Can we just stop doing this? December 17, 2015 12:25 PM   Subscribe

This post is one of a number of posts I have seen on the site over the years exalting the dumb, dangerous, and illegal practice of trainhopping. Can we just call a moratorium on these posts? While I think I probably am more sensitive to this issue than most people here because reasons, I'd be exceptionally distressed and pained if someone were killed or injured doing something they saw romanticized on Metafilter.
posted by pjern to Etiquette/Policy at 12:25 PM (161 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

ALL ABOARD
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


We have posts on dangerous things all the time.

I watch videos and read about base jumpers and Everest climbers and I don't think, "Man, that looks cool, can't wait to do that."

Even if the post were advocating for people to do this, the fact that it's illegal is probably enough to deter most. I'm fine with reading about things I shouldn't be doing.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:33 PM on December 17, 2015 [38 favorites]


I live next to the train tracks. Last month someone tried to hop on a train just up the street from me. They slipped, their foot got snagged on the train car, and they were dragged to their death. This was 4:00 in the afternoon in the city. A bad way to go, and a bad scene for everyone else. I saw a cop collecting I-don't-want-to-know-what along the rails. The railroad came the next day and power washed the ballast. Grim.

Having said that, we really can't sanitize MeFi just as we can't sanitize life. There are many things that people do, a lot of them foolish, that are thrilling to read about or see, that most people would reject as too risky. But to not talk about them? I don't think so.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


The comments in that particular thread go well beyond discussing that someone else did a dangerous thing and into "it isn't that dangerous if you do it right", and I think that's a legitimate problem. I don't think it's so much that it can't be discussed, ever, but reading it made me really uncomfortable. I don't want it to be about blaming any particular person because if this is okay with the mods then I guess that's their call, but imagine if someone made a comment like, "You can't help but feel like a hero, thundering along the river, wind in your face, jubilant children frantically waving and cheering you on at every grade crossing," about something else that's this combination of dangerous and illegal. Yeah, meth is terrible, and making it is dangerous, but if you do it safely then your friends will think you're terrific and you'll throw all the best parties! I don't know, I feel like on most subjects those comments wouldn't stand.
posted by Sequence at 12:52 PM on December 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


People have talked about doing dangerous activities on here. People have talked about illegal activities. So is it the combination that's bad? Or just the legality?
posted by cjorgensen at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hi. I'm the OP, and was hoping that folks would appreciate the history and culture offered by the sites linked; if I'm advocating for anything, it's for the documentation of grassroots traditions by people who understand them.

pjern, I appreciate the point you make about the dangers of trainhopping, and, cautious person that I am, I would never do it and wouldn't encourage others to do it either. Please understand that the post encompassed more than you're discussing here. Like the photographs, and the art, and the body art.

This was my hundredth post. I was hoping it would be received as "Look at this person, collecting all sorts of interesting single-topic material and preserving a specific history." And I get, as another MeFite noted, that there's a disagreement between trainhoppers and trainspotters. Getting caught in that dispute is no fun, especially when I hoped I was bringing something interesting up for discussion.

Mefites: Please look out for yourselves, and for one another.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2015 [79 favorites]


If you want to ride a train, there's Amtrak, commuter railroads,

Someone got killed by my commuter train the other day.

I get that you're sensitive to such matters for reasons, but as others have said we have posts all the time about people doing dangerous things, from base jumping to carving things using a table saw. I think most MeFites are smart enough to know when things are dangerous. I appreciate the post for the history and culture and wouldn't want any posts to be forbidden because of your personal connection to the potential danger of that particular thing.
posted by bondcliff at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Documentation is not exaltation. Exposure is not inducement. This was a really great and interesting FPP which presented a fascinating glimpse of a very rich subculture. I would like to see more of this kind of post, not less.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2015 [60 favorites]


bless you sir but you are horribly overestimating me if you think I will do physical activity based on something i read online ¯\_(⊙_ʖ⊙)_/¯
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2015 [50 favorites]


If we have a moratorium on this, then I guess my next question is what else (I know slippery slopes are usually not the best, but it seems logical enough to wonder.) There was a recent informative post about psychedelics, for instance, with a few mefites sharing their experiences. There are many who would consider using such substances "dumb, dangerous," illegal, and would hate to see it romanticized. Part of the utility of a community website like this is we get looks into various such topics in often enlightening, non-judgmental ways. I wouldn't want to give that up because we feel like we have to be nannies for the userbase. To some degree it's insulting that we wouldn't have autonomy and that our eyes should be shielded from certain topics that we can't be trusted with.
posted by naju at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Don't show up here under a sock account just to stir unrelated shit.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


Breaking into abandoned, crumbling buildings to climb around at night and take really cool pictures is also dangerous and illegal. Should we ban posts about that too, lest someone get the idea to try it themselves, cut themselves on barbed wire, fall through a weak floor in the dark and break their leg, or get arrested for trespassing?

I don't believe we should ban posts that discuss -- or even glorify -- illegal and/or dangerous activities. They are perfectly legitimate topics for discussion.
posted by erst at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


As to the subject of the MeTa, I don't think a formal moratorium is on the table here; I'm taking this in the spirit of a request to the community to think twice about posting on those topics.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:43 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or at least offer a decent caveat. There used to be a pretty awful sideshow made up of train hoppers, and there was one fellow in it who just kept falling under trains, losing limb after limb. A few stories like that tend to sober up the romaticization of this sort of activity.
posted by maxsparber at 1:46 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can we just call a moratorium on these posts?

Are there many?

I don't think the post is a problem that needs to be solved. I am not sure if anyone needs to be told that it's dangerous, and I don't think we risk people being encouraged to jump on a train by having that post up. You left your comment that jumping on trains is a bad idea, that's plenty.
posted by Hoopo at 1:47 PM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Or at least offer a decent caveat.

There is nothing stopping those caveats being offered in thread, as they routinely (and justifiably) are.
posted by deadwax at 1:48 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Or at least offer a decent caveat.

The suggestion to do that (though, as deadwax says, somebody will probably do so in the thread) is the only sensible way to approach it. The idea of a moratorium is a non-starter.
posted by languagehat at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you want to avoid having people putting caveats in thread, put them in your OP.

There: done.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2015


Pardon me, boy. Is this the metafilter train wreck?
posted by octobersurprise at 2:04 PM on December 17, 2015 [40 favorites]


As I mentioned in the thread, the railroad photography community is aggressively opposed to riding trains, and those who do it. Railfans are far more likely to take train riding as a personal affront, and pick fights about it on the internet, than even railroad employees. There is a whole lot more going on here than one person's concern for safety. But unless you are active in the train watching or riding communities, you'd never know about it.
posted by ryanrs at 2:25 PM on December 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I thought this was a fantastic post (forgot to flag, off to do that!) and also appreciated pjern's warning in the thread. I'd much rather have these conversations than not have them.
posted by thetortoise at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's really hard to ask the mods to enforce policies on wide-ranging topics. I agree; it's crazy dangerous. I'd be inclined to post a comment in the thread saying so, maybe with a good link or 3.
posted by theora55 at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pardon me, boy. Is this the metafilter train wreck?

