warning: flurries inside October 17, 2012 8:48 PM   Subscribe

is it just me, or is the metaphor of "snowflake" overused in AskMe? as in, unique details only relevant to the asker's situation. only, the details are often not that unique, and everyone has some details that makes their story at least a little different from someone else's, but it often doesn't warrant a "snowflake" warning. i think it's over indulgent and cutsie and more about basking in the attention about how wonderfully unique I am! I only ask that people refrain from using the metaphor unless they are about to describe a details that they have truly never seen before.
posted by cupcake1337 to Etiquette/Policy at 8:48 PM (299 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Almost like you have a special snowflake aversion to it, huh?
posted by fleacircus at 8:54 PM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


i think it's over indulgent and cutsie and more about basking in the attention about how wonderfully unique I am!

followed by this

I only ask that people refrain from using the metaphor unless they are about to describe a details that they have truly never seen before.

amuses me a lot.

But: calls for 'people' to do things generally do not go well, at least in part because there are thousands of people here, and only some of them read Metatalk. A small minority, legend has it.

Also (and I don't read Ask very much, so grain of salt) I think it's become a kind of shorthand injoke on AskMe, so the probability that -- no matter how much it annoys you -- people are going to stop is vanishingly small. I have the same reaction to the 'hamburger' thing on the Blue, which I still don't really get and find mildly annoying. Also 'SLYT' as a faux-tag. Also FPP as an acronym.

What I'm saying here is a lot of things annoy me mildly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:54 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Your gripe is really not that special.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:54 PM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]




THIS THREAD IS FRACTAL GUYS
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [18 favorites]


This snowflake isn't as unique as I'd originally thought.
posted by arcticseal at 9:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. Overused.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Snowflake means..... " here are the facts related to this question". We've accepted that as the term we use around here to refer to the facts related to the question... not a big deal....
posted by HuronBob at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


This thread is so delicious I'm going to eat it instead of dessert tonight.
posted by andoatnp at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I completely agree with you.

The thing is, being a special snowflake is a prerequisite for asking a question - if you just wanted to know some generic thing, you could do a google search or look in the archives.

I'm pessimistic that this will change, however.

Related: my annoyance at people saying "details below the fold." OF COURSE THERE IS MORE INFORMATION INSIDE, THAT IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF THE [more inside] LINK RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR QUESTION
posted by medusa at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wrong: I am a young man and would like help choosing suitable headwear. Snowflake: I am awkward and unsure of my presentation.

Right: I am a young man and would like help choosing suitable headwear. Snowflake: I have no head.
posted by Jehan at 9:04 PM on October 17, 2012 [58 favorites]


P.S.: I am a cat.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:06 PM on October 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


I like to answer AskMe questions, but I avoid anything that mentions, in a twee, cutesy way, "snowflakes". However, I do realize that the people who use "snowflake" in a question are probably a lot younger than I am.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S.: I am a cat.

A pear-shaped cat?
posted by daniel_charms at 9:07 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


"in a twee, cutesy way"

which code do I use to do that? Italics, bold or italics AND bold... or "Italics, Bold and quote marks"?
posted by HuronBob at 9:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel like whenever there are relationship questions with "special snowflake" in the post, the answer is often DTMFA. And the asker usually threadsits and favorites the one answer that says what he/she wants to hear, which is usually not DTMFA.
posted by sweetkid at 9:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


or, the small tag...

twee
posted by HuronBob at 9:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Related: my annoyance at people saying "details below the fold." OF COURSE THERE IS MORE INFORMATION INSIDE, THAT IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF THE [more inside] LINK RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR QUESTION

Probably related to the vain hope that responders will read more than half the opening sentence before deciding they know what this is about and starting to type.

if you just wanted to know some generic thing, you could do a google search or look in the archives.

Making this thread meta-delicious.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:15 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Snowflake doesn't bother me as much as people who start their answer with, "I'm so sorry for you". It's Ask MetaFilter not Sympathy MetaFilter.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:20 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


it arouses within me a visceral loathing that is intense and uncomfortable and it is a mark of my leaps and bounds in personal growth that i do not answer each and every one of those questions as obnoxiously as possible.

my life is defined by inappropriate emotional responses to mundane stimuli though so ymmv.
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2012 [25 favorites]


hisss
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Snowflake doesn't bother me as much as people who start their answer with, "I'm so sorry for you". It's Ask MetaFilter not Sympathy MetaFilter.

The commenters are humans, not robots.
posted by John Cohen at 9:22 PM on October 17, 2012 [37 favorites]


how dare you sir
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


over indulgent and cutsie

Much like the affectation of using only lower-case?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:23 PM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


The commenters are humans, not robots.

Yes, just what we want you to believe, meat person.
posted by tyllwin at 9:25 PM on October 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


As Hurron Bob said.

If we're going to complain about behavior patterns on AskMe, let's complain about people who ask complex questions that are mostly sans detail like, "My car won't start - what's wrong with it?" or "I don't feel well - should I go to the emergency room?" rather than whether or not they used the lulzy phrase of the year to indicate that they bothered to include those details at all.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I'm so sorry for you"

I'm going to start using this in ALL of my AskMe answers.

Need a divorce lawyer? "I'm so sorry for you"

Planning to have a baby? "I'm so sorry for you"

Trip to Kilimanjaro? "I'm so sorry for you"

Lost weight and need clothing advice? "I'm so sorry for you"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:27 PM on October 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm okay with the snowflake moniker. I sense it is more a slightly self conscious joke than people really thinking they are 'special'.

More like a nervous laugh for the wonkiness one finds oneself in.
posted by anitanita at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne: "If we're going to complain about behavior patterns on AskMe, let's complain about people who ask complex questions that are mostly sans detail"

No, let's complain about the people who write the equivalent of War and Peace to ask a not-really-THAT-complex relationship or roommate question. TL;DR indeed. *harrumph*
posted by Lexica at 9:29 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The commenters are humans, not robots.

10 INPUT $X
20 IF $X = FALSE THEN "Don't be stupid"; GOTO 50
30 IF $X = TRUE THEN "You go, girl!"; GOTO 50
40 "DTMFA"
50 END
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:31 PM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


The commenters are humans, not robots.


Dude I'm right here.
posted by The Whelk at 9:33 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, let's complain about the people who write the equivalent of War and Peace to ask a not-really-THAT-complex relationship or roommate question

There was one the other day that had such a bizarre wealth of like 20 years of backstory that by the time I got to the end of it I felt I had a more valid personal reason to hate everyone involved than the OP did.
posted by elizardbits at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


People who live in uncapitialized sentences shouldn't throw MeTas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


There are also the long AskMes where you can't quite figure out what the actual question is until the very end where the question bares no relationship to the backstory and you feel like someone just told you where to put the situation on the spectrum of Fear or Love or something.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


by the time I got to the end of it I felt I had a more valid personal reason to hate everyone involved than the OP did.

you feel like someone just told you where to put the situation on the spectrum of Fear or Love or something.


These are starting to sound to me like promising strategies for avoiding the AskMe chip on shoulder pigeonhole. Which, actually, is I guess what "snowflake" details are all about. If you can't walk a mile in somebody's shoes, you can live a few paragraphs.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:43 PM on October 17, 2012


There's a reason I only answer AskMes based around movies and Halloween costumes.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 PM on October 17, 2012


I think that when people mention snowflakes it is almost always a self-deprecating joke. It is a way of acknowledging that they know their own problems aren't that special or unique, even if feels that way to them. It is a way of mocking themselves for acting like they are sooo special when they know they are not.

I can't recall an instance where the person mentioning snowflakes was in earnest about their specialness.

I participate in Ask a lot and it doesn't bother me at all.
posted by cairdeas at 9:45 PM on October 17, 2012 [34 favorites]



There's a reason I only answer AskMes based around movies and Halloween costumes.


Please notice the return of the Dancing Pumpkins on the ask a question page.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 PM on October 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


dancing pumpkins!!!
whee!!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:59 PM on October 17, 2012


Some people look toward to the changing of the leaves, I look toward to the return of the dancing pumpkins,
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on October 17, 2012


Please notice the return of the Dancing Pumpkins on the ask a question page.

I thought I smelled Billy Corgan.
posted by mintcake! at 10:03 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yep, it's just you. Next.
posted by pompomtom at 10:07 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not you, it's me.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:18 PM on October 17, 2012


I'm okay with snowflake details when it's like a small paragraph, max. When I have to scroll four or five times just to see if comments have started, I start to wonder if the only acceptable answer for the person posting is, "Please seek therapy immediately, and if you're already in therapy, print this question out and give it to your therapist and talk it over with them. Nope, you don't have mitigating circumstances that prevent that. Get going."
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:22 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: "Please notice the return of the Dancing Pumpkins on the ask a question page."

What? Isn't it time to have the xmas trees up?
posted by deborah at 10:43 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From now on the proper phrase will be "special cupcake".
posted by Cranberry at 10:48 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


The best revenge is withholding your insight, or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:10 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm unsure what you were hoping to get out of this beyond a vent, and the request that, "I only ask that people refrain from using the metaphor unless they are about to describe a details that they have truly never seen before." is so laughably improbable that there's more chance of mefites asking their questions in cuneiform going forward.

If I'm bothered by the tone of phrasing of a question, I just do not answer it or open it; it's delightfully easy to do. If the word "snowflake" popping up once every twenty questions or so on the front page bothers you, I dunno what to say, really.

People posting personal relationship questions to ask me are often feeling a little vulnerable, embarrassed, or awkward, if a self-deprecating snowflake helps them assuage that, bring on the blizzard I say.
posted by smoke at 11:21 PM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


like someone just told you where to put the situation on the spectrum of Fear or Love

But what happens when I turn around, and it's fear... I turn around again, and it's love?
posted by mykescipark at 11:33 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


SHARKEY IT IS NOT YOUR DAY TODAY
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's harmless. The chase, cut to it.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:54 PM on October 17, 2012


It's funny the things that annoy different people. I'm not bothered by "special snowflakes" but for some reason I hate whole-paragraph FPP links, and even worse are links that begin or end in the middle of a word like that's some sort of cool thing.

And don't get me started on all the DTMFAs.
posted by iotic at 11:54 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


No shock one in a series of more than a thousand would be impatient with illusions of uniqueness, I guess.

