"Just show him this thread" September 21, 2010 4:26 AM   Subscribe

"Just show him this thread" - this advice gets given practically every other day and I was wondering, do people really mean it and think it is a good idea?

For instance here, but that's just one of many, many examples, sorry for picking you out, Biru.
For myself, I'd probably be horrified that someone asked a bunch of internet strangers about me and then showed me what they said. And then I'd probably do the exact opposite or at least be really angry and embarassed at the question-asker.

So I was just wondering if people were just using hyperbole or being metaphoric (so they are really saying "tell him exactly what you told us"). Or maybe it is meant literally and other people simply aren't bothered as much by being shown threads about them?

Anyway, this is not a call out, I was just curious about this seemingly ubiquitous piece of advice and why people give it.
posted by Omnomnom to MetaFilter-Related at 4:26 AM (65 comments total)

The way I see it, if you are angry and embarassed that your behaviours are anonymously described to internet strangers, then maybe you need to change your behaviours.

There is a huge difference between saying "CautionTotheWind does such and such embarassing things" and "some dude does such and such embarassing things".
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:31 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Personally, I would be more upset that a loved one sought out the advice of internet strangers rather than bringing it to my attention first.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:34 AM on September 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


For some issues, outside perspective is often unsubstitutable.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:37 AM on September 21, 2010


(Just to clarify, it's because it would feel like "I DRAGGED OUR PROBLEM ACROSS THE INTERNET AND EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME THAT YOU SUCK". I don't object to asking anonymous questions about me at all. I'd just rather not read about it live, and I would hope that if I were the subject of such a question, the question asker would then take the time to talk to me in their own words.)
posted by Omnomnom at 4:39 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


There was an awesome ask.me about riding the bus with a couple of sarcastic women sarcastic where this was recommended, and discussed at length. One comment was along the lines of "Yeah, sure, the comments of your imaginary internet friends will be really convincing."
posted by theora55 at 4:42 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I usually read that advice as "explain it to them like you explained it to us". Not that they should necessarily send them a hyperlink to the askme page.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the advice "Just show him this thread" has its place.

Typically when the question is: "how can I end this relationship acrimoniously?"
posted by MuffinMan at 4:53 AM on September 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


'Honey is there a reason I'm looking at nine printed pages of "DTMFA"?'
posted by shakespeherian at 4:54 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I would be pretty thoroughly pissed off, definitely. I'd feel what Omnomnom said. I would be insulted to be treated like that. I'd want my partner to talk to me, not show me what a bunch of people who don't even know me thought of me.
posted by Decani at 5:04 AM on September 21, 2010


Which is why the right answers in all relationship questions boil down to any of the following three:

1) DTMFA
2) Seek counseling, together
3) Communicate with your partner

Over, done, we can stop asking relationship questions now.

I really find the topic to be the glaring exception to the AskMe rules. Relationship questions are often disguised as "How can I" or "What should I do" or "Is this weird" questions, but they are always actually chatfilter in practice since no one knows the people or the relevant facts, everyone has an opinion rooted only in their own experience, and there are no right or wrong answers. I get it that everyone -- myself included -- likes to talk about love and sex. But it's talk, or rather chat, most of the time. And I notice it's usually the same 15 or so MeFites who really get in an answer the vast majority of relationship questions anyway, as if their experience was somehow representative of the whole world.

Thus, I have always advocated for a separate section of the site for love and romance questions. To me, it breaks AskMe.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:15 AM on September 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


You can have that, 4cm. Just check every category in MyAsk except human relations, and boom! it's like it has its own section and you never have to see those questions.

I think the "show [whoever] this thread" can be useful if the OP says they're having trouble expressing themselves - they don't know what to say to their shrink, or how to ask a question of their schmoopy, or whatever.
posted by rtha at 5:33 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I believe the example you linked to answers your question:

"Just show the person this thread or say to them how you feel exactly as you've described it to us."
posted by nomadicink at 5:36 AM on September 21, 2010


Whenever I see this, I think it's absolutely terrible advice. It's the ultimate in passive-aggressive, IMHO. "Oh hi, I can't talk to you about this so I asked internet strangers and this is what they said without knowing your side of the story."

