big deal to me).
posted by oddman at 8:43 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've learned that no matter how much time I fritter away on the internet, many many other smart and accomplished individuals spend even more time futzing around on the web than I.

(and that makes me feel better.)
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:09 PM on March 23, 2008


I'm now a descriptivist about language

Oh yeah, good call, I think I'd say the same.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:26 PM on March 23, 2008


I don't think my mind has actually been changed about anything, but exposure to so many opinions and beliefs has opened my eyes to the fact that there is no one true answer to anything. Even SCIENCE!

I also view any media story through my own in-head copy of MeFi - if I don't think it would pass muster here, I don't trust it.

blue_beetle: "I lost my faith in humanity, does that count?"
Well, I lost mine way before I found MeFi - I just didn't realise it at the time.

sgt.serenity: "I nearly bought a macbook pro at one stage because of mefi but was saved by the awfulness of the giant SINGLE mouse button."
You and me both.
posted by dg at 5:10 AM on March 24, 2008


the giant SINGLE mouse button

Thank Christ. Luckily you didn't pick up that you could plug any damn mouse you like into that thing. What else did you learn from this site?
posted by Wolof at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2008


You and me both.

we're the survivors man, the survivors !

*hugs dg*
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:18 AM on March 24, 2008


I, let the record state, was a 'metaphorical viking' person, and I felt truly attacked - more so than I have in any other thread here.

Yeah, that was kind of nuts, but it was something I noticed in every website the debate popped up on. I mentioned the question to this couple I know, both of whom are really intelligent, really sweet, incredibly thoughtful people, both quite adept at examining behavior without too many biases. Their response:

Lady: It means Ralph dreams about being a viking. Why, how else could you interpret that?
Man: Oh, that's interesting. I just assumed it meant he was good at sleeping.
Lady: That's fucking stupid.

The most fascinating thing I got out of the whole debate was the immediate vitriol it inspired among some of the "literal viking" crowd. I'm not sure what exactly that says, but there's probably some kind of psychosocial analysis at least as fascinating as the Milgram experiment in there.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:20 AM on March 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wolof: "Luckily you didn't pick up that you could plug any damn mouse you like into that thing. What else did you learn from this site?"
Ever tried to use a mouse on a crowded train? Have you learned something yet today?

*hugs sgt.serenity drunkenly* I love you man!
posted by dg at 5:30 AM on March 24, 2008


See in meatspace that hug would qualify as real skinship, touch therapy, and drunken/hackneyed "bonding."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:06 AM on March 24, 2008


Like most, I despise telemarketers' interruptions. But as a Mefi lurker many years ago, I read a thread on the subject, where someone observed that telemarketing is low-skilled, flexible-schedule job that attracts many single mothers who cannot get other employment.

This opened my eyes to the humanity of the person on the other end of the wire. I now hold my temper in check and work hard to be pleasant and friendly to the callers as I ask them to put me on their Do Not Call list.

There is a larger lesson here, of course, which I've also tried to apply, with varying degrees of success.
posted by mojohand at 6:34 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm now a descriptivist about language

Oh yeah, good call, I think I'd say the same.


My work here is done.
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've only been here for a short while, and Metafilter has changed my mind on a whole bunch of stuff. But I'm a libra, and I change my mind easily.

Watching other members on the blue get torn apart for beliefs I am sympathetic to has taught me a lot, as has getting torn apart myself. If an FPP didn't changed my opinion about something altogether, it generally at least made me less self-righteous about it, or more understanding of the other side.

The green has taught me more, but it's been more specific knowledge. Usually I learn things from the green that I am looking to learn. The things I learn on the blue just kind of fall into my lap.

And the grey is my favorite. It teaches me about this community, and that such a thing is possible.
posted by lunit at 7:16 AM on March 24, 2008


But I'm a libra, and I change my mind easily.

Beware! Soon, we will disabuse you of your astrological confirmation bias.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:25 AM on March 24, 2008


I'm with those who'd say I've learned a lot, but probably not changed too many deeply-held opinions. However, I wouldn't take that to the next level of saying "Therefore arguments about matters of opinion at MeFi are a waste of time." I've found them really in helpful in (a) developing more understanding and respect for other people's opinions, (b) creating stronger and tighter arguments in support of my own opinions, and (c) educating me about the variety of possible opinions.

