Climate-related posts on the blue July 29, 2019 7:44 AM   Subscribe

There are a fair number of climate-related posts coming up on the front page these days, especially as the shit hits the fan with heatwaves and wildfires. But a lot of these threads seem to be dominated by a sort of drive-by doom, e.g. the most recent one where the first comment is literally 'we are doomed'. The situation is unquestionably dire, but I wonder if there isn't a more substantive way to talk about it.

This kind of instant nihilism feels like it sets the tone for the whole discussion, and while I appreciate that metafilter is probably a haven for people who acknowledge just how serious the crisis is in a society that still treats climate change as a fringe issue, it also doesn't seem like a useful way to have a discussion. There are certainly a lot of things to talk about on the issue apart from just the despair of it.

I'm aware of (but haven't really participated in) the Fucking Fuck threads here on metatalk and I wonder if that might be a better place for these kind of hopeless feelings?

(Disclaimer - I lurk a lot more than I post on metafilter so I don't want to seem like I'm trying to advise on how things ought to be done, I just notice this attitude a lot and find it exasperating, and thought it would be worth having a discussion about. Epecially since I have a few IRL friends who talk like this, and with them, it almost seems like an excuse for not taking action or processing their own grief.)
posted by AllShoesNoSocks to Etiquette/Policy at 7:44 AM (167 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

I agree with you. And I feel similarly about posts using the climate crisis to shoot down other discussions (“what’s the point of talking about this? The planet is dying and so will we”).
posted by sallybrown at 8:25 AM on July 29 [39 favorites]


The performative despair in these threads and the politics threads is the single largest factor driving me away from MetaFilter in the past five years.

And it's not like this is a widespread factor, either: it's usually perpetrated by one of a set of the usual suspects, who continue to do so despite repeated moderator warnings and timeouts.

The people who do this seem to view themselves as clear-eyed rationalists bringing the Truth to the rest of us Pollyanna naïfs, and their attitude basically seems to boil down to "if you're not vocally and nihilistically saying we're fucked, you're delusional and unaware".

This kind of crap is tedious when you're hanging out drinking with friends: on a site with the demonstrated depth and breadth of MetaFilter it goes beyond insulting into something nearly pathological.

Hope is not a disease. Optimism in the face of adversity is not naive fluffiness. And we sure as shit don't need some self-righteous crusader with an Apocalypse fetish to come riding in and preemptively shit in the punchbowl the second anyone dares to express an emotion other than total nihilism.

We know things are terrible. The people who do this aren't enlightening anyone: they're just masturbating their despair all over the discussion. It is toxic, it is grotesque, and it is utterly contemptible.
posted by scrump at 8:28 AM on July 29 [150 favorites]


This kind of instant nihilism feels like it sets the tone for the whole discussion

First comments can set the tone for a thread, but to me, the majority of the rest of the thread didn't seem to adopt the same tone of despair as the first comment, so I disagree that the first comment in this case set the tone for the rest of the discussion. I think despair-comments would have shown up in that thread regardless of what the first comment was because "despair" is a reasonable reaction to climate change in general. Obviously, different people are going to have different ideas about what kinds of comments are "too despairy" (for me, a comment like "we are doomed" has some element of despair, but it isn't "too despairy") but I think when talking about dire situations (such as climate change), I think some amount of despair-comments should be expected.

If despair-comments are comments that negatively affect you, I can appreciate that, but I think the FPP was written so neutrally that despair-comments should have been expected by people who wanted to comment. If the FPP was written with a tone of hopefulness, then yeah, I can see where people could be blindsided by despair-comments. But (imo) if you know that despair negatively affects you, that thread should have been one where you anticipated that despair-comments would be left inside.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:43 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


The first article in the post more or less just says "It's getting hotter in Europe and this Swiss institute says it will get even hotter".

I'm ok with hearing the negative and desperate voices because they are a valid reaction. I try not assume that people are "performative" just because what they express is not intelligent or bothers me. After all how can anything posted on metafilter be anything more than performative?

But I would hope also that other voices can add something more substantive or more action oriented. Starting from those negative comments, the thread actually discusses "saying we are doomed makes this a non issue", etc...
posted by haemanu at 8:56 AM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Wasn't there some policy on doomsaying? I could swear I've seen it deleted from threads before.

(My own pet peeve is the Can Personal Responsibility Save Us Y/N discussion that comes in on every climate thread.)
posted by mittens at 8:57 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]


This kind of crap is tedious when you're hanging out drinking with friends: on a site with the demonstrated depth and breadth of MetaFilter it goes beyond insulting into something nearly pathological.