Nope, sorry; it's the chatty nooby shoo-shoo.

(For the record, I realize there are no noobs but good noobs in this thread).
posted by jamjam at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2015 [28 favorites]


Warning makes sense. It is dangerous. I've hopped trains. It's not something to do recklessly. On the other hand, I don't regret it a bit.
posted by josher71 at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


There used to be a pretty awful sideshow made up of train hoppers, and there was one fellow in it who just kept falling under trains, losing limb after limb.

was his nickname the black knight?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is a whole lot more going on here than one person's concern for safety.

Is there some kind of obscure train-enthusiast community schismatic proxy shadow war going on in that thread?

Because if so, awesome!
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2015 [40 favorites]


"Do not try this at home!"

-Lionel Train
posted by clavdivs at 2:50 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well so much for my plan to do a FPP about tap dancing on knives.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:53 PM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


I only hop onto HO scale trains. It never does go well.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


I hopped on a Thomas the Tank Engine once, but it was because I was shrunk to 1-inch high and was being chased by a dude in a combat suit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:01 PM on December 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


there was one fellow in it who just kept falling under trains, losing limb after limb.

To be fair, jumping on to a moving train would be a pretty formidable task after the first couple times.
posted by Hoopo at 3:06 PM on December 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


I didn't choo-choo-choose the trainhopping life, the trainhopping life cho-cho-chose me
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


there was one fellow in it who just kept falling under trains, losing limb after limb

This itself is FPP material. Will stories with self-documenting warnings need disclaimers?
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on December 17, 2015


Can we have a ban on people shitting on what posts discuss? Like maybe allow one comment explaining why something is bad, then that's it. And i mean on activities, not Greater Social Issues. or whatever.

Not to start some kind of proxy war, but this pissed me off in the shoplifting tumblr culture thread and several other recent ones.

It's ok if you don't like a thing, or think it's dangerous, or bad, or whatever. But didn't we just have a big MeTa that basically boiled down to "i think this thing sucks" being a really low value comment, and how if you really want to go there you better cross a fairly high bar?

A long comment explaining why something is bad should be like, the bare minimum. "This thing is dumb and dangerous, lets ban talking about it" is a lot weaker than the posts in the thread itself explaining slack actions and such. And most of the negative posts in this, or most threads where people get riled up about an activity/thing/work of art/video are not that good.

"I don't like this thing!" is almost always more of a shitpost than whatever the thing is you don't like.
posted by emptythought at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2015 [28 favorites]


Railfans are far more likely to take train riding as a personal affront, and pick fights about it on the internet, than even railroad employees

This doesn't surprise me at all. It also wouldn't surprise me if reading the post was upsetting to someone who had a loved one who was hurt or killed while train jumping. However, it's best that people not argue that everyone else should carry the same baggage that they carry into FPPs. The railfans are probably worse about this because many of them are woefully unaware of how the rest of the world does not relate to their subculture.
posted by deanc at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


ALL ABOARD
                    
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  ----------------------------|-----4---5---4---2-------2-------|
  ----------------------------|-2-2---2---2---2---5-4-5---5-4-0-|
posted by Wolfdog at 3:51 PM on December 17, 2015 [17 favorites]


I think trainhopping is hilarious. Unfortunately brides have no sense of humor.
posted by thivaia at 4:10 PM on December 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


A long comment explaining why something is bad should be like, the bare minimum.

Oh heck no. Length of comment does not translate to value of comment. I'd much rather skim past "yikes this video is awful" than fucking six paragraphs of logorrhea.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


If your comment does not fit on a screen without scrolling then it had better end with you saving someone's life or meeting Buzz Aldrin or something
posted by shakespeherian at 5:05 PM on December 17, 2015 [43 favorites]


tim what about the time you did the thing though
posted by poffin boffin at 5:07 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


The taters lady was Buzz Aldrin
posted by shakespeherian at 5:10 PM on December 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Moral panics used to be so much cooler.

Whatever happened to satanic rituals in the basement? We have to settle for "don't hobo" nowadays.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:50 PM on December 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


did i ever tell you guys about the time i saved buzz aldrin's life?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Whatever happened to satanic rituals in the basement?

i have a 5,000 year old looted antiquity terracotta pot that i sometimes put blood in when i have a kitchen potato peeling accident
posted by poffin boffin at 6:03 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


does that count
posted by poffin boffin at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


did i ever tell you guys about the time i saved buzz aldrin's life?

Okay, but what about the time we stopped him from hobo-ing.
posted by juv3nal at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is Metafilter. How stupid do you think we are?

Actually, wait, don't answer that.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Personally I thought it was a good post, I enjoyed it. Not going hoboing any time soon. I like reading about it. I like reading about flying aces in both World Wars. Not going to do that either.
I like reading about and discussing a bunch of things I'm never going to do. I'm sure that's anyone with a working mind.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I went hitchhiking this summer and I totally got murdered by a psychopath.

Naw just kidding it was me that did all the murdering.

I guess what I'm saying is both the trainhoppers and the engineers are in danger. Don't leave your house folks.
posted by item at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I really did go hitchhiking this summer for what it's worth
posted by item at 6:16 PM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


posted by hal_c_on We have to settle for "don't hobo" nowadays.

I love trains, and I love trainhopping. No hobo.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:25 PM on December 17, 2015 [18 favorites]


Warning makes sense. It is dangerous. I've hopped trains. It's not something to do recklessly. On the other hand, I don't regret it a bit.

I've done it also, and had fun, but I look back on that as something that was definitely riskier than I thought in that moment, and where the pleasure was not completely worth the risk. There's no way you could have convinced me not to at the time, of course.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:33 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I don't like this thing!" is almost always more of a shitpost than whatever the thing is you don't like.

"I don't like this thing!" is perfectly legitimate. "I don't like this thing and we shouldn't be glorifying/romanticizing it and you shouldn't have posted it in the first place" is the issue.
posted by Mothlight at 6:35 PM on December 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I don't like this thing!" is perfectly legitimate. "I don't like this thing and we shouldn't be glorifying/romanticizing it and you shouldn't have posted it in the first place" is the issue.

True, but an "I don't like this thing!" with little in the way of context or explanation has a noted negative effect on conversation and is routinely deleted when posted in the first handful of comments on posts for a very good reason. In general should be discouraged.