There a lot of matters on which I've become more educated, and so my opinions have probably become more nuanced and definitely more specific. But to be fair, I'm kind of strong-minded. I tend to not make any opinions until I've thoroughly thought something through, and unless startling new information about the topic is uncovered, it's not likely that anything, MeFi or not MeFi, would deeply change it. It's fair to recognize that people with strong opinions don't change them as a result of a single incident very often; worldviews aren't easily up for grabs. However, people do sometimes shift from one point of view to another. Sometimes that's sudden, due to an epiphany or striking event like the birth of a child, a spiritual crisis, an event arising from war, a loss. Sometimes it's much more gradual and takes place over a long time - changing the liberal/conservative balance, shadings in belief systems, outlooks on personal experience.

Id say MeFi is about as "opinion-changing" as reading a daily newspaper, getting a university education, training for a new job, or traveling. Opinions don't out-and-out reverse very often as a result of a single exchange, but they can become more sophisticated and undergo adaptation as new information is encountered, especially if new information and argument are valued parts of a culture (as I think they are here).

. In fact, when arguments don't move toward progressively more sophisticated discussion, that's when I tend to feel that heads are just bumping to no great effect. If we can keep establishing commonly agreed-upon points and then dicing the points of disagreement more and more finely, then we all know our own opinions with much more clarity and sharpness. That's the "win" to me, not the ultimate triumph of one point of view or another, but the point at which opinions either evolve and grow more complex, or parties whose opinions are global and unfocused go back to the drawing board to try to craft stronger arguments in support of them.
posted by Miko at 7:57 AM on March 24, 2008


I think MetaFilter is single-handedly responsible from bringing my righty-red-state tendencies out of the closet and smacking it's butt-cheeks til they were crimson.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:58 AM on March 24, 2008


It's made me a lot more tolerant of folks who work in the humanities. Coming from a pretty hard science background I always tended to look down on people who specialised in non-mathematical disciplines.

MeFi made me realise I was an idiot to do this and that there were many, many rich and complex ideas I had missed out on as a result.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:36 AM on March 24, 2008


"Begging the question" and Nike Plus, at least. Probably some more important stuff that doesn't spring to mind at the moment. I guess I became more intolerant of creationists.
posted by freebird at 8:41 AM on March 24, 2008


I did change my position on something as a result of reading mefi.

And that turned out to be a mistake.

As a result of one of the posts on single-blade shaving I bought a 50 euro Merkur Futur single-blade razor similar to the one my old dad stopped using around 1976.
He thought I was insane for starting to use that old stuff that he was glad to leave behind.
I starting shaving using my 'German high precision rasor' (terms used in raving online posts on wet shaving). Shaving now used about 15 minutes of my precious morning time standing precariously and cold before the mirror instead of being nice and warm under the shower shaving by touch using a modern multi-blade razor. I walked around with little balls of cotton on my face to stop the bleeding. The result wasn't particularly smooth compared to a modern 5 blade.
I now have a 50 euro unused Merkur Futur in my bathroom closet. But I went back to shaving using 5 blade razor under the shower and am very happy with that.

What did I learn?
1. Geeks/mefites like to make simple things more complicated and obscure and will hark back to inferior technology to satisfy that need.
2. I found out that shaving is not a lifestyle activity for me but a matter of convenience.
posted by jouke at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm rather taken aback by those who say they haven't changed their opinions much because of MeFi. Some people have an intellectual plasticity that allows them to keep growing and changing throughout their lives, while others don't, I suppose. It's no coincidence that, in this thread, it is those for whose intellect and erudition I have the highest respect (i.e., stavros, languagehat) who freely admit this site continually educates them.

Continual education and changing opinions are not the same thing. I learn about a lot of new subjects here, and I've also learned more about online communities and human interaction. I haven't had any longstanding, deeply held beliefs overturned precisely because I've always tried to understand other points of view and grasp the nuance and flexibility ( and possible idiocy) inherent in any belief of mine from the beginning. I suspect a lot of people don't have Metafilter epiphanies because the opinions they do hold are the result of a natural ebb and flow of information and ideas, rather than a solidly brittle construct that requires earth shattering revelations as a prelude to any rearrangement whatsoever.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've come to recognize the slippery but important distinction because cleverness and intellectual substance, and how easy it is for me to be swayed by those around me.

And oh god, my life is so much richer for being able to recognize and control for Male Answer Syndrome (so closely related to everyone's favorite, anecdata).
posted by kittyprecious at 10:33 AM on March 24, 2008


I learned how to look up my own asshole from MetaTalk. Otherwise, not so much.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 10:54 AM on March 24, 2008


I learned how to lookup Nick Verstayne's asshole from MetaTalk. It's really quite a powerful resource.
posted by tkolar at 11:30 AM on March 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


You'd need the Hubble for that, tkolar.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 12:29 PM on March 24, 2008


languagehat: My work here is done.