I've been waiting for someone to say something like 'enter my snowglobe if you dare!' just before the [more inside].
posted by jamjam at 12:31 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The solution is clear: a Greasemonkey script that changes all AskMe instances of 'snowflake' to a random word that makes the poster look like a big silly doofus.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:35 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ack, I kind of agree with the OP. The usage of 'snowflake' has increased expotentially since I've started reading the site. Everybody's a snowflake now, it seems - it used to be like genuinely 'snowflake-y', finicky preferences that are worth the self-deprecating jab, now it's just 'oh, I have human preferences, y'know'.

It's not embarrassing to have preferences/inclinations, snowflake-y people!

At the same time, we who find it grating might do well to chill out about it. It's just a word and a bit of a site thing by now. It'll die down with time (only to be replaced with something else). Surely, there were times when no thread went without 'this will not wendell' or cameras, right?
posted by undue influence at 12:46 AM on October 18, 2012


A lot of things get said a lot too much a lot on metafilter a lot.
posted by molecicco at 12:49 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


if we're talking about pet peeves, using exponentially to mean "a lot" drives me up a wall. it's not nearly as grating to me as "begs the question" used incorrectly though (i actually sent an apology memail for being a jerk about that recently). but, i don't use capitalization (or proper punctuation and there's lots of run on sentences and parentheses) - i figure i piss off people constantly. so it goes. i do chuckle at people who have put their foot down and refuse to answer anything where the person says _______. i figure that's probably for the best and they'll do fine without your participation.
posted by nadawi at 1:03 AM on October 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I generally read it as apologetic and well-intentioned and so I can forgive the fact that it is over-used and a little tiresome.
posted by Segundus at 1:11 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread needed a warning: possible trigger inside on it.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:16 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wrong: I am a young man and would like help choosing suitable headwear. Snowflake: I am awkward and unsure of my presentation.

Right: I am a young man and would like help choosing suitable headwear. Snowflake: I have no head.


Answer: Fedora! Preferably the one you were sporting in pinstripes when you would have been rocking your banjo had you not given it away in a grand gesture.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:18 AM on October 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, as a couple of other people have said, I don't think most people are using it in a 'look at me, I'm so special and different!' way.

Rather, I think it's often intended to signify that the asker is self-aware enough to realise that their relationship/depression/career-path/etc question is pretty similar to the many others we get every month, but it's important enough to them that they need to ask it anyway. So really, I read it as the exact opposite of a 'I'm special and different' snowflake. It's a hamburger snowflake!
posted by badmoonrising at 1:19 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oops, meant to add: no judgement on those particular types of questions! I've asked at least two of those myself.
posted by badmoonrising at 1:21 AM on October 18, 2012




huh. I wouldn't say that 'explains' it, but it's an interesting theory. So the idea is that, to avoid potential pile-ons in the thread, the poster includes an in-joke or in-phrase above the fold to signify that they've been around for awhile, kind of like a secret handshake or symbol. Interesting.
posted by mannequito at 2:00 AM on October 18, 2012


What an awesome question, it's full of win. Someone is finally bring the grar to snowflake. Most. Epic. Gripe. Ever. That said, it begs the question: is it worth getting fighty over? *Shrugs* Discuss among yourselves.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:47 AM on October 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


nadawi: "if we're talking about pet peeves, using exponentially to mean "a lot" drives me up a wall. "

Mine is "order of magnitude," or worse, "several orders of magnitude." I feel like I read those phrases ALL THE TIME here, but never anywhere else.
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:47 AM on October 18, 2012


I've always taken it as a shorthand for "details specific to my situation which you only need to bother reading if you're interested in answering this type of question are contained inside"
posted by nile_red at 4:53 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are all snowflakes.

Or at least flakes.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:04 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is such a small thing to get annoyed over.

Let it go, it's not a big deal. There are things far worse then people using a popular phrase to describe themselves or their situation.

It's the Phrase of the Moment, it will pass or become so ubiquitous that no one will pay attention anymore and it will lose it's meaning.
posted by royalsong at 5:10 AM on October 18, 2012


Or at least dandruff.

Really, I get (and slightly share) the irritation at cutesy in-joke phrasings like that. I just try to gloss over them as I read, and be aware that I'm almost certainly using them as well. You pick up phrasings and shorthand ways of speaking just by being part of a conversation, so there's no surprise that things like "snowflake" show up again and again and again.

Sometimes it's meant self-deprecatingly, with an awareness that the snowflakey details are no more unique than wearing shoes, and other times people seem to think that no, this breakup really is different.

A long time ago Jessamyn said something smart about each person's problems being the worst they have to deal with (but phrased much more elegantly), and it's something I try to remember when reading questions, answers, and comments. Almost always there are at least two readings possible, one charitable and one much less so; I've consciously decided to opt for the charitable reading whenever I can.
posted by Forktine at 5:12 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


If it's a phrase of the moment, it's been a very long moment. Let me quote myself of three years ago to you:

"Special snowflake details inside" is just a shorthand for "I understand the three likely outcomes and I'm pretty sure all y'all are going to tell me to go with the one I myself know to be the most likely, but I need to be sure it's the right answer for my exact circumstances. Which, because I am an individual and not a member of the Borg collective, are in fact unique to me. Please do not minimise my distress."

I remain okay with that.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:14 AM on October 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


God, how I hate you smug bastards boasting about being OK with stuff.

IT'S NOT OK! IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE OK!
posted by Egg Shen at 5:38 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that when people mention snowflakes it is almost always a self-deprecating joke. It is a way of acknowledging that they know their own problems aren't that special or unique, even if feels that way to them. It is a way of mocking themselves for acting like they are sooo special when they know they are not.

Maybe I'm a persnickety bitch, but making a joke solely because you have seen a thousand other people make the very same joke in the very same situation is just... just... well let's just say I've lost friends after flipping out on them over the ten billionth Monty fucking Python reference, and I REGRET NOTHING
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:53 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


that's how you get ants writes "nadawi: "if we're talking about pet peeves, using exponentially to mean "a lot" drives me up a wall. "

Mine is "order of magnitude," or worse, "several orders of magnitude." I feel like I read those phrases ALL THE TIME here, but never anywhere else.
"

I use order of magnitude quite a bit but when I do I mean an actual order of magnitude and not some vague large number.
posted by Mitheral at 6:03 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've lost friends after flipping out on them over the ten billionth Monty fucking Python reference

I want to punch them until all my punching muscles are exhausted, at which point I will outsource my punching to Guangzhou. This will be complemented by a call center in the midwest, from where workers will shout a wide variety of non-pop-culture-referencing insults from a prepared script.
posted by elizardbits at 6:06 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


nb above answer also applicable to the "what do people do all day" askme
posted by elizardbits at 6:07 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


What an awesome question, it's full of win. Someone is finally bring the grar to

:)

snowflake. Most. Epic. Gripe. Ever. That said, it begs the question: is it worth getting

;)

fighty over? *Shrugs* Discuss among yourselves
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:08 AM on October 18, 2012


God, how I hate you smug bastards boasting about being OK with stuff.

IT'S NOT OK! IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE OK!

I personally think it's a crime against humanity. Happy?
posted by daniel_charms at 6:10 AM on October 18, 2012


I have binders full of snowflakes.
posted by Wordshore at 6:10 AM on October 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


I feel like the venn diagram showing "people who are annoyed by misuse of the phrase 'orders of magnitude'" and "people who have at least a bachelor's degree in a science- or math-related field" has a lot of overlap on it.
posted by Scientist at 6:13 AM on October 18, 2012


at least they're not dirty, filthy anteaters.
posted by The Whelk at 6:17 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most folks who delight in using quoting Monty Python are in their "neo-nerd" phase and don't yet have the wisdom or life experience to understand that it's tired and old because it's new to -them-.

When you encounter a neo-nerd who says "now go away or I shall insult you a second time", the proper response is a small grin, a slight not, and a simple "yes".

When a neo-nerd becomes irritated by other neo-nerds exhibiting this quoting behavior, they undergo their first "nerd molt", shedding their neo-nerd skin and emerging as a less-irritating and cleverer version of their former self.

Neo-nerds who do not experience this moment of clarity spend the rest of their lives believing that they are the only ones who have read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:18 AM on October 18, 2012 [44 favorites]


If we're frowning upon the mindless parroting of common AskMe tropes, please tell me someone complained about that sudden rash of "explain ____ to me like I'm six years old" questions we had a while back. I swear it was like every other question for a day or two... Now that irked the shit out of me, far more than the occasional snowflake.
posted by désoeuvrée at 6:21 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Explain DTMFA to me like I'm a six-year old. Of course there's special snowflake details [more inside].
posted by daniel_charms at 6:25 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the 'exponentially' person upthread, I do want to say that I literally meant exponentially, in the mathematical sense.
posted by undue influence at 6:27 AM on October 18, 2012


People! People! The question before this assembly is which of these disgusting concoctions more needs to carry a warning, a McDonald's flurry or a DQ blizzard?

(N.b.: I misread the title above as "warning: furries inside.")
posted by octobersurprise at 6:27 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What?!? I read it as an invitation...
posted by daniel_charms at 6:30 AM on October 18, 2012


WARNING: Special dandruff flakes inside.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:32 AM on October 18, 2012


"Special snowflake details inside" is just a shorthand for "I understand the three likely outcomes and I'm pretty sure all y'all are going to tell me to go with the one I myself know to be the most likely, but I need to be sure it's the right answer for my exact circumstances. Which, because I am an individual and not a member of the Borg collective, are in fact unique to me. Please do not minimise my distress."

Would it be so hard to just use the obvious acronym here, IUTTLOAIPSAYAGTTMTGWTOIMKTBTMLBINTBSITRAFMECWBIAAIANAMOTBCAIFUTMPDNMMD?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:33 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hahah wow, how long did that take?

And how many people fact-checked it?
posted by Grither at 6:41 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


*raises hand in shame*
posted by DWRoelands at 6:42 AM on October 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


at least they're not dirty, filthy anteaters.

I don't mean to be all "PC Police" but the proper nomenclature is Vermilingual-Americans, thanks.
posted by griphus at 6:53 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't that be Vermiphagus Americans?
posted by Forktine at 6:54 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Snowflake" is an obvious in-group signifier, meant to identify the asker as someone familiar with Ask Metafilter conventions, as opposed to (one presumes) some johnny-come-lately from Quora or (heaven forfend) Yahoo! Answers.