Though it does raise, for me, an interesting question about when and where users think it appropriate to draw the 'If you don't like it don't click on it/read it' line for FPPs. I mean, it's not particularly relevant since the trainhopping FPP in question would still be objectionable under the grounds of this post even if it wasn't read, but people must have interesting, differing mental calculations on when it's acceptable to say 'It just wasn't for you.'
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:23 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can find no real statistics in a 15 minute search on risk of death from trainhopping. However, where someone does say something, they say it's "as risky as motorcycling." Motorcyclists's lifetime odds of dying as a result of a motorcycle accident are a little less than twice the odds of dying in a car accident. Both things are dangerous. In terms of raw number of deaths, both must certainly be higher than trainhopping, because both are done by many more people. It's impossible to tell whether they're higher as a percentage of participants, because there are no participant statistics to draw from. Yet it seems unlikely, because though it's clearly extremely hazardous and injuries and deaths from it seem likely to be catastrophic and brutal, there would seem to be many more risks posed by operating a motor vehicle in normal traffic. I was reading somewhere that a lot of trainhoppers are ex-convicts and the greatest risk of the lifestyle is interpersonal violence.

My deepest sympathies to anyone who has been impacted by trainhopping accidents. That is terrible. But by all means, let's talk about it and what the risks are, any why people do it anyway and whether they are informed about risk; but let's not say we can't talk about it, because, based on real risk over a lifetime, a lot of other very common activities would be subject to that ban too.
posted by Miko at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


The shoplifting thread was a bad example since it is clearly an extremely contentious issue with lots of viewpoints. If everyone had been all "hooray for shoplifting" it would have been weird and alarming.

I agree that banning posts about dangerous activities is a fool's errand, since we are almost all of us adults on MeFi, right? Nobody is going to FPP anyone else into an oncoming train. But avoiding expressing disagreement with the thesis of an FPP when the subject warrants an actual discussion - unlike, say, a post about the latest Coheed and Cambria record - is only going to make the site less interesting. Disagreement doesn't have to be disparaging or trite.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:59 PM on December 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Though it does raise, for me, an interesting question about when and where users think it appropriate to draw the 'If you don't like it don't click on it/read it' line for FPPs.

With the exception of a very few extremely difficult topics (I/P being the main one), MetaFilter is a very open speech space that is more self-policing about posts that aren't going to meet community standards than mod-deleting topics "because they aren't allowed". I've had posts derided in the comments, and have learned from the experience, both about what I share with MetaFilter culture and what I might learn from MetaFilter culture. But that's not a mod deletion "because we don't allow that".

Even a well-framed and constructive I/P post might be allowed to stand if it didn't devolve into being fighty within the first 100 comments, and even then if the fighty was being done on good faith and without devolving into personal attacks. Ideas are what we try to discuss here, and we like to be exposed to a wide range of things because who knows where the next delightful surprise might lie?

So, where does one draw the line? At exactly the point where if YOU don't like it, don't click on it or read it. Period. Others will like it, I promise you, and nobody gets to say they don't get the chance to do so.
posted by hippybear at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, where does one draw the line?

Well...
posted by Ghidorah at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, a lot of train related accidents.
posted by clavdivs at 8:20 PM on December 17, 2015


I really liked the post and I think we are very far from influencing people to do dangerous things.
posted by michaelh at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not to start some kind of proxy war, but this pissed me off in the shoplifting tumblr culture thread and several other recent ones.

It’s hard for me to understand this argument. Are you trying to say people should have not objected to the shoplifting? It would be OK to comment if you were pro shoplifting, but not if you’re opposed? Or it’s wrong to have mentioned the shoplifting at all? I don’t get it.

"I don’t like this band" or "I don’t like knitting" isn’t the same as moral opposition.
posted by bongo_x at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


OP, I get why you made this post (I flinch at some posts for focusing on certain issues in a certain light), and I appreciate you opening this up for discussion because it mattered so much to you.

I don't yet have full feelings on this, mostly because I have also been upset by some MeFi front page posts, but also respect the work of information gathering and sharing of histories, so I will post once, and if, I have a follow-up comment that can adequately sum up accurately what I have to say.
posted by yueliang at 9:49 PM on December 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Forget hopping trains, it's the bridge itself you gotta watch out for.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:54 PM on December 17, 2015


METAFILTER: it had better end with you saving someone's life or meeting Buzz Aldrin or something
posted by philip-random at 12:09 AM on December 18, 2015


It's impossible to tell whether they're higher as a percentage of participants, because there are no participant statistics to draw from. Yet it seems unlikely, because though it's clearly extremely hazardous and injuries and deaths from it seem likely to be catastrophic and brutal, there would seem to be many more risks posed by operating a motor vehicle in normal traffic.

If driving a car involved getting on and off while it was moving, inches away from the exposed metal wheels and axles, while running on a rough surface, I'd buy this. And if driving a car meant sometimes sitting out in the open with nothing to hold on to, or occasionally getting trapped inside if the boxcar door latches shut. Plus inclement weather, the terrible people you sometimes meet, and so on.

There are a lot of risks to train riding that don't exist even for motorcycling, though there probably not good statistics for it since no one is tracking the numbers of people who do it.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:13 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ideas can be influential (of course!), but a million things make them more or less so, on any given mind, at any time, including how they're presented.

When an arguably dangerous story comes to people here, it's at least through a filter, not a foghorn - it's muted by the context. And posts are set up for discussion*, including objections, knowledge sharing, and warnings, if someone feels obliged to give them, and people engage, so there's that. I think the post was good, and I think pjern did well to act on their sense of responsibility within the thread. Although if someone really wants to jump a train, they probably will. Partly because they're the type of person who thinks that'd be fun.

*Also for irrational outrage, like the kind I feel any time Chris McCandless and his siren song come up. That story has some unique elements that make it compelling (not limited to a movie and several hype machines. (I even slightly suspect his name plays into it, in some tiny way, but who knows. But tbh, that story pisses me off on a gut level, regardless of the fact that people have actually put themselves in danger by following him into the wild or the wood or whatever.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


(But I think very few, close to zero, would buy a ticket to Alaska on the basis of a discussion here.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:49 AM on December 18, 2015


If driving a car involved getting on and off while it was moving, inches away from the exposed metal wheels and axles, while running on a rough surface, I'd buy this

It's impossible to reason in such an absence of data, but overall risk doesn't really have to do with the existence of unique threats that "don't even exist" for the other mode of transpor; risk is expressed in the aggregate risk. Driving and motorcycling also have their own unique risks. Driving is incredibly risky and those risks come from volume, weather, poor communication, inexperience, driver inattention, mechanical failure, various kinds of impairment, miscalculation, etc. Driving has a shocking number of failure points.They don't have to be horrific or impressively dangerous-seeming to in fact be very dangerous. Two out of three drivers will be injured in a driving accident over their lifetime - can we say that for trainhopping? Until we have more information I'll continue to harbor a healthy doubt that the per-capita, per-year risk of tranhopping is higher than for motorycling.
posted by Miko at 5:18 AM on December 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine died rather horribly while skydiving, so I generally avoid posts and articles about skydiving.