Talking about the thread, and maybe showing it in context? That's not necessarily a bad idea... but "Print this out and show it to him" just reads as a dick move to me. If a friend/significant other of mine did that to me, the first thing I would show them would be the door.

Not that I have strong feelings about this or anything.
posted by sonika at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Omnomnom-- just show AskMe this thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:04 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whenever I see this, I think it's absolutely terrible advice.

It's not only terrible advice, it's so conceited on our part. Like our words on a screen can fix problems, easy as that! From this strange conceit also sprouts the anger we display when a poster doesn't seem ready right that second to do as we say.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:09 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


OTOH, there are some situations where everybody who has answered the question says that the OP is in the right. That's gotta count for something.
posted by flabdablet at 6:15 AM on September 21, 2010


A lot of the problems we get here are of the 'I know I need to communicate with this person but I don't know how to express myself in a way that's not going to suck' variety. 'Show them the thread' can often be taken to mean 'you've expressed it very well here, go with this'.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:19 AM on September 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have always read it as showing them the question as typed, not showing them the whole thread with comments attached.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:23 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Show them the thread' can often be taken to mean 'you've expressed it very well here, go with this'.

Yeah, I pretty much always read it like this.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:24 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




OTOH, there are some situations where everybody who has answered the question says that the OP is in the right. That's gotta count for something.

Totally. I just think that showing your husband a thread in which everybody thinks you are crazy/a jerk/weird is probably counterproductive. It's good for giving the OP a reality check (you are right, he is weird), but not necessarily good for showing...

Well, that's my opinion because I'd react negatively if I were him.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:28 AM on September 21, 2010


In this thread about dormmates eating someone else's food, the poster actually printed everyone's responses out and put them on the fridge.
posted by danb at 6:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thus, I have always advocated for a separate section of the site for love and romance questions. To me, it breaks AskMe.

Did you read the very recent MeTa thread where we shot down that idea? You might want to read that thread, instead of continuing to bring this up in every thread that mentions relationship questions.
posted by John Cohen at 6:28 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


...er "everybody thinks HE is crazy". Not "you". Sorry.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:29 AM on September 21, 2010


Also, how could it "break AskMe"? This is like people who say they're against same-sex marriage because it will ruin all the other marriages. No, that can't be the real reason, since there's no explanation of how one marriage would even affect other marriages. One AskMe question doesn't affect other AskMe questions, so your real reason can't be that all of AskMe is somehow ruined by relationship questions.
posted by John Cohen at 6:30 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


In this thread about dormmates eating someone else's food, the poster actually printed everyone's responses out and put them on the fridge.

Sorry for the threadsitting, and sorry for saying sorry all the time, but danb your link is broke, do you have the right one? I'd like to read that thread.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:32 AM on September 21, 2010


OTOH, there are some situations where everybody who has answered the question says that the OP is in the right. That's gotta count for something.

Not at all. I'd wager that any husband arguing with his pregnant wife about whether to allow his mother in the delivery room while see his wife's posting of the situation to AskMe as some sort of betrayal and tacit admission of internet strangers to her the delivery and therefore demand his mother be let in, since total strangers know what's going on now.

It's a crazy world.
posted by nomadicink at 6:32 AM on September 21, 2010


One AskMe question doesn't affect other AskMe questions, so your real reason can't be that all of AskMe is somehow ruined by relationship questions.

One AskMe question can affect future questions though.
posted by smackfu at 6:36 AM on September 21, 2010


One Subsection to rule them all,
One Recent Activity Page to find them,
One Page to bring them all
and in the pale glow of the monitor's light, favorite them.
posted by nomadicink at 6:46 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If people are reading "Just show him this thread" metaphorically (that is, the person isn't REALLY supposed to show the person this thread), maybe they should actually say what they mean. "Explain the problem to her exactly as you explained it to us" is alot different from "Actually show her the post you made on the internet and all the responses to it".

Actually showing someone an AskMe is shitty advice for anyone.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:50 AM on September 21, 2010


I agree with rta and jacquilynne. This is not always bad advice. I agree that it makes very little sense in the example Omnomnom linked to, but here's an example where it makes perfect sense.