As long as Metafilter continues to pride itself on being anything like a unique community, there will be pressure on users to identify themselves as being part of that community. If "snowflake" disappeared, either from peer pressure or by moderator fiat, some other signifier would pop up in its place, and in turn become just as ubiquitous as the token it replaced.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:57 AM on October 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


PARDON ME but myrmephage-americans.
posted by elizardbits at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


you uncultured swine!
posted by elizardbits at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2012


Metafilter: Has extremely long Moments with which Phrases are of.
posted by royalsong at 7:01 AM on October 18, 2012


in-group signifier

Oh, the nervous awaiting of acceptance or rejection I experienced the day I made my first "Metafilter: _____" joke.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:07 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to picture a cultured swine and I'm getting either a piggy in a top hat and monocle, or some sort of ham-flavored kefir.
posted by griphus at 7:08 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never had a problem with it, but I'm uncultured in every way, so there's that.
posted by patheral at 7:13 AM on October 18, 2012


Snowflake comes back around on you. At first I didn't mind it, and then I stopped noticing it, and then suddenly I saw it everywhere and it filled me with white-hot rage and annoyance for being everywhere, and then I was like, "wow, relax" and slowly it quit bothering me again and now I don't really notice it again.

It's just a thing people say. On the scale of annoyingness of "socially lubricating things people say without really thinking it through," it's well below, "Only six months pregnant? You're SO HUGE! Are you sure you don't have gestational diabetes?" On the scale of annoyingness of "things people write," it's well, well, well, well below grocers' apostrophe's, which need to be nuked from orbit.

(Although if it makes you feel better about it, I will try to find a radioactive spider to bite me, to hasten the development of my superpower, which is going to be punching people through the internet. I've been kind of reserving it for people who think the math on Romney's tax plan works, though.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:26 AM on October 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Snowflake" and its ilk bug me more than they should. Phatic or not, I find them painfully precious and overused.

But nobody seems to care.

I think I need to go lie down for a while ...
posted by DingoMutt at 7:30 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also use it on people who misspell "lose" as "loose"; they must face harsh sanctions.
posted by elizardbits at 7:30 AM on October 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


>"I'm so sorry for you"

I'm going to start using this in ALL of my AskMe answers.


I am thinking of using it for ALL of my MeTa answers.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:31 AM on October 18, 2012


I'm so sorry for me; after that last one, that is.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:31 AM on October 18, 2012


I only ask that people refrain from using the metaphor unless they are about to describe a details that they have truly never seen before.

I'm so sorry for you.
posted by liketitanic at 7:33 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


That's it from now on I'm only communicating using movement and odor
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


*does waggle dance*
posted by Rock Steady at 7:46 AM on October 18, 2012


"Phatic," though. What a great word.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:54 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Haha okay there's like a million meTa threads about question summary char length, but really has a char limit been considered for total question length? Like is there any question in the universe that can't be solidly described within a 500 word essay? As much as it amuses me the rant-as-question questions get old
posted by MangyCarface at 7:56 AM on October 18, 2012


MetaFilter: Phatic
posted by Rock Steady at 7:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Totally agreed. It's annoying and unnecessary. The worst part is that the people doing it probably think they're being cute.

It's almost as announcing as that "as usual, there's [more inside]" bullshit.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:11 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This thread needed a warning: possible trigger inside on it."

Oh dear god, that 'trigger warning' thing has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've seen on this site in years. Do people seriously need this? If so, how the hell do they get through life? Do they have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of them and says, "trigger warning!" when they see something disturbing?

Fucking ridiculous.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:22 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


is it just me, or is the metaphor of "snowflake" overused in AskMe? as in, unique details only relevant to the asker's situation. only, the details are often not that unique

Well, that only makes the snowflake metaphor more appropriate! Iirc there are only 35 types of ice crystal found in snowflakes. The vast majority of snowflakes involve complex arrangements of different combinations of those basic types, but small snowflakes involve fewer combinations. It is highly likely that every snowflake larger than a certain size is unique, but it is also highly likely that snowflakes smaller than a certain (very small) size have their geometry exactly duplicated by some other snowflake that has fallen at some point in the history of the world.
posted by Jpfed at 8:24 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'all need to learn to let insignificant things not grip you with rage.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I must be reaching grumpy old man territory at a younger age than I anticipated because I agree with the OP and have several other Metafilter-related pet peeves as well. Lately it has been people who use stage direction in their comments, *pulls up chair and sits down* being a particular annoyance.

(In fairness, I believe in my early Mefi history there is an occurrence of me using the term "hive" in relation to AskMe respondents as a way to ingratiate myself with the group, so let he who is without sin cast the first stone, etc.)
posted by The Gooch at 8:28 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Do they have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of them and says, "trigger warning!" when they see something disturbing?

My manservant does all this and more.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:30 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Hey guys, using this tired old metaphor is lame."

"SHUT UP WE CAN BE LAME IF WE WANT TO"
posted by 23skidoo at 8:31 AM on October 18, 2012


> is it just me, or is the metaphor of "snowflake" overused in AskMe? as in, unique details only relevant to the asker's situation. only, the details are often not that unique, and everyone has some details that makes their story at least a little different from someone else's, but it often doesn't warrant a "snowflake" warning. i think it's over indulgent and cutsie and more about basking in the attention about how wonderfully unique I am! I only ask that people refrain from using the metaphor unless they are about to describe a details that they have truly never seen before

"Snowflake" is arguably a perfect metaphor. While technically unique, the differences between each and every snowflake, especially within the same pattern-type, aren't necessarily discernible by an observer.

But your complaint of overuse of "snowflake" is not merely an objection to over-reliance -- you bundled together a mélange of complaints including use of a cliché, perceived inaccuracy, and alleged disingenuousness.

Also, your logic is inconsistent throughout. You describe "snowflake" as a metaphor, which would preclude a strict definition of the term in favor of a meaning with some degree of poetic license. However, you alternately do define "snowflake" as a synonym for "unique," and entreat us to observe uniqueness as absolute. Yet you yourself used "unique" with a qualifier in the phrase "details are often not that unique" (emphasis mine.)
posted by desuetude at 8:31 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like is there any question in the universe that can't be solidly described within a 500 word essay?

Yes.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:32 AM on October 18, 2012


Afroblanco, I think we should start a podcast together where I will mention a random topic or like hand you a random object and then you will just talk about how it is the worst goddam thing in the world for a half hour or so.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on October 18, 2012 [47 favorites]


I think it's just an acknowledgement that they're about to have a bit of on old whine in an entitled way. At least I choose to read it that way.
posted by Decani at 8:37 AM on October 18, 2012


cortex : it's too bad you're joking, because I would be completely down with that.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:39 AM on October 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fact: I never answer any AskMes that include the word snowflake. Not even the ones about snow removal, making snowmen, winter-themed crafting, inclement weather during the months of November - March, etc.
posted by mochapickle at 8:41 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say, though, there's a part of my soul that breathes a relieved sigh every time I think about how /HAMBURGER failed to catch on. Don't know why, but that one really got under my skin. Like fingernails on chalkboard it was.

(in fact, I'm almost afraid to remind people of it, for fear that it'll return from the dead like some text-borne zombie virus)
posted by Afroblanco at 8:43 AM on October 18, 2012


BABY PICTURES: GO!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:44 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lisa: 'Bill, have you got the final draft for todays 'Real Deal?'
Bill: 'Its all in here Lisa' (points to head)
Lisa: 'Bill, you can't just go on the air and make stuff up!'
Bill: 'I'll improvise!'
Dave: 'Yes, but Bill when you improvise the show usually consists of inane ramblings about randomly placed objects within the broadcast booth'
Bill: 'Well, I for one thought my piece 'Microphones - why do they have to be so close to your face?' was very good'
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say, though, there's a part of my soul that breathes a relieved sigh every time I think about how /HAMBURGER failed to catch on. Don't know why, but that one really got under my skin. Like fingernails on chalkboard it was.

Wow, jesus, trigger warning from now on, then.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


that 'trigger warning' thing has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've seen on this site in years. Do people seriously need this?

HAHA PEOPLE WITH PTSD ARE PATHETIC AND STUPID AMIRITE FUCK THOSE LOSERS


gtfo
posted by elizardbits at 8:48 AM on October 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


I guess once again I've been doin it rong because I always assumed the "snowflake" references were sarcastic/ self-deprecating.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:51 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like "beanplating" the use of "special snowflake" is more of a community injoke than a genuine cry of: "I am a special snowflake!" So, yeah, it is used frequently, but taking it too seriously seems kind of silly. I think you may be over-thinking a plate of snowflakes here, cupcake1337.
posted by asnider at 8:52 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Afro, that is kind of the sad truth that makes the joke funny.

Also it takes a special kind of prickly, touchy, easily offended person to get mad at someone trying to be courteous.

Finally! I always understood snowflake to be shorthand for "sorry for going on at length about this, I know this kind of human relations question is asked ad infinitum here, but I still have the following details that are important to me:"

No reason to get worked up about that.
posted by kavasa at 8:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do people seriously need this?

Some of them, yeah. And while we've stopped short of making it a sitewide sort of thing we require or even strongly suggest, making fun of people who use is seems really odd to me. But then I don't think you're asking a serious question, but on the off chance that you are there are some things you could read to educate yourself about PTSD. And if you wanted an answer to your question "How do they get through life?" I think the answer is "With great difficulty a lot of the time."

Sometimes it's easier for people to grok the idea if they think about soldiers who have been through gruesome things in wartime (like in that movie Born on the Fourth of July where Ron Kovic can't deal with fireworks sounds during a parade) as opposed to people who were abused by family members or raped by strangers. In any case, yes, some people seriously need or prefer this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [23 favorites]


Oh dear god, that 'trigger warning' thing has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've seen on this site in years. Do people seriously need this? If so, how the hell do they get through life? Do they have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of them and says, "trigger warning!" when they see something disturbing?