But I wouldn't dream to ask for a moratorium on recreational skydiving posts on MetaFilter, despite my belief that it's a stupid and completely unnecessary risk to one's life and it's pretty fucked up that there's an entire industry/subculture set up around almost killing people by dropping them out of planes.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:02 AM on December 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


Leaving all else aside, MonkeyToes, reading your note re: this being your hundredth post led me to your contributions. I didn't know until now that I am curious about the change trays that they use in Japan, and I also look forward to learning about who-knows-what after that.
posted by mr. digits at 7:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


pjern is a train guy -- I get why he posted this -- he probably understands the thing better than the casual non-train-driving mefite. I do think though, that amongst this particular group of nerds, the number of people here who are going to put the keyboard down long enough to grab ahold of a moving train has to be pretty dang small. I don't think the average mefite is all that much of a dangerous thrill-seeker. Still, point noted about the dangers. Likewise, I get bent out of shape when I see threads or comments glorifying drug use-- especially heroin-- (not that it happens that often) so I do understand the impulse to say "don't do this."
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:15 AM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess the OP is fine with Base jumping which is obviously completely safe then as is free climbing. * shudders *
posted by adamvasco at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2015


Man, don't put words in people's mouths based on what they failed to add to their outrage list. I know it's a common favorite tactic here but that's a cheap shot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:21 AM on December 18, 2015 [28 favorites]


Seriously. That's like pure-grade Doing MetaTalk Badly, cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Doing metatalk badly *roars with laughter* I mean come on. Idiots will continue to be idiots. Someone has a personal dislike of something and wants to nanny us to all nod our heads. Not going to happen. But now I remember that americans and brits have a different sort of humour. Waits for the Prince Albert thread.
posted by adamvasco at 9:41 AM on December 18, 2015


It must be so fucking awesome to not worry about such unimportant things as community standards. I wish I could be as fucking awesome as you are.
posted by Etrigan at 9:44 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


You were, and are, being a dick. This isn't a humor-across-the-pond thing, it's just a you-doing-a-bad-job-of-not-being-a-dick-to-other-people thing. Just cut the shit or skip the thread next time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2015 [19 favorites]


Another forum I frequent there is periodic discussions about sailing alone for long distances. It's never resolved. There is mixed within the extremes of opinion some really useful information and data.
posted by sammyo at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obviously these posts will stand. No one is going to stop doing posts about illegal or dangerous things.

That being said, if people want to point out the inherent dangers in these activities, these posts give them an opportunity. Train-hopping, for example, is probably an activity where the dangers are not as clearly spelled out as they could be. Not posting about train-hopping isn't going to raise the awareness of the dangers, but someone making a comment (that is hopefully pointing to some actual facts on the matter, or perhaps relating a personal tragedy) may raise awareness.

No, I'd say having posts about dangerous and illegal things are not only fine, but a *good* thing for the community; everyone has a chance to pipe in and tell people what a dangerous/stupid idea the thing is.*

*Seriously, riding motorcycles seems crazy dangerous - almost every friend I've known to do this for a long time has been in a serious accident. One has gotten killed. Dont' motorcycle.
posted by el io at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you for your concern, but I will continue to ride motorcycles. Don't tell me what to do, okay?
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:14 AM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm all for it, as I may need an organ transplant someday.
posted by maxsparber at 10:23 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anyone else need to pipe up with some personally-directed snottiness this fine Friday? This is the place to do it, you empty-headed animal trough wiper.
posted by carsonb at 10:26 AM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


hello i am here for the airing of the grievances
posted by poffin boffin at 10:35 AM on December 18, 2015 [31 favorites]


FORGET YOU HAROLD
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:38 AM on December 18, 2015


Good example. I find motorcycles dangerous as hell and I would hop a freight train before riding on one. YMMV
posted by josher71 at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


i totally understand the impulse to say the thing about organ donation wrt motorcycles, but as someone still grieving their uncle who was killed by people in a car doing something illegal and stupid and dangerous it still stings. you're talking about real people who are really missed.
posted by nadawi at 10:51 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Of course you're right. My apologies. I overlooked the previous comment, but should generally be more sensitive.
posted by maxsparber at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2015


Waits for the Prince Albert thread.

Canning princes: more or less risky than train hopping? Discuss.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear Great White Arctic explorers,

Canadian taxpayers are sick of getting stuck with your rescue tab and the SAR folks have better things to search for and rescue. Please go challenge yourselves elsewhere.

Thanks,
empty-pocketed Canucks.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 11:18 AM on December 18, 2015


Not posting about train-hopping isn't going to raise the awareness of the dangers, but someone making a comment (that is hopefully pointing to some actual facts on the matter, or perhaps relating a personal tragedy) may raise awareness.

No, I'd say having posts about dangerous and illegal things are not only fine, but a *good* thing for the community; everyone has a chance to pipe in and tell people what a dangerous/stupid idea the thing is.*


I heartily agree. What's more, it has the potential to educate us, and thus to help us become educators of the people in our lives. For instance, I don't know that much about train hopping; it's kind of a fascinating subculture thing, but I certainly don't go exploring much in the "how-tos" of the community. If one of my 20something friends or relatives mentioned wanting to do it, from my uninformed perspective, I might be like "how adventurous." However, if I read about it on MeFi, which I likely would, and in that context encountered deeper, specific and concrete information about the risks involved, I would then have a different response if I heard about my 20something friend doing it: "it seems exciting but I read some information about the risks and injuries possible and it's killed a lot of people and here are some websites." In other words, talking about the dangerous thing in the context of interest in the dangerous thing allows people to create and share more information about the dangerous thing, including the useful and cautionary practical information - and that is a better outcome than not talking about it at all.
posted by Miko at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe we could take a break from interpreting pjern's request in the shittiest possible light?

I'm not sure pjern meant to ask for a ban on discussing trainhopping. There are times when people have trouble writing down what they're thinking.

Regardless of what he wrote, what I think I saw pjern asking for was not a ban on discussion.

I feel like what he's asking for is a greater awareness of where the line is between bringing some balance to a discussion and advocacy.

The best example I can think of comes from my motorcycle safety class. The instructor said, rhetorically, as part of his introduction: "is it possible to ride a motorcycle safely?"

And his answer was, no, it's not possible to ride a motorcycle safely. Because motorcycle riding is, by its nature, high-risk, by comparison to the other modes of road transport.

He then went on to say that while it's not possible to ride a motorcycle safely, it is possible to minimize your risk while riding a motorcycle. And he emphasized that while those are in fact two very different things, in most peoples' minds, they get elided into the same thing.

So that when a motorcycle rider is talking about "riding safely", what they mean is "riding in such a way as to minimize risk". But when a non-motorcycle-rider hears the rider talk about "riding safely", they hear "riding a motorcycle is just as safe as driving a car".

To bring this labored analogy back around, I think there's a big difference between a comment saying "You know, trainhopping is risky and controversial and will never be "safe", but there are ways to minimize the risk" and a comment saying "Trainhopping is safe if you do it this way".