This advice usually seems to be offered when the asker to trying to figure out how to communicate or explain something to somebody else, and they've explained it very articulately to us. I think it usually means show them the text of your question where you've explained yourself well, not the answers.

The related advice 'why don't just tell the person "blah blah blah," just like you told us' also sometimes makes sense.

In my limited experience with AskMe I don't think I've ever seen anybody say "show your boyfriend this thread so they can see what a dick we all think he is," even though I have seen several examples of 'explain it to them like you have here' (with or without 'print out your question,' or 'show them the thread').
posted by nangar at 6:50 AM on September 21, 2010


One AskMe question can affect future questions though.

How does a relationship question affect any future questions other than (possibly) relationship questions?
posted by John Cohen at 6:54 AM on September 21, 2010


People who get used to to the chatty nature of relationship questions, where anyone can answer with their opinions, start answering other questions in the same way. For instance.
posted by smackfu at 6:56 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it usually means show them the text of your question where you've explained yourself well, not the answers.

I'm the least curious person I know, and even I would want to see the responses if someone showed me that they posted a question about me on the internet.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:57 AM on September 21, 2010


People who get used to to the chatty nature of relationship questions, where anyone can answer with their opinions, start answering other questions in the same way.

I don't see how they're any more chatty than any other kinds of questions. Sometimes they're very focused on solving a specific problem; sometimes they're rambling because the OP hasn't defined the problem clearly. This could happen with any question. (In fact, that's sort of what you're saying.)
posted by John Cohen at 7:03 AM on September 21, 2010


In my limited experience with AskMe I don't think I've ever seen anybody say "show your boyfriend this thread so they can see what a dick we all think he is,"

It's there twice in the thread flabdablet linked to (in fact, someone posted nuber two there this very second, which is kind of funny.)
posted by Omnomnom at 7:04 AM on September 21, 2010


Just because the answer to a question may be vague or difficult, it doesn't mean that the question is chatfilter.
posted by chinston at 7:04 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of the time I've seen this advice, it's been in the context of "take this frank outpouring of feeling you confided in us about your depression/addiction/hang-up and share it with a therapist," not "expose TMF we told you to DA to the wonderful new heights of snark and bile he/she inspired us to reach."
posted by Rhaomi at 7:07 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


People who get used to to the chatty nature of relationship questions, where anyone can answer with their opinions, start answering other questions in the same way. For instance.

Huh. So when someone answers a question like "Please help me figure out what this [text in non-English language] says," with "Well, one time I had a roommate who spoke that language, and I think it says [blah]", we can blame relationshipfilter question culture for that?
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on September 21, 2010


Bwaha! Three times now. That has got to be a record.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:09 AM on September 21, 2010


Bwaha! Three times now. That has got to be a record.

Yes, I'm not sure you're laughing at the right thing. You may well be seeing responses to this thread.

The answers are coming from inside MeTa!
posted by OmieWise at 7:12 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that the makeup of the Metafilter population is such that in general human-relations questions will get a greater than normal number of answers that are of a form that is "simpler" than "sit down with the other person and have a serious talk about it, structuring the conversation this way." Standard examples:
  • Show him/her this thread.
  • Say "Really?!? You think this movie has homosexual relations with other movies?? That's a real head-scratcher!"
  • Silently engage in the same annoying behavior as the other person in the hope that they will suddenly realize what a jerk they're being.
I tend to see a lot of these suggestions as being kind of passive-aggressive, but everyone has their own way of dealing with people.
posted by dfan at 7:12 AM on September 21, 2010


Of the people I know in real life, 99% of them would look at me like I had two heads if I said, "Here, look at this thread I posted about you on the internet, and all of the responses it got." Then they'd say, "What's a thread?"
posted by amro at 7:25 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


"When you here this... *whack, whack, whack* it means I'm working!"

All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.
All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.
All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.
All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.
All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.
All DTMFA and no "Seek Therapy" makes Jack a dull boy.

posted by Devils Rancher at 7:51 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"One AskMe question doesn't affect other AskMe questions, so your real reason can't be that all of AskMe is somehow ruined by relationship questions."