Yes, they do. They have a lot of coping resources, including asking others for courtesy. As soon as you have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of you saying, "don't be an asshole!" when you see something annoying, the market will open right up.
posted by liketitanic at 9:01 AM on October 18, 2012


Special hailstone details inside.
Get ready for the shitstorm!
posted by Kabanos at 9:02 AM on October 18, 2012


Look, I get the purpose of "trigger warning", but shouldn't the content of the post be obvious from its description? And if it isn't, wouldn't it just make more sense for posters to make their posts more descriptive, than invent some kind of Surgeon General's Warning for Metafilter posts?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:05 AM on October 18, 2012


Afroblanco, I think we should start a podcast together

"You're listening to Radio GRAR, a hour of contemporary rage over the little things in life."

Please make this a thing. Please.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:08 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mean, mystery meat posts are kind of a longstanding complaint around here, anyhow.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:08 AM on October 18, 2012


Oh dear god, that 'trigger warning' thing has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've seen on this site in years. Do people seriously need this? If so, how the hell do they get through life? Do they have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of them and says, "trigger warning!" when they see something disturbing?

People that sensitive (and I'm not judging, nor looking down on them) tend to become agoraphobic and stay in the house much of the time, because it's the only place they can control and feel safe. Usually this just compounds the problem and becomes a vicious cycle. Often people have problems coping with things that you or I may not even see as a problem.

That doesn't mean this site should plaster trigger warnings on everything, but you asked a question and this is a factual answer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"You're listening to Radio GRAR, a hour of contemporary rage over the little things in life."

Please make this a thing. Please.


Hahahaha, we did this, actually. It's too bad the site's not up anymore, but a few years back, Navelgazer and I started a blog called Stuff Nobody Likes, which was pretty much exactly this. It actually got a bit of traction for a while.

Occasionally I think of resurrecting it, but then I realize that I'd have to get the domain back from whatever bullshit domain squatter snapped it up, and then I lose interest again. Maybe one day, it'll happen.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:12 AM on October 18, 2012


Look, I get the purpose of "trigger warning", but shouldn't the content of the post be obvious from its description? And if it isn't, wouldn't it just make more sense for posters to make their posts more descriptive, than invent some kind of Surgeon General's Warning for Metafilter posts?

Asking people to use trigger warnings in posts is bad, but telling people they "should" be more descriptive is good and furthermore, will totally work!

Are you crankier than usual this morning, or am I?
posted by rtha at 9:13 AM on October 18, 2012


I love seeing the snowflake reference because it is a great disqualifying criteria for do I read this and take the time to respond. Nope.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:17 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


People do not write exactly as I would and as I prefer, and I demand that they stop!

EVERYONE MUST WRITE EXACTLY AS I PREFER DO YOU HEAR

I DEMAND IT
posted by languagehat at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


WALK THIS WAY.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:30 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that when people mention snowflakes it is almost always a self-deprecating joke. It is a way of acknowledging that they know their own problems aren't that special or unique, even if feels that way to them. It is a way of mocking themselves for acting like they are sooo special when they know they are not.

I usually see the snowflake warning as "I’m about to type a whole bunch of shit that I know is totally irrelevant and I’m probably not even looking for any help, I just use posting long things to the internet as therapy, like a message in a bottle. Feel free to ignore". It’s similar to "I won’t change my behavior, but I will feel guilty instead. That counts for something, right?"
posted by bongo_x at 9:32 AM on October 18, 2012


You are all weirdos.
posted by The World Famous at 9:46 AM on October 18, 2012


EVERYONE MUST WRITE EXACTLY AS I PREFER DO YOU HEAR

I DEMAND IT

posted by languagehat


Eponysterical.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:01 AM on October 18, 2012




DWRoelands: "Most folks who delight in using quoting Monty Python are in their "neo-nerd" phase and don't yet have the wisdom or life experience to understand that it's tired and old because it's new to -them-.

When you encounter a neo-nerd who says "now go away or I shall insult you a second time", the proper response is a small grin, a slight not, and a simple "yes".

When a neo-nerd becomes irritated by other neo-nerds exhibiting this quoting behavior, they undergo their first "nerd molt", shedding their neo-nerd skin and emerging as a less-irritating and cleverer version of their former self.

Neo-nerds who do not experience this moment of clarity spend the rest of their lives believing that they are the only ones who have read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
"


Expand on this a bit and it will become MetaFilter Cannon
posted by rebent at 10:08 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter Cannon: The last argument of mods.
posted by griphus at 10:10 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter Cannon

To be placed on the ramparts and fired into the fortress.
posted by The World Famous at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Us hyper-nerds stick to para-quoting Neal Stephenson quoting History.)
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter Cannon

Mariah Carey's next and bestest baby name!
posted by mintcake! at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. I agree with that dude in that Onion link about "Godfather III". That scene where Pacino is visibly relieved after confessing his sins is really some good acting.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 AM on October 18, 2012


Both types of canon can sink ships
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Loose Lips" Cannon is a wonderful name for a terrible pulp character.
posted by griphus at 10:17 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amanda Battlestations.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Afroblanco: a few years back, Navelgazer and I started a blog called Stuff Nobody Likes

I think David Mitchell has sort of taken over your schtick.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:25 AM on October 18, 2012


Afroblanco, I think we should start a podcast together where I will mention a random topic or like hand you a random object and then you will just talk about how it is the worst goddam thing in the world for a half hour or so.

Two words: Andy Rooney.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


damn. LobsterMitten beat me to it. But no one has filled his shoes, quite. Auditions are still in progress.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2012


I want to hear Afroblanco rant about Andy Rooney for a half-hour.
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh dear god, that 'trigger warning' thing has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've seen on this site in years. Do people seriously need this? If so, how the hell do they get through life? Do they have a guide who constantly walks 10 feet ahead of them and says, "trigger warning!" when they see something disturbing?

I used to be a member of a women-only LJ discussion group where everything was cut for trigger warnings, and given a traffic-light rating in terms of how private the content was. IT was a headache.

There are several things I don't appreciate reading about, either because of personal experience or because I don;t want to read about animal abuse or click on a link by a writer who unleashes the GRAR. Usually the text will tell me if this is the case, but I think it's acceptable to inform readers that the link might contain, say, a graphic description of rape, anorexia (as I understand it, those with eating disorders can very easily be triggered) or child abuse.

Also, I really hate people writing in all lower case to the point where I've stopped reading some bloggers because they made me want to take a red pen to the screen.
posted by mippy at 10:29 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


all lower caps is the like fixed gear for cool
posted by The Whelk at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Both types of canon can sink ships

I'm shaking my head and clapping in a slow, dramatic fashion.
posted by Sokka shot first at 10:44 AM on October 18, 2012


There are several things I don't appreciate reading about, either because of personal experience or because I don;t want to read about animal abuse or click on a link by a writer who unleashes the GRAR. Usually the text will tell me if this is the case, but I think it's acceptable to inform readers that the link might contain, say, a graphic description of rape, anorexia (as I understand it, those with eating disorders can very easily be triggered) or child abuse.

Yeah, I have nothing against informing people about what they'll find inside a post. I (and possibly others?) just find the "Trigger Warning" thing kind of absurd, which is why it's coming up in a thread about annoying in-site memes.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:48 AM on October 18, 2012


all lower caps is the like fixed gear for cool

Is fixed gear cycling even a thing anymore? It's been a few years and I haven't heard much about it lately, so I assumed all the fixie riders had been killed at this point and we could just move on (or use our brakes to come to a controlled stop, as it were).
posted by The World Famous at 10:49 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Premium Rush" says otherwise!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


raise your hand if you thought that movie was called RIDE LIKE HELL for, like, ever.
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2012


I assumed from its title that it was a limited-edition DVD box set of concert performances by a band that only men like.
posted by The World Famous at 11:02 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is renewing my faith that if there ever was an apocalypse and we had to rebuild society from scratch we would have no trouble recreating an amazing and totally vibrant asshole culture. Yay for humanity!
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:09 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dude, please. "Job creators" is the preferred term. Not "asshole culture."
posted by The World Famous at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I (and possibly others?) just find the "Trigger Warning" thing kind of absurd, which is why it's coming up in a thread about annoying in-site memes.

Okay, so avoiding annoyance is a bigger priority in your life, than just shrugging and not worrying about "trigger warnings" -- and trigger warnings may help other people who are wounded and need some consideration. Or whatever, maybe they're pathetic weaklings. I'd still rather err on the side of not blaming people for being sensitive to material that strongly evokes personal trauma. Being kind should trump the urge to go into a fit of eyerolling, when you're reminded that traumatized people exist.

I can't recall the last time I needed a trigger warning, myself. But to actively rage against their existence is a strange, strange thing. How does it affect your life at all?
posted by Coatlicue at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I only use "exponentially" in the mathematical sense. But these days when I use it I have to disclaim that yes, I really do mean formal-mathematic-exponential, not modern-colloquial-exponential. Thanks a lot, everyone.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't always solve for X, but when I do, I solve for it twice so that I can make a Dos Equis joke.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on October 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cultivating empathy has made me a better person.
posted by box at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Okay, but do you mean 'literally exponentially' as in actually mathematically exponential growth or do you mean it as in figuratively sort of significant growth?"
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:38 AM on October 18, 2012


How does it affect your life at all?

Because other people should not be afforded considerations that I personally do not require! I can't believe I have to explain this, god.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:45 AM on October 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


For everyone who has the urge to punch things, your name might be Alice.

Please don't hurt me
posted by Lynsey at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2012


Should special snowflakes stay or should they go?
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:49 AM on October 18, 2012


Should special snowflakes stay or should they go?

If they stay there will be trouble; if they go it will be double.
posted by asnider at 12:09 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


awww MeTa don't like it

rock the snowflake

rock the snowflake
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Double Trouble was as solid a rhythm section as anyone could hope for, and the backing band for more than one iconic front man. So that's a good thing. I say they stay.
posted by The World Famous at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2012


Every idiolect is by definition unique.
posted by Mngo at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2012


Cultivating empathy has made me a better person.

Shutter your windows and bar your doors. The empathy harvest has come.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:24 PM on October 18, 2012


Afroblanco Yeah, I have nothing against informing people about what they'll find inside a post. I (and possibly others?) just find the "Trigger Warning" thing kind of absurd, which is why it's coming up in a thread about annoying in-site memes.

And jessamyn explained the concept to you and even provided a resource you could read to learn about it.