And I think pjern might be asking for more of the first, and less of the second.

I might be wrong. I might be crazy. But that just may be the nuance that he's looking for.




I'm sorry NO I'M NOT
posted by scrump at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Regardless of what he wrote, what I think I saw pjern asking for was not a ban on discussion.

Possibly not, but when you start a MT thread with the title "Can we just stop doing this?" it sure comes off that way, as opposed to just commenting in the original post and pointing out your concerns.
posted by bongo_x at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


If pjern meant something different than what they said, couldn't they clarify that in a comment?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:26 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see a great big difference between 'Can we just stop doing this?' and 'The mods should stop us from doing this!'
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


*Seriously, riding motorcycles seems crazy dangerous - almost every friend I've known to do this for a long time has been in a serious accident. One has gotten killed. Dont' motorcycle.

You think we don't know this? I ride a motorcycle with eyes wide open, not because I am ignorant of the risk - I've already had a serious accident and a couple of non-serious ones! - but because the reward is big enough that it's worth it.

Also, danger is fun; it focuses the mind.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2015


Now I'm questioning the wisdom of this FPP i've been building "heroin: good clean fun, or the road to enlightenment?"
posted by el io at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2015 [15 favorites]


i don't see the danger in heroin?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2015


Can we just call a moratorium on these posts?

I know we're splitting hairs hella hard here. But that's calling for a ban. Let's not get any more obtuse than we need to.
posted by emptythought at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought pjern was suggesting that we members of MetaFilter consider voluntarily not posting in a way that glorifies train hopping. I didn't think pjern was suggesting the mods ban anything that mentions the practice, or even that people not post on the topic. Just that we consider not posting in a way that glamorizes something illegal and dangerous.

Personally, I think we do fine marshaling the facts and data in our thread discussions, so I see no risk to such posts and plenty of benefits, as Miko has already pointed out.

We do, however, seem to get a little crazy every time someone suggests we decide of our own free will, each individually, not use a particular word or glorify a particular behavior. Really, it is no infringement on anyone's freedom to be asked to consider modifying what one says or posts here. You can give it due consideration and make up your own mind.
posted by bearwife at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember in Into the Wild book that Chris McCandless wrote to his friends about hopping trains and thinking it cool and him feeling good about himself for that kind of thing, like he was some kind of badass for getting beaten by a "bull" and continuing to hop trains. Then again, he starved to death in Alaska and young men continue to idealize him and the way he died. It sounds pretty idiotic and immature. And not really impressive. It sounds like a story some guy tells over and over again at dinner parties to feel cool and you just nod your head, fake admiration, give him the high he wants, then excuse yourself so you can get away from this guy who needs to tell everybody about his adventure.

Pjern is right about a lot of things, especially being careful about spider bites. There are lots of people who desperately want cocktail party stories and these guys are going to end up either mangled up on the tracks or calling 911 to help them off the train or not realizing their stories aren't that awesome.

Though, I do think idiots gonna do idiot things anyway. I'm glad pjern put in his comment. I don't think banning would help, but strong comments like pjern's are very valuable. And I'll do my part by not faking polite admiration for dumb stuff grown men do in real life.
posted by discopolo at 1:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


It sounds pretty idiotic and immature. And not really impressive. It sounds like a story some guy tells over and over again at dinner parties to feel cool and you just nod your head, fake admiration, give him the high he wants, then excuse yourself so you can get away from this guy who needs to tell everybody about his adventure.

I dunno man, sounds like an interesting story to me, I'd hang out with that guy. And yeah, immature and idiotic sounds pretty familiar to me, being as I did a bunch of idiotic and immature things in my early 20s, the same age Chris McCandless was when he died. I mean, what, you never heard of an immature 23-year-old? Even now, approaching 40, I like to hear stories about stupid shit people did when they were younger. It's funnier than boring work stories and stories about your kids. Sometimes dangerous things also make interesting stories. Which is why you have so many books, games and movies involving people doing dangerous things. I think it is very likely you are in a minority that prefers not to hear exciting stories about dangerous situations.
posted by Hoopo at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Now that a few score of you have had your say, I'll jump back in.

Part of my motivation for posting this post was that I have an extremely visceral reaction to this particular subject (death on the rails) informed by my experience as a working railroader in the early 1980's.

One evening, I was engineer on a 9000-odd ton train, when I came around a curve at maybe 45 MPH and saw a custom van that had attempted to go around the gates and dropped off the edge of the pavement and gotten wedged on the rail. I dynamited the train and laid on the horn, but all I could do was watch the young driver's terrified face disappear under the nose of my GP-40.

The impact split the van in two, and the train came to a stop about 1500 feet past the point of impact. I got on the radio, but was probably unintelligible, as my conductor took the handset from me and reported the accident. I just stood there, adrenaline-incapacitated for a few minutes. I stayed on the engine, safed the train, and let my conductor deal with the authorities. The only real support I got was the road foreman showing up and taking the train on in. I don't remember much about that part of the trip. What I do remember was climbing down off the engine and seeing the blood stains on the front of the locomotive in the yard lights.

The trouble this caused me has lasted much of my adult life. For more than 20 years, I woke up nights sweating, or had nightmares where I woke up myself or others in the household screaming. As it turns out, I'm not the only former railroader who has had a similar experience., and the railroad companies back then more or less had an HR policy that amounted to "yeah, this stuff happens, so you're just going to have to man up and not be a nancyboy about it". I'm very glad that seems to have changed nowadays.

Telling someone that "It's not your fault", even if it's true, doesn't help very much. The if-only's (Why did he go around the gates and risk his life and his 3 passengers?) don't help the psyche either.

This all holds true for trespasser deaths, as well. Who do you think most often finds the body of a trainhopper who fell and was killed? Usually, it's the engine crew of a following train, or maybe a work crew.

It's a sickening feeling, and I don't think people have the right to potentially inflict it on other people for the self-aggrandizement of a few cheap thrills.
posted by pjern at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2015 [39 favorites]


It sounds like a story some guy tells over and over again at dinner parties to feel cool ...

I've got lots of stories like that. Entre nous, I can't guarantee that they're all completely true, but then the talent lies in the telling.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:10 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which reminds me: what are the most brotastic last words ever? "Hey, y'all look at me!"
posted by octobersurprise at 2:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


What a horrifying and traumatizing experience. I can't imagine. Sorry to hear that happened to you.
posted by naju at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2015 [13 favorites]


I don't think people have the right to potentially inflict it on other people for the self-aggrandizement of a few cheap thrills

Yes people don't have that right, strictly spoken. And they're not even there to clean up the mess.
posted by Namlit at 2:45 PM on December 18, 2015


I don't think people have the right to potentially inflict it on other people for the self-aggrandizement of a few cheap thrills.