Given that the mix of questions influences the AskMe community in a feedback loop, where when a question is asked, it encourages both more questions and more answers in that mode. Thus, altering the mix can have real effects, especially since the questions are indexed by google and people from outside of the community can see instances of questions and answers and join on that basis. And given that Fourcheesemac wasn't simply talking about any one question, but rather a whole category of questions, the premise that these wouldn't affect other questions or answers is clearly false, and your imputing to him other motives is petty.

I don't tend to agree with Fourcheesemac about the magnitude of the effects of relationship questions, but I do tend to think that a lot more chatfilter does sneak through under that category.
posted by klangklangston at 7:58 AM on September 21, 2010


MeFi needs a support group for the people traumatized by relationship questions on AskMe. It might go a little something like this:
Dear Hive Mind:

I have been troubled lately by one of my most favorite internet forum's propensity to go on and on about "relationship issues." Don't they understand that Questions and Answer Sites are serious business? I can't go on like this, and it says it cares about me, it gives me options for meeting my internet friends online, to see their projects, to post jobs, and most especially to see the Best of the Web™. But when it comes to questions and answers it keeps on letting in questions about love, and family, and relationships, and I HATE that. It's ruing our special relationship!!! What should do about it?

Thanks,
Anonymous Special Snowflake.

P.S.: Don't just show it this thread
posted by artlung at 8:05 AM on September 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I never thought that answer had anything to do with the quality of answers in those threads, mostly because I can only remember that answer early on in a thread.

I've always assumed that answer was meant more like: "Even though you said you have problems articulating how you feel and what you want in this particular circumstance with people who are important to you, you just articulated your feelings perfectly well when you crafted your question here. Print off your question and show it to them, or read it to them, I think it sums everything up nicely and coherently."
posted by rhapsodie at 8:08 AM on September 21, 2010


Whenever I see this, I think it's absolutely terrible advice.

Yeah rhapsodie said what I was coming here to say. To me, the value is in affirming "hey you said it pretty well right here, maybe you can use that wording?" instead of "Let the decision of your internet friends speak for you"

Especially when people are asking "how can I talk to my therapist about topic X" which seems a better scenario than trying to argue some point with a significant other.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:15 AM on September 21, 2010


To me, the value is in affirming "hey you said it pretty well right here, maybe you can use that wording?"

That sounds fine to me. My complaint is with the specific phrasing of either "Show them this thread" or "Print this out and show them." There's definitely a difference between that and "You said it really well here, so just go with this."
posted by sonika at 8:20 AM on September 21, 2010


Sorry for the threadsitting, and sorry for saying sorry all the time, but danb your link is broke, do you have the right one? I'd like to read that thread.

Sorry. Here it is.
posted by danb at 8:21 AM on September 21, 2010


It makes a lot of sense when it's in response to a question about therapy, either in the sense of "how do I bring this up?" or "I see my therapist every week, but I keep avoiding this topic," but it is, of course, terrible advice for non-therapy situations.
posted by MsMolly at 8:41 AM on September 21, 2010


OTOH, there are some situations where everybody who has answered the question says that the OP is in the right.

First, we only hear one side of the story. Second, the people who answer are self-selecting - people who disagree with the OP or majority opinion may be less inclined to join the conversation. Third, for the real life people involved, it won't mean much that a bunch of strangers on the internet agree, if they have other real life people who support their side (eg, for the "who should be in the delivery room" question, the husband has the experience of his sister to counterbalance what everyone in the thread says).

The thread is helpful to give support to the person who poses the question, so they know their opinion is completely normal. But it's unlikely to change the mind of someone who disagrees just by being printed out. That would be adversarial and counterproductive in most cases. Instead, it gives the OP confidence to present their side in person.
posted by mdn at 9:04 AM on September 21, 2010


True story: I once printed out a thread and took it to my therapist.

Fake story: it was the metatalk where jessamyn posted the chickenfucking pictures.