Oh, for fuck's sake. Insulting? Pathological? The only person insulting anybody here is you. Metafilter is not your living room, you don't get to decide what the appropriate tone is.
posted by enn at 8:58 AM on July 29 [18 favorites]


Metafilter is not your living room, you don't get to decide what the appropriate tone is.

No, but the mods do, and they have said things about doom-saying in threads before.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on July 29 [16 favorites]


I don’t necessarily see this as deserving mod deletion, and the OP isn’t calling for that—but it’s more than fair to say “before you post something like ‘we are doomed’ without anything more, especially right at the start of a discussion, will you please think twice about it.”
posted by sallybrown at 9:07 AM on July 29 [12 favorites]


We had to ban it from the megathreads (and essentially exile it to the Fucking Fuck threads) because we had enough people telling us it made those threads unreadable, and enough experience as people who had to read those threads, that we decided there was no real way to make it fair to both the people who wanted to express that particular emotion and all the other folks who found that emotion, in aggregate, seriously harmful to their own mental health. This wasn't a judgement of the validity of the feeling or even really of the effectiveness of the rhetorical choices being made - it was making people, including the mods, miserable, and that is not good for the site or the people being harmed.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:07 AM on July 29 [18 favorites]


it’s more than fair to say “before you post something like ‘we are doomed’ without anything more, especially right at the start of a discussion, will you please think twice about it.”

In another thread I called this kind of thing a "Sarah-McLachlan-holding-a-kitten-and-trying-to-make-you-feel-guilty kind of appeal".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:17 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


their attitude basically seems to boil down to "if you're not vocally and nihilistically saying we're fucked, you're delusional and unaware".

I do find this sort of thing difficult, especially as a somewhat anxious person. I've been reading more Quaker fiction lately (not even Jessamyn West) and one of the things that is notable is how conversations, especially ones on difficult topics, often have as a central goal "finding a/the way forward." Which is to say that anything that is talked about needs to be talked about by people who want to move forward as a community, even an imperfect community where people don't agree on everything.

I've been thinking about that a lot in terms of all the challenges facing the site right now, and where the world is politically, and the challenges presented by that. Everyone reacts to these challenges differently, but most of us are going to be managing these feelings for the long haul and it's worth having conversations where you need to think about waking up tomorrow. Not in a Pollyanna-ish way just in a "let's be realistic" way. Feeling doomed isn't a good feeling, but it's a feeling. Turning it into a conversational topic doesn't really give the conversation a way forward and is a different sort of way of responding to these feelings.

Wasn't there some policy on doomsaying?

It was mostly for the megathreads iirc, and I don't think really percolated to the rest of the site.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:21 AM on July 29 [38 favorites]


restless_nomad said: We had to ban it from the megathreads

Do the mods consider comments like "we are doomed" to be the kind of comments that they'd ban from megathreads for being doomsaying? My understanding was the kind of negative-prediction comments that were banned from megathreads were the ones that were very long and descriptive. "we are doomed" seems (to me) to be very different from the kinds of doomsaying that make the megathread unreadable for some users.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:25 AM on July 29


I'd absolutely delete that comment from the megathreads, yes. It is literally doomsaying and offers no substantive content at all.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:28 AM on July 29 [13 favorites]


Thanks, restless_nomad.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:30 AM on July 29


literally doomsaying

Would you delete "we are fucked" from a megathread for the same reason? (Just trying to understand the mod line here, not trying to argue for or against anything.)
posted by 23skidoo at 9:32 AM on July 29


So, if it was deleted from the megathreads and we are no longer having megathreads, does the deletion cascade out to the threads that replace the megathreads?
posted by jacquilynne at 9:49 AM on July 29


Would you delete "we are fucked"

This is covered in the longer explanation of that policy from when it was implemented at the end of 2017.

"generalized doomsaying or venting—discussing how and why specific things are worrying can make sense, but "we're all gonna die/we're fucked/it's hopeless" stuff is just wearying "
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:51 AM on July 29 [8 favorites]


I made a sort of “we’re fucked” comment in that thread, but it was under the context of having heard that from a Nobel prize-winning global warming researcher regarding a particular tipping point - Arctic methane in particular, and the facts on the ground concerning that are not good right now.

So we have a 2-edged sword here — “we’re doomed” without context is a useless comment, but seriously, without a Deus Ex Machina of global warming, we are seriously pretty fucked, & it’s hard to avoid that notion in a post about global warming entirely. If my comment crossed any sort of line, I can re-think that, but the context is what it is.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:25 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]


So we have a 2-edged sword here — “we’re doomed” without context is a useless comment, but seriously, without a Deus Ex Machina of global warming, we are seriously pretty fucked, & it’s hard to avoid that notion in a post about global warming entirely.