That you keep returning to this schtick speaks poorly of your capacity for empathy.
posted by mlis at 12:27 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


DOUBLE TROUBLE

...'s'in jaaaaaaaaaail!
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:39 PM on October 18, 2012


Try as I might, I simply cannot understand how it must feel to lack empathy.
posted by The World Famous at 12:44 PM on October 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


[comment full of triggers]

discussing snowflakes and hamburger and capitalization and the misuse of technical terms is in one thing, making fun of people who need/want trigger warnings is jerkish behavior. i just don't understand the impulse.

i would love to go back in time and not be molested, raped, abused, and drugged. i'd love to have never cut myself or to have always eaten every day. i'd love to sleep through the night consistently. i'd love to be able to discuss fun childhood memories. i'd love to be able to watch sci-fi without having to pause to have my husband hold me me for a minute (seriously, so much rape in sci-fi just as a matter of course). it's fucking annoying to be a survivor and to have anxiety and ptsd - probably a far sight more annoying than having to read "trigger warning" from time to time.

i've been here for 10 years and i think it's the best general interest board in terms of acceptance, but the seemingly sudden rise of trigger warning jokes has me wondering if i should move on or read less or comment less or something. it feels completely alienating. maybe that's the point? maybe there are people here who want all of us sensitive survivors to go away so they feel free to make their jokes without judgement? i don't know. i'm getting to the point where i don't care.
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on October 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


It seems entirely possible to me that someone could simultaneously:

a. Understand that upsetting content should be labelled as such, for a variety of good reasons
b. Think that constructions like "Comedian Chris Gethard addresses an anonymous fan contemplating suicide (Trigger warning: discussion of suicide)" are nearly self-parody and probably even undermine the seriousness of the issue
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:22 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


yes - but what we get sometimes is "Comedian Chris Gethard addresses an anonymous fan" and that can lead to some problems for some people. i would consider your first example sufficiently warned.

i think nearly everyone who requests trigger warnings are requesting clear, unambiguous language about content. it's not a blanket request that you put the actual words "trigger warning" in there every time. if it's a one sentence post that clearly states the content that general people could consider upsetting in a ptsd sort of way, that's awesome and how it should be. if it's mystery meat or a paragraph long post full of links, slapping a little note on the end seems like a nice thing to do. it's not a requirement. it's a request.

what i object to is people who do shit like "trigger warning: george bush" or "trigger warning: carrot top" and people who openly mock those who have suffered trauma and are just trying to get through their day.
posted by nadawi at 1:42 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've said it before, but I'll say it again:

Most of the "snowflake" stuff is a preemptive shielding/apology maneuver, not people trying to be cute.

AskMe is a site where we've had serious, non-joking suggestions that too many "human relations" questions are somehow a problem. There have been suggestions of banning or curtailing them, a few of which have even garnered some bizarre support from mods.

The idea that every question of a million about which-goddamn-Macbook-do-I-want or batteries or soldering or whatever technical minutia is totally unique and we can never have enough of them, but questions about emotional issues or interpersonal relationships are somehow "all the same," will never stop baffling me.

And that's why people say "snowflake."
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:43 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Try as I might, I simply cannot understand how it must feel to lack empathy.

I know you're not directing this comment to me, but anyway: it's actually pretty relaxing, tbh. I mean, from a fairly young age I was made aware of my lack of empathy for others and I realize that it's a legitimate issue that I should probably deal with. Therefore most instances in which I appear to have genuine empathy for people are really more me attempting to sort of cosplay an actual human being with a normal range of emotions, rather than me actually being a good person. I think repeating this behavior as often as possible is making me more legitimately empathetic overall, but it's sort of hard to tell. I still think that people who inconvenience me in any way should be fed to dragons for my amusement, for example.

posted by elizardbits at 1:43 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


constructions like "Comedian Chris Gethard addresses an anonymous fan contemplating suicide (Trigger warning: discussion of suicide)" are nearly self-parody and probably even undermine the seriousness of the issue

I might find this more believable if I had ever encountered anybody whose position was "Because I understand the difficulty of going through life with PTSD/PTSD-like issues I spent years being considerate about not blindsiding people with mentions of difficult issues — but you know, I read one too many redundant trigger warnings and decided 'fuck it, fuck them, fuck everybody, I'm gonna change my name to RAPE JOKES R US and throw in references to eating disorders and cruelty to animals every chance I get!'"

As far as I can tell, that doesn't happen. The complaints I see about "excessive trigger warnings" seem to come from people who don't really believe this is a valid thing, and who are simply looking for reasons to discount or mock them.
posted by Lexica at 1:44 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I still think that people who inconvenience me in any way should be fed to dragons for my amusement, for example.

Yeah, me too. My comment was just a joke, though.
posted by The World Famous at 1:48 PM on October 18, 2012


yes but on the plus side, now you know what it's like to be a weird robot!
posted by elizardbits at 1:55 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


WAIT I JUST GOT YOUR JOKE

ok lol
posted by elizardbits at 1:58 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


a few of which have even garnered some bizarre support from mods.

? Can you be more specific here? I'm positive we've talked at times about e.g. (a) overuse of the anonymous feature and (b) the value of framing a question carefully, but supporting the notion of banning or actively limiting humans relations questions is not something I think anyone on this team has ever even nodded at as a reasonable approach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:58 PM on October 18, 2012


Chrome has an extension called in my words that I used to change the dreaded phrase. And I forgot I'd installed it last week, so this thread surprised me in a pleasant way.

However, the extension doesn't pick up on capitalized or plural versions of the dreaded phrase, so I'll have to go back and tinker with it.
posted by dragonplayer at 2:19 PM on October 18, 2012


Where would you like your snowdrift delivered?
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 2:30 PM on October 18, 2012


slapping a little note on the end seems like a nice thing to do. it's not a requirement. it's a request.

Agreed.

Asking someone to observe written conventions on a text-based forum isn't really an unreasonable request, either, though, right? And yet you choose to write in all lowercase letters.

nadawi, serious question: Why do you do that? I've never really seen you address this (or anyone else who types in all lowercase--feel free to speak up!).

You even refer to yourself using a lowercase 'i'. I've seen that kind of thing in BDSM forums, where the lowercase-writing person is a submissive. There, the affectation is used deliberately as a signifier of status, the implication being that the lowercase-only person is deferring to others due to that person's lower status in the prescribed hierarchy. That doesn't apply here, though.

If anything, I would think it would be empowering, after all the crap you've been through, NOT to use lowercase, at least when referring to yourself.

Hell, I could see you maybe wanting to just go completely in the opposite direction and start capitalizing everything.

CAPSLOCK IS HOW I FEEL INSIDE, indeed.

I just don't get the lowercase deal, and I'd like to know why it appeals to you, if you'd care to share.

I'd personally be less annoyed if I knew it wasn't just pure contrariness making folks ignore the conventions (though you all have the right to do that, of course, and I won't be making a Meta asking you not to).
posted by misha at 4:37 PM on October 18, 2012


nadawi writes "yes - but what we get sometimes is "Comedian Chris Gethard addresses an anonymous fan" and that can lead to some problems for some people. i would consider your first example sufficiently warned. "

It would be nice if people are going to use "trigger Warning" in a case like that they add a modifier to it so we'd know what trigger it is.
posted by Mitheral at 5:02 PM on October 18, 2012


jesus Fuck, are you actually psycho-analyzing nadawi and telling her how she should use punctuation because you find it annoying and think that based on terrible things that have happened to her it should and will be analyzed as either an act of submission or empowerment?
posted by stagewhisper at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


désoeuvrée: "If we're frowning upon the mindless parroting of common AskMe tropes, please tell me someone complained about that sudden rash of "explain ____ to me like I'm six years old" questions we had a while back. I swear it was like every other question for a day or two... Now that irked the shit out of me, far more than the occasional snowflake."

Ha, whoops, I just asked one of those questions today. (But I really do have the understanding of a 5-year-old in that matter!)

Also, the rise of this phenomenon is probably at least partially due to cross-pollination from Reddit, with their rather popular Explain Like I'm 5 Q&A subreddit.
posted by Phire at 5:17 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I asked a question. I know nadawi from around the site, and I respect her opinions. I'd like to know where she's coming from here. It's something I've always wondered about, and I figured I'd ask her to explain rather than me guessing at why she does it and maybe getting it totally wrong. I explained the other places I've seen lowercase only used and in what context, and why that muddied the whole issue for me.

I am not sure why what I wrote made you so angry. Did you think I was being passive aggressive or something? Yeah, I don't do that. I wrote what I meant to write. Maybe you could try reading it again with a little more charitable interpretation.
posted by misha at 5:18 PM on October 18, 2012


Also use it on people who misspell "lose" as "loose"; they must face harsh sanctions.


Yessss. Lose your wrath upon them.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:20 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


misha, memail probably the way to go, yeah?
posted by mlis at 5:34 PM on October 18, 2012


Maybe you could try reading it again with a little more charitable interpretation.

I'm usually a decently charitable reader here and it seemed to me like what you were asking is "Why are you annoying like this" and then, yeah, maybe take it to MeMail?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:55 PM on October 18, 2012


i do have reasons, but they're complicated and personal and they don't really fit into a text box very well. i will say that it probably started as a signifier in fetish circles, but it's grown to be just one of those things i do in my life that makes me more comfortable. i know some people find it annoying and i'm sorry for that. it has nothing at all to do with purposefully making people twitchy.

the difference between the request for trigger warnings and lower case typing is that i don't think anyone will be made to emotionally relive trauma because i don't use the shift key.
posted by nadawi at 6:11 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am a young man and would like help choosing suitable headwear to match my corn cob pipe and eyes of coal. Snowflake: I am made of snowflakes.
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on October 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fedora. No question.
posted by The World Famous at 6:32 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Asking someone to observe written conventions on a text-based forum isn't really an unreasonable request, either, though, right?

I think what makes a request reasonable or not isn't just how easy it is to carry out the request. I think a big part of it is how easy it is to carry out the request compared to what the effect will be on the other person if you don't do it.

So for that reason, I think those two requests are pretty far apart in terms of how reasonable they are.
posted by cairdeas at 7:10 PM on October 18, 2012


For a second I got confused and thought this was the "Have you taught yourself to be kinder, gentler, fairer, less angry, or less bullheaded toward other Mefites?" MeTa and was amazed at how solid of a 180 it had taken.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:18 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fedora wouldn't be bad, but I think I cowboy hat would add the certain something.
posted by rtha at 7:35 PM on October 18, 2012


more snowpeople should wear tiaras and fascinators.
posted by nadawi at 7:39 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


MINIATURE TOP HATS
posted by elizardbits at 8:17 PM on October 18, 2012


If you're tired of the groupthink of navel-gazing nabobs who never get bored of insipid inside jingo this part of the site probably isn't for you.
posted by clarknova at 8:22 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lately it has been people who use stage direction in their comments, *pulls up chair and sits down* being a particular annoyance.

Yeah. That thing, grrrrrrrrr.

*Gets high on bath salts and eats a motherfucker's face.*

/Not Face-eaterist
posted by spitbull at 10:27 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can't you make a bowler hat out of snowflakes?
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 12:17 AM on October 19, 2012


It's ice cream and not snowflakes, but I think what this thread needs right now is a Kitten Wearing a Tiny Hat Eating a Tiny Ice-Cream Cone.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:17 AM on October 19, 2012


'Trigger warning' appears on cursory search to have popped up as a thing in FPPs in the spring of 2011 and has been in semi-consistent use since then, though there was one prescient use in 2008. I wonder what happened in April 2011 to bring the phrase into the culture of the site?
posted by Kwine at 1:35 AM on October 19, 2012


though there was one prescient use in 2008

It wasn't prescient; it just jumped the gun.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:47 AM on October 19, 2012


it just jumped the gun.

Dare I say it triggered the phenomenon?

As someone with no PTSD or other actual issues, but who has entire topics that I choose not to read about because they make me sad and the world is sad enough already (eg descriptions of cruelty to animals or children), I find the phrase "trigger warning" by itself maddening because it is almost entirely information-free. It does warn that there's something one may find problematic, but not what that something is.

I'd far, far prefer that an expectation develop that problematic (ie "triggering") content be mentioned descriptively. As long as you indicate what's in the article/video/etc, there's no need to use the phrase "trigger warning" unless you want to, and you've done a kindness to anyone who might want to be selective about what they look at. A lot of times that's covered in a title ("Boy Scout Files Give Glimpse Into 20 Years of Sex Abuse" is on the front page of the NYTimes right now, for example), but particularly with videos and photography it would be nice if a hint were provided.
posted by Forktine at 5:05 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're tired of the groupthink of navel-gazing nabobs who never get bored of insipid inside jingo this part of the site probably isn't for you.

'Groupthink,' there it is! Five in a row! Jingo, baby!
posted by box at 5:23 AM on October 19, 2012


Ooh. I hate "trigger warning" too. It is almost always meant to signify politically correct awareness, not as an actual warning. If you can't be on the net without being triggered, and you can't figure out the kind of content that will "trigger" your sensitivities from context, I respectfully submit you need to get offline and go outside. No one is being rickrolled with animal abuse videos described as "look at these cute kittens"! here.
posted by spitbull at 5:30 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, nadawi.
posted by misha at 5:36 AM on October 19, 2012


Ooh, 'politically correct!' If somebody says 'censorship,' I'll get another jingo!
posted by box at 5:41 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how we got from snowflakes to trigger warnings, but the snowflake references don't bother me at all.

I think people are just trying to show that they recognize that similar problems to theirs have come up before and that they know they *aren't* really that special--we're all dealing with stuff, right?---but that they can't see that because they are caught up in the middle.

So they use the snowflake shortcut to say, "Here's why I feel like my case is different from those other AskMe cases, now explain to me how it really isn't different in the big picture, since you are all objective enough to get at the truth."

In other words: I'm surrounded by all this snow, can you shovel some of it out of the way for me so I can see my way clear?
posted by misha at 6:28 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


the seemingly sudden rise of trigger warning jokes has me wondering if i should move on

Please don't, nadawi. It's just a handful of people who complain obnoxiously about how trigger warnings are stupid while simultaneously nicely demonstrating how certain words can trigger uncontrollable emotional reactions in some people. The rest of us, including you, excellently, take time to re-school these folks whenever their particular brand of nasty attack rears its head, and we move on, and the site stays relatively friendly to the concept of warning about graphic violent content.

Honestly, I think if folks just wrote "Warning: very violent content" instead of "Trigger warning: very violent content" the problem would go away. For some reason the word "trigger" acts as a trigger for certain members who have trouble controlling their emotional reactions without any trauma associated at all. It's weird but that's what it looks like.
posted by mediareport at 6:33 AM on October 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


Honestly, I think if folks just wrote "Warning: very violent content" instead of "Trigger warning: very violent content" the problem would go away.

Yes. That’s what the people who don’t like it keep saying. Use descriptive words that say what you’re trying to convey in a way that most people will understand instead of trendy jargon that doesn’t deliver much information but seems to serve some other purpose.
posted by bongo_x at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Use descriptive words that say what you’re trying to convey in a way that most people will understand instead of trendy jargon that doesn’t deliver much information but seems to serve some other purpose.

The descriptive words are identical in that example. How does the inclusion of the word "trigger" somehow obfuscate the meaning of the rest of the words?
posted by elizardbits at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should have wrote "Just use…"

The inclusion of the word "trigger", besides being completely unnecessary, adds a lot of confusion if you aren’t familiar with it. The only place I’ve ever seen or heard of it is this site, so I expect many are not familiar. It’s a much clearer statement to almost everyone without the word "trigger", so why add it? It’s jargon that works well in a particular setting, but not in the wider world. I try not to use jargon like that.

And though it is trendy, jargon, and many feel it is used to serve some other purpose, it sounds much crankier than I intended when you put all those words together the way I did.
posted by bongo_x at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2012


that's not all people are saying though - some people are saying (not in this thread, but in other discussions of the topic) that needing to alert for content at all stymies their snowflake phrasing for their posts. i remember this came up with the olympian's story earlier this year, where it was a sudden shift in the story in the middle. some people said that because she didn't warn for content we were doing a disservice to her narrative to give a heads up. that's not rickrolling, but it's still not giving the context needed to give trauma survivors a choice of being triggered or not.

the argument that people who use trigger warning are doing it for political correctness or to use trendy jargon or because to code their language for acceptance in some ultra-liberal feminist enclave is strange to me - it makes me feel like when that's the objection that maybe they are the ones actually trying to make some further arching weird political point. the reality is that for most of us on either side, we're just trying to find some understanding and a way forward.


I respectfully submit you need to get offline and go outside.

there is nothing respectful in that and if you think people like me can just go outside and feel hunky dory than you really don't understand what we're talking about here. i don't even think i've ever requested trigger warnings, i just try to explain why they're useful. most of my triggers aren't normal shit and i've learned a maze around my head to get by. not all survivors are so lucky.

don't use trigger warnings if you don't want. don't be clear about content if you don't want. but why get mad at those who do? why make fun of trauma survivors? why make a statement that can easily be read as "you're not welcome here because you're too much of a ninny"?
posted by nadawi at 11:06 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


The only place I’ve ever seen or heard of it is this site, so I expect many are not familiar.

"I haven't heard of it, therefore it's obscure and confusing" is probably the least-valid criticism you can make.
posted by griphus at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The inclusion of the word "trigger", besides being completely unnecessary, adds a lot of confusion if you aren’t familiar with it.

Right, I get that's what you're saying, but I was asking for clarification on this, I guess? I mean, do you truly honestly believe that when faced with the following two sentences, one will be entirely comprehensible and the other will cause total confusion such that the entire sentence will be rendered meaningless?

"Warning: descriptions of graphic violence and disturbing images within"

vs

"Trigger warning: descriptions of graphic violence and disturbing images within"

Seriously?
posted by elizardbits at 11:18 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the point: if I post something and include the phrase "trigger warning: child abuse" above the fold, the people to whom this kind of thing is relevant will understand the meaning of this inclusion. That is literally all that matters. If people for whom such things have no meaning don't understand it, life will go on.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The use of "trigger warning" vs "warning" is just people's personal preference bullshit, in the exact same way as not minding or fucking loathing "special snowflake." The behaviour, preferences, attitudes, needs and desires of other humans is never going to accord precisely with one's own. If someone else's need or benefit is greater than your dislike, I suggest you find a way to be gracious about the shit you don't like on the basis that it's not all about you.

We are not battling over world peace. We're battling over a single low-stakes word. Despite that, this is a fight that still has potential for casualties so maybe spend some thought on whether "winning" your point is worth that.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:26 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


i liked the temporary respite a couple of years back when someone proposed "cockbucket" to replace "snowflake".
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2012


the argument that people who use trigger warning are doing it for political correctness or to use trendy jargon or because to code their language for acceptance in some ultra-liberal feminist enclave is strange to me

Ditto.

I understand feeling irritated by certain phrases or jargon. But I don't understand when it is often expressed with incredible disdain and sneering, and with accusations that people who use or appreciate the use of a particular phrase are pandering or are weaklings. I get annoyed by "NSFW" warnings that are put on stuff that seems to me to be totally innocuous - but then, I work in a completely unfiltered office. It wouldn't occur to me to accuse people who use "NSFW" as somehow pandering to the complete idiots who have the poor taste to work somewhere where their internet is use is monitored or restricted. I might find some uses of NSFW mildly annoying sometimes, but other people find it useful or even critical, so okay.
posted by rtha at 11:54 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I first encountered the phrase "trigger warning" in 2005 on recovery-oriented eating disorder forums, usually prefacing posts discussing disordered thoughts or behaviors, and at the time was bothered by what seemed to me to be a presumption of lack of free will, that reading such things could inexorably cause me to experience them, in the manner of the pull of a trigger causing a bullet to fire.

That was before I realized, however, that for people who have experienced trauma and PTSD, reading or seeing something was enough to cause memories and emotions to flood back, even to feel as if they are reliving the trauma, with all the fear and sadness and anger and shame associated with it.

While the word "trigger" is perhaps not strictly necessary to label such things, I now see its use not as an abstract political statement, but an emotional acknowledgement: I have some understanding of what it is you've been through--even if I haven't experienced it myself, even if I can never fully understand. You should never have to suffer through it again. You are not alone.

I know that the word can be weird for people--my past self included--and I don't know that we need to ask anyone to use it who isn't comfortable with it, but I'd suggest that we understand that it's meaningful and helpful for some, and they should be able to use it.
posted by beryllium at 12:22 PM on October 19, 2012


I'd love to see a survey of all the inside jokes people on MeTa find annoying. I wonder if there are a few examples that piss 50 percent of the userbase off, or if it is more lowlevel and spread about more evenly.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:32 PM on October 19, 2012


Use descriptive words that say what you’re trying to convey in a way that most people will understand instead of trendy jargon that doesn’t deliver much information but seems to serve some other purpose.

Of course. And I've agreed in past discussions warnings should include actual information about the warnable content. But my point above is that some people still freak out in absurd ways if they see the word "trigger" in a post or at a linked site - even if the specific details have already been mentioned or the warning goes on to specify them. The nasty idiocy of going on the attack against "trigger warnings" in general is the deeper problem here.
posted by mediareport at 12:39 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]



I'd love to see a survey of all the inside jokes people on MeTa find annoying. I wonder if there are a few examples that piss 50 percent of the userbase off, or if it is more lowlevel and spread about more evenly.


"Fixed that for you" is one of the only ones I really, really can't stand.
posted by sweetkid at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The recipes thing got so bad it was unoficially moratorium'd.
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on October 19, 2012


Oh, oh! I just thought of one! Ever since I've noticed it, I notice it all the time.

It's when people don't say "I kept on eating because of the bacon", they say "I kept on eating because BACON". Or "I couldn't stop laughing because sheep im Larry's bedroom."

All the time! Is that a Metafilter thing or is it everywhere?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:02 PM on October 19, 2012


That's a general memesphere thing that has popped its head up on Mefi a bit. Probably the ur-form is "because of reasons" or "because reasons"; the of-less form makes the poorly-constructed-argument joke a little clearer for but both variations see some use.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:06 PM on October 19, 2012


I've seen "because REASON" everywhere. I've even used it myself, though not here I don't think (and I am too lazy to check my posting history). I did get roars of laughter/rage when I posted a status updated on fb that said "I turned on the heat because August."
posted by rtha at 1:15 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also if anyone has not seen the full version of the "because of reasons" comic I strongly urge you to locate it at once.

because lol
posted by elizardbits at 1:22 PM on October 19, 2012


I don't know if it originated there, but this Three Word Phase comic "Pardon Me" definitely jump started it's popularity.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:25 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, the name of the comic is "Reasons".
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2012


MetaFilter: inside jokes people on MeTa find annoying.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:32 PM on October 19, 2012


YES THAT IS IT
posted by elizardbits at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I didn't suspect otherwise, I'd say elizardbits sprung fully-formed from that comic like Athena.
posted by griphus at 1:35 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


i don't even have a monocle, wtf
posted by elizardbits at 1:37 PM on October 19, 2012


NO THE MONOCLE GUY IS ZEUS

COME ON
posted by griphus at 1:39 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think specific trigger warnings are wonderful. Recently though as the practice has spread beyond recovery-type communities where everyone knows the norms, I've started seeing things online occasionally that just say "trigger warning" and don't specify what you're being warned about. Which is like putting a warning label on a package that says "contains allergens!" or putting up a road sign that says "CAUTION EVENTS MAY OCCUR" or something.

That is annoying and unhelpful, although I guess it's sweet of them in a clueless sort of way to have tried. It sort of reminds me of my old doctor's office, who in a misguided attempt at inclusiveness put three gender options on their patient intake form: "Male," "Female" and "Transgendered." Oh man guys clearly you're trying to do something helpful and sensitive and you were SO CLOSE...
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:39 PM on October 19, 2012


MAY YOU GROW LIKE AN ONION WITH YOUR HEAD IN THE GROUND!
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on October 19, 2012


I wonder if there are a few examples that piss 50 percent of the userbase off, or if it is more lowlevel and spread about more evenly.

'FTFY' is pretty well-loathed. And I think most American MeFites are annoyed by 'USian'.

For a while, people used 'just sayin'' a lot in kind of a dickish way, but I don't see it so much these days.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:26 PM on October 19, 2012


Also, back before it was banned, 'there's always ... [more inside]' was pretty widely reviled, more so than 'special snowflake' even.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:31 PM on October 19, 2012


I mean, do you truly honestly believe that when faced with the following two sentences, one will be entirely comprehensible and the other will cause total confusion such that the entire sentence will be rendered meaningless?

Whoa, I don’t remember saying anything like this. This is not a subject that pisses me off, or I want to rally the troops against. People asked "why does ‘trigger warning’ bother some people?" I answered "because it’s unnecessary jargon that doesn’t add any clarification but potentially can cause confusion". I didn’t call anyone stupid, or weak, or ugly.

Here's the point: if I post something and include the phrase "trigger warning: child abuse" above the fold, the people to whom this kind of thing is relevant will understand the meaning of this inclusion. That is literally all that matters.

It’s a big board, for everyone. I don’t like uncommon (or even most common) acronyms, or insider jargon of any kind because it seems cliquish and exclusionary. There is also no case I can think of where someone would be caught off guard saying "I know it said ‘warning: child abuse’ but it didn’t say ‘trigger’ so I was unprepared". On the other hand, the first few times I saw "trigger warning" I just thought "so not like a real warning then?" I don’t think "If you don’t understand it, so what, this doesn’t concern you" is a great attitude for posting here.
posted by bongo_x at 2:56 PM on October 19, 2012


'FTFY' is pretty well-loathed. And I think most American MeFites are annoyed by 'USian'.

I only don't like USian when it's accompanied by a lecture about how we're selfishly appropriating the word "American" from all the Canadians and Argentinians who want to use it too.
posted by sweetkid at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2012


I get annoyed by USian as it strikes me as laziness. American is only 3 letters more to type out and it lends clarity.
posted by arcticseal at 3:02 PM on October 19, 2012


I'm going to call myself a Statesian from now on.
posted by The Whelk at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2012


Statenese?
posted by The Whelk at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2012


Statestani.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:17 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember the whole "Is this something I'd need a television to understand?" used to bother me, because I am a hedonist bohemian with not one but several televisions, and it made me feel like Alastair Cooke--or worse David Attenborough!--was shaming me for not actually getting out there in the universe to appreciate this lovely miraculous creature in its natural habitat instead of lying in bed watching old Frazier reruns.

But now I'm like Frazier reruns are cool and also Steve Buscemi is awesome in Boardwalk Empire and the guys on Breaking Bad have both won Emmys.

Tl;dr: Yes, I need televisions to understand. Because reasons.
posted by misha at 3:18 PM on October 19, 2012


Afroblanco writes "back before it was banned, 'there's always ... [more inside]' was pretty widely reviled, more so than 'special snowflake' even."

Man I loved the more inside jokes. And taglines. Mentions of the Cabal. Plo-Chops. WHAT THE FUCK MATT. Please hope me.
posted by Mitheral at 3:45 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


American is only 3 letters more to type out and it lends clarity.

Actually, it introduces ambiguity. There are two whole American continents filled with a wide variety of nations, all of whom are populated by Americans of some sort or another.

The only way you can resolve the ambiguity and still use "American" to mean "United States Citizen" is by predicating your usage on the privilege of the Center.

And yes, the Knowledge is a terrible burden.
posted by Sokka shot first at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2012


Does anyone even remember the pastel colored jackals? (or was it pastel coated jackals???? Danggit.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2012


There are two whole American continents filled with a wide variety of nations, all of whom are populated by Americans of some sort or another.

Yes, and not one single citizen of any of those countries would ever want someone to mistake them for an American citizen of the USA. I promise you, there is no ambiguity.
posted by elizardbits at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I promise you, there is no ambiguity.

Oh, okay, cool.
posted by Sokka shot first at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2012


I would expect that all those countries have descriptive names such as Mexican, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Argentinian, Canadian, Costa Rican, Venezuelan etc. to describe their residents.

Accepted usage for most of the globe is that American refers to a citizen of the United States; this makes USian redundant. /pedant
posted by arcticseal at 3:59 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually, it introduces ambiguity. There are two whole American continents filled with a wide variety of nations, all of whom are populated by Americans of some sort or another.

The only way you can resolve the ambiguity and still use "American" to mean "United States Citizen" is by predicating your usage on the privilege of the Center.


There's that lecture I was referring to.

Accepted usage for most of the globe is that American refers to a citizen of the United States; this makes USian redundant. /pedant

Exactly.
posted by sweetkid at 4:02 PM on October 19, 2012


Yeah, I guess you're right. A bridge too far and all that.

Man. It's really hard to know what's the right thing to do, sometimes! I wish I had the certainty you guys seem to have. Boy do I super wish that.
posted by Sokka shot first at 4:07 PM on October 19, 2012


Keep trying. It'll come to you someday.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:13 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


My favorite quibble about the "United States" is that there is also the "United States of Mexico" (official name "Estados Unidos Mexicanos"). But there's still the language difference, and in fact "estadounidense" refers to an "American".

/Favorite new geography fact: Bolivia is officially not a "Republic", as most South American countries are, but a "Plurinational State".
posted by benito.strauss at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2012


I'm Canadian, and I have never encountered a single person, anywhere, ever, who thought that the rest of the continents were being besmirched by the use of American as a descriptor for citizens of the 50 States. The only place I've ever seen USian used is here.

As for posters who obstinately and rudely refuse to use proper punctuation? I just skip reading any of their comments. Problem solved.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:31 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey now, some of those 50 states are actually commonwealths!
posted by rtha at 4:41 PM on October 19, 2012


Yeah I knew I was gonna get that wrong, even before I posted. I have no idea how places like Guam and Puerto Rico fit into the nomenclature either.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:02 PM on October 19, 2012


Mostly we just forget about them, because that's the kind of swell guy we are.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2012


My favorite quibble about the "United States" is that there is also the "United States of Mexico" (official name "Estados Unidos Mexicanos"). But there's still the language difference, and in fact "estadounidense" refers to an "American".

Though actually in Mexico itself people don't use estadounidense much.

When I'm in other parts of Central America, I'm un estadounidense or de los EE UU or whatever. In Mexico I'm usually a norteamericano — which, yes, is itself technically ambiguous, since Canada too is part of North America, but in Mexico it's often taken to mean "from the USA" specifically.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:14 PM on October 19, 2012


I think we should all just limit ourselves to using only the words we're sure everybody already knows.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:12 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea what trigger warning meant and only really see it occur on this site. I thought it was an American thing and was perplexed that it didn't really explain what it was warning you of. I feel like a better description could be far more effective at letting people know that they may be offended or hurt by the content of a post.
posted by dazed_one at 7:23 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think some people spend a lot of time on sites where a single topic is pretty robustly discussed and the point of the "trigger warning" is self-evident and they forget that on a general-interest board it's not. Because I definitely see things here labeled "trigger warning" or sometimes even "trigger warning: [description]" where the warning is totally opaque and I have no idea if it's content that I will find upsetting or not.

My only beef with "trigger warning" is since people using it tend to be used to using it for very specific triggers, they don't always label specifically enough for a general interest site. People who just make sure to label links with possibly upsetting content ("depictions of animal abuse" or "Graphic photos of eating disorders") are a lot more helpful. I don't mind if people want to say "trigger warning" in front of the description (it's not hurting anything); I just would like people to give a clearer description of the problem instead of assuming we will all know what is "triggering" about X, and I think when people say "trigger warning" because it IS a jargony shorthand, it sometimes lets them mentally elide the part where they explain the problem.

But then I also find pretty opaque how the evening news decides to tell me that images they're about to show may be upsetting for sensitive or younger viewers, because half the time they're showing appalling things with no warning at all and then sometimes they warn you about it and you're like "??? What's upsetting here?" Back in the day I noticed the same thing a lot with newspapers and their "front page above the fold" photo rules -- some things they would show were definitely more disturbing than things they would NEVER show. I'm happy when people label things clearly and keep the disturbing stuff to where "sensitive viewers" can't accidentally stumble across it, but being out in the world people are going to screw it up sometimes or my standards are going to be way out of line with other people's standards on a particular issue.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think we should all just limit ourselves to using only the words we're sure everybody already knows.
posted by iamkimiam


But what about my favorite sentence on MeFi?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:33 AM on October 20, 2012


Every in-joke will be overused. People like in-jokes because they like to belong. Every in-joke will be irritating so someone. My policy: if it's unkind (FTFY) in some manner, I'd prefer to see it eliminated. If I start getting irritated by small things, like snowflakes, it's time to calm down.

Somewhere in there is a metaphor about how snowflakes become snowdrifts. I purposely avoided the term "chill." It will be winter soon; please do not disturb my denial .
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on October 21, 2012


I read this post and the first few replies a few days ago. It has finally occurred to me why I thought it was weird:

I am newish around here. I did not interpret snowflake to mean special in the sense of unique and one of a kind. I figured it was a MetaCulture way of saying "I am a neurotic Flake, details inside". I figured any reference to specialness was a reference to "special is the new word for retard".

To me, it signalled insecurity, not one of a kind situation like you have never seen before. Otherwise all the references to flurries and snowstorms makes no sense. I don't see that as a logical way of saying "my boatload of utter and complete uniqueness" but it makes perfect sense to me as a way of saying "my cartloads of neurotic personal baggage".

It only took me like three days to realize I am not on the same page as the OP. (I am quick like that.) But now I wonder if my understanding is really that different from the majority, given the way I see it used by other people.

(I wrote this earlier and took the time to read most of the thread to see if 50 other people made the exact same point so it would be stupid redundancy to post. I decided it is not stupid redundancy. God, I am so proud of myself.)
posted by Michele in California at 10:52 AM on October 21, 2012


Just as a side note bout "retard", we've had a few discussions here in the last few years about how jokey use of that word is not so great. I realize not everyone has been around for those, but I've seen a few of these in recent days, so just wanted to repeat the key point: mostly people don't use it intending to be hurtful, but there are users around who have family members etc with various disabilities who do find it hurtful, and if you don't intend to be hurtful it's easy enough to choose a different word. (And obviously if you're going to insult someone, choose a different way to insult them.)

About "special snowflake"- pretty sure the "special" in that phrase was in the sense of "uniquely worthy", not in the sense of "developmentally disabled" or similar.

I think the phrase came from a sort of testy dismissive thing at first, someone saying "you go on at such length, but look, you're NOT a special snowflake, all these problems/needs that feel so unique to you are very ordinary." And then people adopted it as a way of modestly acknowledging that, sure, I'm aware my problems seem ordinary, but even so I feel like I need to spell them out (maybe because I acknowledge I'm being a little neurotic, as you say).
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I fully admit to not knowing the history and origin. My only point is that the way it gets used gave me a completely different impression. And I did my due diligence and read/skimmed the thread before posting. Thanks to, I believe, Dana Carvey -- "Isn't that special" -- it is pretty common to interpret Special as shorthand for "special needs" aka disabled. So I think it is reasonable to assume I would not be the only newbie to do that.

My only previous use of "retard" that I recall was to jokingly call myself a "tard". I don't go around intentionally insulting other people. I don't think I should need to walk on eggshells to indicate I was assuming special was being used humorously in that sense. I am pretty open about being someone with a disability and having two sons with disabilities.
posted by Michele in California at 11:34 AM on October 21, 2012


Yes, absolutely, I know you weren't intending it as an insult - didn't mean to impugn your motives. More mentioning it as a general thing.

I have seen a few other people use it in the last week or so, and each instance is small enough that it's not quite worth making a fuss over, but I just wanted to mention it here for other people who're still reading the thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:41 AM on October 21, 2012


It is always tough to make that distinction (between a general point and specific instance). No big.
posted by Michele in California at 11:45 AM on October 21, 2012


This poster probably could've handled the trigger warning a bit more discreetly. That just looks weird.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:12 PM on October 23, 2012


Yeah, that's a classic example of a mystery meat Trigger Warning. Not clear at all what kind of trigger is being warned against.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:47 PM on October 23, 2012


post idea: an exploration of the various kinds of triggers and their historic development and use.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:15 AM on October 24, 2012


"Trigger warning for mysterious meat"
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:28 AM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This poster probably could've handled the trigger warning a bit more discreetly. That just looks weird.

Yep, no idea what that warning is about. That said, this will happen. Being understanding and/or letting people know about the culture here (that we do not mandate trigger warnings, that we barely tolerate trigger warning jokes and sometimes don't, that if people add them they should be clear and useful) will take some time.

post idea: an exploration of the various kinds of triggers and their historic development and use.

Suggestion: don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:37 AM on October 24, 2012


I'll be honest -- I'm not sure I understand the 'trigger warning' stuff very well.

Let me see talk about how I understand it, to see if I've got it right. The idea is that some people who have had terrible experiences in the past can have an overwhelming emotional reaction (in a post-traumatic stress sort of way) to certain topics or comments, and thus it is considered both considerate and kind to give some sort of warning before linking to or discussing matters that may trigger a reaction in them, yes?

I think, assuming I've got that right, that the idea is both laudable and communitarian. I'm not being in any way sarcastic or snarky here. It's a nice idea.

Where I'm not sure I understand it, though, is how, as users, we are supposed to intuit where those triggers might lie, or what topics might be traumatically unpleasant for some subset of other folks to read about.

Is the idea that there are a few 'common' areas -- sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence... I'm not sure what else, honestly -- that we are encouraged to be careful around, but it seems to me that the list, in a long-tail sort of way, might be very long indeed, given the endless variety of human nature.

So -- and again, I'm not arguing against the idea so much as wondering how it might be a workable model for modifying interactions on the site -- I guess I'm not clear on what is doable or workable here.

I'm merely curious and a little uncertain here, and if I've missed previous elaborations about this, I do apologize. I do not mean to suggest that people don't have 'triggers' sometimes, and I do think sensitivity and kindness are noble aims. I guess I'm just a little unsure about how broad the net might be.

It seems to me as if it opens a door to more resentment and discord, in a way, rather than less, in that people who feel a trigger warning of some sort for their own sensitive topics might well be angered if other people don't provide them, and people who are not deliberately trying to hurt anyone but err on the side of either forgetting to offer a warning or not expecting that a certain topic might offend or upset will be equally inclined to anger or resentment at unclear expectations for the content of their speech.

I understand that the general edict of being as kind and sensitive as possible is a good one as a golden rule. But I do wonder if that golden rule might have a point at which it becomes over-extended.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:03 PM on October 24, 2012


I think the general idea is: if you are linking to something potentially disturbing it's a good idea to not create mystery links to that content. At a very basic scale this is as simple as "If you do not add a NSFW indicator we may add it for you" and at a more subtle scale this is "If you are creating a link to content that is extremely graphic in a violent or sexually violent way, please indicate that in the text describing your link because it's polite."

We have been very clear from the get-go that trigger warnings are not mandatory here and we will not add them after the fact except at the poster's request, so people do browse at their own risk. At the same time it's a social convention that creating gotcha links that go to gory images or graphic descriptions with no indication that is what will be happening is not cool and if you do that often we will ask you and then tell you to stop. If you do it once it's a no-harm-no-foul situation.

And, to be clear, the short list of things that I think usually fall under this heading are: graphic depictions or descriptions of rape/sexual assault, human/child/spousal or animal abuse, gore and extreme violence/mayhem. That's it. Some people have described other things that are triggering to them. To the best of my knowledge no one is asking for us to predict the things that they need trigger warnings for.

It seems to me as if it opens a door to more resentment and discord, in a way, rather than less, in that people who feel a trigger warning of some sort for their own sensitive topics might well be angered if other people don't provide them

I totally get this argument but to the best of our knowledge this is mostly not happening. We've had some people who include trigger warnings because they feel it's a good thing to do. We've had people discuss the idea of trigger warnings as useful to them in some contexts. We've had people discuss how other sites use them. We've had a few people discuss content as "triggering" to themselves or (more often) potential other people but not in a "We need to have trigger warnings here, STAT" sort of way. Most of what we seem to have is people who like to make trigger warning jokes and people who like to be concerned about the slippery slope of a thing that is basically not happening here.

Part of our jobs as mods are to set expectations here and this comment is just part of that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:15 PM on October 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's sensible, as I would expect. I kind of wish there was a better, more blame-neutral (for lack of a better word) shorthand between the too-vague 'NSFW' and 'trigger warning', but so it goes. Using our words to describe why a link might be upsetting is always a viable option, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:58 PM on October 24, 2012


Some people use "content warning" or "content note" instead. For example, "Content note: contains discussion of self-harming." "Content warning: discusses cruelty to animals."
posted by Lexica at 10:08 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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