Future prediction: I will be showing my therapist the baby monkey on a pig video. "How do you feel today?" "Like I'm neurotic, middled-aged, going backwards." "..."
posted by stet at 9:09 AM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I did not post those pictures, though at this point I'm amused that so many people think I did.

people who disagree with the OP or majority opinion may be less inclined to join the conversation.

This is true. I think the bigger issue too is that people who may be inclined to have reasonable opinions skip threads that are fighty and train-wrecky and pile-on-ish to begin with.

That is, I see a lot of threads where a majority-seeming opinion coalesces and then the people who show up with alternative opinions either provide them in fighty "I am shocked at you idiots" sorts of ways, or provide them in reasonable ways and people get shirty with them. Trying to create an atmosphere that is condusive to civil disagreement is one of the bigger challenges of moderating relationship questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on September 21, 2010


I always cringe at this suggestion, it seems to me a baffling and weird thing to do.

If you're showing the thread to another MeFite, just go tell them to look at it. If it's not a MeFite, I have a hard time imagining a reaction other than "um, what?" or "what is this again?" or "who the hell are these people?" or "what does this have to do with anything?"
posted by desuetude at 9:18 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


There were plenty of times when Ann or Abby would respond to the writer with "show the subject this column".
posted by brujita at 10:05 AM on September 21, 2010


Leaving out the "you aired our dirty laundry on the Internet instead of just talking to me?" factor:

As the show-ee, I might be more impressed by a print out of an AskMe thread about me that was nearly unanimous that I was an asshole, IF I felt the question was fairly worded and complete. In your average relationship conflict, it's very improbable that the other party would agree with the question presentation to that extent.

And that's only because I know MeFi, and that if there were ANY chance I was not an asshole, I'd have a dozen apologists in there criticising the questioner.

On the other hand, being shown a thread from Jezebel where they unanimously decided I was a sexist pig would be, um, unconvincing.

Someone who didn't know MeFi well would surely not even read the printout once they figured out what was being handed to them. They'd just be pissed.
posted by ctmf at 10:43 AM on September 21, 2010


There were plenty of times when Ann or Abby jessamyn would respond to the writer with "show the subject this column picture of chickenfucking".

Fit Fee. And I, too, like the myth that she posted the pictures more than the truth that (I think?) she linked to the comment where somebody else posted them.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2010


There is a huge difference between being involved in a thread from the beginning and watching the replies slowly come in vs. joining the thread after everyone has commented. The latter is like walking into a room where there are 20-30 people waiting for you - very awkward.

"Just show them this thread" should instead be "involve them in this thread from the beginning." But then again, most of the askers come here to avoid exactly that.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 1:00 PM on September 21, 2010


I really like the term 'get shirty.' I must use it more often.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on September 21, 2010


rtha wrote: "schmoopy"

I would just like to say that I have been much enjoying the term "schmoopy" as of late.
posted by wierdo at 2:12 PM on September 21, 2010


Everyone needs a hug today
posted by The Lady is a designer at 2:36 PM on September 21, 2010


I AM FAMOUS!
posted by Biru at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2010


I AM FAMOUS!

Well then. Show somebody this thread!
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:31 PM on September 21, 2010


Omnomnom, This is the dorm food thread that danb mentioned.
posted by janell at 4:50 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every now and then I've seen a question where it could work out to show someone their post or the thread, but usually I think Oh my god that's a HORRIBLE idea when someone suggests it. I wish I could remember what question it was, but a week or so ago early on someone did the whole "just show them the thread" when the post was worded really unfavorably toward the person in question. I had no clue what that commenter was thinking.

The few times I've thought showing someone the thread would be appropriate was when someone had some personal hang-up they were ashamed and insecure about broaching, but wasn't actually that big a deal outside of their head -- like, I dunno, the reason they leave their shirt on when they have sex is because they're self-conscious about their weight or something, but they're freaking out about just telling someone that. If that sort of thing is worded with nothing negative about the person in question, and they do the whole "I don't know what to tell them" but then explain themselves very well, then they may as well just tell that person what they told us -- even if they don't literally show them the thread.
posted by Nattie at 9:57 PM on September 21, 2010


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