So if it's hard to avoid that notion, let's still not make "we're doomed" comments--because it's just stating the obvious. Nobody needs a reminder. Let the conversation be about new information, ways to move forward, protecting each other, and mitigating the damage (or whatever it may be that's useful and/or interesting).
posted by witchen at 10:34 AM on July 29 [31 favorites]


Let the conversation be about new information, ways to move forward, protecting each other, and mitigating the damage

I wholeheartedly agree & I appreciate the nudge.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:49 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]


So, if it was deleted from the megathreads and we are no longer having megathreads, does the deletion cascade out to the threads that replace the megathreads?

Probably, because this was less a megathread-specific problem than a "this makes a lot of site members unhappy" problem, but we're definitely watching this thread to see how folks feel about it at this point and in a less politics-specific context.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:49 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


but we're definitely watching this thread to see how folks feel about it at this point and in a less politics-specific context

I will raise my voice then to say I am pro-moderating this kind of comment, especially if it's very frequent or there are several in a thread. Something along the lines of at least stopping further remarks like that after 1 or 2.

It's both along the lines of saying "I hate cats" in every cat-related thread (in which case, give the thread a pass instead) and also, it seems to me, a way of pushing a degree of emotional labour onto the community in an inappropriate way. I mean, either you just leave the comment be, or you have to argue for hope vs. nihilism or try to create a counter-argument to something that's really insubstantial. I don't think it adds to the community or to discussion, it's just a fly-by zinger. There's no quality engagement with the topic or post.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:00 AM on July 29 [38 favorites]


I really like witchen's perspective on this. I find it really difficult to go into topics that are already hard and then see comments about how we're fucked. It's a short step from there to "everything is ruined anyway and I can't do anything about it".
posted by brilliantine at 11:16 AM on July 29 [15 favorites]


If we're taking votes, I also hate these comments.
posted by lazuli at 11:17 AM on July 29 [20 favorites]


I feel like there should be more effort given to a comment than just "we're fucked" because until you're dead there's always going to be an and then.... While despair is absolutely valid, it's not the end. What do, buckaroo?
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:30 AM on July 29 [7 favorites]


*raises hand* Another mefite here against We'reFuckedFilter.
posted by sugar and confetti at 11:45 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]


I get that some folk need the cathartic yelling into the void, but I wish these responses could be flagged and options to hide them (so folks that want to keep hope alive don't need to worn down by the venting)
posted by 6ATR at 11:54 AM on July 29


Yeah, if we're taking a poll, count me as someone who super understands the impulse behind comments like this, but still thinks they're harmful and would like to see them deleted.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:01 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


The performative despair in these threads and the politics threads is the single largest factor driving me away from MetaFilter in the past five years.

Yes. Yes. Yes. I despise these types of comments. I've noticed it creeping into Ask as well, most recently on a question about how people plan for drawing Social Security combined with other retirement savings options, and someone came in solely to shit on the premise of the question since according to them, SS won't exist in 20 years.

I don't want the option to hide them. I don't want to see them at all, whether that's by way of mod deletion or (preferably) refraining from this behavior in the first place.
posted by anderjen at 12:02 PM on July 29 [25 favorites]


Nthing that I also find unhelpful these types of comments, for all of the reasons given above.
posted by Tsuga at 12:09 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


I just don't get the point of those kinds of comments other than as a way to nullify any other kind of conversation. I mean, yes, we may well indeed be fucked in the longer run, but as we don't exist in that totally fucked state as yet, continuing to act as though we may still be able to mitigate our ultimate state of fuckedness still has some purpose and at least has some conversational utility. The alternative is just posting the links and adding little we're fucked dots as an obituary in real time, which seems pretty fucked in itself.

The need to feel one is expressing the "truth", even as it is still just a predictive one, over something potentially productive is the old I'd rather be right than happy idea taken to a greater extreme for the want to impose one's "rightness" on all others as witness that you weren't fooled by empty hope. If it is indeed hopeless, then it should be easy to pass by the threads as one's remaining time could surely be spent more profitably elsewhere rather than reading fan speculation about a show that you already know the end to. Maybe just consider it an imposition of a spoiler alert on the topic to keep the rest of us from finding out that end before we get to it.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:27 PM on July 29 [13 favorites]


Adding a voice who finds them unhelpful.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:31 PM on July 29


We're alive right now.
posted by amtho at 12:32 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


I'm less annoyed by fatalistic one-liners than I am by comments that deem some behavior someone else doesn't like as "performative", but I'd be fine seeing less of both.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:33 PM on July 29 [25 favorites]


I have enough nihilism and fatalism myself, I'd rather not have that fed by these comments: they're not helping.
posted by KTamas at 12:50 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


witchen said: Let the conversation be about new information, ways to move forward, protecting each other, and mitigating the damage (or whatever it may be that's useful and/or interesting).