Don't forget to write!
posted by LordSludge at 1:55 PM on March 24, 2008


I was having a hard time coming up with anything until I remembered that I no longer think it's okay to toss a banana peel under a bush.

Still a prescriptivist.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:06 PM on March 24, 2008


Like jouke, for me MeFi has made Americans far more real and three-dimensional (likewise, but to a proportionately lesser extent, various other nationalities). And I too am no longer a prescriptivist, which was a real blow to my prose-snarking ego.

Those things aside, the only thing I can say is that my confidence in strong assertions has been weakened as time after time I have seen well-constructed arguments deconstructed and countered, including my own. Can't say I've changed my mind much, but I've become a lot more careful about over-broad statements.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:28 PM on March 24, 2008


What else did you learn from this site?

The meetups are good and worth attending (although i missed the last one )
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:47 PM on March 24, 2008


I will no longer make fun of the inventor of the Segway becuase he has saved lives.

I learned that some people believe some crazy ass shit and you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on.

I've learned that people appreciate a good story more than a strong opinion.

I've learned that I'm MUCH better looking, slightly nicer, but not as smart as I thought. So it's a wash right there.
posted by tkchrist at 6:34 PM on March 24, 2008


A RelationshipFilter AskMe last week made me realise that (some of) my friends are much sluttier than I thought. Now I just need to work out how to turn this to my advantage.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:32 PM on March 24, 2008




Metafilter has demonstrated to me that zealots of all stripes are equally ugly.

So you just lump together "all stripes" of zealot, no exceptions? Your anti-zealot zealotry offends me.

I had the Fundamentalist Atheist thing going on in my youth

Ah, that was your problem. The One True Religion is actually Fundamentalist Agnosticism. Our credo: "I don't know and you don't either."
posted by roystgnr at 12:09 PM on March 25, 2008


I learned that despite my previous opinion, I should actually see a doctor.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:10 PM on March 25, 2008


I've learned that I'll never have to read Ayn Rand and form my own opinion.
posted by deborah at 4:02 PM on March 25, 2008


Also, I've abandoned my belief that there was some sort of creator/bearded white guy/god/supreme being in the sky. I'm firmly in the agnostic pool with atheistic tendencies.
posted by deborah at 4:04 PM on March 25, 2008


I've learned a huge amount of things here, in the sense of adding to my knowledge, finding out new facts and being exposed to new ideas. Almost every day there's something interesting and cool and enlightening here.

In the course of discussion I've had my opinions changed a lot on a few occasions, I've had my opinions changed a little on many occasions, and I've gotten new perspectives practically every time I've ever been here and read any serious or deep discussion, even if I haven't necessarily changed my own opinion about the matter at hand, or contributed. Many times I've felt, after participating in a discussion (even a hostile one) I've been more enlightened for participating in it, and I hope on occasion I've managed to do that for others - even if it is, sometimes, at a third party's expense. I won't post a link, as I mean to thank those involved for it and to post a link would inevitably look like a callout, but one of my all-time favorite conversations here was a fairly harsh argument in AskMeFi between myself and two others over relationship ethics. In the end we did not come to an agreement, but I hope we better understood each others' perspectives, and better clarified our own, and provided useful thoughts to the original questioner.

Sometimes even when it's bad, it's good, so to speak. :) On the topic of acrimony it's in the nature of forums like this, that to just post "I agree" doesn't add anything much to the discussion; those who disagree with you are always going to be more likely to post. I think we lose track of what that fact implies, from time to time. If one person posts a harsh critique of what you said, and no-one else posts anything, that doesn't mean that everyone agreed with your critic. They might have agreed with you, and just not felt it worth saying so. It also doesn't mean they hate you. They're only disagreeing with that one comment, not your whole existence. (Even if they put it that way.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:35 AM on March 26, 2008


I can't point you to a specific comment, but Mefi certainly played a noticeable role in moving me down the road from my Texas conservative Southern Baptist Republican upbringing to my Euro socialist liberal heathen current state.

I shudder when I look back at some of my older comments, and realize just how narrow-minded I was, back in the day. Thanks mefi.
posted by syzygy at 12:29 PM on March 27, 2008


Add me to the list of descriptivist converts.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:35 PM on April 9, 2008


« Older Did I dream a post deletion?   |   What do you say to near real-time traffic stats? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments