snarky agenda driven derails on askme April 27, 2014 3:22 PM   Subscribe

I've noticed this trend for a long time in the human relations section. Somebody will post a question in good faith and because something in their framing of the question rubs a particular member the wrong way said member feels entitled to toss back a glib, derailing and lecturing remark.

I was aware when I started this thread that it didn't paint me in the best light, but I wanted to be upfront about my flaws so I could receive the best advice. So it didn't come as a surprise when I received a lot of suggestions that I work on my relationship issues in therapy, which is something I'm actually considering.

But I did feel that this was was a glib derail:

Also:

But then he also made strange slips in civility, like when he asked me back to his place on our first date or didn't make sure I had returned home safely on our second. (Am I overreacting to these slips?)

Yes, IMO you are overreacting. It is not 1952; sex on the first date is no longer socially unacceptable and asking someone back to your place after the first date is far, far from "uncivil" (pressuring, on the other hand, is another thing entirely). And thanks to the wonderful things that happened in the 1970s, women are now seen as autonomous and independent and no longer in need of a man's protection, so I'm not sure why you think it is "uncivil" of him to not make sure you arrived home safely.

These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy.


I tried to post a response about the fact that I live in one of the worst parts of the city and it was late at night but my comment was deleted.

It's not a big deal on its own but I notice this kind of behavior constantly on askmetafilter, and I've probably engaged in it at times myself.

It seems like if somebody is honest about their problems it lays them open for attack because so many people have personal agendas on metafilter that they project onto the asker. Yes, if somebody is doing something wrong they should be called out on it, but I'm referring specifically to snide comments that aren't exactly pertinent advice but are transparently lecturing the asker on some gender/race/identity issue. I just feel like so many askmes get derailed by this kind of bullshit and it causes people to censor themselves and not get the kind of advice they need. Had I written a more sugarcoated OP I probably would have received a blander array of responses. I wouldn't have gotten that bratty retort but I also wouldn't have gotten all of the other on point responses that I did.

Isn't there a way members can be more mindful of injecting their own agendas or issues into their commentary? We want to encourage people to be honest, right? I mean sure if somebody is being a chauvinist pig, call them on it. But I've seen this happen so often with ambiguous or even innocuous askmes where it feels really out of place.
posted by caseofyou to Etiquette/Policy at 3:22 PM (475 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Of all the weir projecting derails I've seen on AskMe, I don't think that is one. It responds to an element that had a central part in your narrative, it addresses your question. It suggests therapy, which is such a standard AskMe response that it's a bit of a joke, but it does it in a reasonable way. I did not read that as glib or a derail. That's my opinion, at least.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


You asked whether you were overreacting, the poster explained why they felt that yes, you are overreacting.

It's ok for you to disagree (though you should probably figure out whether you really want to hear other people's answers to the questions you asked), but you don't need to clarify "but I live in a bad neighborhood, does that change things" because you put that in your OP.
posted by brentajones at 3:34 PM on April 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


Right but to suggest those are issues to be discussed in therapy? Really? That strikes me as pretty glib.
posted by caseofyou at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Had you posted that same text without the bracketed "(Am I overreacting to these slips?)" I think you still would have gotten essentially the same feedback. I would have posted something similar had I seen it, because I agree that those aren't "slips in civility". And it seems like a pertinent comment to me because sometimes AskMe posters reveal underlying attitudes in the course of the question that need to be addressed to help solve the problem, even if the OP doesn't realize it and doesn't think those attitudes are germane to the issue involved.
posted by orange swan at 3:37 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's not uncommon to have issues where the askers' and the answererers' basic cultural frame of reference doesn't quite align, as it appears is the case here. It's not something I see as a problem, or at least not a *fixable* problem, which is why our standard advice is to take the answers that are useful to you and ignore the rest. This particular case appears to be a (relatively mild, really) example of this situation.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:43 PM on April 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


"The wise person can never be offended - for the truth can never offend, lies are beneath notice and the wise person knows the difference." I read that a long time ago and have lived by it ever since.

More pithily - take what is useful, leave what is not, like r_n suggests.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:46 PM on April 27, 2014 [28 favorites]


If you read the comment you quoted in snarky voice then it can be read as uncharitable and glib, yes. Try reading it with a patient and supportive voice. You may find that it comes across quite differently and is maybe even helpful for reframing your perspective on the issue in question.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:46 PM on April 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


Right but to suggest those are issues to be discussed in therapy? Really? That strikes me as pretty glib.

I won't presume to know exactly what schroedingersgirl meant with that comment, but a more charitable way to look at the whole situation is this: you have a self-identified problem with getting into relationships with guys who are "assholes," and at the same time with not being attracted to decent guys who are non-assholes. Given this context, if you are taking opportunities, when you meet decent, non-asshole guys, to criticize the precise kind and degree of their "civility" and to ultimately decide that they are not stacking up, then yes, this can definitely be a relevant thing to mention in therapy. If you want to. If not, then fine.

In sum, I don't think this is a derail. And if you want to entirely avoid snarky answers... I don't that will really be possible.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:51 PM on April 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


I've looked at caseofyou's AskMe question history... and I don't think the posters in those threads are out of line, unreasonable, or glib for suggesting that she gets therapy.
posted by orange swan at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't think anybody was trying to be bratty at all. You talk about yourself like you're a generally feminist, liberal sort of person, but that the sort of guys you're attracted to is a problem. You've brought this up previously. But it seems increasingly like it's not just the guys you're attracted to--your whole model for how this relationship thing is going to work is not grounded in the sorts of things that feminist, liberal sorts of people end up finding very satisfying in the long run. So that seems to speak, actually, really directly to the problem you're having, and the fact that you find it upsetting might mean that it's hitting really close to home in a way you need to examine.

Therapy is pretty much the best place to discuss anything that hurts, because unlike AskMe, you have someone who's actually obligated to confidentiality who you have an ongoing relationship with, to talk about these things. Totally get why some people can't afford it or can't arrange for it at any given point in time, but if it was free and freely available I'd be perfectly happy suggesting everybody over the age of six or seven should have a therapist.
posted by Sequence at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


I mean sure if somebody is being a chauvinist pig, call them on it.

Okay. Expecting your date to call to make sure you got home all right to the "bad neighborhood" you choose to live in is chauvinistic. (As to why you expected it: as you described, this guy failed at reminding you of your dad, so mentally you stuck him with another "dad" job. He then failed at a task he didn't even know he had. This is just one of the reasons why therapy was repeatedly recommended -- and therapy is hard, no one was being glib.)

Also, someone took the time to read and then answer your very long question, it's less than generous to label that response as a "bratty retort."
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:55 PM on April 27, 2014 [59 favorites]


OP that askme is just brimming with good bits of advice. Take them into your heart and let them live there for a while.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


Expecting your date to call to make sure you got home all right to the "bad neighborhood" you choose to live in is chauvinistic.


how is that chauvinistic? I know it's not required in ethical terms but it's a common courtesy that I do expect from a date and have usually received. Hell, I do it myself if I'm out with a female friend and she's going home late at night to her relatively unsafe neighborhood.
posted by caseofyou at 4:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


OP that askme is just brimming with good bits of advice. Take them into your heart and let them live there for a while.

It is and I will.
posted by caseofyou at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've looked at caseofyou's AskMe question history... and I don't think the posters in those threads are out of line, unreasonable, or glib for suggesting that she gets therapy.

I didn't say the other therapy suggestions were out of line because they weren't.
posted by caseofyou at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


The common courtesy of checking to make sure someone got home okay -- is it a common courtesy that you only extend to other women? Or do you also check up on male friends to make sure they got home okay, especially if they live in a sketchy neighborhood?
posted by palomar at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


The common courtesy of checking to make sure someone got home okay -- is it a common courtesy that you only extend to other women? Or do you also check up on male friends to make sure they got home okay, especially if they live in a sketchy neighborhood?

Nope, I do it with everyone (relatives, friends, dates) depending on context (lateness, where they're returning to) but I only have one male friend at the moment who lives in another city and in a safe neighborhood, so that situation rarely comes up.
posted by caseofyou at 4:20 PM on April 27, 2014


caseofyou, I will call my friends, too, but what makes it chauvinistic is -- oh, I see palomar is touching on it right now. Also, you expected the "check-up" call from a first date, and didn't let him know.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:21 PM on April 27, 2014


Not to be glib or deraily, but is this a re-take of that askmefi where you get to talk back?
posted by Sebmojo at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [60 favorites]


I don't really know what you think the agenda was with that comment. So... 2 things:

1. Expecting people to behave in a very specific manner as if they were mind readers will lead you to a lot of disappointment.

2. Reading comments that directly address a question you ask in a negative light will also lead you to a lot of upset and anger.

They are also very common things to do, unfortunately.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Overall, you sound upset about life. Why you're attracted to the people you're attracted to, why you don't like THIS guy, why the answers on the internet sound so la-de-da go-get-therapy, etc.

That anger, whether valid or not, is going to cause you a billion more problems than any specific thing going on in your life.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not to be glib or deraily, but is this a re-take of that askmefi where you get to talk back?

This could easily be prevented by folks in MeTa NOT treating it like an AskMe.
posted by maryr at 4:40 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't really know what you think the agenda was with that comment. So... 2 things:

1. Expecting people to behave in a very specific manner as if they were mind readers will lead you to a lot of disappointment.

2. Reading comments that directly address a question you ask in a negative light will also lead you to a lot of upset and anger.

They are also very common things to do, unfortunately.


I don't think wanting someone to observe a common courtesy is expecting too much. You could say this about any number of common courtesies. As I said earlier, I've never had someone not check up on me when I've gone home late to a rough neighborhood. I also don't see how this makes me anti-feminist given that I perform the same courtesy with friends. It's not a gender issue, and the fact that people are turning it into one is what makes me feel that they're pushing an agenda.
posted by caseofyou at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


Overall, you sound upset about life. Why you're attracted to the people you're attracted to, why you don't like THIS guy, why the answers on the internet sound so la-de-da go-get-therapy, etc.

That anger, whether valid or not, is going to cause you a billion more problems than any specific thing going on in your life.


Can we stick to the original question and not delve into what you perceive as my personal issues? I wanted to open this up to a larger discussion of a trend I've noticed for awhile on this forum. As I wrote, the comment itself wasn't a big deal, it just got me thinking.
posted by caseofyou at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you see a comment that seems like it was made in bad faith, I would just flag it and move on - even in your own question.
posted by sockermom at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]


I tried to post a response about the fact that I live in one of the worst parts of the city and it was late at night but my comment was deleted

It amazes me that a comment from the person who asked the question, and which offers additional clarifying information to anyone else who might want to try to answer the question, would be deleted except under fairly extreme circumstancess of the sort I can see no evidence of here.

I'd like to hear a justification for this deletion, and for this kind of deletion.
posted by jamjam at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


I find that the mods are usually pretty good about deleting snark in AskMe, so I don't see this as a trend. Do you have other examples?
posted by desjardins at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2014


I'd like to hear a justification for this deletion, and for this kind of deletion.

The comment was fighty and contained an insult, much like this MeTa.
posted by ftm at 4:50 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Ditto--derailing or glib remarks should be flagged, and should and will probably be deleted (I know that some of mine have--sorry, mods, and thanks).

I don't think lecturing remarks should be encouraged, but they're probably within the zone of what one might reasonably expect in AskMe comments.

If we're trying to talk about a larger theme or trend or whatever, rather than about caseofyou's question, then let's do that.
posted by box at 4:51 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


@ftm: My comment was along these lines: "I fail to see how expecting a date to check that I've arrived safely at home when it was late at night and I live in one of the most crime ridden sections of the city is an issue to discuss in therapy."

How is that insulting?
posted by caseofyou at 4:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think the comment you got was particularly lecturing, or off-topic at all. There is a certain amount of "agenda"-pushing you get in AskMeta, but I think that's part of being a community; there will be certain norms and ideas the majority subscribe to. Here's someone making a similarly-worded comment to the one you called out 8 years ago (the 1st comment I ever favorited!). Mefites are generally big on gender equality in dating. If you're not into that, our dating advice is probably not worth asking for.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


Perhaps you had multiple comments deleted. In the one I flagged, you called out a responder for being glib. It's not necessary to make criticisms of Ask answers.
posted by ftm at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mefites are generally big on gender equality in dating. If you're not into that, our dating advice is probably not worth asking for.

I get that but I don't see how anything I wrote in my OP suggested I was against gender equality.
posted by caseofyou at 4:55 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I fail to see how expecting a date to check that I've arrived safely at home when it was late at night and I live in one of the most crime ridden sections of the city is an issue to discuss in therapy."

This feels like picking a fight with someone -- ask.me isn't a conversation or a back and forth. Just listen and figure out which parts are helpful to you. If that comment didn't help you, maybe it'll help someone else with the same problem.
posted by Margalo Epps at 4:55 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]


caseofyou, let's just put people's comments about your question on a river and let them skate away. Tell them bye bye baby baby bye bye. It's not too late to turn this crazy bird around.
posted by box at 4:56 PM on April 27, 2014 [19 favorites]


I think that caseofyou would be best served by stepping away from the computer or at least looking at cute cat pictures for awhile. Because if you don't want to have snarky sarcastic people picking at your personal flaws, starting a metatalk thread complaining about it is the worst possible way to go about it.
posted by empath at 4:59 PM on April 27, 2014 [40 favorites]


I can see why you'd think suggestions of therapy are snarky or insulting, but only because I grew up in a household where "you need to be locked up because you're crazy!!!" and "go, talk to a therapist! tell them how crazy your mother is!!!" were phrases slung around during arguments. In environments like those, being "crazy" or needing help is the OMGWORST.

When I finally got around to going to therapy (in part because I realized I was recommending it on metafilter a lot while not addressing my own issues), I realized how normal and healthy of a thing it was--not a last-ditch effort of someone who was irreparable at all.

For what it's worth, I saw a lot of weird gender issues in your question, too--the dad stuff, seeing the guy as unmasculine for using language that reflected his education, expecting him to walk you home and not do something that could even be construed as asking for sex on the first date. All that would be fine if you were finding yourself in situations where you were happy, but it doesn't sound like you are. Which I think is why people suggested therapy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:06 PM on April 27, 2014 [38 favorites]


I can see why you'd think suggestions of therapy are snarky or insulting, but only because I grew up in a household where "you need to be locked up because you're crazy!!!" and "go, talk to a therapist! tell them how crazy your mother is!!!" were phrases slung around during arguments. In environments like those, being "crazy" or needing help is the OMGWORST.

Right but notice I didn't take issue with the other therapy suggestions. I've been in therapy and have no shame about that. I just find it unnecessary and weird to suggest somebody needs therapy because they expect a date to check that they arrived safely in an unsafe area. I mean it's one thing to think it's an overreaction but to call it an issue that needs to be worked out in therapy does come off as snarky and not in good faith to me.
posted by caseofyou at 5:10 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, I saw a lot of weird gender issues in your question, too--the dad stuff, seeing the guy as unmasculine for using language that reflected his education, expecting him to walk you home and not do something that could even be construed as asking for sex on the first date. All that would be fine if you were finding yourself in situations where you were happy, but it doesn't sound like you are. Which I think is why people suggested therapy.

I didn't ask him to walk me home. I just expected him to check up on me and make sure I got home okay. I left at 1am and I live in a neighborhood that has some of the most violent crime in the city. In fact, we had a conversation about this earlier in the night and how I sometimes feel unsafe coming home late at night, even in a cab. I don't see how that has anything to do with gender?
posted by caseofyou at 5:13 PM on April 27, 2014


and not do something that could even be construed as asking for sex on the first date.

Also asking somebody to venture back to your place in the middle of a makeout session at night is pretty unequivocal code for sex.
posted by caseofyou at 5:16 PM on April 27, 2014


I don't remember the comment I flagged offering any clarifying details.

I am getting the feeling that this MeTa is providing you with the back-and-forth debate you were prevented from having in AskMe. If what you really want is to see a discussion of the larger trend, would it be possible to step away from this for a while and see if that happens?
posted by MoonOrb at 5:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]


Again, it wasn't only a single point that made it seem like there was gendered stuff going on. Honestly, this MeTa just underscores it: you think people are using Ask as a platform for their values on gender/race/identity issues, and you're objecting to someone stating that they feel your expectations are outmoded enough that therapy might help.

I really don't think any of the advice was given in bad faith. If it's not helpful to you, that's fine. It's very likely just a matter of values dissonance. But . . . it feels like this MeTa is kind of a platform for you to argue with people about their advice, and that doesn't feel particularly good faithy to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:18 PM on April 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


I just find it unnecessary and weird to suggest somebody needs therapy because they expect a date to check that they arrived safely in an unsafe area.


That is far from the only reason people are suggesting therapy, I hope you can see that.

Why are you "expecting" any particular sort of behavior from this guy? You barely know him! He's supposed to know, without being told, your precise living situation and past history/preference for being checked-up on? Why not just tell him if it's so important?
posted by wats at 5:20 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't remember the comment I flagged offering any clarifying details.

I am getting the feeling that this MeTa is providing you with the back-and-forth debate you were prevented from having in AskMe. If what you really want is to see a discussion of the larger trend, would it be possible to step away from this for a while and see if that happens?


I don't know if there's a record of deletion but it did.
posted by caseofyou at 5:21 PM on April 27, 2014


That is far from the only reason people are suggesting therapy, I hope you can see that.

Again, I'm talking about one comment, not the other therapy suggestions which were reasonable.
posted by caseofyou at 5:22 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also asking somebody to venture back to your place in the middle of a makeout session at night is pretty unequivocal code for sex.

Would it have been fine if you'd liked him? (That's my theory, which I've offered in my response to your post.) I sort of suspect the main reason you're hung up on etiquette is that you're not into him.

I do think calling people on not being feminist or evolved or actualized (whatever those mean) 'enough' isn't so helpful. No one's perfectly consistent, some of us are working things out, and it doesn't always happen in logical ways. All that stuff runs pretty deep. It's possible (common, maybe?) to intellectually accept feminism, yet struggle when it comes to getting your emotions to conform. But, if you feel it's an attack, flag, yes.

(fwiw my girlfriends and I are also in the habit of texting each other to make sure we each got home ok after a late night out.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


But . . . it feels like this MeTa is kind of a platform for you to argue with people about their advice, and that doesn't feel particularly good faithy to me.

Isn't that sort of the point of MeTa or at least one of the points....to have discussions about etiquette for advice giving on the forums?

So yeah, I wanted to have a debate about this particular issue that I see cropping up on askme. I just used that comment as an example to open up a larger discussion but people are focusing instead on the example I gave.
posted by caseofyou at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2014


Sometimes the mods delete stuff if it seems like there's just too much back-and-forth going on, or if there seems to be a real likelihood of such.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2014


so many people have personal agendas on metafilter that they project onto the asker.

This is undoubtedly true, and I feel that the mods are pretty good about deleting the most egregious examples of it. But reflect, OP, that it goes both ways, and it's possible on more than one occasion that the asker is projecting personal agendas, too. This especially applies in human relations questions (and on both counts is one of the reasons I don't really use ask.me that way, personally).

It's worth reflecting whatyou bring to your own questions, caseofyou - which have had a very similar tenor - and if you are getting anything useful from asking them, how they might be connected to your own worldview, and how efficacious internet strangers can be in helping.

Also, I really feel very strongly you should refrain from turning this thread into a referendum on your question and the responses it received - arguing back and forth is specifically not allowed in ask.me, and you should respect the mods decision on that by not doing it by proxy here.
posted by smoke at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think that comment was in perfectly good faith. Expectations on dates and expectations in relationships are good things to discuss in therapy. It's how you learn how to find the right people for you.

It seems like you're new in New York, but lots of people live in "rough" neighborhoods and most people expect that if you choose to live somewhere, you've decided it's safe enough for you. It's not expected that people should check up on you.

Personally, I think it's nice if dates ask if I got home OK, and I often ask them if they got home OK, but it's usually not a required security check. Also, it's usually just a low key excuse to show kindness and get conversation going for another date.
posted by sweetkid at 5:27 PM on April 27, 2014 [20 favorites]


Also, I really el very strongly you should refrain from turning this thread into a referendum on your question and the responses it received - arguing back and forth is specifically not allowed in ask.me, and you should respect the mods decision on that by not doing it by proxy here.

I think I made it pretty clear in the framing of this question that I wanted to open up a larger discussion.
posted by caseofyou at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2014


I'm honestly confused about what larger discussion you'd like to have.
posted by sweetkid at 5:29 PM on April 27, 2014 [19 favorites]


Would it have been fine if you'd liked him? (That's my theory, which I've offered in my response to your post.) I sort of suspect the main reason you're hung up on etiquette is that you're not into him.

I suspect I would have been disappointed but I would have probably let it slide.
posted by caseofyou at 5:30 PM on April 27, 2014


So look, I just went back to properly read your question with your comments here in mind.

It comes across as above-average judgmental, and several of those judgements have a heavily gendered aspect to them. Your fixation on the issue of his not having called to check in on you is strange and you put a kind of disproportionate emphasis on it -- and continue to do so here in this thread -- which is probably why so many people have commented on it. (As a woman who doesn't come from a "call to check in" dating culture, the emphasis was hard for me to understand, and that may have been true for other people as well.)

I'm not saying this to tell you you're a bad person with bad opinions; I believe you that these impressions aren't necessarily accurate as to what you're really like.

But for me anyway, that's how your question comes across. That's what's feeding some people's replies. I get that the dissonance between how you see yourself and how people are describing you in their answers isn't fun, but that's pretty much par for the course around here.

I honestly don't know what you're trying to get out of this thread, other that a venue to argue with other commenters.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:32 PM on April 27, 2014 [12 favorites]


Again, I'm talking about one comment, not the other therapy suggestions which were reasonable.

Well then I don't understand why you are getting so hung up on this one detail, taking it as far as a MeTa post?. That wasn't even the only reason that particular poster was suggesting therapy..
posted by wats at 5:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, does anyone else think there's a larger issue here, a Thing that answerers do that we can address as a site issue? Because so far this feels like a green thread by proxy, which is not super great.
posted by Diablevert at 5:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm honestly confused about what larger discussion you'd like to have.

Me too, unless it's an end run around the askme rules. That is what it looks like from here.
posted by winna at 5:34 PM on April 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


If it's not about that comment, or the other points that you're arguing about with people here, broader examples would be a better way to approach this.

There's also the metafilter truism that if you've repeated yourself three times and the other posters still don't agree with you, it's because they disagree--not because they don't understand. Rephrasing over and over again is really just a waste of energy, and isn't going to sway people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:34 PM on April 27, 2014 [16 favorites]


a Thing that answerers do that we can address as a site issue?

I'll try:

Do members often inject their own issues in their responses to the asker or get hung up on details of how a question was framed rather than giving the most relevant advice?

This is something I've noticed countless times on the site and probably even engaged in myself. I'm surprised nobody else sees it.
posted by caseofyou at 5:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rephrasing over and over again is really just a waste of energy, and isn't going to sway people.

By the same token, asking the same question over and over again and ignoring the responses isn't going to sway people.
posted by caseofyou at 5:37 PM on April 27, 2014


I've seen the issue you're raising caseofyou, but not in this particular case.
posted by sweetkid at 5:37 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


er, instance (so as not to confuse use of "case")
posted by sweetkid at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


In good faith metas which are genuinely not meant to be a rehash of one's deleted question, comment, or post, it is helpful to provide other examples of the situation you are claiming is widespread/newly prevalent/etc.
posted by elizardbits at 5:41 PM on April 27, 2014 [25 favorites]


Most people are drawing on their personal experiences when processing someone's askme question and deciding how best to answer. Ideally, they'll strike a balance between making use of parallels from their own lives and understanding that the OP is not actually a direct analog to their experience. Sometimes people don't quite strike that balance and bring more "baggage" to their answers than is strictly speaking helpful.

But man, that balance is REALLY subjective. And it seems pretty inevitable that stuff is going to get posted on AskMe that you're going to feel has some agenda or another.

I don't see any way of changing that fact, though. It's just how advice works.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:41 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


I didn't ask him to walk me home. I just expected him to check up on me and make sure I got home okay.

[emphasis mine]

Here's some very genuine, constructive, non-snarky advice, going forward: learn and practice asking what you want when it's important to you, instead of making these things "tests."

Seriously: next time, just ask: "Would you mind calling me a cab/walking me home/texting to make sure I get in OK?" Little steps like this may help you build the kinds of healthy relationships, with the kind of people, you say want.

You're 30 years old; knowing and asking for what you want is hot. Really. (Or at least, an enormous relief for most men who are done with manic pixie girl fantasies.)
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2014 [97 favorites]


Do members often inject their own issues in their responses to the asker or get hung up on details of how a question was framed rather than giving the most relevant advice?

I think members always respond from their own experiences and values. I think that's the benefit of this community, but when those values don't jive with those of the person asking the question, there's often some conflict.

I also think people answering relationshipfilter questions tend to take a tough love approach. They're also very often right, but it's a bad place to go if you're looking for affirmation or gentle agreement or even just a soft touch generally.

I still don't think that answer was a derail.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:43 PM on April 27, 2014 [8 favorites]


Sure, I've seen what you're talking about, caseofyou, but askme answerers are humans who can only draw on their own experiences. People who you ask for advice in real life do this too; it's literally impossible not to do. Most people know to accept advice in that light - that the advisee is coming to the conversation with a point of view which isn't your own. That's the point of advice - to get other points of view.

So, I think what I'm getting at is that this is a feature, not a bug, and...man, exactly what Narrative Priorities said, on preview, but since you wanted people to weigh in, here's another vote for "this is a thing that happens, but it is not a problem."

That all said, I'm not reading that comment the way you are. I think you might benefit from stepping away from both threads for a while.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:44 PM on April 27, 2014 [13 favorites]


Most people are drawing on their personal experiences when processing someone's askme question and deciding how best to answer. Ideally, they'll strike a balance between making use of parallels from their own lives and understanding that the OP is not actually a direct analog to their experience. Sometimes people don't quite strike that balance and bring more "baggage" to their answers that is strictly speaking helpful.

But man, that balance is REALLY subjective. And it seems pretty inevitable that stuff is going to get posted on AskMe that you're going to feel has some agenda or another.

I don't see any way of changing that fact, though. It's just how advice works.


I agree with this but I also notice a pile on or group think effect that is less common when I'm just having a friendly debate in real life with friends or strangers.
posted by caseofyou at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2014


Do members often inject their own issues in their responses to the asker or get hung up on details of how a question was framed rather than giving the most relevant advice?

Yes. But this is not the case with your question. To me this was a case of The Asker not liking the answers they were getting.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:46 PM on April 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yes. But this is not the case with your question. To me this was a case of The Asker not liking the answers they were getting.

Are you reading my responses? I said I took issue with one question. I've probably repeated this five times in this thread. I really did appreciate the other responses I received.
posted by caseofyou at 5:48 PM on April 27, 2014


I also notice a pile on or group think effect that is less common when I'm just having a friendly debate in real life with friends or strangers.

In real life conversations you can hear the tone of voice and see the facial expressions and body language. I refer you back to my previous comment above.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:48 PM on April 27, 2014


Well, if you're taking with a group of friends, they know you. If they're strangers, they're getting more of a sense of you as a person because they're interacting with you in person. And in either case, you'll be taking with a maximum of ten people as normal life conversations tend to be petty small in scale. As opposed to MeFi, an internet site with thousand of active users and dozens of participants in an average thread.

Also, you know...text! There's a reason why people get into fights on Facebook -- even with friends and relatives -- that they would never engage in in person.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:50 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


Are you reading my responses? I said I took issue with one question. I've probably repeated this five times in this thread.

Taking issue with it doesn't mean it was said in bad faith or projecting the person's own issues, which is the position you're taking here.

It's like the only right answer you want to see here is everyone saying, "you're right, the guy was wrong for not checking up on you because you live in a rough neighborhood, and the answer suggesting you discuss this expectation in therapy was clearly snarking."
posted by sweetkid at 5:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


If you're asking for advice on the internet, the only thing advice-givers have to work with are your words and their own experiences. What else are you expecting them to use to help you? I'm not understanding what exactly you expect should be happening that's not happening.
posted by jaguar at 5:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


I agree with this but I also notice a pile on or group think effect that is less common when I'm just having a friendly debate in real life with friends or strangers.


Are you reading my responses? I said I took issue with one question. I've probably repeated this five times in this thread. I really did appreciate the other responses I received.

So were you feeling piled-on, or not? You're simultaneously arguing against "group think", AND just one singular comment? I don't see how it is possible to do both in this instance.

Look, we don't know you, and you don't know us either. You asked anonymous strangers for internet advice. Maybe next time bring it up in a friendly context in real life if that's the type of back-and-forth you are looking for.
posted by wats at 5:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


caseofyou, I'm not sure if you realize how aggressive you're coming across here. From the framing of the meta, to your numerous answers nitpicking others' responses, to your repeated demands for people talk about only this or only that - it's hard to read all of this and see that you're acting in good faith. People are trying to answer the question as you stated it in the meta - now would probably be a good time to sit back and let the thread happen, rather than continuing the derail that you say you don't want.

Here, as in the askme, you can ignore people who you don't think are picking up on what you're saying. Being misinterpreted is not a huge offense; it happens.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:55 PM on April 27, 2014 [22 favorites]


Taking issue with it doesn't mean it was said in bad faith or projecting the person's own issues, which is the position you're taking here.

It's like the only right answer you want to see here is everyone saying, "you're right, the guy was wrong for not checking up on you because you live in a rough neighborhood, and the answer suggesting you discuss this expectation in therapy was clearly snarking."


I'm not sure what your point is here. I had an issue with Canadian's comment because it was clear she was disregarding what I had written about appreciating the other advice that I received.
posted by caseofyou at 5:56 PM on April 27, 2014


people are focusing instead on the example I gave.

Give more examples. It is very hard to extrapolate from one instance, and people may not agree that this is what you see it as.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:58 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


caseofyou, I'm not sure if you realize how aggressive you're coming across here. From the framing of the meta, to your numerous answers nitpicking others' responses, to your repeated demands for people talk about only this or only that - it's hard to read all of this and see that you're acting in good faith.

How is it aggressive to defend my point of view just as strongly as they're defending theirs?
posted by caseofyou at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2014


I'm confused. In your question you say "After I left, he sent me a message asking me to let him know when I got home safely". So your problem isn't that he doesn't do that because he obviously does. I'm unsure what the problem is.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:01 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Caseofyou, It sounds like you're having a debate now and not asking for advice.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 6:01 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


I dunno. It really feels like you're chafed because you feel that people are calling you anti-feminist (and no one did!) I'll come right out and say that I think your expectations around dating sound pretty conservative and/or traditional compared to, say, my own. And that's okay! But the people answering questions here are largely pretty progressive, so, say, calling your date's masculinity into question is likely to generate some commentary about that. If you don't want to deal with that, best to leave that stuff out or refrain from asking questions here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:05 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I have to say that I probably pretty much *exclusively* give advice based on my own experience. It hadn't really occurred to me that would be a negative. (I mean, I don't go out of my way to aggressively shove my opinion in somebody's face, but if they are asking, say, "do you know if dandelions are edible?" I will tell them, "why, yes! And they are most delicious when young and tender! I had some in a salad just last week. But don't forget: wash them well if you have a dog!" Because if I have no personal experience or opinions of dandelions, well, why bother answering the question?)

Oh, hey, look: I am doing it RIGHT NOW. Let me tell you about how I answer questions, with an example of how I answer questions...OOOHH, meta.
posted by instamatic at 6:05 PM on April 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


I dunno. It really feels like you're chafed because you feel that people are calling you anti-feminist (and no one did!) I'll come right out and say that I think your expectations around dating sound pretty conservative and/or traditional compared to, say, my own. And that's okay! But the people answering questions here are largely pretty progressive, so, say, calling your date's masculinity into question is likely to generate some commentary about that. If you don't want to deal with that, best to leave that stuff out or refrain from asking questions here.

You're right. My dating views are slightly traditional but would you suggest that those views are an "issue" that needs to be worked out in therapy just because they don't conform with your own? I doubt you would have made this suggestion.
posted by caseofyou at 6:07 PM on April 27, 2014




Taking issue with it doesn't mean it was said in bad faith or projecting the person's own issues, which is the position you're taking here.

It's like the only right answer you want to see here is everyone saying, "you're right, the guy was wrong for not checking up on you because you live in a rough neighborhood, and the answer suggesting you discuss this expectation in therapy was clearly snarking."


I'm not sure what your point is here.


Huh? This is my point: Taking issue with it doesn't mean it was said in bad faith or projecting the person's own issues, which is the position you're taking here.


That's in reference to the one answer you got that you think was in bad faith. It sounds like you only want one answer here. How could this possibly not be clear?
posted by sweetkid at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2014


1. You've responded 23 times in a thread that 81 comments (handcounted your comments, so sincere apologies if my count's off.)
2. Repeatedly lobbing questions at other people...
3. ...while not addressing requests for more examples - which would help you to get this meta back on track.

And, as I said in my post, which you quoted: framing, nitpicking, repeated demands.

Also - when you quote people, it's helpful to either put that text in italics or include some indicator that it's someone else's text. Otherwise, it's hard to tell when the quoted bit ends and your part starts.

You don't seem to be actually working towards a constructive conversation; instead, you're picking fights with a lot of participants, including me, so I'm going to return to this episode of Doctor Who and some strawberry cake.
posted by punchtothehead at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


I join those confused about whether this thread is really a discussion about a larger site issue, or caseofyou being pissed about one answer she didn't like.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:10 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


but would you suggest that those expectations are an "issue" that needs to be worked out in therapy

No. But it would help any relationships you begin to let them know what those expectations are so you don't get disappointed when they don't read your mind to your satisfaction.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you really want to have discussion about a larger issue on AskMe here? I'm not really getting that impression at all. I agree that snarky responses don't belong on AskMe. But the response you are taking issue with was truly not that snarky. In fact, the mods are usually pretty great about deleting shitty snark from AskMe, and most contributors are pretty good about not being snarky on AskMe. It's why AskMe is so great. I don't think the example you've sited in the OP is indicative of any kind of systemic problem, or is even a problematic response itself.

If you know your audience at all here, you'll know that there is a general idea of how gender roles ought to work in a relationship, namely that there ought not really be any, or at least none should be assumed unless those roles are sort of discussed up front and the people involved are cool with it. e.g., you should have said, "I feel more comfortable when the man in the relationship makes sure I get home okay" if that's what you wanted. You shouldn't expect these things. It is clear you have some kind of strange and antiquated notions of gender roles in relationships. Not a huge deal if that's your bag, as surely you can find a dude whose notions of gender roles match your own. But it also kind of came across in your question that you might think perhaps that what you are looking for in a man is not what you ought to be, which is why you got so many recommendations quite correctly advising you to work that out with a professional.

I mean, considering that you were taking umbrage with a guy because he asked you (politely and didn't push it) back to his place on the first date, didn't consistently make sure you were safe without being asked to, and was anxious about keeping his privilege in check (I mean you think the guy is un-masculine because he has guilt over his privilege), it's hardly an anomaly that someone brought up the antiquated nature of your expectations. I didn't think it was glib, and I don't think this is indicative of a broader issue that really needs community discussion.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [14 favorites]


In your question, you repeatedly paused in your description of events and of your feelings to ask for outside perspectives that didn't match your own. You also suggested that you thought your current approach toward dating might not be working very well.

For some people, working out a miss-match between "what I want to happen in my relationships" and "what keeps happening" is best done with a therapist.

That seems to be where people's answers are coming from.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


I join those confused about whether this thread is really a discussion about a larger site issue, or caseofyou being pissed about one answer she didn't like.

Well, I did want to have a conversation about large site issue but I guess steering the discussion in that direction was an act of aggression.
posted by caseofyou at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2014


You haven't steered in that direction, though, because you've only talked about you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:14 PM on April 27, 2014 [18 favorites]


In your question, you repeatedly paused in your description of events and of your feelings to ask for outside perspectives that didn't match your own. You also suggested that you thought your current approach toward dating might not be working very well.

For some people, working out a miss-match between "what I want to happen in my relationships" and "what keeps happening" is best done with a therapist.

That seems to be where people's answers are coming from.


Look at the same member's previous comment in the thread, simply "Therapy." Does that not strike you as glib/snarky? That's part of the reason I didn't take her next comment in good faith.
posted by caseofyou at 6:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I did want to have a conversation about large site issue but I guess steering the discussion in that direction was an act of aggression.

Here we can witness the aggression becoming passive.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:15 PM on April 27, 2014 [32 favorites]


OP, you're in a tough spot here because each time you reply it's easy to read it as yet more evidence that you're irritated and want to have an argument with people.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2014


I agree that "therapy" as one word answer by itself is not a great AskMe answer. However, it's still not snarky or in bad faith necessarily.
posted by sweetkid at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look at the same member's previous comment in the thread, simply "Therapy." Does that not strike you as glib/snarky? That's part of the reason I didn't take her next comment in good faith.

Well, not "simply". The member was replying to the part of your post that they quoted that said "What if the same traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?"

If you're attracted to things that are unhealthy, therapy is a perfectly legitimate response. It's not one you're obligated to take, but it's certainly not an unreasonably snarky suggestion.
posted by brentajones at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


You haven't steered in that direction, though, because you've only talked about you.

But people seem more interested in talking about my thread. I'm all for discussing this as a larger site issue and dropping my thread as a discussion topic. Or maybe this problem as been discussed before ad nauseum and people just aren't interested?
posted by caseofyou at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2014


Well, I did want to have a conversation about large site issue but I guess steering the discussion in that direction was an act of aggression.

Yes, I agree, you have responded quite aggressively to our requests that the discussion be about larger site issues. It's vexing to say the least.
posted by elizardbits at 6:18 PM on April 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


People are interested in the larger site issue, but could you point us to some examples so we're all on the same page as you?
posted by cadge at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2014


do you have some more examples of how this is a larger site issue?
posted by sweetkid at 6:19 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm all for discussing this as a larger site issue and dropping my thread as a discussion topic.

Then quit responding to the people that bring up your green question, and only respond to those comments which are talking about the larger issue and not you specifically.
posted by Diablevert at 6:21 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm all for discussing this as a larger site issue and dropping my thread as a discussion topic. Or maybe this problem as been discussed before ad nauseum and people just aren't interested?

Then WALK AWAY, please, from the discussion of your specific issue.

You emailed us, we emailed back, you posted this thread and you've been threadsitting it basically turning it into the AskMe thread only with less moderation. That's not okay and is not how MetaTalk is supposed to work. If you want to discuss a site issue, please go ahead but stop acting like it's a place for you to argue with people about your open AskMe question. It's not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:28 PM on April 27, 2014 [55 favorites]


That's not okay and is not how MetaTalk is supposed to work. If you want to discuss a site issue, please go ahead but stop acting like it's a place for you to argue with people about your open AskMe question. It's not.

This goes both ways. If people want the issue dropped they should also stop raising it.
posted by caseofyou at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


This goes both ways.

You need to stop responding if you want people to take you at your word when you say that you want to discuss a larger site issue. This is a thread you opened and you can decide how you respond to people.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:32 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


YOU ARE THE ONE WHO WILL NOT GIVE IT A FUCKING REST JESUS WEPT
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on April 27, 2014 [93 favorites]


okay, I'll take a shot at this topic. Yes, I think the comment caseofyou cited is glib:

Yes, IMO you are overreacting. It is not 1952; sex on the first date is no longer socially unacceptable and asking someone back to your place after the first date is far, far from "uncivil" (pressuring, on the other hand, is another thing entirely). And thanks to the wonderful things that happened in the 1970s, women are now seen as autonomous and independent and no longer in need of a man's protection, so I'm not sure why you think it is "uncivil" of him to not make sure you arrived home safely. These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy.

Here's why:

1. I'm assuming caseofyou is a woman and hasn't been living outside society, and therefore doesn't require someone to tell her what women are and are not: "Women are now seen as autonomous and independent....", not the least of which because this definition is not universal. Probably should be, but isn't. Even with the previous sentence where the person was saying that caseofyou was overreacting (which I thought was fine), that sentence almost suggests that the reader is 'schooling' caseofyou, which is grating.

2. "...and no longer in need of a man's protection..." I'm not sure that caseofyou specifically was saying anything other than wanting to know that this person (regardless of gender) was looking out for her. I don't really read 'protection' as if she expected him to track down the muggers if someone stole her bag. I interpreted her comment as more of a 'decent thing to do thing'. But I also think that people are pretty different on this score, because we have different values. For some folks, women or men, making sure someone got home okay is just the norm, for others, not so much. I guess I read this as a compatibility issue.

3. In general, I do see instances of folks being glib in posts - sometimes I don't think people are aware of it, in others I think people are careless, and kind of snarky. Which is a flag and move on situation. Could we all take an extra moment and consider our tone and intention? Certainly, but usually I just recognize that the person who is hitting a snarky tone just wasted their time posting, because the OP probably is just going to ignore them.

Not in regards to that comment in particular, but in general: I really haven't run into anyone whose knowledge-dropping is so platinum that the jewels of what they said could overcome the shitty way in which they said it. But being able to deliver uncomfortable truths in a way that a listener can hear them is the ability to balance clarity with compassion, which is a skill almost bordering on wizardry. Perhaps this is why so few of us (who all think we have something useful to say) can do it well consistently, and instead land somewhere along the lines of snarky character on tv sitcom.
posted by anitanita at 6:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [34 favorites]


Are you reading my responses? I said I took issue with one question. I've probably repeated this five times in this thread. I really did appreciate the other responses I received.

Then great! This is how AskMe works. And it worked for you. We don't need this meta to parse one answer that you found glib.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:40 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


You're right. My dating views are slightly traditional but would you suggest that those views are an "issue" that needs to be worked out in therapy just because they don't conform with your own? I doubt you would have made this suggestion.

Well, to be fair, you call his views which don't conform to yours "slips in civility." This is predicated on the notion that your views are the norm and his are somehow uncivil.

So I don't see it terribly out of line that others might suggest that having such a hardline view, particularly one you don't seem willing to tell a date about, and your question history here as absolutely reasons to go see a therapist. Not getting the results you want in life (even just in love) and not knowing why is a fairly common reason someone sits down on the couch.
posted by rutabega at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


(Sorry for having gotten into the question itself earlier.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:44 PM on April 27, 2014


I don't see this as a site issue.
posted by kinetic at 6:46 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


Common courtesies are often not as common as one assumes. Your experience is normal but not universal. No one is psychic.

Remembering those three things as often as possible has made me much happier over the years (not that the process is perfect, but still).
posted by rtha at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [16 favorites]


It seems like if somebody is honest about their problems it lays them open for attack because so many people have personal agendas on metafilter that they project onto the asker.

You posited his lack of a call to check on your return as a failing. Other people posited that this is not a failing. FWIW I agree with them, but regardless: you were not attacked. Another viewpoint contrary to your premise was offered, and while that may make you feel defensive, that does not make it an attack.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:20 PM on April 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd still like to see some of these wider site issues. As of yet, I haven't seen any additional examples. Until then, this looks like an AskMe by proxy.
posted by arcticseal at 7:20 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


You gave a lot of information and replied several times in the thread. I think you got answers you didn't like or understand, and, honestly, I don't think you are listening to the answers. I don't perceive snark or bad faith in the answers. Maybe the answers aren't all sugar-coated, but they are far from the harshest I've seen on Ask.me. Answerers should sincerely try to answer the question/ help the asker. I think that's what happened.
posted by theora55 at 7:21 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree with this but I also notice a pile on or group think effect
If this is your perception I can see why you're posting to defend yourself so much. But (1) it directly contradicts your repeated "I'm talking about one comment" assertion, and (2) it is not true, at least in the case of your Ask.
posted by caek at 7:28 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


As the original Ask is still active, could we please close this up? There is nothing being addressed that warrants a Meta.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:29 PM on April 27, 2014 [10 favorites]


^^
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2014


This is one of the worst MeTas I've seen in a while! Dang!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:45 PM on April 27, 2014 [34 favorites]


I would say that if you want professional-level advice, pay for it - find a therapist, preferably one who will tell you what you want to hear.

If you want the best advice that can be wrung from ordinary people and their experiences, people who care and want to help but are NOT paid professionals, post your question and then expect a variety of answers and advice, laced with personal anecdotes and biases, presented in a "glib" manner here and there, a "lecturing" manner here and there, a "snarky" manner rarely, but nearly always with good intentions. Choose from those responses what you wish and let the rest go.

... and let the rest go.
posted by aryma at 7:45 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]


Are you reading my responses? I said I took issue with one question. I've probably repeated this five times in this thread.

If I remember your deleted reply comment right, it said that many or most of the comments struck you as glib?
posted by salvia at 7:51 PM on April 27, 2014


> you're objecting to someone stating that they feel your expectations are outmoded enough that therapy might help.

My jaw has long since stopped droping at modern attitudes. But just for the record, caseofyou, I would have taken you home. If that felt to you uncomfortably like me angling for an invitation up to your room I would have been totally willing to drop you outside your building--but I would not have left until I had seen you go inside. And you would certainly have gotten a call from me that evening, for the ostensible purpose of saying I had a very nice time out with you and with the unannounced motive of being quite sure you were OK and had not met a mugger or rapist in the hall or found one in your apartment. Cheers, jf.
posted by jfuller at 7:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


so many people have personal agendas on metafilter that they project onto the asker.

You know, i read your post and about half the thread and was totally cocked and ready to post a big rant about how i agree with you because i've seen PLENTY of replies that got waved along as perfectly fine, which were totally agenda-y or felt like excuses to project a bunch of shit onto the person because they were even vaguely talking about something that person wanted to rant about, or brought up that thing in a specific way or whatever...

But you know, i feel like that's actually part of the VALUE of askme. At least when it comes to "what should i do about this?" or "Is my opinion on this wrong?" type of asks, that don't just have some definitive answers like the "what widget should i use to complete this task" type of questions.

Where i'm going with this, is that assuming you're posting in good faith then you're wanting the advice of essentially a platonic ideal sort of reasonable person. The thing is, since society and this site are an agregate you're going to get a bunch of people who have preloaded and freighted thoughts about various things.

The way i see it is, if you get one or two responses that rub you the wrong way? Meh. If it feels like the majority of people are doing it, then maybe you need to reexamine why that feels so wrong since you're probably swimming against the current.

Yes, there's edge cases when it comes to people making shitty assumptions based on common biases and such(The "girl taking up too much space" ask comes to mind, ugh) where it can get murky... sometimes, while people might not be the most gentle about doing it, you just kinda need to get smacked in the face with a Reality Stick.

From the clarifications you've posted throughout this thread, it seems that you took issue with one specific answer. I, myself have gotten very mad at certain answers to questions(some that weren't even mine, when i just find myself going THE GALL OF THAT FUCKER). But when it's just one, the best response is really to flag it and maybe even use the contact form and move on. Anything else is the road to misery.

When i started reading this is really expected it to be a situation where everyone sharted up a thread, or at least the vast majority of people. As it is, i don't see this as an awesome use of MeTa.

And that's coming from someone who has a track record of making stupid MeTas i regret later.
posted by emptythought at 8:05 PM on April 27, 2014 [6 favorites]


oh, and some introspection on "when to stop digging" would probably be in order here, jesus christ lmao
posted by emptythought at 8:05 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've looked at caseofyou's AskMe question history... and I don't think the posters in those threads are out of line, unreasonable, or glib for suggesting that she gets therapy.

And your professional credentials for making that diagnosis are...?
posted by nacho fries at 8:08 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the "broader issue," yes, i agree people inject their own agendas sometimes, but i don't agree this was an example of that (though I agree it was snarky). I can see why you might, i guess. What i don't know is why you care so much. I mean, one off-base comment in an entire Ask thread is a pretty good thread.
posted by salvia at 8:09 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


The resistance to therapy and the categorization of certain comments as "glib" has me wondering whether we're dealing with Tom Cruise here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]



And your professional credentials for making that diagnosis are...?


suggesting therapy is not a diagnosis nor is it pretending to be.
posted by sweetkid at 8:11 PM on April 27, 2014 [26 favorites]


You guys know you can stop, right?
posted by maryr at 8:22 PM on April 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


BUT WE ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN
posted by Sebmojo at 8:27 PM on April 27, 2014


OK, well, I just came in here to turn the lights off and close up, but I'll leave you be. Just keep in mind that tomorrow is a work day and the subway is going to stop running soon, so make sure everyone gets home safe, OK?
posted by maryr at 8:32 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


so just make sure get home safe, OK?

You're not going to text us to make sure?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:33 PM on April 27, 2014 [11 favorites]


No, I don't know your numbers.
posted by maryr at 8:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


BUT WE ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN

And isn't that what it's all about?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:43 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are thinking of the hokey-pokey.
posted by maryr at 8:47 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]


Are you saying Metafilter is not the hokey-pokey? Have I been doing this wrong all these years?
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: not the hokey-pokey
posted by Sebmojo at 8:59 PM on April 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Have I been doing this wrong all these years?

Yes. Try to be more civil.
posted by salvia at 9:10 PM on April 27, 2014


*stops shaking it all about*
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:14 PM on April 27, 2014 [12 favorites]


Can I just say that the ask polly advice column that got linked in that askmefi thread is fucking amazing and I am grateful to the OP for bringing it to my attention, however indirectly.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:34 PM on April 27, 2014 [9 favorites]


And your professional credentials for making that diagnosis are...?

You know what they call the thing you go to get diagnosis about mental or social issues is?
posted by Candleman at 10:00 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a long way from the question, but "It's not 1952" strikes me as nasty and unnecessary.

Count me among those who think that sort of tone, often enough served up by jbenben and others, is unnecessary and rude.
posted by ambient2 at 11:23 PM on April 27, 2014 [15 favorites]


The seemingly-constant response of 'therapy' isn't really a site issue, I don't think, even though it annoys me a tiny bit when it seems that it's given as an answer to pretty much every question that touches on relationships with people. I always just assume that it's a US thing, in that therapy appears to not have the stigma that it does in many cultures so it's quite normal to suggest even for seemingly minor issues. That doesn't make it glib or aggressive in any way, it's just people saying what they think will help. This can be a pretty snarky place and it's not somewhere (even on AskMe, where the niceness dial is turned up to 11) that is a good fit for people that are looking for someone to just agree with them. Overall, if you ask thousands of strangers for help with your social life, it's a pretty good bet you are going to get some answers you don't like. Call it tough love, call it different perspectives or whatever. When you ask a question, people will answer from their experiences and opinions. That's kind of the point. Nothing broken there.
posted by dg at 1:46 AM on April 28, 2014


the people answering questions here are largely pretty progressive, so, say, calling your date's masculinity into question is likely to generate some commentary about that. If you don't want to deal with that, best to leave that stuff out or refrain from asking questions here.

I think this might be some of what the OP is getting at. I think she was saying she was fine with getting suggestions for therapy about her relationship issues in general, but suggestions for therapy to deal with her notion of civility were somehow pushing an agenda and not really about help with this particular question. (I'm not saying if it was helpful or not, just that I think that's what caseofyou felt about it.) If you're trying to post a question and the choice is to either leave some facts out that you know you're going to get a lecture on, or not ask questions at all, then it's maybe not giving people room to be totally honest in their posts.

Having said that, I don't see any way to stop people doing it - apart from people trying to take a moment before answering to ask themselves if they're trying to help or make sure the asker knows The Truth about a certain element of their question - because it's kind of impossible for people not to bring their own experiences and beliefs to bear. And I do think people are genuinely trying to be helpful in the most part. So "take the answers that are helpful to you and leave the ones that are not" still seems like the best advice, even if some of the answers you don't like make you sting a little.


Oh, and it's the "Okey Cokey" over here. Check your Pokey privilege
posted by billiebee at 2:56 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't like the pile-on that happened here. It's not cool. The community can do better.

The quoted comment, I can see why someone with a relatively more "agricultural-traditional" value system would experience it as glib advice. And I can see why in a different context, say between friends, the same response would be experienced as something amiable and even slightly humorous.

It's not that hard to imagine both sides.

These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy.

And just to emphasize, as someone who has had therapy, I wouldn't react well to hearing advice like this at all. There's a lot of vulnerability involved already. Which to me means there's a fine line between being encouraging and supportive, versus presuming to know what constitutes therapeutic work. Simply, wording is critical.
posted by polymodus at 3:07 AM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


The thread title is "snarky agenda driven derails on askme" and yet, despite "noticing this trend for a long time" only one example is given which happens to be the one in which the OP didn't feel they were getting the answers they were entitled to.

I can see no evidence in that thread of snark, agendas or derailing. A question was asked, answers were given, many of them thoughtful and constructive.

I see no evidence in this thread of a "pile-on".

The community is doing fine, in both threads.
posted by epo at 4:02 AM on April 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


I think in many AskMe contexts you could replace the advice for "therapy" with "taking a look at oneself and examining/questioning how certain things are working out" without much loss of meaning. (If you can think of a pithier phrase, a greasemonkey script might be in order.)

In any case, a more charitable reading of the advice in question isn't "you should get therapy to deal with your outdated gender role values" but rather "therapy might help you work out why you're having trouble thinking through how different people's cultural values intersect, seeing things from others' perspectives, etc." (But so could reading AskMe.)

(I mean, doesn't it seem likely that he didn't check in after the second date because he picked up on the lack of interest the OP described? For all we know, he shares her assumption that safety check-ins are expected -- though who knows; this definitely isn't a universal value among New Yorkers -- but that value was overridden by a concern that a 2AM text message might come off as a nuisance by someone who doesn't seem excited to see him again. After all, the check-in after the first date was clearly flirting.)
posted by nobody at 4:03 AM on April 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


3. In general, I do see instances of folks being glib in posts - sometimes I don't think people are aware of it, in others I think people are careless, and kind of snarky. Which is a flag and move on situation. Could we all take an extra moment and consider our tone and intention? Certainly, but usually I just recognize that the person who is hitting a snarky tone just wasted their time posting, because the OP probably is just going to ignore them.

Right and I think in a lot of those cases the responder is more interested in crowd approval than in actually helping the Asker.
posted by caseofyou at 4:26 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Right and I think in a lot of those cases the responder is more interested in crowd approval than in actually helping the Asker.

Based on what evidence? Are you a mind- and motivation-reader?
posted by rutabega at 4:27 AM on April 28, 2014


"The wise person can never be offended - for the truth can never offend, lies are beneath notice and the wise person knows the difference." I read that a long time ago and have lived by it ever since.

Eugh, reads like a maxim for spade-calling blowhards.

The truth can hurt, and the wise person can be offended that someone would willfully hurt them rather than choosing their words with consideration and care.
posted by bonaldi at 4:43 AM on April 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


Right and I think in a lot of those cases the responder is more interested in crowd approval than in actually helping the Asker.

Based on what evidence? Are you a mind- and motivation-reader?


Based on my giving them the benefit of the doubt that they'd have enough sense to realize soaking your advice in snark isn't a very effective way of helping people.
posted by caseofyou at 4:47 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Caseofyou, can you please respond to the request that you provide some other examples of the glib, derailing, lecturing statements that you think are an issue in AskMe?
posted by amro at 4:54 AM on April 28, 2014


Okay, here's another example of unnecessary snark from the same thread.

Yikes. For his sake, let him go, you're clearly not feeling the chemistry and you're in "how much toying will he take" mode. Don't mention his "breadth" if you went on to make out with him that same night without bringing it up beforehand. If his "breadth" bothers you regularly, you should have a separate conversation about it.

For your sake, work on figuring out why you're so energized by obsessive attention (see: your professed taste in men, your multiple unsuccessful promises to stop thread sitting here) and invest your efforts in finding a healthy direction for that energy.


Yes, I'm a terrible speller but is picking on a spelling error I made really going to make me more likely to consider this person's point of view? I guess I just don't understand why people sprinkle in condescending little barbs when they're giving advice.
posted by caseofyou at 4:55 AM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


Caseofyou, can you please respond to the request that you provide some other examples of the glib, derailing, lecturing statements that you think are an issue in AskMe?

See above.
posted by caseofyou at 4:55 AM on April 28, 2014


Any examples from posts that aren't yours? I think you may be too invested in your own posts and their responses to see them objectively.
posted by amro at 4:59 AM on April 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


And I agree, picking on your spelling was unnecessary. However, Metafilter in general has a tradition of high standards for grammar and spelling.
posted by amro at 5:01 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Any examples from posts that aren't yours? I think you may be too invested in your own posts and their responses to see them objectively.

I'm quoting my thread because I haven't been lurking on the site in a few weeks so my memory of other specific examples is foggy, but I know I've seen it on here many times.
posted by caseofyou at 5:01 AM on April 28, 2014


In the future, if you're going to post a Metatalk about an issue that you think is site wide, it would really help (both in terms of illustrating the issue and to show your own credibility) to provide examples from posts other than your own.
posted by amro at 5:04 AM on April 28, 2014 [25 favorites]


In the future, if you're going to post a Metatalk about an issue that you think is site wide, it would really help (both in terms of illustrating the issue and to show your own credibility) to provide examples from posts other than your own.


I agree that it would have been helpful if I had other examples, but I'm also wondering if it's even necessary to give examples when it's not about getting people to see something exists but more about discussing how to solve or address a problem. I sort of assumed that the snark in askmes was a thing everybody was aware of because it seems to be so commonplace.
posted by caseofyou at 5:13 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, caseofyou, you flagged that comment and I deleted because, yes, harping on spelling errors and similar small mistakes to embarrass someone is totally out of line. But we also discourage both flagging something for deletion and then using it as an example for discussion after it's been deleted. Typically we do not delete a comment once it's been introduced for discussion in Metatalk.

If you do want to discuss this as a larger issue, that's fine, but you continue to focus on your dissatisfaction with answers to your question, which isn't great as a continuing thing here. It seems that some answers are bothering you a lot, and when this happens, and the OP can't really just concentrate on the responses they find helpful, I usually advise them to just leave the thread, remove it from recent activity and ignore if it's not helping and it's getting under their skin.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:14 AM on April 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


I agree that it would have been helpful if I had other examples, but I'm also wondering if it's even necessary to give examples when it's not about getting people to see something exists but more about discussing how to solve or address a problem. I sort of assumed that the snark in askmes was a thing everybody was aware of because it seems to be so commonplace.

AskMe is the least snarky site of its kind on the internet, in my experience. This is in part due to the diligent moderation, but also a reflection of the culture here. I don't see it as an issue. Of course, that's just one person's opinion.
posted by amro at 5:20 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


agree that it would have been helpful if I had other examples,

As far as I can tell, you haven't given one example. Advice you don't like isn't a "derail". There was a lot of advice in that thread, the majority of it didn't give you the answer you seem to want, but most of it did not take the tone of this post, so there was no "derail".

Also, it really wasn't that snarky. While you described your dating views as "slightly traditional", others would consider them retrograde and byzantine. If you didn't want to countenance the possibility that your exepectations are causing some of your woes, you probably shouldn't have asked the question, but you really shouldn't have asked this: "Am I overreacting to these slips?"

I guess you were expecting, at most, someone to say "yeah, give him a break". But a lot of people will say that those aren't slips, and you need to reconsider. So, again, we have an issue with your expectations, this time it's about how others should answer your question. This is an issue with your interaction with the site, rather than some pervasive problem with others on the site.
posted by spaltavian at 5:30 AM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Speaking to the larger issue, I think sometimes when people are responding to threads they have a level of detachment as if they are watching a b horror movie and making sarcastic comments to impress their friends. If they decide the OP is in some way un-self-aware or beneath their moral standards (an easy target), they start treating that person's life like a thing to be gawked at, and they take the opportunity to prove their superiority. People forget that it's not a movie, it's somebody's life and the asker often feels some vulnerability in exposing themselves.

This isn't about the comments in my thread which were pretty tame, but I have seen instances where people have made very hurtful comments to askers under the guise of tough love.
posted by caseofyou at 5:32 AM on April 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


People forget that it's not a movie, it's somebody's life and the asker often feels some vulnerability in exposing themselves.

With all due respect, and with no snark intended, it might be worth considering that the flip-side of that is when it's your own life you are so heavily invested that it can be hard to remain objective. While you may have intended this Meta as a dispassionate look at site behaviour it seems that you are too involved to sit back and let people have the actual discussion you're claiming you would like to see. If you don't want it to be a referendum on your particular AskMe it might be better to take some time out and let the thread breathe without you.
posted by billiebee at 5:38 AM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


With all due respect, and with no snark intended, it might be worth considering that the flip-side of that is when it's your own life you are so heavily invested that it can be hard to remain objective. While you may have intended this Meta as a dispassionate look at site behaviour it seems that you are too involved to sit back and let people have the actual discussion you're claiming you would like to see. If you don't want it to be a referendum on your particular AskMe it might be better to take some time out and let the thread breathe without you.

What I wrote didn't occur in my thread. I explicitly said that. It seems like even when I try to discuss the larger issue here, my comments aren't being taken in good faith.
posted by caseofyou at 5:43 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think OP is out of line in suggesting that sometimes askme answers are sometimes unnecessarily snarky. It's true, and it's a problem that requires constant moderation. This is actually the first MeTa thread I've seen where people are outright denying that Askme can be a bit condescending at times, so i think people are responding more to the OP's approach to the topic rather than their actual complaint.

That said, like all human interaction, you've got to take the bad in order to get to the good, especially in human relations questions which is basically just an open call for people to pick apart your story and then share a little of their own story.

basically, caseofyou, I agree that we can be assholes sometimes. We can be pretty smart too. If an answer offends you, feel free to ignore it and flag it if it's egregious, but also spend some time thinking about why the answers you are getting may have a tone that you don't like.
posted by Think_Long at 5:46 AM on April 28, 2014 [18 favorites]


While I'm aware that there is snark in some AskMe answers, I don't agree that there's really a problem here, as the worst cases get flagged and deleted by the mods pretty regularly (apparently that even happened to the remark you were using as your second example just now). I think the reason people keep asking you to provide additional examples has a lot to do with that - most of the time, shitty or snarky behavior already DOES get flagged and removed in AskMe. Yes, I can think of specific posters who tend to skew towards a tone they'd probably describe as "tough love," but again, I think the worst cases get deleted 99% of the time and the remaining ones read as pretty mild. Beyond the deletion/moderation that already occurs, what would you like to see happen here?

I realize that the specific comment you opened this with did not get removed, and I understand it felt snarky to you, but I also think there's reasonable agreement over whether or not it was snarky. It sucks when an answer to your question is upsetting, but this is really sounding so much more like you wanting validation of your reaction to one specific answer than like a sincere request to talk about a site-wide problem. On preview it looks like you're saying that the examples in your thread were pretty tame; okay, can you show us a non-deleted example from another thread that is NOT tame? Even if you've not been reading the site lately, maybe you could skim back through recent questions to find some examples that support your point?

Failing that, I guess my response to this as a sitewide issue is pretty much what I said right at the start of this comment.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:46 AM on April 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I stopped reading half a very long page ago because christ, but caseofyou, I agree.
I think the one comment merely saying "therapy" was snarky and uncalled for and really not the first time ive seen people jump to therapy as a solution.
You say that a lot of the suggestions for you to seek help, you took in your stride. I have, however, experienced and read "Get therapy" when the OP has asked one innocent question about completely normal conflicting human emotions.

It is an absurd conclusion to draw and pretty offensive. That said, you cant do much about it and yeah, you just have to ignore what is ridiculous and take whats awesome (which is most of it).
posted by DeadFlagBlues at 5:50 AM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think part of the problem here is that what you read as "snarky" and metafilter-specific, a large proportion of people would interpret as part of human nature. It's not a systemic problem within askme, it's a systemic problem within people at large. Yes, perhaps the people answering human relations questions could do with more empathy and gentleness, but the exact same can be said for strangers in public when someone is visibly upset, or in nearly any interaction with each other where one person is in a position of weakness.

AskMe is honestly one of the nicest places of its type on the internet - perhaps you have primarily experienced online interactions in other forums where people don't put themselves in need of anything apart from friendly conversation, so it's maybe more shocking to you than it is to others, and that's where some of the friction is coming from? Or maybe you've spent time on focused debates about issues, where there are winners and losers, and you're seeing each interaction here as a fight to be won?

(AskMe works best when the asker steps back and lets the answers come in, and then gathers the advice that's helpful and ignores the advice that isn't. If you're trying to make the people who give bad advice feel like they've lost an argument, you come up against the additional barrier that they weren't having an argument in the first place.)

Like, okay, I get that you're upset on behalf of the askers who have been snarked at. But AskMe's standards are incredibly high, and almost entirely culturally enforced. To up those standards would ask a near-professional level of empathy and patience from every single person answering a human relations question. We're not all members of clergy or licensed therapists - that's why people are always suggesting them as the next step of assistance! There's going to be one asshole in any given group. That's not MeFi, that's people.

Some, if not all of the roughness going on in your question comes from clashing cultural expectations. It seems like you're coming from a culture where truths are never unvarnished, and if they are it is shocking, except maybe in a particular mode of debate-type discourse. Much of AskMe's strength comes from the sheer variety of different people willing to genuinely be concerned with the minute problems of others. We've got to strike a balance between overwhelming niceness and actual ability to answer questions. Sometimes that balance isn't successfully struck. The amount of energy you've expended being concerned about this feels out of proportion (to me) to the prevalence of the issue.
posted by Mizu at 5:55 AM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've followed your askme question history and I think even posted in one of them with advice, caseofyou, and when I saw your latest one I felt a bit of a sink in my stomach. What you're interpreting as gawking or snark might be people trying to get you to see that multiple looong askme questions about similar topics are indicative of personal problems that go beyond the scope of anonymous internet advice. Literally, "therapy" is a perfectly decent response to someone who very obviously has therapy-level problems. An intervention seems mean to the addict. A wake-up call can seem snarky to the unself-aware.
posted by mymbleth at 5:58 AM on April 28, 2014 [24 favorites]


I used to be annoyed by the constant suggestions for therapy in AskMe, too, til I realized I was buying into the stigma attached to it. I think many people assume therapy is only for people whose lives are out of control, but I've learned therapy can be perfectly acceptable for dealing with, yes, normal human conflicting emotions. Especially if patterns are emerging.

Turning to a professional can be the best solution, whether it's a personal trainer, realtor, or therapist.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:02 AM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


If you're a defensive person, any response to a question is going to seem snarky and agenda seeking, if it doesn't fit in with the agenda you, yourself are running.

If an asker has a history of asking the same question repeatedly, with little variations on a theme, it's easy for one to fall into the trap of figuratively giving an asker a slap up side the head.

If the asker is also engaged in "Yes, but" in threadsitting, it can rile we already snarky types to heightened snarky replies.

When I feel myself going to that place, I absent myself from the dialog, because it isn't a dialog, it's a soliloquy. It's self-pity seeking approval and if I've previously taken the time to thoughtfully answer someone's question, and that advice is repeatedly rebutted and instead is a version of, "I've tried nothing and I'm all out of ideas." Then it's time to stop beating one's head against the wall.

I will challenge an asker, if you find yourself continuing to have problems with relationships, and no matter what you do, these problems plague you, then the common denomenator is you....not them. It may be that you're not ready for a relationship. It may be that you have issues that need to be resolved before getting into a relationship. Who knows?

At the end of the day, we're assholes on the internet, and you shouldn't invest so much into what we think. We're not a therapist, we're not your daddy, we're no more than a community of people who have opinions.

As my Dad once said, "if a man calls you an ass, deck him. If two men call you an ass, buy a saddle."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:08 AM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


And your professional credentials for making that diagnosis are...?
nacho fries, Ask.me is not staffed by professionals; it's a community of people giving answers.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think wanting someone to observe a common courtesy is expecting too much. You could say this about any number of common courtesies. As I said earlier, I've never had someone not check up on me when I've gone home late to a rough neighborhood. I also don't see how this makes me anti-feminist given that I perform the same courtesy with friends. It's not a gender issue, and the fact that people are turning it into one is what makes me feel that they're pushing an agenda.

Going back the common courtesy issue and your frustration with people's responses to your "expectations" of follow-up ... you do seem especially frustrated with people's responses. But you haven't parsed that most people simply seem to be advocating your communication of those expectations, since individuals do not all live with the same "expectations." For example, in my 20s, I lived alone in what some might term a "rough" neighborhood in Brooklyn, bartended in a not particularly safe section of the LES, and regularly went to a speakeasy in Red Hook almost every Friday after my bartending shift, and then home. Nobody every called me on the phone. I did have a mobile (and a landline at my apartment) but it had never occurred to me.

Point being, if I had thought that calling me (or me calling the other person) would be "common courtesy," I would have asked for that. Your assumptions of what is "common courtesy" and complaints about noncompliance seem to be what many people are responding to. Please remember that we are all humans, from different families, backgrounds, and experiences, and that in general, making assumptions without asking for what you feel is necessary is not going to play the way you think it should.
posted by miss tea at 6:25 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


That someone has slight different expectations about dating etiquette than you probably means that they come from a somewhat different background from yours. It is not an indication of mental illness. Implying that it is pretty insulting in this context and totally unhelpful.*

If the OP actually raised the issue with her therapist, the response would likely be: 'That seems perfectly reasonable. Why do you think it's a problem?'

* To explain a little bit: It implies that the answerer saying this thinks that people aren't part of her social circle and don't have the exact same expectations about etiquette 'have mental problems', and the advice to take it up with your therapist in this context comes across as condescending or contemptuous rather than helpful, and not even as something intended seriously.
posted by nangar at 6:34 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing a lot more cranky back and forth than I am any kind of general site discussion. I'd vote for closing it down if I had a vote.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:42 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


nangar, that is not why threapy was suggested. The first mention of therapy was in direct response to this question from caseofyou:

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?

Therapy seems like a pretty reasonable suggestion to this question, which is not at all "slight different expectations about dating etiquette". If someone keeps doing the same harmful thing over and over, but doesn't know how to stop, outside help makes sense.

Further, therapy was suggsted not because she has different expectations, but because she doesn't seem to know how to communicate them, and in fact, doesn't seem to understand how other people don't share them.

I also see therapy suggestion because careofyou seemingly can't just let herself not be attracted to some guy; rather, she needs to blow up a bunch of small or minor issues into major defects in order to have "approval" to not like a guy. Why she just can't trust her feelings is probably related to why she seems to fall for assholes, all of which could be helped by therapy.
posted by spaltavian at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


If I had made a MetaTalk post for every AskMe response I thought was snarky, I'd probably have been kicked off the site by now. I agree with you - people don't take enough care, want to be snarky, or have tone problems in answers, frequently. I had a teensy bit of eyerolling at my latest innocuous "size of parties in Wayne Manor" question yesterday, and that question was not at all personal!

I'm sorry this one response rubbed you the wrong way, though, honestly. That's unfortunately how life (and the internet) goes. At least here you'll also get helpful responses and not the usual hatred and cruelty of the internet at large. Skip the answers that feel unhelpful or feel aggressive, and you'll be better off.
posted by agregoli at 6:49 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had a teensy bit of eyerolling at my latest innocuous "size of parties in Wayne Manor" question yesterday, and that question was not at all personal!

Were any answers deleted? I'm not seeing any eyerolling.
posted by zamboni at 7:10 AM on April 28, 2014


> nangar, that is not why threapy was suggested. The first mention of therapy was in direct response to this question from caseofyou:

But what if the kind of traits that give me butterflies are unhealthy?


I was referring to this comment.
posted by nangar at 7:15 AM on April 28, 2014


This all reminds me of how, a few years ago, a person of my acquaintance decided to use Ask for relationshipfilter. She was dating someone who I was almost sure was cheating on her, and I danced around that topic with her several times. Of course, everyone on metafilter picked up on it and was all DTMFA and "therapy!" She was really, really mad about how harsh and "mean" the community was and didn't take any of the advice. And stopped visiting the site.

But they were right. A few months' time revealed that, of course.

In a way, it's a tone problem. We're harsh. And sometimes people get offended and don't take the advice. Which sucks, because they could be helped, maybe (though I think often people don't want to be helped, like in my friend's case--she wanted to be comforted or affirmed and we're terrible at that). But it's also a laser-like ability to cut through bullshit. Which is good.

I dunno.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:20 AM on April 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


(The eyerolling I was speaking of was my own. No answers were deleted that I know about)
posted by agregoli at 7:22 AM on April 28, 2014


Speaking to the larger issue, I think sometimes when people are responding to threads they have a level of detachment as if they are watching a b horror movie and making sarcastic comments to impress their friends. If they decide the OP is in some way un-self-aware or beneath their moral standards (an easy target), they start treating that person's life like a thing to be gawked at, and they take the opportunity to prove their superiority. People forget that it's not a movie, it's somebody's life and the asker often feels some vulnerability in exposing themselves.

This isn't about the comments in my thread which were pretty tame, but I have seen instances where people have made very hurtful comments to askers under the guise of tough love.


Consider again the possibility that your experience and assumptions are not necessarily the same as everyone else's. Some people need and/or want tough love. Some people associate tough love with change and progress because that's their experience with it.

In my life, I have a couple of friends who are painfully un-self-aware. These people have the same complaints over and over again and are baffled why it is that things never change. The only way to get them to notice something is to hit them over the head with a shovel.

I'd like to say that I'm above it, but it took the same kind of approach (my sisters talking bluntly to my mother in front of me about how constant jumping from one relationship to another was going to leave me sad and alone some day soon) to make me realize I needed therapy. It turns out I had un-diagnosed depression, ADD and some weird blind spots about myself, despite being really self-aware in most places. A bunch of friends saw what my sisters did but didn't say anything because they didn't want to hurt me.

You want people to give others the benefit of the doubt - but perhaps those giving tough love are not at all operating under the assumptions you think they are. Give them the benefit of the doubt. If you're coming to a group of strangers on the internet for advice about someone they don't even know, people are going to fill in all kinds of gaps they think you might be missing, ranging from obscure to oblivious.

If what you want is more personalized, careful, professional advice - this is again what a therapist is really great at.
posted by rutabega at 7:23 AM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Another thing with relationship AskMes is that people will start responding to some extent from the point of view of of the other party or parties. They are not here to speak for themselves and I think there is an element of sticking up for them. In therapy, you ordinarily don't get that so much; the therapist will try to bring you back to what is going on with YOU. If you're just talking with friends, it's more of a support situation so they are more likely to just take your side, although some will try to triangulate. ("I don't know, maybe he was just trying to...") But here it sometimes seems to me almost like the relationship problem is being replicated and acted out again, and I definitely get that feeling with regard to this question.

For what it's worth, I looked at your question shortly after it was posted. Had I responded, it would have been from a place of sympathy with the guy. (OMG, she stood him up four times?) So, I didn't.
posted by BibiRose at 7:42 AM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yes, it was bratty, and I've seen it myself. It's not just cultural mismatch, it's people actively trying to put their own culture on the Asker in this sort of "My way is better than your way and your way should die in fire" thing. I remember seeing the same thing on the post where a guy asked of polite ways he could make it easier when he got up for ladies on the bus, and got inundated with a lot of "why would you get up for ladies, that's for chauvinists!" type comments.

There's a difference between tough love and "I'm not going to answer your question with the constraints you gave because I hate your cultural assumptions."
posted by corb at 7:43 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree that it would have been helpful if I had other examples, but I'm also wondering if it's even necessary to give examples when it's not about getting people to see something exists but more about discussing how to solve or address a problem.

The tricky thing here is that it is important to provide examples so you can establish the preliminary issue of whether folks agree or not with the premise that x, y, or z is the problem. "Here's four or five other comments in other asks that fit the same mold" is helpful because then everybody can look at those and see if they're seeing what you're seeing.

If they are seeing it, everybody can have a conversation about the general problem with specific examples to work from and can do some of that "how to solve or address a problem" thing from a basis of agreeing on what the problem is.

If they aren't seeing it, that suggests it's more of a personal preference/annoyance thing, which is fine because we've all got 'em but does not lend itself to a discussion about how to solve the problem not actually in evidence.

I appreciate that you didn't have examples outside your own thread ready to hand, but that's not an argument for making a metatalk post without them, it's an argument for waiting on the metatalk post until you do. There was no time crunch here, no urgency to raising the general question if it's independent of whatever frustration you were feeling about your own specific question. Sometimes the thing to do is just wait.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:44 AM on April 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


For example, there's a difference between saying, "Your date may think that given the current standards of female independence, there is no need to XYZ" and between saying "This isn't the 1950s."
posted by corb at 7:44 AM on April 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


nangar: I was referring to this comment.

The more I look at that comment, the more I think what I tentatively noted as a more charitable reading of it in the middle paragraph here was in fact its primary intended meaning: Not therapy to "fix" one's assumptions about gender norms but therapy to help work through not thus far creating mental models for those around you that take into account their potentially different cultural expectations (which is pretty much what's causing all the back-and-forth strife in this thread now as well, no?).

(And to clarify, that doesn't mean you have to share their cultural values, of course, just that it makes life a whole lot more difficult -- especially in a big city -- if you're not able to accept and incorporate into your worldview the fact that pretty much any individual cultural norm you ascribe to cannot be assumed to be held by any particular person you meet.)
posted by nobody at 7:49 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


corb: “For example, there's a difference between saying, 'Your date may think that given the current standards of female independence, there is no need to XYZ' and between saying 'This isn't the 1950s.'”

I don't think there's much difference in this case, corb. The question specifically asked about the "current standards of female independence" by asking if she was overreacting. "This isn't the 1950s" is a valid answer to the question "what are the standards of human interaction today?"
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well I, for one, think that you are ALL mistaken, and your egregious and hateful errors can only contribute to the inevitable destruction of our society.

The REAL problem here is that MeFi is not glib, derailing and offhand ENOUGH. Let's examine each of these words in turn, to see some common definitions thereof which you are all hopelessly ignoring.

Glib: "Performed with a natural, offhand ease."
Derail: "To come or bring to a sudden halt."
Offhand: "Without preparation or forethought; extemporaneously."

(Thanks to www.thefreedictionary.com).

So, this post is REALLY suggesting that those who can, quite naturally and without onerous preparation, stop a questioner's anxious inquiry (e.g. by providing fulsome answers to the relevant perplexing situation), should be executed by MeFiring squad.

That suggestion, which you have all unthinkingly accepted, would make truth a prisoner, and shoot at her or his face bullets of horror, while he or she smokes her last cigarette of courage and wears a blindfold of ... I dunno, sassyness, or something.

Because, isn't the REAL problem with MeFi actually people losing all control of their metaphors - just as an intelligent space-catcus might lose a game of anti-gravity Ludo? If I've said it once, I've said it seventeen million times: it's just a brunnette eggplant rising in the West over twelve jittering ant-guitarists singing blue raindrops up Jesus Christ's left nostril.

So, in summary: I agree with you all, and the quidnunc kid should be executed by firing squad. Thanks.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:50 AM on April 28, 2014 [22 favorites]


Shoot #1 the quidnunc kid?
posted by rtha at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


caseofyou: "Do members often inject their own issues in their responses to the asker

Yes. But this may be unavoidable and pure objectivity is probably an unattainable ideal. AskMe's value is in people answering questions based on their personal knowledge and experiences. Baggage and bias are part of that equation.

...or get hung up on details of how a question was framed rather than giving the most relevant advice? "

Yes. Most frequently when a question gives a lot of information and seems unfocused.

Your best bet is to flag those comments to bring them to a moderator's attention, then ignore them and move on. And possibly take something from them (if possible) when composing future questions, to improve your likelihood of getting the answers you need.

"How is it aggressive to defend my point of view just as strongly as they're defending theirs?"

If you already know the answer to the question you're asking, why ask?

Asking questions means that sometimes you're going to get answers and opinions you disagree with. How you process them is up to you. Arguing with people who are answering your questions is rarely helpful, though.
posted by zarq at 8:48 AM on April 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


I don't get the needing proof that AskMe answers can be unnecessarily snarky sometimes. I definitely agree that AskMe is a great resource but to my mind there's no question that we can be real snotballs sometimes (and not just on AskMe either).

I agree with others that it's probably best if the OP just takes what advice is of use to her and ignores the haterz. But the whole "what are you talking about?..Metafilter is the nicest place on the internet" whilst piling on someone just drives me crazy.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:52 AM on April 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


There's a difference between tough love and "I'm not going to answer your question with the constraints you gave because I hate your cultural assumptions."

To be fair, it's sometimes hard to ask for something as simple as recipes for cakes with a specific set of constraints without getting recipes for pancakes or muffins or something....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]




I don't get the needing proof that AskMe answers can be unnecessarily snarky sometimes.


I don't think anyone was "needing proof" and don't think it's fair to characterize it that way. Caseofyou said she wanted to discuss a site wide issue, and then focused really directly on one part of one answer that she thought was being snarky and in bad faith, but that many people thought was in bounds for answers on Ask and not in bad faith. So people went in the direction caseofyou focused on and there was a lot of back and forth on that one small element of the thread and so people asked for some other examples so we could widen discussion a bit. And then caseofyou didn't have any. Not one other example.

Personally, I would have understood where caseofyou had been coming from with thinking that comment was snarky if the focus had been more about "it's not 1952" and "women have come a long way since the 1970s" rather than the therapy suggestion. Sure, there was probably another way to frame the comment.

But that's how Ask often operates (and I remember answering a safety in New York question a few days ago similarly, starting with the "This isn't the 1970s...."). Yes, I think it's good if we can try to think of the person on the Asking side as a human being who needs help. But as others have said Human Relations/relationship questions tend toward "tough love" and aren't going to be affirming and comforting to the Asker in all situations.

I think it's too much to ask of people answering questions about complex interpersonal problems on the internet for free to also tailor their response in the lightest, most gentle way to cause least personal grief to the Asker.

This is what therapy is for, to find a person who gets you and has a relationship with you, but is still impartial enough to help you find perspective about what's going on in your life and what you want out of it. Ask isn't a subsitute for that, and suggesting therapy isn't an overreach or an insult.

Personally, I often find myself with a confrontational attitude in therapy and my therapist can be very "tough love" about things. I will full on argue with him for 45 minutes and then go do the exact thing he suggested. For some reason it's the way I need to work through things sometimes. Being confrontational or even defensive when people give you advice doesn't necessarily mean it's not good advice or you're not going to take it.

However, if I did this in a 100+ Ask thread or MeTa, it would be exhausting for me, the thread answerers and the mods. It's a different context, a different place.
posted by sweetkid at 10:26 AM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I remember seeing the same thing on the post where a guy asked of polite ways he could make it easier when he got up for ladies on the bus, and got inundated with a lot of "why would you get up for ladies, that's for chauvinists!"

I don't think that example is as good as you think it might be. It seems pretty valid to hold that giving up seats to one gender and not the other is sorta chauvinistic. There is all sorts of qualifying caveats to that, but it basically comes down to, if a person looks tired, or has kids or is obviously in need of a seat you offer them your seat. If you are not offering your seat to the tired dude but the sprightly lady then yeah it's chauvinistic. If you're ok with it then *shrug* it does minimal harm, but it will be pointed out and called out, and complaining that the majority of respondents don't see it the same way as you is whistling in the wind.

For example, there's a difference between saying, 'Your date may think that given the current standards of female independence, there is no need to XYZ' and between saying 'This isn't the 1950s

One is close to 100 key strokes, the other 20.
posted by edgeways at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


jittering

racist, ban

posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think sometimes when people are responding to threads they have a level of detachment as if they are watching a b horror movie and making sarcastic comments to impress their friends. If they decide the OP is in some way un-self-aware

I love this description. I don't agree things go this far 95% of the time, but I do think this accurately describes something I see occasionally.

The thing is, caseofyou, and I hope this comes across in a lightly humorous but not mean or snarky way, your question did feel a bit like watching a B horror movie. The entire question is you asking if you should override a sense of dread and distaste. ("I hear creepy scratching noises from the haunted cellar, should i go check them out?") There was a loud chorus of people saying, "you dread hanging out with the guy? don't do it." ("Noooo! Don't go in there!") But you follow up several times with reasons why you should override your instincts. ("But I've been hearing that creepy scratching noise for days now; I'm sure it's nothing. Anyway, the power just went out!") People say "solve that problem another way, like therapy or like reading all these past threads on the same question." ("Just leave the house! Go to a neighbor's house for help! Call PG&E! Do not go downstairs alone!") After this follow up ("has anyone else successfully solved a creepy noise by going in the cellar alone in the dark?"), I had to walk away from the thread because in my opinion, I and others had already answered that, but it seemed you only wanted to hear people support the idea.

If you're not going to take cautionary advice, so be it; I don't agree with the expectation that people should be able to immediately figure out their entire life after one thread. But it did come across like you were not hearing the warnings and the alternative approaches to the underlying problem, that you were determined to walk into a bad situation, and that you might hurt this other guy in the process. Maybe your follow ups could have acknowledged, "okay, I hear a lot of people saying that going into the cellar alone is a bad idea" even if you still ask "but i can't help but wonder if anyone here has done this and safely resolved the power outage."
posted by salvia at 10:31 AM on April 28, 2014 [21 favorites]


Look, I'll rat on myself* a bit here because I think I have a great example of what the caseofyou is referencing. It's from 4 years ago, so, call it trend or entrenched norm or whatever, but it fits the case at hand I think.

It's an askme about some amazing pants that were damaged by, well read it yourself, that led to a meta that led to some seriously amazing comments I must say, I mean wow....

Among them:
A nice rundown on envy and how things can get ugly.
A take on the meta of how much compensation is valid in the face of people who do have these things.
Obligatory hipster comment.
A brief foray into Garment History 102.
And the ones that beat them all, from paulsc, about reweaving, the machines and being fitted for a garmet, and how women have it rough with regards to finding quality draper-ists persons that will blow your mind.

Anyway, I see similarities between that question and this, take them for what you will, but raising this as a 'thing' is a sword that cuts both ways because I think there's also a distinct trend towards wanting to hear the answer you wanted to hear before the question was asked with a solid dash of "Woe is me, woe is me, I am oppressed for being told I am not without flaw". To me that's at least as much, if not more, of a problem on the site than people saying straightforward, if sometimes overly blunt or glib, responses.

Regardless, another parallel that can be drawn from that previous askme and this one is that they both spawned wonderful metatalks. So, I guess that's good enough for me (because I'm not a mod, sorry ladies and gents that have to clean these things up) because I get solid reading and entertainment out of the content mefites rarely fail to deliver.

* Full disclosure part, I did jump into the askme I linked with an 'answer' that was probably, ok completely, well into the glib-dismissive bin after the OP was showing signs, and not just to me, that they weren't really interested in listening but instead seemed to be geared towards a certain motive or justification.

I like to think I've matured a bit since then (thanks metafil... I mean mom!) but I honestly think the fact that some people get the advice they may need rather than the advice they want to hear isn't a bug. It's a feature. I don't follow askme a whole lot but the levels of discourse I see there are well within my threshold of polite discourse on the internets, far above it to be honest.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:32 AM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't see snark in the 1950s comment, I see personality. I don't think it's wrong to try to be funny (which always has its risks) or to attempt to inject a tone into your comments (even if that tone is one of exasperation).

Text is dehumanizing. That can be great when it allows people to interact without, for example, knowing or caring about their audience's visible-in-real-life gender or class or profession or disability or whatever. But it's not without cost.

There are always risks and dangers when communicating, so having a bit of a thick skin, coupled with trying hard to read the best possible interpretation into others' comments, can help ensure things go smoothly.

I like that this conversation has been left open. I think the OP can learn from it, and there have been valuable comments posted to it. Maybe in a month or two someone can post a similar topic with examples of snark and pile-ons in AskMe and we can talk about that, too.
posted by jsturgill at 10:38 AM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


You know, I think the 1950s comment might not have happened if the question had started out firmly framed in the "I have very traditionalist ideas about what I want in a relationship and I know this and don't want to change it." It didn't. That wasn't how I read it. And if you're responding to someone who you know is fairly progressive, "It's not the 1950s" is obviously something they know, you're just reminding them of what they already know, that they're living in a time of a lot of independence for women, as a segue into the fact that because of this, men are not likely to assume that a woman wants that sort of attentiveness unless she asks for it.

"It's not the 1950s" is absolutely snarky if the question has been framed as, I don't know, "I'm a God-fearing Texas Republican girl looking for a nice boy." We expect that person to want that sort of thing out of a relationship and to generally be dating the sort of guys who'd be acting that way by default. How you frame the question makes a lot of difference in how people respond to it.

Not that this is totally the fault of the Asker--I think it also came up with the question about contacting someone from OKcupid outside of OKcupid, where the question specified that the target was a girl, but did not specify that the asker was female, although it was obvious from the profile and previous question, and so a lot of the answers seemed to assume that the question was being posed by a man. I don't think that kind of heteronormativity is a good thing, but I think you kind of need to be aware when you've asked multiple questions on the site of the sort of people that Metafilter users are, and that they're going to make certain assumptions about you. I think it's totally okay to not spell everything out and then just ignore the answers that have made incorrect assumptions, but I don't think it's worthwhile to really get upset that those assumptions exist.
posted by Sequence at 10:52 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


That particular piece of advice was written in an incredibly condescending manner, for which there was no need or constructive purpose. However, I don't think there's any kind of practical way to stop people from being dickish on the Internet.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:59 AM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


I thought that particular reply was somewhat snarky and flippant, but not all THAT snarky and flippant as AskMe sometimes goes, and the best thing to do is just ignore it.

Certain details fairly reliably bring out people who have such strong feelings on a particular topic that they can't really put themselves in the posters' shoes. One that I notice a lot is someone asking, "Should I put this fairly common-sense restriction on my well-adjusted teenager?" draws out a lot of posters who had miserable teen years with abusive parents going, "NO! ANY RESTRICTIONS WHATSOEVER ARE OBVIOUSLY CHILD ABUSE." Another is, "My relationship with my mom is somewhat fraught, how should I handle this?" gets an inordinate amount of "Cut ties." I think this happens for two reasons: First, people who have had particularly strong experiences of something, especially negative experiences, are more likely than average to respond to questions on that topic. Second, "break off contact" "DTMFA" "don't do that" and the like are much easier to express than, "During my child's teenaged years we went through some ups and downs and experimented with different restrictions on his behavior given our particular skills and limitations as parents and his particular needs as a child ..." Which is to say, it's much harder to give answers that dwell in the realm of ambiguity and ambivalence, especially to human relations questions. It's harder to articulate, harder to explain, harder to universalize.

Sometimes you know what sorts of unhelpful reactions a question is going to draw and you can phrase your question around it or specifically say "not looking for answers that suggest X." Sometimes it comes as a surprise, even when you've been around a long time. (Running questions, I was surprised to discover, come with a heaping helping of "U R RUNNING RONG" no matter what your specific question is, and no matter whether you put in lots of details to explain or leave lots of details out to avoid people fastening on a minor point.) I think all you can really do is shrug and say, "Well, not all of those answers were as helpful as I'd hoped" because people DO bring their own experiences, which is often helpful, sometimes unhelpful, and always fascinating.

I do find it helps to keep my newly-posted question open in a tab for an hour or two and click over to check when responses come up, so that I can clarify early in the thread if it goes off in a strange direction, or flag non-responsive or derailing answers early in the thread so it doesn't go off to a not-useful place. (Or, I suppose, contact the mods and say, "Wow, I did a bad job with phrasing this question, please delete and I'll try again next week," although I haven't done that.) If a thread doesn't get derailed early in the thread, I've found they usually go pretty well, and the unhelpful answers are one-offs rather than the direction of the whole thread.

In this case the OP got one reply out of a thread-full that she found snarky, flippant, and unhelpful, and that's really not a bad rate. I feel like this is something we can all be AWARE of and try to improve as answerers, but not really worth getting really wound up about. MOST posters -- even the vast majority of the ones in that thread -- are answering in good faith and trying to be helpful. Not that many are trying to score points.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:03 AM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


nangar: That someone has slight different expectations about dating etiquette than you probably means that they come from a somewhat different background from yours. It is not an indication of mental illness. Implying that it is pretty insulting in this context and totally unhelpful.

Conflating 'in need of therapy' with 'mental illness' is not helping to dispel any stigmas associated with seeking therapy. All recipients of professional therapy are not mentally ill. One does not need to be mentally ill to seek therapy. No one has suggested or implied here or in the AskMe that caseforyou is mentally ill (that I caught onto).
posted by carsonb at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2014 [28 favorites]


If you are not offering your seat to the tired dude but the sprightly lady then yeah it's chauvinistic. If you're ok with it then *shrug* it does minimal harm, but it will be pointed out and called out, and complaining that the majority of respondents don't see it the same way as you is whistling in the wind.

I think my point is: it's actually irrelevant whether or not offering your seat to the sprightly lady but not the tired dude is chauvinistic or not. If the asker is saying, "How do I give my seat to the sprightly ladies?", it's not appropriate to say "actually you're a chauvinist", because it doesn't answer the question they are asking and just puts your own moral judgement on because you want to call out someone you see as a chauvinist.
posted by corb at 11:25 AM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


If caseforyou has shown any sign of mental illness, it's only in the sense that pretty much all of humanity who has progressed past the level of providing for survival needs has some kind of dysfunction of thinking that is seriously hampering their success or happiness in some fashion. For some people that's true more than others. When it's true to the point of needing more than just some tips from AskMe to fix your problem, that's when it's a good idea to bring in a professional. If you've asked similar relationship questions on AskMe repeatedly, then what you need is probably more than AskMe.

I will says, Eyebrows, that I think the reason that "cut ties" comes up so much is that so few people ever actually do it, and so many people will spend their entire lives trying to deal with their poisonous family members. Even if you don't keep them cut forever, stepping away for any length of time is really, really, REALLY helpful. But few people will ever do it because so much of the world has pounded into them that you're a horrible person if you don't keep engaging. Fundamentally, whether it's parents or relationships, you can't fix other people, but you can change your own behavior. I think that it's seriously helpful for people to hear the "cut ties" or the "DTMFA" even if they don't do it because it's introduced the possibility that it's a valid alternative.
posted by Sequence at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


So I'm thinking about this Meta in the context of my most recent answer (in the question about not liking doctors). Being a doctor, of course, I brought an "agenda" to this question. However, I think there is a difference between getting frustrated by what someone says and getting sarcastic about it, and trying to explain what your reaction is and why it is, at least if that reaction might be relevant to the question.

For example, I could have just said "if you think doctor's assessments are worth 'nothing', then feel free to diagnose yourself on WebMD." and left it at that. I've seen a number of answers like that to medical questions (which are sometimes posted by people like this one, who have a fear/anxiety of doctors because of bad experiences in the past).

Perhaps the fact that I included that sentence still makes it too harsh - hopefully not. I tried to frame it by saying "what you've said frustrates me, here are a few reasons why, and my reaction when I hear things like that is this, because of those reasons and that frustration."

Maybe it's not comparable, but I did feel that the first example from the OP's question could have been framed "I became a little frustrated when reading your question, because you described yourself as a liberal and forward thinking person and yet you want your potential boyfriend to do things like walk you home and not expect any sexual activity on the first date. To me, those attitudes are outdated and suggest antifeminist beliefs. It could be useful to discuss in therapy why you have these beliefs about relationships that seem dissonant from your purported ideals." That seems like a more respectful and straightforward way of stating the sentiment? I'm a little torn because I found it somewhat challenging to be empathetic towards the OP and I could understand where that comment came from, but at the same time I do hate being condescended to myself and I can see the point being made here. I do think it was snarky, but I wouldn't call it agenda-driven. I don't think anything that was said was promoting any sort of a radical view, it was more like sarcastic statements referring to very well established views on equality that the answerer, community of readers, and even the OP likely all share (assuming the OP believes sex on the first date isn't wrong for all women, just not what she wants to do).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:36 AM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think my point is: it's actually irrelevant whether or not offering your seat to the sprightly lady but not the tired dude is chauvinistic or not. If the asker is saying, "How do I give my seat to the sprightly ladies?", it's not appropriate to say "actually you're a chauvinist", because it doesn't answer the question they are asking and just puts your own moral judgement on because you want to call out someone you see as a chauvinist.

And that's where the utility of the comparison breaks down. The two scenarios are fundamentally different in a myriad of ways. For a human relationships question, pointing out implicit cultural narratives that the asker may not be fully aware s/he is expecting others to participate in can be an extremely helpful thing.
posted by jsturgill at 11:37 AM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


caseofyou, there's a difference between an answer you dislike and one that's actively hostile.

When people ask personal questions, specifically those about relationships, then it tests the empathy of the poster and responders. A polite tone is preferred, in my opinion, but it's not a requirement of the site.

I'd say in the future, the best way to get feedback on a question is to keep your conversation to a minimum and mark the actual responses that might help you as best. The ones that you feel aren't good? Don't mark them best! The fact you know that some people have axes to grind means that you're ahead of the game in evaluating advice.

The fact that you're only referencing your own question and using this thread as a way to study one response means you might want to turn your axe-grinding detector on yourself.
posted by mikeh at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


[Comment removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on April 28, 2014


For a human relationships question, pointing out implicit cultural narratives that the asker may not be fully aware s/he is expecting others to participate in can be an extremely helpful thing.

Totally, but I think if you find you more want to state your comment as a smack to the Asker rather than actually helpful advice, you should slowly back out of the thread without posting.
posted by corb at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


corb, are you referring to this question? Reading through the whole thread I don't see anything there that crosses the line, especially since part of the initial question was about strategies for avoiding potential awkwardness.

Were there deleted comments in response to the OP's followup? (If so, I'd suggest it might be his riling at the earlier answers that created the derail, not the earlier answers themselves.)

Or was there a deleted derail in response to your admission here? (If so, that does seem trickier.)
posted by nobody at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2014


(But on the other hand, if the derailing comments were deleted, that does seem to imply AskMe policy is working as intended.)
posted by nobody at 12:01 PM on April 28, 2014


Can I just note real quick here that I totally re-worded my contribution to this discussion because nobody is participating in this thread? *Waves* Hi nobody!
posted by carsonb at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hi! I like my name and wish the world could make it available for me on all websites.
posted by nobody at 12:03 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think The World Famous has that kind of pull Internets-wide, actually, even if he wanted to hook you up.
posted by carsonb at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2014


Sequence: "I will says, Eyebrows, that I think the reason that "cut ties" comes up so much is that so few people ever actually do it, and so many people will spend their entire lives trying to deal with their poisonous family members. Even if you don't keep them cut forever, stepping away for any length of time is really, really, REALLY helpful."

Oh, sure. I'm talking more about the questions that (to me) seem to be about a normal, non-toxic family relationship that has some ups and downs, and some people who come from toxic families immediately jump on any little bump or mistake in a family relationship as evidence of toxicity, because in THEIR family it would be and breaking ties with someone toxic is really important and really hard to do.

To illustrate, I was telling a story the other day about how my mom is being a little ridiculous about some party planning, and I thought it was hilarious, and the person I was telling the story to was really taken aback by it ... because that person had an abusive, toxic mother and overreacting, taking things too seriously, etc., was all part of the manipulative games their mother played. But with my mother, who's great and with whom I have a great relationship, it's just the sort of human foibles that make me roll my eyes and laugh. She has a tendency to get a little wound up about parties she's throwing, and when she gets tense, she takes things way too seriously, and none of it's a very big deal (though of course I wish she didn't get herself so stressed).

Which is part of the difficulty with human relationships in general, abusive relationships in particular, and AskMe in even more particular ... it's often extremely difficult to tell when normal human failings cross the line into being abusive or toxic, and we all bring our frame of reference into the question.

"I think that it's seriously helpful for people to hear the "cut ties" or the "DTMFA" even if they don't do it because it's introduced the possibility that it's a valid alternative."

Yeah, I remember someone said in a MeTa a long, long time ago something to the effect that, "Yeah, people do overreact with the DTMFAs but people in abusive relationships often don't have access to the resources they need to recognize abuse, so if there's one person who gets out of an abusive relationship because someone 'overreacts' in an AskMe and suggests something sounds abusive, that probably justifies all the unwarranted DTMFAs." I think that's a pretty good point and it stuck with me; people can take what they need from the answers and ignore the ones that aren't for them, including unwarranted DTMFAs, and I try to make it a point to NOT bicker with other answerers that I think are overreacting in a human relations AskMe, because how do I know that my frame of reference is the right one? I'll add my perspective and the OP can get many different points-of-view, exactly how AskMe is supposed to work, and decide what's right for them.

(And you never know when someone reading the same question two years down the road who's in a similar situation but one where it's actually abusive is going to need to see those DTMFAs and CUT TIESes to know to get out.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:12 PM on April 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's funny that you brought up that example of your own answer in the doctors question, treehorn +bunny because I was just reading your answer and thought it was an awesome example of admitting you're bringing your own personal experiences (possibly biases) to the question and still giving a gentle and approprate answer without snark. You even brought up a few personal pet peeves and explained why they were so.

Then again, I agree with your personal (positive) biases about doctors since my mom is one and I was raised around many so didn't grow up hearing the fear/golf course stereotypes other people have. Maybe someone else who thought more negatively about doctors would think mentioning your pet peeves about some people's perceptions was bringing in your own feelings unnecessarily.

But anyway, still think it's a good example of how to admit to personal experience coming into your answer and still giving a good answer.
posted by sweetkid at 12:13 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: " Which is part of the difficulty with human relationships in general, abusive relationships in particular, and AskMe in even more particular ... it's often extremely difficult to tell when normal human failings cross the line into being abusive or toxic, and we all bring our frame of reference into the question."

*nod* Very true. People who have grown up from childhood in abusive homes often find that their understanding of 'normal' is... well, not normal. Some things they may take for granted simply haven't happened to other people. Their worldview has been warped from a young age, even though they may not be aware of it. It can affect everything from personal interactions to relationships to mundane, habitual behaviors.

I grew up in a home where everything was secretive. What happened in your home, stayed there. You never, ever spoke about it with outsiders. And even extended family members were in that sense considered outsiders. You know that sort of attitude has to affect a child long-term, but consider this: when my wife and I moved in together, we had an argument over the window shades. She wanted them to be thrown open during the day. I thought that was just plain nuts. You don't open your shades. You keep them closed, so outsiders can't peer in and mind your business.

Normal people don't think this way. Normal people have nothing to hide. But a couple of decades later I was still behaving the way I was brought up, with ingrained actions and justifications. Without a clue. Once things like this are pointed out or discovered, your perspective might change.

Everyone's level of self-awareness differs. So does the lens through which we view the world.
posted by zarq at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


Can I just note real quick here that I totally re-worded my contribution to this discussion because nobody is participating in this thread? *Waves* Hi nobody!

I'm glad that nobody participates in AskMe, since they're uniquely suited to understanding each user's particular struggles in life.

No-body knows the troubles I've seen! ♫♩♩
posted by zamboni at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Right but to suggest those are issues to be discussed in therapy? Really? That strikes me as pretty glib.

It struck me less as being glib, and more as unnecessarily pathologizing your perfectly understandable desire to be treated with respect and consideration by your date. That a woman is supposed to hie herself to therapy to discuss her views on civility, rather than expect a guy to be base-level cognizant of what the female experience is (re: safety issues) strikes me as weirdly anti-woman. It's not asking much of a man that he put himself in his date's shoes, and try to make sure she feels comfortable and safe. Why is the woman being pathologized in this scenario? Maybe the guy needs to have his head checked by a professional.
posted by nacho fries at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think you misunderstand what happens/can happen in therapy. Suggesting therapy is not pathologizing. Therapy is a tool people use to help them navigate their emotions and relationships with themselves and other people.

unnecessarily pathologizing your perfectly understandable desire to be treated with respect and consideration by your date

What is "perfectly understandable" and "respect and consideration" is different for different people. People suggesting therapy are suggesting that caseofyou can figure out what she considers crucial in a relationship with the help of a therapist. It's a good suggestion.

As it was she assumed something was a "slip in civility" that a lot of people didn't see as an issue at all. People approach things different ways, there isn't just a blanket understanding of how people should act in relationships. There are some things my friends do in relationships that would be dealbreakers for me.
posted by sweetkid at 1:19 PM on April 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


Oh man that seat-offering thread has some good advice but also some advice that would make you look like a total psychopath if you did it on a NYC subway:

I think, "May I offer you this seat," said in a low tone, with a partial stand should do it.

A warm smile helps too.


Yes it would help you to go to jail that is true.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


That a woman is supposed to hie herself to therapy to discuss her views on civility

That is not why therapy was suggested. It was suggested because she believes she's attracted to "unhealthy" things (her words), has trouble articulating her expectations, (and doesn't think she needs to) and seems to have brittle social codes that make it difficult for her to navigate social situations.
posted by spaltavian at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2014 [14 favorites]


On topic: Caseofyou: I like your user name! The songs been going through my head since this post went up.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


What is "perfectly understandable" and "respect and consideration" is different for different people.

Exactly, which is why therapy is a bizarre suggestion specific to that one issue (civility). She doesn't need professional guidance -- she already knows what her standards are.
posted by nacho fries at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]



On topic: Caseofyou: I like your user name! The songs been going through my head since this post went up.


OMG mine too Joni version.
posted by sweetkid at 1:22 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Exactly, which is why therapy is a bizarre suggestion specific to that one issue. She doesn't need professional guidance -- she already knows what her standards are.

But she clearly can't articulate them, and this will make her very unhappy in relationships. Therapy helps with this.
posted by spaltavian at 1:22 PM on April 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


I think you misunderstand what happens/can happen in therapy. Suggesting therapy is not pathologizing. Therapy is a tool people use to help them navigate their emotions and relationships with themselves and other people.

It's also super bizarre and kind of creepy that therapy seems to have been categorized by a few people in this thread as something for "mentally ill" people.
posted by elizardbits at 1:26 PM on April 28, 2014 [37 favorites]


OMG mine too Joni version.

Mine too, KD Lang though.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:26 PM on April 28, 2014



Exactly, which is why therapy is a bizarre suggestion specific to that one issue. She doesn't need professional guidance -- she already knows what her standards are.


She seems to have trouble articulating that though and expected this guy to assume what she wanted. Also she asked the question specifically contrasting "nice" guys vs other guys she's dated and talking about her general patterns in dating and choosing partners.

Frankly, you're just showing your own personal biases with talking about therapy as "pathologizing" and "bizarre" (plus the "diagnosis" comment upthread). I don't know why you feel this way but it's kind of counterproductive.Anyone who's spent time on Ask or Metafilter has seen the POV that therapy isn't some sort of insult or crazy disproportional suggestion.
posted by sweetkid at 1:27 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Everybody's mileage varies, but I don't think it's in any way a normal part of the female experience to be that alarmed by traveling home. If she wants people to check up on her, sure, but if somebody did that to me I would be quite frankly offended. I live in a shitty neighborhood, but I've lived here for years and if I wasn't comfortable getting home at night by myself, I wouldn't live here. Women of color have been navigating "bad" neighborhoods without supervision for a very long time. But if I was dating somebody and I otherwise liked them but they were nagging me like that, I'd absolutely consider it a reasonable question to raise with my therapist. That's been a huge chunk of my therapy experience: here is this thing that somebody did that upset me, please help me process it and figure out how to make that interaction less upsetting in the future, either by associating with better people or by better communicating to the people I'm around what I need.

If I was fine at processing those things on my own, I wouldn't need a therapist, but I also wouldn't be raising the issue on AskMe.
posted by Sequence at 1:28 PM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


> "This isn't the 1950s" is a valid answer to the question "what are the standards of human interaction today?"
> posted by koeselitz at 10:49 AM on April 28 [+] [!]

With the proviso that standards of human interaction vary across culture, class, ethnicity, political loyalty, and many other other dimensions. And the 1950s weren't guillotined off sharply at the end of 1959. They have a long tail with a different taper in each cultural microdivision so "This isn't the 1950s" isn't even true, except in the calender sense, for anyone in one of those long tails.
posted by jfuller at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


sweetkid, I'm allowed to hold views of therapy that are different from yours, and to express them here. I don't see that as being counterproductive.

I've done multiple tours of duty in therapy, and am aware of its strengths and weaknesses. I do think that it can be very helpful to people trying to sort through problems.

I also think, though, that there are other ways for women to find answers; and that there is a cultural tendency to push women to therapy in a judgmental way -- "You're not doing it (being a woman) right, so go talk about it with someone, or you'll never have good relationships."
posted by nacho fries at 1:35 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


I also think, though, that there are other ways for women to find answers; and that there is a cultural tendency to push women to therapy in a judgmental way -- "You're not doing it (being a woman) right, so go talk about it with someone, or you'll never have good relationships."

I think this if this is what you want to talk about, it's more productive than saying the suggestion itself is bizarre, or pathologizing, or who are we to make a diagnosis.
posted by sweetkid at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


To expand on why therapy might help, there's this recongizable (to me) pattern: A person is passive or insecure. They have trouble being assertive and expressing their wishes, boundaries and expectations. Maybe they think everyone "should just know". So they tend to rely on very strict arbitrary standards, rather than communication. They have trouble believing that those codes aren't obvious or nearly universal. They may find themselves dating a lot domineering, "technically right" people, at least until they cross the invisible line.

This leads to seemingly paradoxical situations, where they're both hyper-critical yet unable to set terms. Or, like the guy in this situation, they judge their partner as too "weak" but somehow too forward, or too accommodating but at the same time, not doing "necessary" unspoken tasks.

I don't know that therapy is the only answer. I tend to think that most people chill out about "the rules" after a while. I do know that boundaries are useful, but strict rules often led to hitting yourself with the same stick over and over again. And I think meta-cognition helps with that, as does the experience and objectivity of a trained professional.
posted by spaltavian at 1:41 PM on April 28, 2014 [7 favorites]


"You're not doing it (being a woman) right, so go talk about it with someone, or you'll never have good relationships."

I think the conversation is more usually:

Asker: I don't think I'm doing relationships right. How do I fix this?
Answerer: Maybe you should consult an expert who has training and experience in helping people form healthy and fulfilling relationships.
posted by jaguar at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


(I say that has somone who has never been in any kind of therapy; I've just seen people I know helped by it. Take it for what it's worth.)
posted by spaltavian at 1:44 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Joni version.)

(There is no other version in my world)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:51 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


If I read this MetaTalk thread after going on a first date with you, I would probably talk to a therapist about it. The original AskMe question? Not so much.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:52 PM on April 28, 2014


did the badness of this thread break MeTa because my display is suddenly professional white background and i made no changes on my end
posted by elizardbits at 1:55 PM on April 28, 2014


I think suggesting therapy is a totally legitimate response to the OP's question, in general.

But that particular comment comes off as suggesting therapy because the OP has different social standards than the answerer. Which, if that is how the answerer intended it, is like telling someone to get therapy because they hold a different opinion than you.

Which is not to say therapy that examines the contrast between the OP social standards and her actual life decisions isn't a legitimate suggestion. But that didn't seem to be what the answerer was suggesting.
posted by Jess the Mess at 1:56 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


So this is still going on. I think I need therapy.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:58 PM on April 28, 2014


I could be wrong, but I think that people holding the opinion that the answer was insulting or snarky are looking at it as a stand-alone comment and not seeing it as part of the ongoing thread of suggestions that recommend acaseofyou look at all her expectations and how she's communicating them to partners and whether that's working for her with the help of a therapist. I very much read the suggestion as, "Therapy has already been suggested [possibly by the same commenter, but I can't check because the comment seems to have been deleted], which is a good recommendation, and I think these are also issues that you can bring up in that context."
posted by jaguar at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sorry, comment wasn't deleted, the link in the MeTa just didn't take me where I thought it was going to. So, yes, schroedingersgirl had already made multiple suggestions that acaseofyou start working on issues with a therapist. In that context, saying, "These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy" is perfectly reasonable -- she's not saying "These issues all on their own make you mentally ill," she's saying, "These issues are along the same lines of the other issues for which I have suggested you seek professional help."
posted by jaguar at 2:07 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, reviewing the thread, I think you are correct in that, jaguar.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:21 PM on April 28, 2014


Regarding the snarky/not snarky back and forth... I think that's not necessarily a helpful debate in that it's beside the point.

The comment is definitely sharp enough to cut some people, though I personally think it depends on what those people brings to the table when they read it. But why is sharpness or snarkiness presumed to be a cardinal sin anyway, or the most important aspect of the advice?

I think it's part of the range of acceptable modes. Sharp and helpful, or snarky and helpful, shouldn't be off the table in AskMe. Note the "and helpful" bit. I don't think it should be any more problematic than cheery and helpful, clinical and helpful, or [whatever] and helpful. Readers may gloss right over the same advice three or four times before they find it presented in a manner that resonates with them.

Schroedingersgirl was responding directly to the OPs requests for perspective and even went above and beyond by recognizing the larger context of OPs Ask history. His/her comments were intended to be helpful, and I think they had value exactly as stated, even if they were to be objectively labelled snarky.
posted by jsturgill at 2:28 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think one thread where things got really weird in terms of tone and derailing snarkiness was this thread:

http://ask.metafilter.com/235411/Safety-When-Selling-Things

However, I found the comm to be really great about nipping the conversation from being "why do you assume all men are creeps??" to making it one about the question the OP was posting.
posted by spunweb at 2:45 PM on April 28, 2014


The truth can hurt, and the wise person can be offended that someone would willfully hurt them rather than choosing their words with consideration and care.

Does truth hurt more or less than a lie? If a person chooses to hurt you then they are unkind. Why do you allow unkind people to affect you?

If they say unkind things to you with intent to wound, then the true elements of what they say should be taken and used and the untrue elements should be discarded. Then, you win and they lose.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:49 PM on April 28, 2014


Everybody's mileage varies, but I don't think it's in any way a normal part of the female experience to be that alarmed by traveling home. If she wants people to check up on her, sure, but if somebody did that to me I would be quite frankly offended.

Yeah, in the spirit of pointing out that people's mileage varies a lot on this subject -- I'm female-bodied and genderqueer, and on the occasions when stuff like this comes up I get a little skeeved. It's not the other person's fault, but I have some history on the subject of "I feel compelled to get into your physical or social or mental space with my concerns for your safety" that is not great, and even if intellectually I give the person the benefit of the doubt it's not a winner emotionally -- I've also found that it's an early indication that a person is not getting the memo with regard to my gender. So there's that.
posted by sparktinker at 3:13 PM on April 28, 2014


So... I do actually think there is a possible community issue here, although I think the OP's thread and the particular comment pulled out is poor example of it.

The ladies-on-the-bus thread is a better example.

I can see how it happens, myself; e.g. in the thread about standing up for ladies on the bus, I see that kind of gendered activity as something that actively makes my own life worse. And so I really want to call people out on it. And if somebody ever asks a question that really hits on something that's caused pain in my life- e.g. "is it ok to hit on my student?" I have to run away lest I let loose a string of invective about how wrong that behavior is. (For reference, no, it's not fucking ok. not at all what were you thinking you crazy people ahhhhh).

In one of these cases (not related to either of the above issues) when I sent in a slightly fighty answer to be posted anonymously, the mods (wisely) suggested I reword so as to actually be helpful to the asker. It took me some time, but it was likely a much more useful response to the question they were actually asking. (And it doesn't hurt that bothering to rephrase it probably made the asker much more likely to *take* my advice anyhow).

Yeah, I do think mefi would be a better place if rather than snap back "hey your actions are policing a norm that *hurts me*, stop!", responders instead thought about how they could answer the question in a way that was useful to the asker. Bonus points to responders who can make their points in a form kind enough to be swallowable to the asker. And for people who can't do that, just step away and don't answer the question. Getting all grar-y doesn't change anyone's mind anyhow.
posted by nat at 3:22 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's also super bizarre and kind of creepy that therapy seems to have been categorized by a few people in this thread as something for "mentally ill" people.

This is possibly a cultural norm that you're missing - in New Zealand, for instance, I'd be very taken aback if someone suggested therapy to me.

Suggesting that someone get therapy would imply they have an untreated mental illness (not necessarily in an unkind way, but it wouldn't be a usual topic of conversation as it appears to be in the US).
posted by Sebmojo at 3:29 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is actually still huge social stigma about therapy in the US as well.
posted by sweetkid at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


The thread title is "snarky agenda driven derails on askme" and yet, despite "noticing this trend for a long time" only one example is given which happens to be the one in which the OP didn't feel they were getting the answers they were entitled to. / I can see no evidence in that thread of snark, agendas or derailing. A question was asked, answers were given, many of them thoughtful and constructive. / I see no evidence in this thread of a "pile-on". / The community is doing fine, in both threads.

The "evidence" for a pile-on, i.e. the ineffective phenomenon of many people being adversarial towards an individual, is glaringly obvious.

Further, I was quite explicitly talking about how information can be interpreted as derogatory and mocking in an indirect way. This is in a sense beyond the issue of the existence of snark. I'd appreciate it if what I wrote was actually read correctly because that would avoid each of these irrelevant counterpoints.
posted by polymodus at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2014


Oh man that seat-offering thread has some good advice but also some advice that would make you look like a total psychopath if you did it on a NYC subway:

I think, "May I offer you this seat," said in a low tone, with a partial stand should do it.

A warm smile helps too.

Yes it would help you to go to jail that is true.


I am still giggling at this comment because I am picturing Crispin Glover being the total psychopath in question.
posted by winna at 3:54 PM on April 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I am still giggling at this comment because I am picturing Crispin Glover being the total psychopath in question.

OH GOD THANKS I WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:56 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've done multiple tours of duty in therapy, and am aware of its strengths and weaknesses. I do think that it can be very helpful to people trying to sort through problems.

I think you're seeing people pathologizing her (or her civility standards) when they're not.

I don't think therapy would be appropriate for caseofyou to sort through her civility standards (which are not a "problem" in and of themselves), but might be helpful in recalibrating her expectations and communicating what she wants. I don't think it's particularly bizarre to want a date to check you got home okay, but I think it's really unhelpful to decide someone is wrong/bad/terrible date because they didn't do this even though you made no effort to let them know that this was important to you. If that's a pattern in your life - you expect people to do or be [thing] and you keep being disappointed when they don't, and you keep not communicating clearly that you want them to do/be [thing] - then that's something you should address, and therapy is a good place for that.
posted by rtha at 3:57 PM on April 28, 2014 [16 favorites]


because I am picturing Crispin Glover being the total psychopath in question.


Burn Gorman.

posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:14 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everybody's mileage varies, but I don't think it's in any way a normal part of the female experience to be that alarmed by traveling home. If she wants people to check up on her, sure, but if somebody did that to me I would be quite frankly offended.

My default assumption is that people are competent adults and don't need to be checked up on. I'd only send a text like that either if the person had requested it, or there was something unusual about the situation -- they were drunk, say.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:35 PM on April 28, 2014


There IS a problem with Ask Metafilter. Here is the problem with AskMe.

If you're any of the following (and NONE of these is a bad thing)...
  • A person who asks a question with a preconceived notion of the right answer;
  • a person for whom a variety of opinions/perspectives complicates matters, rather than clarifying them;
  • or a person whose level of sensitivity means that your feelings often get hurt;
...AskMe is going to give you some hard times. Because answers come in the form of text, with no verbal intonations, you're likely going to read them in the tone of voice that is least charitable. (I don't know why I do that, but I do. Again, if you have any of the above qualities, I'm guessing you do it too.)

So that's the problem with AskMe. And you know what, it is not a sitewide problem. It is a problem of the user managing her expectations when she posts a question.

I have to do that. I learned it the hard way.

So there's the problem with AskMe. It requires the asker to manage expectations sometimes in a way they are not equipped to do. I would suggest this is one of those situations.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:39 PM on April 28, 2014 [34 favorites]


Sebmojo: “'The wise person can never be offended - for the truth can never offend, lies are beneath notice and the wise person knows the difference.' I read that a long time ago and have lived by it ever since. More pithily - take what is useful, leave what is not, like r_n suggests.”

bonaldi: “Eugh, reads like a maxim for spade-calling blowhards. The truth can hurt, and the wise person can be offended that someone would willfully hurt them rather than choosing their words with consideration and care.”

Sebmojo: “Does truth hurt more or less than a lie? If a person chooses to hurt you then they are unkind... If they say unkind things to you with intent to wound, then the true elements of what they say should be taken and used and the untrue elements should be discarded. Then, you win and they lose.”

I disagree with Sebmojo's initial maxim above strongly. I'll try to say why.

The truth can certainly hurt more than a lie. An outrageous lie, or even a lie that one that one can be confident isn't true, can be easy to brush off for many people; whereas the truth is, in many times and places, extraordinarily hurtful. If someone walks up to me at the funeral of a dear friend and shouts at me that my friend is dead and that there is nothing that will ever bring them back, that's hurtful, particularly if I'm wise enough to be sensitive to what that actually means.

If you think about the most hurtful things anyone has ever said to you, you might notice that such hurtful things are usually carefully calculated to have enough truth to cut deeply. In my case, for example, if someone told me I was a terrible person because I never say what's on my mind, it probably wouldn't hurt much, mostly because it's patently untrue; but if they said I'm a loudmouth who doesn't know when to shut up and who tries to dominate every discussion and prove that I'm right, well, that might hurt a bit, because it seems much more true, at least to me. And painful truths aren't really useful; they wouldn't be painful if they were constructive in the sense of allowing us to better ourselves or others. The fact that my friend's mother died, for example, isn't useful to her.

Human beings are at their most hurtful when they're forcing painful or uncomfortable truths on other people.

As for wise people not being hurt by truth: I don't believe this is true. It's a common trope nowadays that our "emotions" are a kind of weakness, that we would be much better people if we were capable of being coldly direct about everything. On the contrary, I think spiritual discernment is the highest mark of wisdom; and the only way to be really spiritually discerning, I think, is to be sensitive to spiritual realities and the things which happen between people.

Sensitivity means that we're capable of being hurt. It isn't nice to be hurt, but the alternative – insensitivity – is worse, I think. The capacity to get hurt is the price we pay for living an inner life that includes other people.

“Why do you allow unkind people to affect you?”

Why? Because we're human. Human beings care what other people think, and human beings are affected by what other people say, even if those other people are unkind. There is no simple method for discerning who is "unkind" and ignoring them; and there is no easy way to turn our feelings off and disregard the things that others say. And even if we could, I don't think it would be the right thing to do.
posted by koeselitz at 4:44 PM on April 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


"In a way, it's a tone problem. We're harsh. And sometimes people get offended and don't take the advice. Which sucks, because they could be helped, maybe (though I think often people don't want to be helped, like in my friend's case--she wanted to be comforted or affirmed and we're terrible at that). But it's also a laser-like ability to cut through bullshit. Which is good."

It's bad, because often "we're" totally wrong when we project our very specific set of values and cultural contexts upon every person who makes an AskMe human relations post.

Most human relations posts are like the "wipe sitting or standing" or "shoes on in the house?" arguments, except that there's (amazingly) even less awareness that other people have widely varying life histories, and come from many different social/cultural contexts. Like those two examples, many of the "answers" are very value-laden and judgmental, and are so in ways that are very universally normative. The OP's example comment was exactly like this, it pathologizes anyone and everyone around the world who would expect a man to call to ensure she made it home okay.

Now, I don't share the OP's views on gender. And I'd be comfortable telling her this by way of explaining that the man she's discussing might also simply not share those views. I wouldn't be comfortable chiding her for being a regressive throwback who best discuss her crazy views in therapy.

I comfortably fit within many of MeFi's demographics. But not all of them — and it's especially in those cases where I don't that MeFi's tendency toward a smug, universalizing myopia becomes most obvious. Sure, I think that MeFi is no worse and probably notably better than any other given community. But just because most people smugly assert their own subcultural values as being universal and casually judge those who they perceive as out-group certainly doesn't mean that I have to like it, or accept it, or not speak out against it.

I simply can't read most AskMe human relations threads because there are almost always at least some of those kinds of "helpful" answers where it's amazingly obvious to me that the answerer has very little experience or awareness of the myriad cultural contexts outside their own limited experience. Yet they answer people's questions, and judgmentally, as if their own sensibilities about social interactions and relationshps is universal and anyone who disagrees with their analysis is either ignorant or psychologically damaged, or both. And there's a group of people who are habitual human relations answerers where they establish a pattern such that it's hard for me not to conclude that their motivation for participation is the opportunity to Tell Other People That They're Doing It Wrong. It shows me a side of people I otherwise very much like and respect elsewhere on MeFi that surprises and dismays me and which I wish I'd not seen. That's the largest reason why I've learned to avoid human relations AskMes — to avoid thinking less of people I like.

The single most favorited comment I've ever written in my ten years on MetaFilter was an extremely harsh, judgmental comment in an AskMe thread. I was in a bad mood the night I wrote it and the discussion pushed some of my buttons. But you know what? Almost the very next day I was ashamed of that comment and I've been ashamed of it for all these years since. And it's my most favorited comment, ever. Because especially in human relations AskMes, MetaFilter just loves judgmental smackdowns of People We Don't Like. It's ugly and I'm ashamed to have ever been a part of it.

Most of the kinds of answers I'm criticizing are not so extreme, but it's a question of degree, not kind.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:05 PM on April 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


My jaw has long since stopped droping at modern attitudes. But just for the record, caseofyou, I would have taken you home.

This story takes place in New York freakin' City. Taking a cab across town to someone's home at 1AM, watching them go inside, then taking the cab back home would be really bizarre. If one gives a cabbie a decent tip and asks them to wait until they get inside their building before leaving, that would make a lot more sense.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 5:20 PM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


did the badness of this thread break MeTa because my display is suddenly professional white background and i made no changes on my end

Are you sure it didn't actually switch to the You Need Professional Help White Background? They look pretty similar, but some people feel the later has a superior Pantone.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:29 PM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


There are a lot of answers to relationship questions on AskMe that are clearly not coming from the perspective of "how can I help the asker?" but rather "I am outraged that this person's values are wrong and I will say that and toss in a 'Therapy!' at the end."

It's sort of a literate Monday Night Rehabilitation, and I bet if you're asking these questions, picturing MHR while reading this can help you get through them without getting stuck on being judged.
posted by ignignokt at 5:47 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Koeselitz: there are two clarifications I should probably have made.

1: it's a rule to live by in what you take from the world, not what you give to the world. Being deliberately unkind, like your straw man at the funeral, is the work of an asshole regardless of whether it's truth they're saying or not. In a context like ASk Mefi, where people are asking for truth? Slightly different scenario.

1: the 'wise person' line (I have a feeling it's a slightly butchered Gene Wolfe quote?) is aspirational. If we endeavour to live in a way that the truth can never be rejected as hurtful, then we will tend always towards the true and our lives will tend towards the better. For instance if someone calls you a fat, ugly loser: you can take it as the insult it is intended to be, or you can gain agency by dissecting it for truth that can then be used to scaffold your life.

Lies, when shorn of their supporting truth, look kind of pathetic. They show the true weakness of the person speaking them.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:51 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


The comment is definitely sharp enough to cut some people, though I personally think it depends on what those people brings to the table when they read it. But why is sharpness or snarkiness presumed to be a cardinal sin anyway, or the most important aspect of the advice?

Because the most bang-on advice isn't so helpful if it can't be heard past the offense, and might even be actively damaging, if people resist the idea (no matter how excellent, truthful, wise, correct) because of a too-harsh initial delivery?

But, as anitaanita said, we do what we can. I know I've dropped some clunkers.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:17 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Taking a cab across town to someone's home at 1AM, watching them go inside, then taking
> the cab back home would be really bizarre.

No gentleman--emphasis on 'gentle'--would think it bizarre. Anyone of any gender who thinks it bizarre, well, that person's opinion does not matter in the slightest to me.
posted by jfuller at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lucky thing, that
posted by phearlez at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2014 [15 favorites]


No gentleman--emphasis on 'gentle'--would think it bizarre. Anyone of any gender who thinks it bizarre, well, that person's opinion does not matter in the slightest to me.

In NYC, such a gesture could cost like $60 and take a solid hour or two. If someone suggested that he would like to accompany me in a cab and then take the cab back home to the other side of the city, I would think he was unhinged.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:16 PM on April 28, 2014 [38 favorites]


Yes, let's now have an argument about whose normative statement about all New Yorkers is justified and correct.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


> Lucky thing, that

Not so much as all that. A thick skin, aka not taking offense at the drop of a hat, aka asbesdos underwear--it's what has kept me an active, unbanned(!) mefi member since January of 2001.


> I would think he was unhinged.

I don't live in NYC but I have visited many, many times--enough times be entirely comfortable getting around on the subway. I would certainly not take a cab if it was just me.
posted by jfuller at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why not?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2014


> let's now have an argument about whose normative statement about all New Yorkers is justified and correct.

Somebody will have to make one of those first, Ivan. I don't see any in the thread yet. Are you volunteering?
posted by jfuller at 7:37 PM on April 28, 2014


> Why not?

because...

> In NYC, such a gesture could cost like $60

When it's just me I'll take the cost of a subway token over cabfare any day.
posted by jfuller at 7:43 PM on April 28, 2014


A thick skin, aka not taking offense at the drop of a hat

I think jfuller is just trying to rile people up here.
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


we don't have tokens on the NYC subway any more.
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


asbesdos underwear

What? I presume this is meant to be 'asbestos', but even then, what?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:45 PM on April 28, 2014


Well, if this thread has taught us anything it's that making definitive statements about wide swathes of people based on purely your own experience is something that plagues the Green and Grey. And Blue, though it wasn't mentioned.

Seriously, this?
No gentleman--emphasis on 'gentle'--would think it bizarre. Anyone of any gender who thinks it bizarre, well, that person's opinion does not matter in the slightest to me.

Is the kind of thing that is extremely unhelpful, not because it's one person's opinion, or that I disagree with it (though I do), but because it states as fact something that is pure opinion, and dismisses in a condescending way any who might disagree.
You are saying anyone who disagrees with you on this matter of etiquette, damn the circumstances, is not worth knowing. Blanket statements of opinion as fact is a shitty behaviour no matter the viewpoint being expressed.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2014 [19 favorites]


"Somebody will have to make one of those first, Ivan. I don't see any in the thread yet. Are you volunteering?"

Your text has been "this is how I behave" but your subtext has been "because other people are savage children". Meanwhile, others have characterized what you consider proper as "bizarre" and "unhinged". So, yeah, they're there.

Seriously, what is this need to explain to other people that what they think is normal and acceptable is really abnormal and unacceptable by making generalizations about huge groups of other people that are simply and necessarily untrue?

On Preview: what gadge emeritus wrote.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:47 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


anyone else see jfuller's fedora-tip and "m'lady" at the end of that post?

Well, me neither, technically, and I sure wouldn't respond in that way on Ask, but hey...
posted by mikeh at 7:50 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


I realize this thread has been careering all over the place, topic-wise, but I'm going to suggest maybe we bring things back around to site issues, rather than debating jfuller's conception of what a gentleman does or NYC transportation logistics.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:55 PM on April 28, 2014 [11 favorites]


careening, even
posted by mikeh at 7:57 PM on April 28, 2014


I think this thing kind of illustrates the nature of the problem. There's a bit of a temptation from the less-traditionalist end of things to, yes, have a bit of an issue with the traditionalist content itself and often not speak respectfully of it, but then to fall back on the value of using your words and, dude, like boundaries dude, and owning one's preferences among the many available. So, you can have your traditionalist thing provided that you put the appropriate color hanky in your back pocket so that people who are into your particular thing among many things can find you, and you speak in a way that recognizes that other people do other things, and this is your thing, etc. Problem solved, yay, and if you can't get that to work then get you some therapy.

(And it seems somewhat rare, I note, even among progressive folks, to find someone who truly does not ever use or take "get therapy" as a slight. I'm certainly far from that myself, in certain cases.)

Except that this is, er, less than a great fit with a system of values part of which includes the notion that there is one right thing to do, and that people who do not determine what it is and follow it are lacking in merit -- full stop, no alternative models considered. Asking for what you want does not satisfy, because there aren't supposed to be things other than that which aren't wrong. So an answer that is intrinsically based on the notion that people's values will differ and that's okay is essentially contradicting THIS value, and that's... not okay. Thusly the (really, correct) sense that people are imposing their own values, because they intrinsically are in conflict on one point, and are likely (as in the example case) to be less than delicate regarding not being into the other ones.

I wish I had a solution to this problem -- in certain cases it would greatly simplify my personal life -- but alas, I lack ideas and think it's likely to be theoretically impossible (although, like many theoretically impossible things, practically somewhat possible to work around).
posted by sparktinker at 7:58 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


Careering!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:59 PM on April 28, 2014 [31 favorites]


"Careering" is correct. LobsterMitten wins and mikeh gets to sit in poopy pants for 15 minutes as a result of being an incorrect poopy pantser.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:12 PM on April 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


Careering stopped being a thing even before the economic meltdown. Now threads temp if they are lucky, but mostly they have to set up etsy shops and live in their parents' basements where they complain about entitled boomers who were so entitled that they didn't have to pay $5 to join.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:15 PM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's an astute articulation of what's going on, sparktinker, but the slice that gets us out of that gordian knot is the fact that the world is undeniably full of people who hold different values, and so especially in the context of, say, a dating advice question -- which pretty much by definition involves meeting people whose personalities and values you've yet to discern -- advice that reflects that truth will always be apropos.

It's fair, I guess, for someone to believe that their own values are the only honorable ones, but it's foolish for them to assume that any other decent-seeming person they meet or go on a date with will share all of them.

(Plus, if this theoretical questioner took the time to closely examine all of those values, they'd likely find that there are many circumstances in which some of them contradict or at least pull in different directions -- which is why advice columns existed even in the 50s.)
posted by nobody at 8:18 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


(I'm pretty sure I stand by what I wrote, but I probably should've taken the time to find a replacement for "foolish" -- "often counter-productive," maybe? As-is, my comment might feel like it's simply reproducing the disconnect spartinker described, not actually cutting through it?)
posted by nobody at 8:25 PM on April 28, 2014


I think sparktinker's articulation is utterly confusing, maybe nobody can explain it to me, or someone can.
posted by sweetkid at 8:32 PM on April 28, 2014 [1 favorite]


With the proviso that standards of human interaction vary across culture, class, ethnicity, political loyalty, and many other other dimensions. And the 1950s weren't guillotined off sharply at the end of 1959. They have a long tail with a different taper in each cultural microdivision so "This isn't the 1950s" isn't even true, except in the calender sense, for anyone in one of those long tails.

This a thousand times.

Growing up, not remotely in the 1950s, it was a cultural normalization for me in my cultural environment that when you got somewhere if you were getting home late at night, you called the person's house you'd left from, and nice guys walked or drove you home and didn't leave you until they saw with their eyestalks that you got home safely. Yes, this was an immigrant cultural normalization, but it also took place in NYC for what that's worth.

So again - these kind of normalizing and dismissive statements are really kind of dismissive of people's lived experience. Saying "Hey, he may not mean it like that, other people with different cultural values consider it more respectful not to assume the woman is weak" would be fine, but saying something like that that's really a thumb in the nose to the Asker's cultural values just strikes me as unnecessarily dickish.

Look, I have those threads where I just want to Tell The Asker What's Wrong, too. Usually for me, it's threads that start out with "So I was going through my spouse's phone/email/computer/sock drawer." But I try really hard (and hopefully, for the most part, succeed) to keep that shit in check, because that's not what they need or want. And I think that's what we should be striving for - to be helpful to the person, not to just make smug funnies about their backwardness.
posted by corb at 8:33 PM on April 28, 2014 [10 favorites]


That was growing up, the asker is in her 30s.

I think it's very nice if I go on a date near my house and the guy walks me home. But it's not mandatory. It's also really very nice if someone texts to make sure I got home ok, my friends and I even do this all the time. I'm pretty sure most dates have done this, even though I am not scared of where I live. But not doing it isn't a "Slip in civility" on a date to most people. A "slip in civility" would be like, picking your nose.
posted by sweetkid at 8:40 PM on April 28, 2014


Corb, hopefully this isn't too much of a derail, but was the NYC culture you were normalized in localized to specific neighborhoods? (It sounds like it was common for you all to have cars?) If you lived in Queens and they lived in the Bronx and you spent the evening doing something in Manhattan, they'd travel with you home before making the return hour and a half trip back?
posted by nobody at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


Careening and careering:
This reminds me of a furious argument I once had with an editor over careening and careering. I wrote that a bicycle with a drunk driver careened into the street. My copy returned with a stern "No!" in thick black ink. Careening, he insisted, meant turning a ship on one side to caulk its hull (from the Latin carina, keel). It was careering - moving or swerving about wildly - that I wanted. I replied that it was the image of tipping a ship over that had given rise to the common metaphorical usage, in the United States at least, of careening as moving wildly and precariously. Ah, well, he retorted, rolling his epistolary eyes, the United States, well, there you go. ...
posted by jamjam at 8:46 PM on April 28, 2014 [9 favorites]


"So an answer that is intrinsically based on the notion that people's values will differ and that's okay is essentially contradicting THIS value, and that's... not okay."

This is basically the "tolerance requires being tolerant of the intolerant" argument which is, I think, slightly facile. I don't think you intended it that way; but it's frequently used as a gotcha by those who are intolerant in arguments with those who espouse tolerance.

But the fact of the matter is that you can't be entirely tolerant or entirely intolerant. The former is arguably theoretically impossible (depending upon how you define "being tolerant") and the latter is ... impractical. Most people find a middle way through this by setting limits on what degree of intolerance in others they find they can live with and what degree of tolerance in themselves they feel they are obligated to cultivate.

My rules-of-thumb involve assessing how principled, considered, and rational an intolerant position is (as opposed to what I think is the opposite, a visceral "I just know this is normal and right" intuitive assertion about the universe on the basis of little more than what they are accustomed to) in combination with how adversely an intolerant position arguably affects those with conflicting views who are otherwise well-intended and arguably benign. This applies to both myself and others. And it also sometimes applies to tolerant positions of the "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" variety.

The thing is, matters of social custom tend to fail the first part of the test very badly and, when applied to people who don't share one's custom, also tend to fail the second part of the test badly, especially when it's accompanied by what amounts to a denunciation of another's character.

The clearest case of this I can think of are the arguments you can see in the "wearing shoes in the home?" discussions, where people argue on the basis of unconsidered assumptions about the supposed rationales for what one is accustomed to in combination with a denunciation (often a moral denunciation!) of those who fail to conform to one's own customs. It is amazing how strongly so many people can combine their projection of their own experience to a near-universal and (supposedly) obviously correct way to behave, with no real reflection on the possibility that their experience is limited, with heated and unequivocal judgments of the characters of those who argue the opposite position.

I'd like to think that this is an obvious example that will prove my point to everyone. The problem with that hope is that the threads where this has been argued and my using of this as an example proves me wrong. It isn't obvious to people that their own culture's/subculture's customs about wearing shoes in the home aren't universally shared and self-evidently the only right way to do things, and it isn't obvious that those with whom they disagree aren't awful, inconsiderate people who shouldn't be allowed indoors.

But that's how all these sorts of discussions go and so much of what people ask about in human relations questions are about unspoken and unwritten rules of social behavior, including within familial and romantic relationships. And so many answers are people universalizing from their own limited experience, assuming that what's normal and seems reasonable for them from that experience is normal and reasonable for everyone, and that those who think differently are in some way either psychologically or socially defective.

"But not doing it isn't a 'Slip in civility' on a date to most people."

Who is "most people"? Most people you know? Most people in your regional/age/education/cultural demographic? Most people in the US? In the world? What? Why do you make the generalization so easily and confidently?

I mean, if I had to guess about American culture, which I know best, I'd probably agree with you. But when discussing this with any individual person I'd add so many caveats to that guess that it would be much more helpful to advise them to actually query the other person's views on this (or delay judgment) instead of assuming it on the basis of a sketchy, hand-waving guesstimate.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:56 PM on April 28, 2014 [13 favorites]


If you lived in Queens and they lived in the Bronx and you spent the evening doing something in Manhattan, they'd travel with you home before making the return hour and a half trip back?

If it was a date? Yes. Otherwise I just usually had to call when I got home and tell them I was alive. And I am at least roughly the same age as that Asker. I mean, I fully recognize that for many people, this is not normal, but I'm just saying, assumptions that no one ever does this may be neglecting specific cultures that put a priority on it.
posted by corb at 9:02 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


> You are saying anyone who disagrees with you on this matter of etiquette, damn the
> circumstances, is not worth knowing. Blanket statements of opinion as fact is a shitty
> behaviour no matter the viewpoint being expressed.

Reading skills, reading skills. I said no such thing. I said that that person's opinion--note, singular--on the bizarreness of what I said I would do does not matter to me. That is not a blanket dismissal of all their opinions on every possible subject, let alone a statement that that person is not worth knowing. There are many metafilter members with whom I disagree on many issues but whom I nevertheless like and respect.

> On Preview: what gadge emeritus wrote.

Ivan Fyodorovich, case in point.


> we don't have tokens on the NYC subway any more.

Thanks for the reminder. nycsubway.com says "The current turnstile dates back to 1994 and takes tokens and MetroCards" but also notes that the High Entrance Exit turnstile is Metrocard only. I have a handful of tokens from previous visits, and a Metrocard with nothing on it. It would be just my luck to need to go through a Metrocard-only turnstile carrying only some tokens and an exhausted Metrocard. Putting some value on the card will be a high priority errand next time I visit your fair city.


> What? I presume this is meant to be 'asbestos', but even then, what?

It was a mis-typing, and I had even just looked the word up on wiktionary to be sure of the spelling. It means it's almost midnight here and I should take my derails and myself off to bed. Nighty-night all.
posted by jfuller at 9:04 PM on April 28, 2014


Thanks for the reminder. nycsubway.com says "The current turnstile dates back to 1994 and takes tokens and MetroCards" but also notes that the High Entrance Exit turnstile is Metrocard only. I have a handful of tokens from previous visits, and a Metrocard with nothing on it. It would be just my luck to need to go through a Metrocard-only turnstile carrying only some tokens and an exhausted Metrocard. Putting some value on the card will be a high priority errand next time I visit your fair city.

The turnstiles haven't accepted tokens since 2003. I'm afraid your tokens will have to remain souvenirs...
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:12 PM on April 28, 2014 [6 favorites]


Who is "most people"? Most people you know? Most people in your regional/age/education/cultural demographic? Most people in the US? In the world? What? Why do you make the generalization so easily and confidently?

Most people dating in their 30s in New York who aren't part of a tight knit ethnic/religious culture and who are mostly transplants.

That sounds like the demographic described in the OP.
posted by sweetkid at 9:13 PM on April 28, 2014 [2 favorites]


(um wrong link earlier. jeez.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:16 PM on April 28, 2014


"That sounds like the demographic described in the OP."

Sure, that sounds right to me. But then, if that's the case, the issue is either that she doesn't belong to that demographic but she's trying to date men who do, or she does belong to that demographic and is an exception. In either case, the right response isn't to tell her that the world has moved on from her regressive views and that she should seek therapy to learn to deal with this. The right response is to direct her toward which of those two mismatches is the case and what she might do about it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:20 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


> Who is "most people"? Most people you know? Most people in your regional/age/education/cultural demographic? Most people in the US? In the world? What? Why do you make the generalization so easily and confidently?

Most people dating in their 30s in New York who aren't part of a tight knit ethnic/religious culture and who are mostly transplants.


One of my friends in this demographic is also my one friend who spontaneously texts me to say she got home to Manhattan safely when she is visiting me in Brooklyn. It's just what she does.

Although (she said, trying to bring things around to the original point), when the situation was reversed, she asked me to do the same, because she knew I wasn't in the habit of doing that and she knew she would feel more comfortable if I did. In other words, she knew that it wasn't something everyone did, so since she placed importance on it, she asked for it.

Just like, as it has been observed, caseofyou could have done; and this is what has been pointed out to caseofyou in the example cited.

An example which, when cited, made caseofyou uncomfortable and feeling defensive.

A defensiveness which prompted caseofyou to make this MeTa in the first place - unless caseofyou has other examples about "snarky agenda-driven derails".

*wipes brow* Okay, that was my attempt to reroute the conversation back to the original question...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ivan, That's not why people were asking her to seek therapy. People suggested so she can learn now to set her own boundaries and get in healthy relationships, because learning how to do that seemed to be part of what she was looking for in her question.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 PM on April 28, 2014 [8 favorites]


I posted a question once about being uncomfortable with my bisexuality, and people suggested therapy- NOT TO MAKE ME LESS BISEXUAL, but to make me ok with being bisexual and with talking to other people about it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2014 [17 favorites]


Well, even though there might be a range of responses to a question, when the one perceived by the asker to be most biting is heavily favourited, and similar points are made in more careful language by other responders, and there are one or two arguably snarky answers woven in here and there, I think it might be understandable if a vulnerable asker's reaction to the overall response is anchored to the sharpest reply.

As for unspoken expectations - they're sort of what etiquette's made of, especially in a 'guess' cultural framework. Outright requests aren't, from that perspective, a sign of emotional maturity, necessarily. 'Ask' cultural standards seem to be normative on the site, with 'guess' behaviour sometimes seen as passive and immature, as are sociocentric values and interdependent conceptions of self. Which is understandable, given a broadly high-achieving, highly educated US userbase, since a particular kind of individuation tends to go along with that. (I'm not now thinking of the original question, which I think has tapped a number of issues.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:09 PM on April 28, 2014 [5 favorites]


"What? I presume this is meant to be 'asbestos', but even then, what?"

HAVE YOU BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH GENITAL MESOTHELIOMA?
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 PM on April 28, 2014 [4 favorites]


No gentleman--emphasis on 'gentle'--would think it bizarre. Anyone of any gender who thinks it bizarre, well, that person's opinion does not matter in the slightest to me.

Reading skills, reading skills. I said no such thing. I said that that person's opinion--note, singular--on the bizarreness of what I said I would do does not matter to me. That is not a blanket dismissal of all their opinions on every possible subject, let alone a statement that that person is not worth knowing.

That might be what you thought you said. How it read was much less forgiving. Before tut-tutting about reading skills, maybe add a few words here and there to try and clear up ambiguities? A simple 'about this belief' would have narrowed it down. And either way, you still pronounced your belief as a fact, speaking as if you were The Gentleman Who Knows What It Is To Be A Gentleman. And added to your belief stated as fact was this air of condescension, of dismissal, that has come through your recent comments.

I'm an advocate for charitable reading. I think the OP could have benefited from doing so in the case of a few of her received answers, it would have probably pre-empted this MeTa. But I also believe in rereading comments that appear to have been misread and checking if the problem lies in how I phrased things, and apologising for the confusion if that is so.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:34 PM on April 28, 2014 [12 favorites]


Outright requests aren't, from that perspective, a sign of emotional maturity, necessarily. 'Ask' cultural standards seem to be normative on the site, with 'guess' behaviour sometimes seen as passive and immature, as are sociocentric values and interdependent conceptions of self. Which is understandable, given a broadly high-achieving, highly educated US userbase, since a particular kind of individuation tends to go along with that. (I'm not now thinking of the original question, which I think has tapped a number of issues.)

well yes but it's not called GuessMetaFilter, now, is it
posted by Sebmojo at 1:39 AM on April 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


well yes but it's not called GuessMetaFilter, now, is it

Well I think what could be understood is that "Guess"-cultures (high-context cultures using the theory of [Hall 1997]) have their own norms in asking for help, advice, information. If we accept the idea that communication styles may vary on a sociocultural level, then in the interest of diversity, inclusion, and all the other progressive values we generally hold to be important, perhaps it would be a more effective approach to not impose norms, but tread with some sensitivity—in those situations where we can cognitively afford to do so. I.e. the idea that it's going to be a learning experience for both sides of any discussion. Teachers learn from their students, too—and this truth applies to advice givers.

I was just doing some personal research earlier today, and I find it surprisingly relevant; for example in this overview article (APA/API = Asian Pacific Americans/Islanders):

GENERAL COMMUNICATION
Care is the key to understanding. Immigrants who utter flat imperatives often are seen as rude or dumb by native English speakers; in fact, APIs simply do not command the elaborate indirectness of English (Wierzbicka, 1991). Only through careful interaction with children and their families, and close collaboration among teachers, special educators, and health professionals, will it be possible to accurately identify problems and work together to solve them.

The following suggestions for education professionals, drawn from a set of guidelines for speech pathologists (Matsuda, 1989,) may help avoid a communication breakdown with APIs:
* Establish the professional's role and assume authority.
* Reach consensus by compromising.
* Address immediate needs and give concrete advice.
* Respect API cultural beliefs and incorporate them into teaching.
* Be patient, and consider periods of silence opportunities for reflection on what has been said.
* Provide clear and full information, such as what will be provided by, and is expected from, each participant in the discussion.
* Be attentive to nonverbal cues.

—to me, and the broad point of relevance is, this is just an example of the kind of work that has to go into cross-cultural communication. It's just not trivial.
posted by polymodus at 3:11 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Texts/calls to make sure you got home okay have always confused me. They're for the sender to feel better, not the person going home, right? If the axe murderer got me, that text isn't going to do much. And what if I don't respond? Do you call the cops? Go racing across the city? If something happened, you don't know where I would be, and maybe I just feel asleep.

I can see an escort if someone requests, but if they don't need you present to be/feel safe, then they don't need you to text them to do absolutely nothing for their saftey. You might as well click "like" on Me Being Alive on Facebook.
posted by spaltavian at 5:49 AM on April 29, 2014 [18 favorites]


well yes but it's not called GuessMetaFilter, now, is it

There certainly is a lot of guessing that goes on there, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Texts/calls to make sure you got home okay have always confused me. They're for the sender to feel better, not the person going home, right? If the axe murderer got me, that text isn't going to do much. And what if I don't respond? Do you call the cops? Go racing across the city? If something happened, you don't know where I would be, and maybe I just feel asleep.

It's just a gesture.
posted by sweetkid at 7:02 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought I was being tongue-in-cheek with my "careening" comment but I was actually being poop-in-pants! Sorry for being a poopy pants. I've learned something today.


I know this is way out in left field at this point, but in the past I have actually said "Do you mind if I send you a text when I get home?" as an acknowledgment that it was late and I wanted the person to know I was safe. Because sometimes people mean to ask for that, and don't, and other times you just want to text someone that you're safe.
posted by mikeh at 7:58 AM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


> I've learned something today.

Me too, Well, yesterday, but in this thread anyway. When asking someone out on a first date I should make it perfectly clear that I will want and expect to escort her home in person. If she considers that bizarre or unhinged there are bound to be many other things about me that would make me a poor date for her, and she may want to turn down my invitation. (N.b. I have never once encountered this attitude in real life and had no idea it existed. Now I know.)
posted by jfuller at 9:01 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe just go with the flow and see what happens. Something about hearing I EXPECT TO BE FOLLOWING YOU HOME TONIGHT from a guy you haven't even had a drink with yet seems a little scary.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2014 [30 favorites]


Jfuller, a woman's about eight times more likely to assaulted by her date than by a stranger lurking in the shadows during her commute home. There are plenty of intelligent reasons to decline such an escort, and your insistence on the point is weird.
posted by jaguar at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2014 [31 favorites]


Hm...it strikes me that these social codes rely on an assumption that any man who follows these rules is obviously a Gentleman and thus obviously trustworthy?

(Also noting: old movies make clear that the walking-one's-date-home convention is not in fact for the purpose of safety but rather for the purpose of kissing near the front door with semi-angry parents peering through the curtains. But I suppose these movies are already part and parcel with the downfall of proper society.)
posted by nobody at 9:23 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


When asking someone out on a first date I should make it perfectly clear that I will want and expect to escort her home in person. If she considers that bizarre or unhinged there are bound to be many other things about me that would make me a poor date for her, and she may want to turn down my invitation.

Or maybe, like...phrase it as a question? And ask at the end of the date and not before? Something like, "Hey, you all right travelling home by yourself? It's late and all and I don't mind walking you to your doorstep. Just figured I'd offer."

I mean, if you ask someone out and in the same breath say, "Oh, by the way, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that I will want and expect to escort you home in person," that's gonna come off not so great. I'd think quite a few women would find that fairly bizarre - much moreso than if you just asked her towards the end of the date.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:29 AM on April 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think the best way to do it in modern era is: "My mother always taught me to make sure to see a lady home, but I don't want you to feel uncomfortable. Would you rather go somewhere familiar in your own neighborhood?"
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


well yes but it's not called GuessMetaFilter, now, is it

No, but apart from related snafus in generating and decoding questions and answers, behaviours described in questions are often judged according to 'ask culture' norms, and advice offered often falls in line with them. All of that involves judgements about what constitutes psychological health, appropriate behaviour, etc.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:31 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]




I think the best way to do it in modern era is: "My mother always taught me to make sure to see a lady home, but I don't want you to feel uncomfortable. Would you rather go somewhere familiar in your own neighborhood?"


No, Famous Monster's is much better:

"Hey, you all right travelling home by yourself? It's late and all and I don't mind walking you to your doorstep. Just figured I'd offer."

Criteria for judging: woman, have been dating consistently in the modern era in NYC, have heard it phrased that way and responded well & felt comfortable with it, would feel weird about someone talking about what their mother taught them and "a lady home" and etc.
posted by sweetkid at 9:38 AM on April 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


hooray i am best
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2014 [23 favorites]


I should make it perfectly clear that I will want and expect to escort her home in person

It's clear from your earlier comment that your definition of what a gentleman is (and does) is quite firm, but to many people, a gentleman is someone who asks and neither assumes nor imposes. YMobviouslyV.
posted by rtha at 9:41 AM on April 29, 2014 [41 favorites]


rtha: " a gentleman is someone who asks and neither assumes nor imposes."

I really like that description. Well said.
posted by zarq at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like it too. Criteria for judging...eh see qualifications above.
posted by sweetkid at 9:52 AM on April 29, 2014


"It's just a gesture."

When I request it of someone, it's not a gesture intended to communicate that I care. Rather, in my case, it's because I will sincerely wonder and probably worry if I don't hear from them because I'm a little neurotic about that sort of thing. Not with short trips across town, or something, but with longer trips or where I can more (too?) easily imagine some sort of mishap. So, for me, it's actually more a selfish request than a gesture. I mean, I guess it does imply that I care. But that sort of doesn't compute for me because why wouldn't I care? I'm not going to ask the UPS driver to call me when he gets home, but I'll ask a friend or relative or my date or someone where it's already understood I care about them.

"I know this is way out in left field at this point, but in the past I have actually said 'Do you mind if I send you a text when I get home?' as an acknowledgment that it was late and I wanted the person to know I was safe. Because sometimes people mean to ask for that, and don't, and other times you just want to text someone that you're safe."

See, in the context of what I just wrote, I think that's admirably thoughtful of you. But everyone doesn't share the same sensibilities and preconceptions about this stuff and I'm certain some other people would think this was actually selfish of you in some way, like you're imposing upon them. So both your request and mine can be intended, or seen, as being either generous or selfish.

This is why people shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions about what's inside other people's heads based upon their own way of understanding the world.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ha, I love all this talk about etiquette. I found it almost rudely forward when a first date repeatedly offered to walk me four blocks home in a tree lined university town. (This is more a comment on me than this considerate guy. But i remember thinking: Like I can't walk myself home! Like I trust you, near stranger, more than the evening streets that have been my daily companion?) I'd have to remind myself not to be offended by the suggestion that "I need to find a nice man to walk me home" (as Dar Williams put it). Plus, my family doesn't call to say the airplane landed safely.

Just checking in here as another data point. My idea of civility is respecting someone's competence and demonstrated ability to independently maneuver through the world up until the point I met them. I mean a questioning "would you like me to...?" would be fine and seem thoughtful and considerate, but beyond that, it can get pushy and unwelcome.
posted by salvia at 9:59 AM on April 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Also noting: old movies make clear that the walking-one's-date-home convention is not in fact for the purpose of safety but rather for the purpose of kissing near the front door with semi-angry parents peering through the curtains.

I confess I have not read the entire thread, but I can only say DUH. The real purpose of the taking home is prolonging enjoyable company of person of interest, not providing bodyguard services.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:10 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


yes, also the purpose of the "got home OK?" text is often to be nice/friendly/continue conversation until the next time.
posted by sweetkid at 10:25 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just checking in here as another data point. My idea of civility is respecting someone's competence and demonstrated ability to independently maneuver through the world up until the point I met them. I mean a questioning "would you like me to...?" would be fine and seem thoughtful and considerate, but beyond that, it can get pushy and unwelcome.

I was once on a date in which a guy insisted on cutting my steak for me. Another guy once really wanted to carry my handbag for me. I had to fight my urge to punch both those guys.

However, I have a genuine interest in whether my friends made it home after leaving a dive (whatever, excellent music) at 3am, in the dead of winter, in a city in which taxi drivers sometimes refuse to pick people up in those areas, at those times. Were I to get a text that said, "Still waiting", I might do what I could to help arrange a cab.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:26 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


My girlfriend's parents expect people to call as soon as they get home from any sort of trip, even a 45-minute car ride. My parents would be vaguely concerned if they didn't hear from me for a week, but not overly. It's been a spot of weirdness trying to navigate the different expectations; her parents think it's really inconsiderate to not call, whereas mine think something went wrong if we call immediately. If I just told them I got home safe, they'd say "…And?"
posted by klangklangston at 10:27 AM on April 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


The real purpose of the taking home is prolonging enjoyable company of person of interest, not providing bodyguard services.

WHY MUST I HAVE TO CHOOSE.
posted by corb at 10:35 AM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


With regards to the Ask/Guess thing above, there are perfectly clear ways for Guess-culture people to communicate their needs to each other; they may be indirect or nonverbal, but they certainly exist.

"Communicate your needs clearly" is not Ask-culture / direct-communication exclusive. And if one is from a more indirect culture and is finding that one's needs are consistently not being met when communicated clearly-but-indirectly, it's worth examining whether one should switch gears and be more direct.
posted by jaguar at 10:40 AM on April 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


My parents, who live 800 miles away in Texas, will ask me to confirm that Husbunny and I have successfully traveled from Atlanta to KY.

Also, they want me to affirm that our flight landed okay, and lucky me, they feel compelled to do the same.

"We landed okay at Heathrow, we're waiting for the luggage, had a great meal on the plane. Love, Mom and Dad"


No shit. It's a thing.

I was also taught to wait in the car, at the curb, until the friend I dropped off was safely inside the house. If I was driving a friend to her car, then I had to wait until the car started up, and then we could both go.

People think I'm odd, but hey, as long as they don't think I'm a creep. I'm good.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:41 AM on April 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


That is to say, AskMe answers tend to suggest direct communication because they are generally addressing situations in which indirect communication has already failed. "I like a guy, so I held his glance for a moment, then made sure that I stood just far apart enough from the people I was with so that he had room to approach me, which he did, and we flirted, and then he asked me out, so I think he likes me too!" is probably the more common scenario than all the various "Does this person reciprocate my interest?" questions on the site, but the former is not really an AskMe question.
posted by jaguar at 10:46 AM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


cotton dress sock: "I was once on a date in which a guy insisted on cutting my steak for me. "

Oy.
posted by zarq at 10:50 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was also taught to wait in the car, at the curb, until the friend I dropped off was safely inside the house. If I was driving a friend to her car, then I had to wait until the car started up, and then we could both go.

Oh, I'd gathered growing up that both those scenarios were primarily about making sure they hadn't lost their keys and thus making sure you weren't abandoning them in the no-public-transportation, no-nearby-payphone, suburban Outdoors. (And there wasn't anything gendered about it, not that you were implying otherwise.)
posted by nobody at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


I was once on a date in which a guy insisted on cutting my steak for me.

Are you a dolphin? I would probably do that if I were on a date with a dolphin.

I totally want to date a dolphin.

Do dolphins eat steak?

posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:07 AM on April 29, 2014 [13 favorites]


Oh, I'd gathered growing up that both those scenarios were primarily about making sure they hadn't lost their keys and thus making sure you weren't abandoning them in the no-public-transportation, no-nearby-payphone, suburban Outdoors. (And there wasn't anything gendered about it, not that you were implying otherwise.)

Exactly, either gender, and you have to wait until you know that the person is totally okay to go on without you. The car thing was to make sure the car started up, in my youth we lived in the Valley of the Junkers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


yes, also the purpose of the "got home OK?" text is often to be nice/friendly/continue conversation until the next time.

In that case I would probably then say something like (I had fun tonight! Talk to you later.) "Did you get home OK" has, to me, a distinctly paternal sense that I would not want to communicate or have directed at me. I get that's not universal.
posted by spaltavian at 11:18 AM on April 29, 2014


The one common thread to all your relationship problems is you. Something to think about.

Same thing applies to your issue with Askme.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ruthless Bunny: "Also, they want me to affirm that our flight landed okay, and lucky me, they feel compelled to do the same. ... I was also taught to wait in the car, at the curb, until the friend I dropped off was safely inside the house."

I just assume that this is how people are! I'm a 36-year-old married woman and when I drop off a friend after we go to dinner, in our safe single-family neighborhood where I know her husband is home AND she has a cell phone, I always wait by the curb to see that she gets in the house okay! That's just, like, a rule of society, like "don't stab people at dinner with your butter knife," "don't poop in the living room," and "make sure people get home okay." My husband carpools to work with two other dudes and even his carpool dudes wait before they leave to make sure he opens the door. At 5:30 in the evening. When they all have cell phones and there are plenty of people around in the neighborhood. It's just what one does.

When my friends and I all go to dinner and it's icy out, I usually text them after to make sure they got home okay. Because otherwise I worry. It's also just TRIVIAL with text messaging to send a quick text letting relatives know, "Made it home, drive was fine" or "Flight okay, waiting for luggage" when you're traveling longer distances.

If someone was dropping off my kids and not waiting to see if they got in okay, I would seriously reconsider whether that person was responsible enough to be in charge of my kids, and I would probably not let my child babysit again for a family who didn't wait to see if he or she got in at home. It would just be such a breach of normal social expectations!

A little different with a date, because there's conflicting safety concerns (is this guy a stalker vs. do I get home okay), but still. In everyday life I think it's totally weirder when people DON'T make sure you get home and get in okay.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:37 AM on April 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


yes, also the purpose of the "got home OK?" text is often to be nice/friendly/continue conversation until the next time.

Yeah, it's a gesture. I usually text to say something like, "Just got home. Had a great time tonight!" and I think it's nice when a friend or relative or date does the same. Nobody is texting, "Survived. You?!"

I also do the thing of waiting until a friend/relative/date/whoever unlocks their door or gets into their building or starts up their car before leaving. If a date goes well, I think it's perfectly normal for the guy to ask, "may I walk you home?" or "may I walk you to your car?" but I would find it pretty bizarre for someone to inform me ahead of time that I will be escorted home or to my car. I mean, I would think that the guy is asking to walk me out so that we can spend more time together and maybe have enough privacy to for a goodbye kiss, not because I can't be trusted to go alone.
posted by rue72 at 11:38 AM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think my deal with asking people if they got home okay is that like what really is the point? What I am supposed to do if they don't answer? If I text them to see if they're home okay, either they say they got home okay, or they don't text back at all. If they were in a situation where they did not get home safe but could use their phone, then they would call whomever was the most appropriate person to help them in that situation, which may or may not be me. If they don't text back - what then? My default would be to assume they are just not checking their phone or they're in the shower or otherwise busy. Am I supposed to call in a hunt at that point?

I still tend to wait when dropping someone off to make sure they got in okay, but I think this is actually kind of pointless and something I just got from my parents growing up in the midwest. Surely if they couldn't get in their house and needed me they could just call me right?

My parents still text me when they land somewhere on a plane to let me know they made it safe, and I always kind of feel like, yeah, duh. Don't you think if your plane crashed I'd have heard about that? Plus, who doesn't arrive safe when flying? You really ought to be texting me every morning when you manage to drive safely to work...
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:47 AM on April 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


I guess in context the answer to "got home ok?" can be not just "yes! the wolves will have no meal tonight!" and more like, "yes, OMG though I saw this guy dressed as a clown throw up on the F train" or "yes, this guy was playing Nights in White Satin on the 14th street platform, made me think of what you said about your grandpa at dinner."

It's not that literal.
posted by sweetkid at 11:53 AM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


Although now that I think about it the next time I go on a date I might just write "got home ok! the wolves will have no meal tonight."
posted by sweetkid at 11:54 AM on April 29, 2014 [21 favorites]


Lutoslawski: "My parents still text me when they land somewhere on a plane to let me know they made it safe, and I always kind of feel like, yeah, duh. Don't you think if your plane crashed I'd have heard about that? Plus, who doesn't arrive safe when flying? "

WELL ACTUALLY. I had a relative who was supposed to be flying on United 232 (which crashed near Sioux City, Iowa), who had missed the flight and got on a flight a little later without calling anyone to tell them his itinerary changed, before cell phones and TV on airplanes and whatnot, so he was up in the air for a couple hours after it happened with no contact with anyone on the ground and it literally almost killed my grandmother when she thought he had been on Flight 232 as scheduled.

(In the "weird coincidences of the world" category, he was later scheduled to fly on ANOTHER plane that crashed that he ended up not taking (a little one, not a big commercial airliner), and we were not allowed to even tell my grandmother about that one. And then on 9/11 he was scheduled for a breakfast meeting while on a business trip to NYC in the Twin Towers but his counterpart had a stomach bug so the meeting got cancelled (which he didn't bother to tell anyone because why would you?), and nobody could reach him for HOURS because of the communications problems. And anyway, he has a strange talent for near-misses with airplane-related disasters.)

Anyway, tell people about changes to your air travel itinerary or you might make your mother drop dead from the stress.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:03 PM on April 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


> Jfuller, a woman's about eight times more likely to assaulted by her date than by a stranger lurking in the shadows during
> her commute home. There are plenty of intelligent reasons to decline such an escort, and your insistence on the point is
> weird.

Sexually assaulted, do you mean? There are other nasty things that can happen to a woman who is alone outside at night. Getting mugged for instance, or insistantly ranted at by an annoying drunk, or by some person who wants to tell you about Jesus Christ and won't take no for an answer. In all such cases two together are safer than one alone.


That said, if a woman is truly apprehensive of being assaulted by me, she certainly should not accept a date with me. Let her decline! She can just say no. She can stipulate that she wants our first date (and maybe more after that) to be in the daytime and in public places from beginning to end. Or if she does feel some attraction toward me she can say "James, I like you, but we don't know each other well enough for me to go on a 1+1 nighttime date with you yet. Could we wait a bit longer and get to know each other better?" I would walk away from a conversation like that dateless but with a big happy smile.


That said, there are many social conventions I was raised to observed, and do observe.

There is pleasure merely in observing them. Social relations in general, and dating in particular, are so very much like a prolonged dance that if I'm going to be denied the pleasures of doing the dance moves properly I want to know about it in advance. No, I would not dream of taking back my invitation (assuming it's accepted at all) just because things haven't started out as I prefer. But if things continue and end up the same way I'm going to assume that neither of us is a good date for the other.

There is pleasure (as others have noted) in prolonging the enjoyable company your date by seeing her home, quite apart from consideration of a woman's physical safety--it is not either/or--and and the end-of-date walk/ride home is a very big biggie. It's the best time for nonverbal communication. If she wants to hold hands and snuggle that's a very good omen for more dates and future cordial relations, and I will certainly follow up. But if none of that happens, that's nonverbal communication too and I will hear it. But if I'm going to be denied the walk home and the communication I want to know in advance.

There is pleasure (a great deal of it) in being as up-front as possible with a woman I am asking out, and doing my level best to be sure she isn't in for any unpleasant character surprises about me.

Finally, after this thread, there is pleasure in taking the advice of wise metafilter users. Many of those have told caseofyou some variant of "TELL your date if there's something you want from him. If you don't, and you don't get it, it's nobody's fault but your own. If you won't or can't express your wishes openly then into therapy with you until you can and will." Soooo, that's what I was already doing about some other things and it's no stretch to add the walk/ride home to the list. Sauce for goose, sauce for gander.
posted by jfuller at 1:23 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Regrettably, not a dolphin. Although there was some entrapment involved - it only became clear that the thing was a 'date' after I'd arrived at the restaurant, following the airy invitation of a coworker, with the idea I was going to be meeting 'some friends'. Who turned out to be coworker's fiance and the steak-cutter, who apparently could not procure dates by himself by honest means. Coworker was like, 'sorry, I just wanted you to meet [creep], I wasn't sure you'd come if you knew it was a date'. Aka total ambush. No repeat dinners with any of those people.

(With the bag, there was some dispute over whether it was a 'handbag' or a tote or what, because it was massive and I was carrying heavy stuff in it; anyway, I did resent the forceful pulling of bag/tote off my capacious delts.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


Based on my readings:

1a. Only the United States excluding the Southern United States is considered a generically low-context culture. I.e. the point is it's not culturally homogenous across North America.

1b. The U.S. is actually a relatively high-context culture compared to Germany and and Sweden.

1c. The fact is, the world has many more high-context cultures than low-context cultures.

2. I'm of the opinion that it follows that the onus of negotiating communication norms has to be shared. It is wrong to presuppose that Ask-culture is somehow more appropriate just because it is locally dominant, leaving the task of fitting in to those who are outside the norm. The work has to happen both ways, to be effective. The fact that this cultural awareness [see also the subject/practice of cultural sensitivity training] is possible is what makes this stance possible.
posted by polymodus at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


That said, if a woman is truly apprehensive of being assaulted by me, she certainly should not accept a date with me.

I don't think you meant to write that the way you wrote it.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2014 [8 favorites]


Um? I'ma miss the problem.
posted by jfuller at 1:45 PM on April 29, 2014


Well, you made the assumption that a woman you've never met in person, or at least never been on a date with, is going to know whether or not you're someone she'd like to walk her home, or even to go out with a second time, before the date.

Second of all, assuming that a woman wants to have a first date in the middle of the day just to screen out possible aggressive types is insulting as all hell. I'd like to think that women have free agency to go wherever they want, whenever, should they please. And if that means going out at night on a first date and not wanting to be walked home, that's fine. If it means they decide you're creepy, that's fine. Women should not have to schedule meet-ups during the day just because creepy men exist.
posted by mikeh at 1:51 PM on April 29, 2014 [11 favorites]


"There is pleasure merely in observing them. Social relations in general, and dating in particular, are so very much like a prolonged dance that if I'm going to be denied the pleasures of doing the dance moves properly I want to know about it in advance. "

what

I thought we jettisoned The Rules and the elaborate courting pantomimes once actual humans realized that they were pretty shitty at creating, predicting or prolonging healthy romantic relationships.

I know you're trying to defend some little patch of chivalry or something, but you're just coming across as a weird, domineering martinet.
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on April 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


Because - to me - it comes across that you assault women on a regular basis and those apprehensive enough to not accept a date with you miss out on your "gallantry".
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, I thought you were married for a while now, which generally precludes dating. Could you be trying to reassert norms that worked for you in years past but may now be kind of anachronistic to insist upon?
posted by klangklangston at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2014


Um? I'ma miss the problem.

It sounds a little intense and creepy, dude. And I think that this thread has made it pretty clear that women like many different things, some will appreciate being walked home, some prefer to go home alone. Your insistence that any woman on a date with you must be escorted home, whether it's for her safety or your pleasure (again with the creepy) is domineering and indicates that you aren't listening to what some (not all!) women would want in this situation.

Not saying you're a rapist, just saying that you are showing a strong inclination to not care about what women (again, not all!) want.
posted by Think_Long at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


That said, if a woman is truly apprehensive of being assaulted by me, she certainly should not accept a date with me.

This is pretty much implying that any woman who is assaulted on a date should have been apprehensive about that man in advance. It's about a half-step from victim blaming.
posted by mikeh at 1:55 PM on April 29, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think we can assume that it was poor phrasing on jfuller's end.
posted by Think_Long at 1:56 PM on April 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah, less victim blaming, more, "Any woman who doesn't want twenty minutes of unblinking eye contact with me should just decline the date invitation in advance."
posted by klangklangston at 1:58 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]



Also, I thought you were married for a while now, which generally precludes dating. Could you be trying to reassert norms that worked for you in years past but may now be kind of anachronistic to insist upon?


I think not only that, but also trying to assert anachronistic norms from old time Internet days where the point of going online was to try to pick arguments rather than advance a discussion.
posted by sweetkid at 2:10 PM on April 29, 2014


Even read charitably, it's still victim blaming. Women don't know in advance who's going to assault us, so it's silly to say it's our responsibility to screen out potential predators before accepting dates. Sexual assault victims are not all idiots who thought, "Yay, I'm going to let this obvious rapist walk me home alone! Hope it all works out ok!"
posted by jaguar at 2:30 PM on April 29, 2014 [16 favorites]


My mother just wanted me to let everyone know that she and my stepdad arrived safely in South Carolina.

Hit a little bit of traffic in the DC area, but then it was clear sailing.

They stopped for coffee a few times.

There was a little rain as they pulled into the condominium complex, but they're hoping for some good beach weather.

---in case anyone was wondering.
posted by kinetic at 2:36 PM on April 29, 2014 [17 favorites]


Not to get all semantic, but you're inverting the structure there in order to support the claim of victim blaming. If a woman feels unsafe around a guy, and he asks her on a date, she should not go on that date with him, not because she would then be at fault if she was raped, but because she feels unsafe prior to the date. Not feeling like your date is going to assault you is one of those bare minimum things, not a statement that women are to blame for not properly screening all the possible assailants.
posted by klangklangston at 2:37 PM on April 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


In the era of online dating, a woman likely hasn't been around a guy before they go on a date.
posted by mikeh at 2:50 PM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm impressed by how many Mefites go on dates. I've never been on one, as far as I recall.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:51 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Well, you made the assumption that a woman you've never met in person, or at least
> never been on a date with, is going to know whether or not you're someone she'd like to
> walk her home, or even to go out with a second time, before the date.

An if-statement cannot be an assumption.

> Second of all, assuming that a woman wants to have a first date in the middle of the day
> just to screen out possible aggressive types is insulting as all hell. I'd like to think that
> women have free agency to go wherever they want, whenever, should they please.

Of course women have that. I said "She can", which is utterly true, it is within the realm of the possible. I did not say "she must".


> This is pretty much implying that any woman who is assaulted on a date should have been
> apprehensive about that man in advance. It's about a half-step from victim blaming.

No such thing. The statistics about date rape are out there. If they are enough to make a given woman apprehensive about dating me she will know that much in advance. If she doesn't want to date me then, y'know, don't.


> Also, I thought you were married for a while now, which generally precludes dating.

Nope, not married since 2000. Oddly, my ex has warmed back up to me since then, we
now see a lot of each other, I eat at her house often, and she is one of the women I am certain would go out with me. I know that because I did ask and she did accept.
posted by jfuller at 2:52 PM on April 29, 2014


Someone can feel safe around someone and still be assaulted, is my point. If it was as easy as avoiding unsafe people, rape would be way less prevalent. Someone can also feel safe in one environment with a person and not in another. It's perfectly reasonable to feel safe in a crowded restaurant with a stranger but not walking together at night and showing him where you live. Claiming that women give up their right to say no to certain activities because they've said yes to other activities is victim blaming.
posted by jaguar at 2:55 PM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


> Not to get all semantic, but you're inverting the structure there in order to support the claim of victim blaming.

Thank you very much, klang.
posted by jfuller at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2014


Bad sentence. Should have been, "If it were as easy as avoiding people around whom one felt unsafe..."
posted by jaguar at 2:58 PM on April 29, 2014


I'm impressed by how many Mefites go on dates. I've never been on one, as far as I recall.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:51 PM on April 29


Well, necrophilia is pretty socially unacceptable these days.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:04 PM on April 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


Could be a Weekend at Bernie's kind of date.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:07 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Someone can feel safe around someone and still be assaulted, is my point. If it was as easy as avoiding unsafe people, rape would be way less prevalent. Someone can also feel safe in one environment with a person and not in another. It's perfectly reasonable to feel safe in a crowded restaurant with a stranger but not walking together at night and showing him where you live. Claiming that women give up their right to say no to certain activities because they've said yes to other activities is victim blaming."

Nobody is claiming that. None of that precludes the original statement. You're arguing as if he said, "That said, if a woman is not truly apprehensive of being assaulted by me, she certainly should accept a date with me." If A != B that does not mean that B = !A.

I disagree with jfuller, but he emphatically did not "Claim[…] that women give up their right to say no to certain activities because they've said yes to other activities." That's you putting that on him, and it's not a fair charge. You can still think it's a weird, formalistic courtship thing that he wants without turning it into a bit of rape culture.
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sorry, that A/B thing is confusing. Better explained here.
posted by klangklangston at 3:25 PM on April 29, 2014


I undetstand what he's saying, and I agree that no one should accept a date from someone who makes them feel unsafe.

But the idea that woman can avoid rape if they just turn down dates from guys who make them feel unsafe is implied in that comment, as well the idea that it would be absurd for a woman to feel safe on a date with a guy but to make a statistical decision not to want him to walk her home, as if women should all have some sort of supernatural ability to deem a date 100% trustworthy or 100% untrustworthy within moments of him asking her out.
posted by jaguar at 3:34 PM on April 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is all hypothetical to me, like I said (and can I just point out that I wasn't always a corpse), but if I'd been out on a date with a guy and he said he was walking me home, I might be pleased or I might wonder if this was his way of implying that I should invite him in to look at my etchings.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2014


assuming that a woman wants to have a first date in the middle of the day just to screen out possible aggressive types is insulting as all hell.

Maybe for some, for others it's straight up Best Practices. I mean, I am also married, but when I was dating, if I thought the guy might be sketch, I'd meet him in a sunny, well lit place with a lot of people and take it from there. Also tell a girlfriend who I went to see, what I knew about them, and when I expected to be back.
posted by corb at 3:46 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


"But the idea that woman can avoid rape if they just turn down dates from guys who make them feel unsafe is implied in that comment, as well the idea that it would be absurd for a woman to feel safe on a date with a guy but to make a statistical decision not to want him to walk her home, as if women should all have some sort of supernatural ability to deem a date 100% trustworthy or 100% untrustworthy within moments of him asking her out."

No, you're inferring it. It's not implied. And it's even more unfair to claim that this is with a "charitable" reading. It's not; it's with a markedly uncharitable reading. What is implied in the statement is that if jfuller makes a woman feel unsafe, then they should decline to go on a date with him. Which is fair. If a dog makes a person feel unsafe, they should decline to pet that dog. That does not mean that a person who feels safe with a dog that bites them deserved to be bitten.

In any event, it sounds like you should definitely not date jfuller.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on April 29, 2014 [6 favorites]


"This is all hypothetical to me, like I said (and can I just point out that I wasn't always a corpse), but if I'd been out on a date with a guy and he said he was walking me home, I might be pleased or I might wonder if this was his way of implying that I should invite him in to look at my etchings."

When we first started dating, my boo invited me up to see the 'zines she had made, which is how I knew she was the coolest girl ever.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


> But the idea that woman can avoid rape if they just turn down dates from guys who make
> them feel unsafe is implied in that comment

You have total control over what implications you read into my comments and I have none, but as for me that one I never even thought.


> I might be pleased or I might wonder if this was his way of implying that I should invite him in to look at my etchings.

Very much on my mind also, and explicitly covered in my first comment in this thread, intended for caseofyou:

But just for the record, caseofyou, I would have taken you home. If that felt to you uncomfortably like me angling for an invitation up to your room I would have been totally willing to drop you outside your building.

posted by jfuller at 4:11 PM on April 29, 2014


Given that the (or maybe "an") uncharitable reading is that jfuller intends to assault any woman who dates him, I do feel that interpreting his comment as saying he does not want to make women feel unsafe, which I do think is what he meant, is a charitable reading, yes. I am objecting to the implications of that statement, which, however well intentioned a statement it was, nevertheless echoes a great deal of victim-blaming rape apologia.
posted by jaguar at 4:13 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


To address the original topic of the thread:

But I did feel that this was was a glib derail:

Also:

But then he also made strange slips in civility, like when he asked me back to his place on our first date or didn't make sure I had returned home safely on our second. (Am I overreacting to these slips?)

Yes, IMO you are overreacting. It is not 1952; sex on the first date is no longer socially unacceptable and asking someone back to your place after the first date is far, far from "uncivil" (pressuring, on the other hand, is another thing entirely). And thanks to the wonderful things that happened in the 1970s, women are now seen as autonomous and independent and no longer in need of a man's protection, so I'm not sure why you think it is "uncivil" of him to not make sure you arrived home safely.

These are other issues for you to discuss in therapy.


I tried to post a response about the fact that I live in one of the worst parts of the city and it was late at night but my comment was deleted.

It's not a big deal on its own but I notice this kind of behavior constantly on askmetafilter, and I've probably engaged in it at times myself.


I don't see how the comment is either glib or a derail. It isn't glib because the person being quoted here was trying in good faith to identify for caseofyou where the apparent disparity in expectations may come from. It wasn't a derail because it was squarely germane to the subject of the question.

Yes, if somebody is doing something wrong they should be called out on it, but I'm referring specifically to snide comments that aren't exactly pertinent advice but are transparently lecturing the asker on some gender/race/identity issue.

If the comment isn't answering the question, it should be deleted according to extant moderation procedures. If the comment is addressing the assumptions built into the question, it may or may not be deleted based on the flags it gets and the context, I think, but in any case there's a difference between that and lecturing the asker. Real lectures which are not relevant would definitely be deleted.

So you're talking about comments that wouldn't be deleted under any of those rubrics, I suppose, because otherwise you'd just be agreeing with what the moderators are already doing, as I understand it. I think this is more a case of not liking what was said to you than yet another instance of a certain kind of insultingly condescending AskMe comment that somehow never gets deleted or flagged.

Listen, nobody wants to be lectured. Obviously. I think, caseofyou, that you're letting your justifiable irritation with a response you didn't like (though, again, you did post the question in search of answers) color your characterization of how things generally work around here. I don't think anyone was really mean or attacked you personally, and I don't see this prevalence you speak of regarding transparent lecturing which couldn't be more charitably and equally accurately characterized as thoughtful commentary on the context of the question.
posted by clockzero at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm really irritated that caseofyou couldn't come up with any examples besides her own and then disappeared when people stopped engaging her on her one grievance and started asking for the other examples.

I think that's bad faith. I wanted to help, both with the original question and the MeTa.
posted by sweetkid at 6:01 PM on April 29, 2014 [3 favorites]


(I'd figured the mods might have suggested backing out.)
posted by nobody at 6:08 PM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sweetkid, you are known to be one of the very least malicious users on the site, possibly the single least malicious mefi user. With all due respect for that and for you... honestly, it takes someone as mulishly stubborn as (ahem) to persevere in the face of so little encouragement and so much "You are the problem, change yourself."
posted by jfuller at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


aw thanks jfuller!
posted by sweetkid at 7:38 PM on April 29, 2014


There is pleasure merely in observing them. Social relations in general, and dating in particular, are so very much like a prolonged dance that if I'm going to be denied the pleasures of doing the dance moves properly I want to know about it in advance.

And what if someone doesn't know up front that she'd like to spend her taxi ride home alone checking MetaFilter? Is that changing of her mind a violation of your dating etiquette? I hope all this is clearly spelled out for her up front. On that note, how do the negotiations go? Do you inform your possible date that acceptance of a date constitutes not merely agreeing to show up at a certain place at the appropriate time, but also that she let you accompany her to her front door? What else? Must she have desert and coffee for you not to think her a boor? Is there a minimum date duration?
posted by salvia at 8:25 PM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]


By the way, Ivan Fyodorovich, I posted almost immediately after you without previewing. I hope my "I love all this talk about etiquette" ramble didn't feel directed at you. Shoulda previewed, I'm sorry!
posted by salvia at 8:27 PM on April 29, 2014


> On that note, how do the negotiations go?

Very smoothly. The opening is just "There are a few things I think you deserve to know about me, that I don't want to conceal". On the very short list are things like "I know sex on the first date is now considered OK by many but I will not ask, and if it doesn't just happen all by its little ole self I will not be upset".

As I mentioned upstream, I have never actually dated someone who didn't want and expect to be seen home. But after this thread I know its a thing I should address. Probably I'll say "Seeing you home is very important to me. If that's a big problem for you please don't keep it a secret now." If she does have any interest in me that's her cue to make a counteroffer. "Tell you what, let's make it a lunch date. After that I can't go home, with or without an escort, because I have to go back to work."


> Is there a minimum date duration?

Certainly not. Any woman is free to walk out on me at any moment. I'm pretty sure anything else is illegal.


> What else? Must she have desert and coffee for you not to think her a boor?

Now you're being silly.


> And what if someone doesn't know up front that she'd like to spend her taxi ride home
> alone checking MetaFilter? Is that changing of her mind a violation of your dating etiquette?

There's not much I can do about it at that point, is there? But yes, I would feel that I had been baited and switched, and would think many more times than twice before I called that person again.


P.S. OMG it's 00:40 AM. Ta, everyone.
posted by jfuller at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2014


Gracious. If someone brought up sex on the first date like that I'd assume that they were telling me that they expected sex that evening. Especially if it was a man I met online dating. There are far more people that speak in code than there are those who actually say what they mean, in my experience.

I believe the lesson in this thread is basically "everyone is different."
posted by sockermom at 9:48 PM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seems more like the lesson is that jfuller's dates are a bloody minefield of expectations.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:23 PM on April 29, 2014 [12 favorites]


jfuller, you state your non-negotiables and run through end-of-date scenarios before submitting your offer to go out on a date with a woman? Then you wait for her counteroffer before finalizing the agreement to chill one-on-one? I must say, that is an extremely professional chat-up.
posted by rue72 at 10:55 PM on April 29, 2014


"There are a few things I think you deserve to know about me, that I don't want to conceal"

I don't know whether my impulse, upon hearing this sentence from a complete stranger, would be to pepper spray you in the face? Or to be mildly disappointed when I learn that you are not, in fact, the infamous meth dealer Heisenberg.

As I'm vast and contain multitudes, I posit it would actually be both.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:04 PM on April 29, 2014 [7 favorites]


"jfuller, you state your non-negotiables and run through end-of-date scenarios before submitting your offer to go out on a date with a woman? Then you wait for her counteroffer before finalizing the agreement to chill one-on-one? I must say, that is an extremely professional chat-up."

With efficiency like that, you'd think he's doing them wholesale.

It might be even faster to do a boilerplate memorandum of understanding, or at least a punchcard that can be read like a train ticket.
posted by klangklangston at 12:01 AM on April 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


(With the bag, there was some dispute over whether it was a 'handbag' or a tote or what, because it was massive and I was carrying heavy stuff in it; anyway, I did resent the forceful pulling of bag/tote off my capacious delts.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:27 PM on April 29
[+] [!]


Oh my goodness with the touching of the purses. No. Nononononono.
That is my keys, my phone, my money and identity cards. You are now literally holding me hostage. (There are honest to goodness legal cases where taking a purse is false imprisonment.) I am at the very least extremely uncomfortable.
So please don't go there, ok?

I also totally nth:
... a gentleman is someone who asks and neither assumes nor imposes. YMobviouslyV.
posted to MetaTalk by rtha at 9:41 AM on April 29, 2014 [34 favorites −]


If I ask a date to do something differently or politely decline something, and you respect that, the date activities continue. Yay!
If the date instead insists or tells me I'm wrong about how I feel or basically any other response than 'ok', two red flags are awarded, one for the initial thing and one for disrespecting my request regarding the thing. Now it's a thing. We're not a match, and that ain't gonna change.

So, yeah, there are different cultural norms. But the only way of getting them from the inside of ones head out into the world where others can act on them is to open one's mouth.
posted by susiswimmer at 1:43 AM on April 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


There's nothing like discussions of dating etiquette for bringing out the extremes of "what's normal is X" coupled with "if you're not interested in dating people for whom X is normal, you're mistaken because X is normal and you should disguise from potential dates that you think otherwise", thus insanely arguing that more people going on uncomfortable dates that are guaranteed disasters is a good thing.

There's some very interesting psychology involved in this — as best as I can intuit it's somehow the product of the inability to recognize that one's own customs and sensibilities aren't necessarily "normal" and "right" which is then expressed as an attempt to correct the ideas and behavior of the individual who is understood to be abnormal.

But maybe I'm overthinking this. Possibly it's just really damn fun to tell other people they are freaks, either explicitly or implicitly. That's not facetious — I am certain that there's actual brain functioning involved that makes taboo shaming of other people genuinely pleasurable.

And, despite my awareness about this, I'm not exempt. When I read a dating profile that includes "looking for a man who will treat me like a lady", I have a visceral response to it where I don't (initially, anyway) conclude that a) she's from a different subculture than I am and has different values, and that's okay; and b) it's a good thing she included that line. No, instead I think, "ugh, I don't like this person" with some "I want to tell her she's doing it wrong". I guess the difference is that I don't construct elaborate rationales for why it would be okay for me to shame the person for having sensibilities that differ from mine.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:41 AM on April 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


this was ages ago, but I just wanted to say to anyone who was wondering about the asbestos underpants - it's referring to "liar liar pants on fire"!
posted by lokta at 4:45 AM on April 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


this was ages ago, but I just wanted to say to anyone who was wondering about the asbestos underpants - it's referring to "liar liar pants on fire"!

Thank you!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:57 AM on April 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


If I ever start a meta like this one, meaning based on a relationship askme of mine, the mods have my permission to close it, disable my account, cut my hands off, whatever it takes. Gah. OP, I don't know what train you're on exactly, but I hope you figure it out.
posted by angrycat at 6:30 AM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That seems unnecessary. Everyone needs a hug and all, yeah?
posted by DingoMutt at 7:11 AM on April 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


If I ever start a meta like this one, meaning based on a relationship askme of mine, the mods have my permission to close it, disable my account, cut my hands off, whatever it takes. Gah. OP, I don't know what train you're on exactly, but I hope you figure it out.

An unfortunate side effect of starting a MeTa about people being snarky at you in AskMe is that you have to tolerate people being WAY more shitty and snarky at you in MeTa.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:16 AM on April 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


"An unfortunate side effect of starting a MeTa about people being snarky at you in AskMe is that you have to tolerate people being WAY more shitty and snarky at you in MeTa."

Yeah, that is very, very true. Obviously, sometimes people "deserve" it. But even then, I think that treating MeTa posters that way does more harm than good.

Especially, I think it's a problem that AskMe, the part of the site that is least self-selecting for a shared set of values and sensibilities, is the most diverse, and where it's most important to be civil and productive, has as its grievance mechanism MetaTalk, the part of the site that is most self-selecting for shared set of values and sensibilities, is the least moderated, and is the most belligerent.

That seems to me to be very far from optimal.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:00 AM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


what do you propose instead? or I guess what would you prefer?
posted by sweetkid at 11:06 AM on April 30, 2014


what do you propose instead? or I guess what would you prefer?

I'd prefer people work harder at not being assholes. I understand how difficult this is, though, because when I see someone who I think is being an asshole (or commenting in bad faith, which I think of as asshole behavior), I'm often pretty happy to be an asshole right on back.

But my comment wasn't really meant as a call to action so much as an observation. I think the system pretty much works: the best way to avoid the OP of this MeTa being treated like an asshole on the gray would have been for her to not make this MeTa in the first instance, which I believe to have not made in good faith.

I understand the tension regarding the AskMe, though: there's a certain amount of assholism in answers that's tolerated and not everyone is going to be happy where that line's drawn. I thought that the complained about answer didn't cross the line far enough that it should have been deleted. I also thought it was sort of assholey.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I understand the tension regarding the AskMe, though: there's a certain amount of assholism in answers that's tolerated and not everyone is going to be happy where that line's drawn. I thought that the complained about answer didn't cross the line far enough that it should have been deleted. I also thought it was sort of assholey.

My personal perspective is that single responses are hardly ever the problem. I think the problem is with posters who wind up receiving tons of harsh responses that all basically say the same thing. The cumulative effect of people trying to out-sarcastic (or whatever) each other can be wearing on anyone who finds it difficult to distance themselves from the conversation.

In my perfect world, people would feel free to be pretty sharp or arch when commenting on AskMe, but when they noticed two or three people had already posted with that tone, they would consiously step down and decide to alter their own approach. It seems to be the opposite that happens, though: people see a few harsh responses and feel as though the community is endorsing the tough love approach.

I don't have any examples in mind to point to, so my impression could be mistaken.
posted by jsturgill at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


We do try to step in if we see a bunch of sort of snowball-effect pile-on comments that appear to be sort of emboldened by the other answers and veering into super-snark territory, so feel free to flag.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:24 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"what do you propose instead? or I guess what would you prefer?"

I don't have any organizational solutions, if that's what you mean.

More generally, I think that MeTa spectacularly fails at being a venue for an aggrieved person to complain about perceived bad treatment, whether or not their case has merit. Even when most people agree that it does, the thread will still involve some people being contemptuous and dismissive. And when there's not near-unanimity about it, the poster is raked over the coals.

Worst, this lack of unanimity isn't simply the result of disagreement about the merits, but also often a result of differing reactions to the poster's implicit worldview or how they are perceived by the community. If they get defensive in the MetaTalk, they are pummeled — even though it's an entirely human reaction to get defensive when being criticized by even one person, much more so when it's several.

And this is a particular problem with AskMe users who come to MeTa to complain about something, because it's those members who are most likely to either not be familiar with all the pitfalls of posting an aggrieved MetaTalk post or to not share the MetaTalk crowd's sensibilities about the matters involved in their AskMe (which greatly influences how generously their MetaTalk complaint is received).

Pretty much everyone who ever makes an aggrieved MetaTalk has the deck stacked against them. Any poster who isn't thick-skinned (which isn't really that many people), or who tends to get defensive, or who tends to feel the need to respond to each individual criticism (which is a natural impulse), or who has in the past done something that rubbed a number of MetaTalk fold the wrong way, or who otherwise doesn't fit in with the culture here, is going to be met with an even more biased and hostile response. I think that MetaTalk is really just awful for this purpose.

But it especially bothers me with regard to people who are primarily or exclusively AskMe users who come here to register a complaint because they are far more representative of the culture outside MetaFilter than the rest of us and far less likely to understand that the response they'll get to a complaint here will be very, very different from what they know of MetaFilter via their experience in AskMe. So I think that MetaTalk is exceptionally awful for this purpose for those folk — and AskMe users make up the larger portion of the membership. It's the biggest part of the site.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've often thought the lack of moderation in Meta is not always a positive. There have been plenty of topics I've wanted to see continue that have been aggressively pushed by a few users into recipe threads, or puns, or whatever, that have nothing to do with the discussion. Similarly, there is a lot of one-off negative bullshit that is given a free pass even though it has nothing to do with actually communicating something relevant about the community.

This may be a different problem than the one Ivan Fyodorovich is articulating.

I wouldn't mind Meta being reigned in more. If people want to have running threads about nohtng, maybe they could jump into chat and share recipes there.
posted by jsturgill at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree, though the recipe stuff has been reigned in. The part I hate most is when people come in just to post "close this up" or "you guys know you can just stop posting right?"
posted by sweetkid at 12:59 PM on April 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Under Elizabeth's reign whenever it rains we have to remove our horses' reins."
posted by nobody at 1:40 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, reined in. Typing fast, not illiterate. Thanks though!
posted by sweetkid at 1:45 PM on April 30, 2014


(Oh, shoot. I thought writing it in the form of a ridiculously unhelpful pseudo-mnemonic would make clear I was just messing around. Sorry about that.)
posted by nobody at 1:48 PM on April 30, 2014


(And even then I wouldn't've chimed in if it hadn't been two people's comments in a row.)
posted by nobody at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2014


eh no worries. thanks.
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on April 30, 2014


Jargon File. asbestos, asbestos long johns

asbestos: [common] Used as a modifier to anything intended to protect one from flames; also in other highly flame-suggestive usages.

asbestos long johns: Notional garments donned by Usenet posters just before emitting a remark they expect will elicit flamage. This is the most common of the asbestos coinages. Also 'asbestos underwear', 'asbestos overcoat', etc.
posted by jfuller at 2:39 PM on April 30, 2014


emitting a remark they expect will elicit flamage.

yea it's probably better to not emit the remark.
posted by sweetkid at 2:41 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


> There's some very interesting psychology involved in this — as best as I can intuit it's
> somehow the product of the inability to recognize that one's own customs and sensibilities
> aren't necessarily "normal" and "right" which is then expressed as an attempt to correct the
> ideas and behavior of the individual who is understood to be abnormal.

Ivan! You know that gorging on live palolo worms is part of some people's culture. Si capisce also that it's possible to say "I don't want to do this" without at all implying "this is wrong"?
posted by jfuller at 2:53 PM on April 30, 2014


"Ivan! You know that gorging on live palolo worms is part of some people's culture. Si capisce also that it's possible to say 'I don't want to do this' without at all implying 'this is wrong'?"

Well, yes. That's my frickin' point. How in the world could you ever construe what I've written as an argument for its opposite?

Oh, wait. My guess is that playing your role of curmudgeonly cultural conservative means that you expect that anyone arguing for tolerance of other viewpoints must necessarily be arguing the maximally tolerant position that one should never even state a preference, lest someone be offended.

Ironically, my comment was partly inspired by the response you got to your assertion that it makes sense for you to state your preference about chivalry to potential dates — a response that was, variously, no your preference is wrong and, also, you shouldn't tell potential dates that it's your preference. Because that would make people unlike and incompatible with yourself not want to date you, which would somehow be bad for the both of you. Because, uh, your preference is wrong. Or something.

It's unpleasant to defend you in any way because you clearly take some delight in playing this role of the elder with the old-fashioned values who is not afraid to stand up for them in this debased age where the uncouth savages run rampant. Your protestations that you are just stating a personal preference and not intending to make normative statements about behavior are unconvincing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:26 PM on April 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


This is one of those few times I'm glad there isn't a woman alive that would want to go on a date with me!
posted by dg at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2014


jfuller: Not so much as all that. A thick skin, aka not taking offense at the drop of a hat, aka asbesdos underwear--it's what has kept me an active, unbanned(!) mefi member since January of 2001.

jfuller: asbestos long johns: Notional garments donned by Usenet posters just before emitting a remark they expect will elicit flamage. This is the most common of the asbestos coinages. Also 'asbestos underwear', 'asbestos overcoat', etc.


This is disappointing.

It's unfortunate that you equate 'having a thick skin, not taking offense at the drop of a hat' to, apparently, being impervious to criticism when you deliberately try to annoy people. It's rather telling though.

At least I know what that stupid phrase means now. So that's something.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:34 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hear those asbestos longjohns might be, uh, unexpectedly toxic.
posted by box at 6:57 PM on April 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


HAVE YOU BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH GENITAL MESOTHELIOMA?
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do they keep out underpants monsters?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:08 PM on April 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


There is an Opossum in my house. She is faster than she looks and pretty cute if you are into that kind of thing. I like the way she cleans the mousetraps out so all I have to do is reset them. It's a transactional relationship.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:44 PM on April 30, 2014


So, yeah. Those last four comments are an example of what I'm talking about here. That kind of Meta comment make Meta a worse place, I think.

If there's an excess of tension in a thread, I'd way rather it be defused by a bunch of people posting something relevant but calm rather than a bunch of people posting nonsense.

And I mean no offense to those particular posters. Those posts are well within community standards and they did nothing wrong. I just wish the community standards were shifted a bit when it comes to this sort of thing.
posted by jsturgill at 8:54 PM on April 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


"That kind of Meta comment make Meta a worse place, I think."

Uh, it's a callback. Jeez.

But, point of order, the original post was made three days ago. We've been through numerous derails, and the idea that there's a lot of wasted utility from fucking around is inventing a mythical MeTa instead of realizing that joking around is part of blowing off steam too. Waddaya want, another round of piling on Jfuller for his 23 Skidoo dating manual?

There's a long history of MeTa being irreverent. Read back through the archives. Which should remind all of us, it's just a website fer chrissakes. MeTa does not have the force of law, and there's not necessarily a solution to all of the complaints posted here.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on April 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


involve some people being contemptuous and dismissive.
Posted by Ivan Fyodorovich

You don't say.
posted by spitbull at 2:58 AM on May 1, 2014


Still waiting on the "How Rude!" flag...
posted by billiebee at 3:21 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Need a HANNIBAL KNOWS flag for rude comments
posted by angrycat at 5:56 AM on May 1, 2014


> So, yeah. Those last four comments are an example of what I'm talking about here. That kind of Meta comment make Meta a worse place, I think.

I mean no offense to you, but I enjoyed those four comments a heck of a lot more than I enjoyed yours. You take MetaTalk far too seriously.
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Still recommending less Wuthering Heights and more red wine and chocolates.
posted by flabdablet at 7:24 AM on May 1, 2014


And I mean that sincerely, and without even a trace of disrespect.
posted by flabdablet at 7:25 AM on May 1, 2014


But, point of order, the original post was made three days ago. We've been through numerous derails, and the idea that there's a lot of wasted utility from fucking around is inventing a mythical MeTa instead of realizing that joking around is part of blowing off steam too. Waddaya want, another round of piling on Jfuller for his 23 Skidoo dating manual?

There's a long history of MeTa being irreverent. Read back through the archives. Which should remind all of us, it's just a website fer chrissakes. MeTa does not have the force of law, and there's not necessarily a solution to all of the complaints posted here.


I grok site culture in this area, and I believe I made that clear in my comments. I don't need to read through the archives because I read the posts when they were active. I recall plenty of active Meta threads, or at least not quite moribund threads, being pushed into joke territory before their time with runs of gibberish lasting way more than 4 comments.

If the thread is dead, the mods can close it. It shouldn't be up to users to decide it's dead and therefore free to joke around in and blow off steam. If you need to blow off steam, go for a walk!

wittypunfunjokerecipe.metafilter.com isn't a subsite yet. Why use Meta as a proxy in the meantime?

I mean no offense to you, but I enjoyed those four comments a heck of a lot more than I enjoyed yours. You take MetaTalk far too seriously.

The point of my comment wasn't to be enjoyable. It was to discuss the site! No offense taken.
posted by jsturgill at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Still recommending less Wuthering Heights and more red wine and chocolates.

But Wuthering Heights is best enjoyed while drinking red wine and eating chocolates. (As are all things.)
posted by billiebee at 7:41 AM on May 1, 2014


If the thread is dead, the mods can close it. It shouldn't be up to users to decide it's dead and therefore free to joke around in and blow off steam. If you need to blow off steam, go for a walk!

Do you never go to a meeting and at the end of the serious business people lighten up and just have a bit of craic before they go home? Isn't that just what people do? If MetaTalk is like a community meeting it's not that weird that everyone relaxes a bit at the end.
posted by billiebee at 7:51 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wuthering Heights is best enjoyed while drinking red wine and eating chocolates

Quite so, but my point is that if your life is Wuthering Heights and it's not enjoyable, it's probably time to focus more on the red wine and chocolates and less on the drama of the text.
posted by flabdablet at 7:56 AM on May 1, 2014


but it's not the end for everyone. A meeting is synchronous conversation, a MetaTalk thread is asynchronous. Some people have a tab open to all things Metafilter through their workday and follow threads and some people pop in for an hour or two on the weekends to catch up. Maybe they have something to share in the thread and it's gone all jokey and people are like "please close this, everybody stop talking" but they wanted to make a substantive comment.

I don't hate the jokey derails but I think jsturgill has a point here.
posted by sweetkid at 7:56 AM on May 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


If the thread is dead, the mods can close it.

I don't think this has ever been policy. MeTas get closed by mods when they're inappropriate in some way (not actually a question for community policy hashing-out, etc.) but not when the topic of discussion just seems kind of...done(ish). If you think that should be the policy from now on, then maybe that should be a new meTa entirely, since this one is getting long. It does seem a little weird to me that you are advocating closing a dead meTa but also saying that jokes are a derail in a thread that is dead. Can both be true?

I kind of miss the recipes, but I understand why they're discouraged.
posted by rtha at 8:04 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe they have something to share in the thread and it's gone all jokey and people are like "please close this, everybody stop talking" but they wanted to make a substantive comment.

I have seen people come in amid the joking/derails and say something like "Getting back to the original point..." so I'm not sure if it completely puts people off joining back in, but I do take your point. Personally, if I reopen a MeTa thread that's been going for a while, I'm less likely to be stopped from contributing by jokes and derails than I am by the fact that it's turned into some horrible shouty fight. That's when I'm more likely to think I won't be heard.
posted by billiebee at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2014


It does seem a little weird to me that you are advocating closing a dead meTa but also saying that jokes are a derail in a thread that is dead. Can both be true?

I'm not advocating closing dead Metas, and I apologize for the miscommunication if that's how I'm coming across. What I'm trying to say is that Metas are not 'dead' until the thread is closed. So don't derail them.

Sweetkids' point is, well, on point.
posted by jsturgill at 8:20 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I grok site culture in this area, and I believe I made that clear in my comments.

I don't think you do. I mean, you may get that this is the standard, but you're missing part of WHY it's the standard. Joking around doesn't just release internal pressures, it reinforces the sense of community. The humor serves as basic maintenance as well as a safety valve. Calmed discussion just doesn't add to the sense of camaraderie and community like joking around does.

So don't derail them.


Talking about the jokes being a derail is just as much of a derail as the jokes themselves were.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:29 AM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I grok site culture in this area, and I believe I made that clear in my comments. I don't need to read through the archives because I read the posts when they were active. I recall plenty of active Meta threads, or at least not quite moribund threads, being pushed into joke territory before their time with runs of gibberish lasting way more than 4 comments."

Examples? And no, I don't think you do "grok" if you're upset about MeTas becoming more lighthearted toward the end. Witnessing is not understanding.

If the thread is dead, the mods can close it. It shouldn't be up to users to decide it's dead and therefore free to joke around in and blow off steam. If you need to blow off steam, go for a walk!

Like, you remember that MeTas didn't always close, right?

And how would going for a walk blow off steam with the community about things the community is discussing?

wittypunfunjokerecipe.metafilter.com isn't a subsite yet. Why use Meta as a proxy in the meantime?

Don't you have a hall to monitor?
posted by klangklangston at 8:37 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


That last line came across as more of a "gotcha" than I intended. What I was trying to get across was that MeTa culture is way more open to exploring related topics than other areas of the site.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2014


I'm not advocating closing dead Metas,

But...you did. You said if a thread is dead, mods can (which I read as "should" and maybe that's not what you intended) close it.

If people are done discussing a topic - and there's a whole lotta meTas behind this one that haven't seen any traffic for days, which seems like a good indication that people are done discussing that topic (in that meTa, anyway), then I think a little lighthearted joking around is fine. (I might be biased because one of my fondest memories is of a meTa I helped longboat some years ago.)
posted by rtha at 8:44 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Examples? And no, I don't think you do "grok" if you're upset about MeTas becoming more lighthearted toward the end. Witnessing is not understanding.

Am I upset? I don't mean to give off that vibe.

And how would going for a walk blow off steam with the community about things the community is discussing?

Do we need a communal mechanism for a personal problem? And if it is a communal problem, and we do need a communal mechanism, is hijacking Meta the answer?

Don't you have a hall to monitor?

This feels more like you being a dick than you talking to me like a human being.

What I was trying to get across was that MeTa culture is way more open to exploring related topics than other areas of the site.

The unrelated jokes aren't exploring a topic other than each other.

But...you did. You said if a thread is dead, mods can (which I read as "should" and maybe that's not what you intended) close it.

I meant "can," which is why I used that word. When a few users unilaterally decide to turn a thread into a joke thread, they're deciding for the site that the conversation is done. That should be a mod decision. If dead threads cluttering up Meta is a problem, let them deal with it instead of the joke brigade.
posted by jsturgill at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Am I upset? I don't mean to give off that vibe."

… examples of MeTas being "pushed into joke territory before their time"? That was more salient than your level of upset.

"Do we need a communal mechanism for a personal problem? And if it is a communal problem, and we do need a communal mechanism, is hijacking Meta the answer?"

You don't see this as officious? Then, yes, it's not a personal problem, and it is a communal problem, and we do have a communal mechanism, and "hijacking" is begging the question with regard to MeTa practice.

"This feels more like you being a dick than you talking to me like a human being."

Sorry, you're reading to me like a condescending dick in a humorless, unproductive way.

"The unrelated jokes aren't exploring a topic other than each other."

You've had human conversations before, right? You understand that the river meanders and spreads, right? You understand that we're not bound by Robert's Rules here, right? You understand that your complaints here are JUST AS MUCH A DERAIL as the jokes, right?

"I meant "can," which is why I used that word. When a few users unilaterally decide to turn a thread into a joke thread, they're deciding for the site that the conversation is done. That should be a mod decision.

Yeah, I really don't think you understand how MeTa functions or how communities function. Those few users don't have any more authority than you do, and especially at the end of a thread like this, new issues aren't going to be seen by the vast majority of the community. So not only are you arguing for something of very limited utility simply because it's your druthers, but you're ignoring the reason why this custom has evolved and what utility it serves; protesting that you grok it, while demonstrating that you don't.

"If dead threads cluttering up Meta is a problem, let them deal with it instead of the joke brigade."

Don't you have a hall to monitor?
posted by klangklangston at 9:10 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


klang dude I think you made your point? It's not like jsturgill is the boss of MeTa and can affect anything, they were just offering an opinion.

No idea why you're getting so worked up about this.
posted by sweetkid at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2014


Klangklangston, I kind of have to agree; not sure why you're jumping all over jsturgill for stating a totally reasonable opinion. Maybe ease back a little?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:18 AM on May 1, 2014


> Maybe they have something to share in the thread and it's gone all jokey and people are like "please close this, everybody stop talking" but they wanted to make a substantive comment.

Then let them make a substantive comment. I don't see the problem.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on May 1, 2014


> Still recommending less Wuthering Heights and more red wine and chocolates.

I would need about a barrel of plonk to wade through WH again. I kept wanting to slap both of 'em and tell them to quit being so goddam emo.
posted by jfuller at 12:01 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]




> Maybe they have something to share in the thread and it's gone all jokey and people are like "please close this, everybody stop talking" but they wanted to make a substantive comment.

Then let them make a substantive comment. I don't see the problem.


The problem is considering a thread "done" and perhaps people don't feel comfortable making a substantive comment when there are a bunch of people going "close this," "you guys know you can stop right?"

Again not a huge deal but I can see where jsturgill is coming from and don't really get the negativity about it. You can keep making your jokes, languagehat.
posted by sweetkid at 12:13 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


> You can keep making your jokes, languagehat.

I don't particularly feel the need to make jokes, but I can see where the jokes are coming from and don't really get the negativity about them.
posted by languagehat at 3:14 PM on May 1, 2014


I hope it's not stalking. I have to admit to having checked caseofyou's profile several times since she (I'm pretty sure 'she', could be wrong) stopped posting to the thread day-before-yesterday morning. I did so dreading to see that she had pushed the button and closed her account. Plenty of others have pushed the Red October/Forbidden Planet button over less uniformly not-supportive metas than this one. (And certainly not everyone shares the brute insensitivity that's such an attractive feature of the jfuller personality.)

That had not happened as of 6 PM on May 1st. caseofyou, if you have any impulse thataways I can totally understand but I sincerely hope you won't.


Ivan:

> Well, yes. That's my frickin' point. How in the world could you ever construe what I've written as an argument for its opposite?

To paraphrase Sam Johnson, "Idiocy. Sheer idiocy." Fuller tugs forelock and swears off the "Reading skills!" flame for one solid year.
posted by jfuller at 3:20 PM on May 1, 2014


I kept wanting to slap both of 'em and tell them to quit being so goddam emo.

How could you, you brute? I'm never going to speak to you again! You and I are finished, do you hear? FINISHED.

but I love him still

(sobs)

posted by flabdablet at 9:18 PM on May 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, if my comment's going to get linked anyway...

Actually, you know what? No. It would be hypocritical of me to expound further.

I can stop now. Cheers!
posted by maryr at 10:46 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The single most favorited comment I've ever written in my ten years on MetaFilter was an extremely harsh, judgmental comment
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich


You keep track of your favorites then? And here I thought I was the only one.
posted by spitbull at 3:41 AM on May 2, 2014


You keep track of your favorites then? And here I thought I was the only one.

it's like masturbation

everyone does it

especially the ones who say they don't
posted by Sebmojo at 4:02 AM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


You keep track of your favorites then?

Yeah, I pay attention to them. I certainly haven't ever used their existence as a defense against criticism, though. But it's also amazingly relevant that right here in the comment you just quoted I was referring to a heavily favorited comment of mine which I am ashamed of — for being dismissive and contemptuous. I used myself as an example of what I was criticizing. Which was the subject of your previous swipe at me, an attempt to imply that I'm being hypocritical by criticizing the tendency here to be dismissive and contemptuous.

So this little effort of yours has weirdly been a self-refuting failure, really. Let it go. Take a walk or have a nice meal or something. And consider that even favorites-as-approval can represent many different things; some of those are approvals of behavior one oughtn't be proud of.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:38 AM on May 2, 2014


Then let them make a substantive comment. I don't see the problem.

The jokes and the repeated "let's just close this" are attempts to shut down the conversation though. It's the only part of the site where "I don't like this topic so I'm going to post dumb stuff over and over again" is tolerated.
posted by spaltavian at 7:58 AM on May 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


… or they're just jokes. And "I don't like this topic so I'm going to post dumb stuff over and over again" also applies to about a good third of MeTa posts themselves.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2014


The jokes and the repeated "let's just close this" are attempts to shut down the conversation though

I agree. If people think the topic is dumb,they can just not post, skip the thread etc.
posted by sweetkid at 8:36 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


And "I don't like this topic so I'm going to post dumb stuff over and over again" also applies to about a good third of MeTa posts themselves.

So MeTa is where "he hit me first" is okay?
posted by phearlez at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2014


… or they're just jokes

Sure, I don't think it's that big of deal. But as a data point, when a thread turns into herp-derp I usually stop reading it. So if anyone did want to make a substantive comment after, it won't be read by me, at least. I imagine there are others as well.
posted by spaltavian at 9:04 AM on May 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


"I agree. If people think the topic is dumb, they can just not post, skip the thread etc."

… you can just skip those comments, then. That's why that rhetorical tack is a weak one.

(They can also riff on it, talk about something they find more interesting, etc.)

"So MeTa is where "he hit me first" is okay?"

I dunno, what was your justification for your earlier lazy snark to jfuller?

But as a data point, when a thread turns into herp-derp I usually stop reading it. So if anyone did want to make a substantive comment after, it won't be read by me, at least. I imagine there are others as well."

… but you're down at the end of a four-day old MeTa where nothing substantive has been happening on the main complaint for a couple days.

And there's not generally a paucity of MeTa space — if there's a more substantive post to be made about the main complaint of this thread, you're free to make one.
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 AM on May 2, 2014



… you can just skip those comments, then. That's why that rhetorical tack is a weak one.


Dude I'm not trying to win some war of how to have MeTa threads, I'm just sharing my opinion.
posted by sweetkid at 11:16 AM on May 2, 2014


Yeah, just to share my own opinion, I agree that lulzy jokes/recipes/etc. are incredibly annoying in MeTa when there's an active discussion going on. Pretty sure the mods agree on that?
posted by lalex at 11:29 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Klangklangston, I kind of have to agree; not sure why you're jumping all over jsturgill for stating a totally reasonable opinion. Maybe ease back a little?"

So, I gave this a little thought in the car yesterday, and first off, I didn't mean to come across as all that upset (just as jsturgill probably didn't either), but I can give a little more on why it's something that annoys me:

1) I don't think it's a particularly reasonable opinion, at least the way it's stated. It's an opinion that generalizes something that annoys jsturgill into a phenomenon "making MeTa worse." It's not, really. That would require a) this not being a norm already, and b) it being substantially detrimental to accomplishing the goals of MeTa, which I don't think it is.

2) I'm generally against efforts to make MeTa a more formal place, especially unnecessarily.

3) I'm generally against humorlessness as an ethos. Despite protestations of understanding, missing the utility of jokiness is pretty evident there.

4) When calls for more formality or moderation are advanced under the rubric of making MeTa a better or kindler, gentler place, I think that those calls flatter a certain bias of general moderation around here, and it's worth pushing back against that.

5) I don't think that these arguments are well defined; hurf-durfery is different from "let's close this," etc. Conflating them is sloppy.

6) I find it ironic that this discussion is being carried on here, when it's not really related to the topic of the post.

7) There's a tremendous amount of myopia about what constitutes lulzy noise; I'd be willing to bet that for most people complaining about it, I could find instances of them doing it pretty quickly.

8) I do think that having a sense of humor about MeTa really does keep a lot of grudges and feuds tamped down. Like, I think that jfuller was a pretty good sport about getting teased upthread, and that helped him be more willing to be light-hearted when Ivan criticized him.

9) Many of my favorite community members are frequently joking around in MeTa, e.g. Greg Nog, elizardbits, even Cortex.

10) I just like to argue, and I thought he was wrong on pretty much every point, and I thought his tone was pretty supercilious, so I didn't feel all that bad about calling him on it.

So, ten quick reasons there.
posted by klangklangston at 11:44 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure the mods agree on that?

People actively significantly disrupting a conversation meaningfully in progress is not so great, yeah, and we'll often tell folks to cut it out if it's getting out of hand. A certain low baseline amount of jokes and side chatter is less of an issue if people are being a little thoughtful about it. Opinions on where to draw those lines vary from person to person.

If anyone specifically wants to talk about the case of this thread in that sense, let me know and maybe point out a couple specific issues because I don't really want to parse 400+ comments on a whim right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:46 AM on May 2, 2014


… but you're down at the end of a four-day old MeTa where nothing substantive has been happening on the main complaint for a couple days.

Only because this thread was in my Recent Activity and I tend to read sweetkid's posts. And I did say "usually".
posted by spaltavian at 11:47 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


If anyone specifically wants to talk about the case of this thread in that sense, let me know and maybe point out a couple specific issues because I don't really want to parse 400+ comments on a whim right now.

I don't think this thread is a good example of the problem. It's just the thread where I brought it up.

Klang:

1.a) whether or not something is normative is not necessarily an indication of whether or not it is positive or negative.

1.b) I don't think the stated goals of Meta include being a forum for lulz.

2) Humor used to further a discussion is different entirely from what I'm talking about. Formality/lack of formality is not at all part of my point.

3) "humorlessness as an ethos" is a bit much. I believe I get what you think turning a dead thread into a joke thread accomplishes--but if you want to turn me into Rain Man and insist that I don't understand, I can't stop you.

4) Nothing I've said on this topic is about increasing the formality of Meta, nor is it about making Meta a kinder, gentler place. I am being formal-ish with my comments on the subject, though. I try to do that when I disagree with people because I think it stops me from being a gigantic ass and can help ensure I'm communicating clearly.

5) Different people are talking about slightly different but related things. That's part of most conversations everywhere and baked into the format of online discussion threads.

6) The thoughts I'm sharing about jokes as noise has nothing to do with Meta discussions evolving or changing in focus. If you're seeing irony here, then you're misunderstanding what I brought up.

7) Everyone does things they shouldn't.

8) Having a sense of humor is a great thing. Am I somehow communicating that I think otherwise?

9) Funny one-liners (etc.) lightly interspersed with and riffing on an active discussion is not exactly what I'm talking about. Cortex is a funny guy and I always vote #1 Quidnunc Kid.

10) I've used every tool at my disposal here to hedge my comments, limit the scope of any criticism I'm making, be polite, speak in terms of my personal opinion rather than objective fact, and resist talking to/about anyone in an aggressive or antagonistic manner. If that's wrong, then I don't want to be right.
posted by jsturgill at 12:24 PM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do think that having a sense of humor about MeTa really does keep a lot of grudges and feuds tamped down

I agree. Comments that are actively dismissive of the topic at hand don't strike me as helpful, but I think the jokey sidebar conversations help temper conversations here, which are some of the most heated conversations on the site. A comment that makes me smile helps lighten the overall sense of the mood and in fact, probably makes me more likely to keep reading.
posted by salvia at 1:45 PM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


"1.a) whether or not something is normative is not necessarily an indication of whether or not it is positive or negative.

"Worse" is relative. If doing X in Y is already the norm, doing X in Y cannot be making Y worse by definition; it's already there.

"1.b) I don't think the stated goals of Meta include being a forum for lulz."

"This is the first post for MetaTalk, to test out the system. Feel free to bring up bug reports, feature requests, and community musings here."

"Forum for lulz" is a question-begging way of describing "community musings."

"2) Humor used to further a discussion is different entirely from what I'm talking about. Formality/lack of formality is not at all part of my point."

You're using a subjective definition based on your perceived function, one that's based on your perceived intention of the comment. That is a fundamental problem with your contention, just like Stewart's definition of hardcore pornography.

"humorlessness as an ethos" is a bit much. I believe I get what you think turning a dead thread into a joke thread accomplishes--but if you want to turn me into Rain Man and insist that I don't understand, I can't stop you."

Well, since you repeatedly described it in terms like "personal problem," I don't think that you do. Asserting that you understand it is not as convincing as evidencing that you understand it; you've given no real evidence as such.

Nothing I've said on this topic is about increasing the formality of Meta, nor is it about making Meta a kinder, gentler place. I am being formal-ish with my comments on the subject, though. I try to do that when I disagree with people because I think it stops me from being a gigantic ass and can help ensure I'm communicating clearly.

That does not jibe with, "That should be a mod decision. If dead threads cluttering up Meta is a problem, let them deal with it instead of the joke brigade." Arguing for more authority and tighter rein on acceptable comments is necessarily arguing for further formality; further formality is a bias that I've noticed from mods not least because it does make their job easier.

"Different people are talking about slightly different but related things. That's part of most conversations everywhere and baked into the format of online discussion threads."

This is a weird objection to the argument of sloppy definitions. Some jokes and derails are problems; others aren't. If you're not against all, which by using a broad brush you've positioned yourself as, then you need a tighter definition, otherwise you're going to be stuck between the vague and the tautological, like you are now.

"The thoughts I'm sharing about jokes as noise has nothing to do with Meta discussions evolving or changing in focus. If you're seeing irony here, then you're misunderstanding what I brought up."

You referenced putative examples in this thread, after the substantial issues had been dealt with, and posited them as a problem. If they're not a problem, because the thread has moved on, then they're not examples. If they are examples, then they'd have to be derailing an otherwise substantive discussion.

"7) Everyone does things they shouldn't."

… if nearly everyone who objects to something also does it, that means their objections shouldn't be given much weight, especially when they are inconsistently applied.

"Having a sense of humor is a great thing. Am I somehow communicating that I think otherwise?"

Yes. "If there's an excess of tension in a thread, I'd way rather it be defused by a bunch of people posting something relevant but calm rather than a bunch of people posting nonsense."

Funny one-liners (etc.) lightly interspersed with and riffing on an active discussion is not exactly what I'm talking about. Cortex is a funny guy and I always vote #1 Quidnunc Kid.

I've asked you for examples a couple times. You haven't provided them. Sloppy definitions and no examples make it hard to take your contention, well, seriously.

"I've used every tool at my disposal here to hedge my comments, limit the scope of any criticism I'm making, be polite, speak in terms of my personal opinion rather than objective fact, and resist talking to/about anyone in an aggressive or antagonistic manner. If that's wrong, then I don't want to be right."

You've also been judgmental, dismissive and derogatory while failing to support your case beyond simply your opinion.

I don't think your a bad person or anything, and in specific instances I would probably agree with you, but the lack of those instances and the inaptness of the comments you've cited in this thread mean that I just don't think that you've made your case.
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on May 2, 2014


Jesus, you guys. This thread was tedious when originally posted, and now, four days later, despite having evolved through 23 unrelated topics, is still really tedious.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2014 [9 favorites]


Klang, I think you're parsing my language in a strange manner.

Take the first bit of your post as an example, where you talk about bad vs. worse. I believe I've been clear in every comment: I'm describing something I view as bad, that makes Meta worse (than an implied, imaginary Meta without it).

You could engage with that idea by saying something like no, these comments are good and make Meta better (than an implied lesser Meta that discards them). You've done that elsewhere in the thread. Instead, for some reason you decide to devolve into pedantry about bad vs. worse that isn't particularly on-point and engages with my words at a level that distorts rather than clarifies.

This sort of weirdness and non-engagement runs through what you just posted. I don't mind being tedious (sorry DarlingBri! I literally have nothing better to do right now), but I think going further and hitting every note that sounds wrong to me would surpass even my limit. As for the bits that are on target, I think we just disagree?

You've also been judgmental, dismissive and derogatory while...

I'm surprised by this bit at the end. If someone agrees and wants to post (or MeMail me) advice on how I could have presented my comments in a less judgmental, less dismissive, and less derogatory manner, please do so.
posted by jsturgill at 2:31 PM on May 2, 2014


Jesus, you guys.

My personal rule of thumb for situations like this is that the point where I have explained or elaborated a line of thought twice is the point where I stop. I sometimes fail to follow my own rules, and there are exceptions -- when a line of though is evolving organically over many comments (preferably with several people interacting), for example -- but it saves me a lot of grief.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:33 AM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


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