Where do you propose the line be drawn?
posted by rhizome at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not avoidable, really. People think they're invulnerable. They just don't think about those they might leave to deal with a mess, or loved ones they might leave behind, in the moment - not a factor in their calculus.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:07 PM on December 18, 2015


I'm sorry, pjern, I spoke too bluntly. I wish it weren't that way, and I'm very sorry that you've suffered, for so many years, because of myopic hubris. I think if anyone *really believed* they would harm someone else as a result of their actions - or die - they wouldn't risk it. But they likely don't imagine that they'll make a fatal mistake, or that unexpected variables will pop up. We're not built that way, unfortunately :/

I think raising awareness of risks can be helpful, though, in how a phenomenon is understood, and I am always glad when people share what they know. I'm so sorry you have this knowledge to share.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:07 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm very sorry that happened to you, pjern. The thing is, though, the number of potential unique triggers for users here is unknowable and constantly changing. I have one that is very specific to me. In the real world, the situation that is my trigger is an extremely regular occurrence -- a situation that many people find themselves in on a daily basis. In real life it's such a general, common thing that there's no point in my asking other people not to bring it up, to keep it invisible from me. Yet in my inner life, every time it does become visible to me, it kicks off a bad set of memories and flashbacks (to a variable degree, depending on the day and what else is going on in my life).

I don't think community of this size and with such broad interests can possibly be sensitive to every single potential unique trigger. It can only be asked (expected!) to be sensitive to the common, obvious ones. The rest of it is on us, as people who are triggered by something not generally known to be trigger-y, to be wary of discussions where it might conceivably come up. (And then are those really sucky times where it comes up unexpectedly, in a thread where you never thought it would. I wish that didn't happen, but it does.)

But back to my first sentence -- I'm really sorry you had to go through that. *hugs*
posted by mudpuppie at 4:33 PM on December 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Which is why you have so many books, games and movies involving people doing dangerous things. I think it is very likely you are in a minority that prefers not to hear exciting stories about dangerous situations.

I can separate fantasy from reality and I'm hoping (and assumed, until I saw your comment) the majority can and will too. Now maybe there's need to keep an eye on some people who clearly need more explicit instructions on how vulnerable they really are.

I know enough doctors and nurses and health professionals that day in and out have to deal with the fallout of people doing stupid shit and barely just surviving, becoming a burden to their families and loved ones, all because they hoped they could tell cool stories and have some bro slap him on the back. This desperate need to gloss one's ego and be admired by a random dude who wants to seem cool by association---it's so weirdly superficial and sad. But I don't understand that aspect of what I think is probably due to male socialization.

I can promise you that, as a woman (and, ok, not a "cool girl" like Jennifer Lawrence) at 23, I didn't feel compelled to hop trains so I could tell stories. It would have seemed fucking stupid and dangerous if I'd done it, nobody would have been impressed. If I'd done anything like that, I would have had to stay quiet about it because people would have thought I was crazy. They'd have been like,"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Because I'm expected to have common sense and intelligence. The mistakes I make and immature stuff I do don't get the "boys will be boys" coddling treatment.

So when I hear some bro talk about doing that or jumping from a balcony into a swimming pool and inevitably crushing leg bones (or climbing Mt Everest only to die as his wife is nine months pregnant and has 2 of the guy's other kids who are still under 5 yrs old,) I find it completely idiotic, selfish and thoughtless.

So romanticizing dumb and dangerous behavior---not a fan. Probably because friends and family are left holding the bag, having to do the work, having to help pay all the bills and do the physical and emotional labor while the bro never thought about it.
posted by discopolo at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't know if it's always about bravado or a need for an audience (though probably yes, a lot of the time). I think there's something in wanting to feel a certain kind of rawness (though it's never really raw in that way, or unmediated) - or to be close to something that feels fundamental, that's within the realm of understanding, even to thoroughly domesticated and more or less anxious and other-beholden people like me, who would neeeever get on a motorcycle or jump out of a plane.

I remember being in my teens, swimming in the Adriatic, and (more than once) finding myself filled with a blissed out, connected-to-nature feeling, & (just for a minute) experiencing a crazy urge to keep swimming towards the horizon. (Because, I don't know - it was beautiful, and I felt strong, like I could keep going forever, and I think there was some feeling of wanting to lose the sense of division between myself and the sea and sky.) Then I'd remember that humans can't live in the sea without e.g. lunches and a place to sleep etc. and recognize this was a dumb and bad idea, though I did feel saddened and annoyed by having to let that feeling go and turn back.

Or that's my little nugget, that could maybe let me make sense of that kind of desire. But it's not real, that feeling, it's a dangerous illusion. If people want to chase some version of it in whatever way, it's up to them - I just hope they equip themselves with the skills and judgement to avoid hurting themselves, and other people.
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:14 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


The mistakes I make and immature stuff I do don't get the "boys will be boys" coddling treatment.

I think it has a lot more to do with how you feel about security and risk than gender.

People fall all over the graph where they weigh safety vs thrills and how much they are willing to risk. People also differ on how much they feel like they can base their life decisions on how it will affect others. And some people aren’t that bright.

The "boys do dangerous crazy shit that hurts people and girls don’t" line of thinking seems faulty. You obviously didn’t date the same girls I did.
posted by bongo_x at 5:27 PM on December 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've done stupid and dangerous things that gave me a thrilling feeling of being totally alive. Those are the kinds of things you do when you're young, and it's part of the human condition. Life isn't safe. If you have a kid, of course you want to keep them safe, which is why mothers go gray (as my mother used to say), but you can't treat the entire human race, or even MetaFilter, as your kid. That way madness lies.
posted by languagehat at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: Nobody is going to FPP anyone else into an oncoming train.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:38 PM on December 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


What happened to pjern is truly horrific. You truly have my condolances for living through such an awful experience.

But if we tried to enumerate every possible thing that might make someone who had an awful experience feel bad, we'd be left with nothing to talk about.

My wife absolutely cannot stand to hear any talk about the angiogram I had two years ago. I make light of the miracle of having my arteries roto-rootered and my spiffy new stent but I can tell the idea fills her with a visceral body horror that literally makes her shake with terror if I try to talk in more normal terms about it with someone else when she's in earshot. But it's not reasonable to ask people not to talk about it, particularly since a bit of vigilance about things can save your life, and for the most part she understands that and just leaves when the topic comes up.

There are already too many topics that, to use the euphemism du jour, Metafilter doesn't do well. It is not possible to keep everyone happy all the time. There certainly is a threshold and some topics are raw enough for enough people that avoiding them site-wide is a sensible policy, but in this case pjern should have left a comment voicing those concerns and bowed out if the others wanted to discuss the artwork or history.

USD$0.02 deposited.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:27 PM on December 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Good example. I find motorcycles dangerous as hell and I would hop a freight train before riding on one. YMMV

I wish there was good comparable per-mile accident data for train hopping, so that we could compare this other than anecdotally. Personally I've ridden on trains and have owned motorcycles, and freight trains seem unquestionably more dangerous to me but obviously people's feelings and experiences differ.

The mistakes I make and immature stuff I do don't get the "boys will be boys" coddling treatment.

I've seen this a lot, and it shows up in all kinds of places (like how AskMe questions about road trips and traveling are phrased, for example). It's sad, because I think everyone should be encouraged to take risks (whether physical or otherwise); that encouragement is a huge privilege and should not be reserved for young men.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:08 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can separate fantasy from reality and I'm hoping (and assumed, until I saw your comment) the majority can and will too.

What the actual fuck. Both real exciting stories involving dangerous situations and fictional ones can be entertaining, is that clear enough? This shit here is why I don't go to meetups.
posted by Hoopo at 7:09 PM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, c'mon, one reason to go to meetups is no one ever says the kind of crap that gets flung in here to anyone's face in the real world. I mean, really, talking to another human being is not completely eviscerating some garish cartoon loser of your own creation over the innertubes. Real life, real people, real feelings to be read in real faces. Even with the lowest estimation of human nature, people treat each other with a great deal more respect most of the time, even when they are being jerks. It's just so much harder to fling the self-righteous drama at a person in three dimensions.
posted by y2karl at 9:55 PM on December 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


The reason I don't go to meetups is because we rarely have them where I live. (although I had a great time when at the NYC meetup I went to ages ago).
posted by el io at 10:49 PM on December 18, 2015


This shit here is why I don't go to meetups

Good grief. That's an overreaction if I ever heard one; no need to get ragey and take it out on/denounce the good company of all Mefites when I'm the one you're having problems communicating with.

I don't go to meetups. I don't even live anywhere near where you do. You're safe as...whatever it is that's completely safe (haaaaa!).
posted by discopolo at 11:12 PM on December 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Y'all are derailing! Can we get back to focusing on the topic at hand?
posted by yueliang at 12:00 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's just so much harder to fling the self-righteous drama at a person in three dimensions.


"The Polar Express II: Frost Chariot"
posted by clavdivs at 12:06 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


The uncanny clavdivalley
posted by y2karl at 12:45 AM on December 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm late to this, but:

Your second comment in this MeTa was well-delivered and brought up your concerns about the practice of trainhopping and why it's quite dangerous and that anyone reading that FPP should be warned that it's not a very bright thing to do.

Your original post included a "site policy" tag and the insistence "we" have to stop making posts because you think so.

There is a world of difference between those two. Unfortunately, our developing trigger culture does not seem to be able to discern that.
posted by kuanes at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why are people even talking about triggers
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:00 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is no such thing as trigger culture. It's a made-up phrase used to mock others and stifle discussion, and it would be nice if we didn't use it here.
posted by maxsparber at 8:07 AM on December 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's a made-up phrase used to mock others and stifle discussion, and it would be nice if we didn't use it here.

Yeah, telling people what they can't say has always been the best way to avoid stifling discussion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:30 AM on December 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, luckily for everyone, we have free will and can say whatever we want. It is not too much, though, to ask for empathy and consideration for the traumatic experiences of other members of the community when making posts and commenting.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:35 AM on December 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, telling people what they can't say has always been the best way to avoid stifling discussion.

There's a difference between attempting to control speech, and pointing out when someone is using a phrase that has no real meaning or is otherwise misleading, and suggesting they stop. It is entirely possible to express oneself freely, and to be met with argument. Nothing is being "stifled".
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:41 AM on December 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trigger warnings don't even tell people not to say things. They warn others "what you are about to read may disturb survivors of X". Period.

Honestly, the outrage over trigger warnings is more thin-skinned than their critics' strawmen.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:53 AM on December 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


I will admit to being fascinated by trainhopping. William T. Vollmann wrote an excellent book about his days as a hobbyist on the rails.
The thing about the subject, and it's very serious downside, both for riders, rail employees and trainspotters, is that it has a long long long history. It's part of our culture to vagabond, to hobo, to take risks to see the greater world, so calling for a moratorium on the romanticization won't happen because...wait for it....that train has left the station.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:10 AM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well this thread started out about trains but we appear to have solved the problem of free will, so that's pretty good.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:41 AM on December 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


If driving a car involved getting on and off while it was moving, inches away from the exposed metal wheels and axles, while running on a rough surface, I'd buy this

Folks who have actually hopped trains, or read enough about it from realistic sources know that it's possible--easy, in fact--to hop trains without once getting on or off a moving car. The image of a grizzled hobo swinging onto a boxcar that we've all seen in the movies is an uncommon one because this is a very difficult move to pull off even while the train's standing still.

I don't quite know why people do things that are risky--personally, I'm petrified about driving cars and will probably never learn to do so well enough that I'll feel comfortable driving on a yearly basis--although I've hitchhiked thousands of miles and ridden my bike halfway across the continent, and yes, hopped trains. I've covered thousands of miles without ever once getting on or off a moving train. I've also rarely gotten caught, and when I have, it's typically been by kind, solicitous railroad workers who just want to make sure I know what I'm doing. I remember running into a yard worker in Fon du Lac, Wisconsin one night at about 3AM, and asking what track the train to Duluth would be on. He wanted to know I was being careful, and I rattled off something about three points of contact at all times, never getting on or off a moving train (all of which are things I swore by when I rode trains), and he laughed heartily and said I'd been paying better attention at the union seminar than he had. I know that people lose limbs (and in fact I'm long-ago acquaintances with someone who has), and I know some train riders drink or ride in altered states. I'd never do that, just like I'd never drink and drive--or drink and bicycle for that matter, but we all take risks, and we all break laws intentionally and inadvertently both. It's genuinely awful that every so often workers have to scrape an unknown body off the ballast and understand the visceral horror of death up-close like that, but it doesn't change the fact that most train-related fatalities are from cars stuck on the tracks in urban areas, or people crossing the tracks because it's a shortcut and cities are actively hostile to pedestrians (footnote about catching out of Bakersfield and watching all morning as people crossed an active trainyard on their way to the laundromat with dirty clothes and then back with them folded neatly in a basket, or in their church clothes, or carrying tiny dogs too small to hop the rails). I don't want to avoid acknowledging that trainhopping can be dangerous, and can potentially end someone's life in horrible ways, but it's also a powerful set of experiences that can be done just as safely as other risky activities--like cycle touring, for example, which I wouldn't expect be censured for on Mefi.

BTW, that William Vollman book is one of my least favorites of the genre, though I'm always dismayed at how poorly written so many freight hopping books are, and how full of machismo and patriarchal romance where women exist to be, like, figureheads on the prow of a ship. A good, older trainhopping book is Rolling Nowhere by Ted Conover, who's an exceptional writer of narrative nonfiction.
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, 'The Dharma Bums' is interesting though it is part of a journey and not portrayed as thrill for its own sake. Well..

And for gods sake do not smoke marihuana and train hop. I walked by a still train high and boy howdy, we needed to cross over, did, and vowed never to cross a train high again.
posted by clavdivs at 4:54 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why are people even talking about triggers

The op of this thread said that discussion of train hopping was bad as it aroused strong and unpleasant feelings in them and therefore we should not do it. In a subsequent comment they made it clear that this was as a result of previous life trauma, a 'trigger'. Some comments then pointed out that this was a very specific thing to avoid commenting on, absent knowledge of the OP's specific sensitivity. Other commenters drew a broader parallel between this and the phenomenon of trigger warnings.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:32 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


2nding Ted Conover, he's great.
posted by notned at 9:11 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a cousin named Josh and a former classmate named Josh, and both of them have train hopped. The first was the only survivor out of (IIRC) three friends who jumped trains to ride to school — the other two got tangled, one got cut in half the other got dragged. The other Josh rode the trains all over, and stopped when he saw a friend get cut apart. I don't want the third Josh, me, to be the one who finally gets killed. Also, I'm enough of a Cure fan to not want to jump someone else's train.
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on December 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The OP didn't ask people not to talk about it because it's a "trigger", he asked people not to glorify it because it's dangerous, selfish, and potentially harmful to others, which he knows from personal experience.

Whether or not I agree, it's not accurate to say he's asking people to avoid triggering him.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:08 AM on December 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


thivaia: "I think trainhopping is hilarious. Unfortunately brides have no sense of humor."

Can I have my dollar back please?
posted by chavenet at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Part of my motivation for posting this post was that I have an extremely visceral reaction to this particular subject (death on the rails) informed by my experience as a working railroader in the early 1980's.

Sure they did.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:34 AM on December 20, 2015


Well regardless, I still cannot tell if pjern is making a request of the community to exercise discretion, or if they're asking for an actual mod-enforced moratorium as per the "site policy" tag, as this wasn't actually answered in OP's follow up comment. I can get behind the former, as I'm not big on train articles, but the latter, not so much. Clarification would be appreciated.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2015


Well regardless, I still cannot tell if pjern is making a request of the community to exercise discretion, or if they're asking for an actual mod-enforced moratorium

Assume good faith and go about your day, then.
posted by Etrigan at 12:59 PM on December 20, 2015


I'm assuming good faith whatever the aim of this MeTa is.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:10 PM on December 20, 2015


Well regardless, I still cannot tell if pjern is making a request of the community to exercise discretion, or if they're asking for an actual mod-enforced moratorium as per the "site policy" tag, as this wasn't actually answered in OP's follow up comment.

Not my intent to ask for a mod-enforced ban at all. The choice of tag was based on the "Etiquette" half of the choice. I just think we could exercise a little caution and be mindful of the fact that different people will interpret a post in different ways, because our very differences mean that the post that fills me with existential dread may in fact be seen by someone else as "Hey, that's neat, I want to go try it".

Would you post, to use a far fetched (well actually not too far because I just pulled it out of my ass) example, a series of links on "How to rob banks and not get caught" if you thought some might actually try it?
posted by pjern at 3:00 PM on December 20, 2015


You mean (say) a post on bank robbing in cinema vs reality with lots of interesting clips, a real-life G-Man talking about how dumb most bank robbers are but there was that one guy, and some background about the actual impact of bank heists? Yes, absolutely.

The post you were complaining about was a really good one, and I'd be sad if people decided not to make really good posts because there is a non-zero chance it might upset one person.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Would you post, to use a far fetched (well actually not too far because I just pulled it out of my ass) example, a series of links on "How to rob banks and not get caught" if you thought some might actually try it?

You mean, for instance, like this?

Heck yes.
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:10 PM on December 20, 2015


Metafilter: The post you were complaining about was a really good one.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 10:41 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


...the post that fills me with existential dread may in fact be seen by someone else as "Hey, that's neat, I want to go try it".

Ebola: "It's an explosive virus. It replicates like crazy ... and it destroys everything in its path, so, how is it just hanging out in the testes for like nine months?"

Hey, that's neat, I want to go try it.
posted by fairmettle at 4:55 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not my intent to ask for a mod-enforced ban at all. The choice of tag was based on the "Etiquette" half of the choice. I just think we could exercise a little caution and be mindful of the fact that different people will interpret a post in different ways, because our very differences mean that the post that fills me with existential dread may in fact be seen by someone else as "Hey, that's neat, I want to go try it".

I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask people to be mindful of the implications of information that they're sharing, and I appreciate the clarification. For my part, I think the distinction lies in framing. Just sharing information isn't by itself advocating for a thing, whether it's an article, interview or video. Advocating would be actively encouraging people to try it; irresponsible advocating would be omitting information about the risks involved in it. The "illegal" angle doesn't really bother me, but if an activity is dangerous, yes, it's a really, really good idea to emphasize the risks involved in that activity, and then assume your readers are adults who will weigh the risks and decide for themselves.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2015


War is far more likely to get you killed than trainhopping. Let's be careful how we make posts about the military and avoid glorifying it in any way. (Note: not sarcasm.)
posted by languagehat at 7:51 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can get behind this, too.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:01 AM on December 21, 2015


Wolfdog: "Well this thread started out about trains but we appear to have solved the problem of free will, so that's pretty good."

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:14 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill.
posted by zarq at 10:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


s/kindness/trains
posted by Daily Alice at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2015


*forwards entire thread to Peart for possible inspiration for next Rush album lyrics*
posted by hippybear at 3:04 PM on December 22, 2015


I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask people to be mindful of the implications of information that they're sharing, and I appreciate the clarification. For my part, I think the distinction lies in framing. Just sharing information isn't by itself advocating for a thing, whether it's an article, interview or video. Advocating would be actively encouraging people to try it; irresponsible advocating would be omitting information about the risks involved in it.

You’re right, that does sound like Rush lyrics.
posted by bongo_x at 5:45 PM on December 22, 2015


You’re right, that does sound like Rush lyrics.

Ouch!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:26 AM on December 23, 2015


I kid. It was a lovely comment.
posted by bongo_x at 10:21 AM on December 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm a little old fashioned about this, but I would hate to see a ban (or even a soft ban such as considering this to be "etiquette") of topics like this on mefi, just like I would hate to see a ban of people complaining about topics like this. As long as everyone can do it with civility, I think it's all good. That last one can be tricky, but in the thread we're talking about, I thought everyone was pretty decent about it.
posted by Edgewise at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a little old fashioned about this, but I would hate to see a ban (or even a soft ban such as considering this to be "etiquette") of topics like this on mefi, just like I would hate to see a ban of people complaining about topics like this. As long as everyone can do it with civility, I think it's all good. That last one can be tricky, but in the thread we're talking about, I thought everyone was pretty decent about it.

Yep, that is very nicely put.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:44 AM on December 24, 2015


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