This is a great suggestion, because it gives people who have feelings of despair some concrete suggestions of how to comment when they have feelings of despair. I think one of the reasons why despair-comments keep popping up (in the megathreads and in general) is that the question gets framed as "Despair on metafilter: yes or no?", which ends up with less-than-satisfying results for everyone because what seems like obvious despair to one person may not seem like despair at all to another person. Just my opinion, but if the question was more "What are appropriate ways to express despair/hopelessness on Metafilter?", I think we'd have a better chance of dealing with the problem.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:54 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


I am the person who posted that thread.

While I totally get where it's coming from, I wasn't thrilled by the first comment. I made the post because I thought it was an interesting topic and I wanted to hear the wisdom of metafilter on it (I get that sometimes this is not a great reason to post).

In retrospect, I wish I had framed the heatwave in the context of the 'green wave' in the recent European elections and the subsequent candidacy speech given by the President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to the European Parliament a week before the heatwave. She announced a European Green Deal and said: 'Our most pressing challenge is keeping our planet healthy. This is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times' and announced various actions the EU will take under her mandate. This would seem in line with the suggestion to keep these threads focussed on 'ways to move forward, protecting each other, and mitigating the damage'

I would be very disappointed to see further posts on climate stifled because of a (legitimate) aversion to doomsaying. I hope this thread helps the site to navigate a way forward on how to handle climate posts. For sure it's taught me a lesson on how to frame these things.

Also, thank you 23skiddo for acknowledging the post itself was neutral. The entire text is made up of extracts from the articles linked and I deliberately chose factual comments. Your comment eased the clutch of fear I got when I saw my thread resulted in a metatalk thread.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:15 PM on July 29 [29 favorites]


Hnnnn. Okay. I hate these comments, like hate them, and they are a primary reason I don't read the blue often (because it sets off my anxiety straight to high heaven) but... but... but. While my personal aesthetic preference would be to live a universe where my eyeballs automatically deleted any such language before they reached my language processing center, I agree with what I read 23skidoo as saying: despair is a thing that people are allowed to feel, and MeFi should be a place where they're allowed to feel it.

I would be very happy with a blanket ban on comments to the effect of, "you idiots seem to think there's any point to any of this, but I, the enlightened one, know that we are all going to die here," but while "we're doomed" doesn't, like, advance the conversation, it isn't shutting it down either. It's just expressing a feeling. Idk.

It's also not true that it's never helpful, the other day I was feeling bitterly hopeless and despairing and went to go find the Fucking Fuck thread specifically so I could see people talking about the same fear and pain and panic I was experiencing. Sometimes it's cathartic not to know you're the only one in the pit. There is a utility to sadness.
posted by peppercorn at 1:16 PM on July 29 [9 favorites]


I think there's a slight but significant change that could make these types of comments better: "we're all doomed" vs. "this is a huge problem". The former is sort of thoughtlessly emoting out loud with no real context or information, the other is naming something and empowering others to also perhaps see this as a problem, even though culture/society/whatever says something different.
posted by Automocar at 1:24 PM on July 29 [12 favorites]


I see this as part of the larger problem that is hopefully being addressed as we tackle the hydra headed problem of participation decline, the burden of MT's on the modsquad and making MeFi in general feel more inclusive.

I've read the MeTa's across these topics, and have seen suggestions about the wiki, but I don't recall any specific discussion of , perhaps, a suggested code of behavior (I use the term code very very delicately, because....backlash is inevitable), or perhaps we could call it Metiquette?

We could suggest that A) creators of posts could urge, in the body of the post, that drive-by hot takes, snarky one-offs or doom and gloom are not exactly welcome, and that B) folks who post within the read should consider, very strongly, RTFA, or at least engage with the topic of the FPP with at least one comment before beginning a derail or general chattiness.

So many commentors have told us how intimidating the unwritten cultural norms are, that it makes sense to define (even loosely) the community's basic expectations for good faith participation in discussions. It doesn't mean that failing to meet them brings any punitive response, but at least a codifications of the basics could allow a sensible discussion on how to be better for those who insist on the type of thing we're talking about here.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:31 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


tl:dr totally in agreement with witchen

The only reason I like superuser is their insistence replies always add to the solution. I was trained to solve problems at a large scale using soft systems - biology and culture. Threads where I can contribute (or simply graze at) are great - negative starters I avoid - am not into pity parties.

Threads where folk are discussing a situation and refuting aspects of it, and adding workable solutions, helpful theories or new narratives; they're enjoyable, helpful threads. If I want nihilism I'll go and watch Threads

Yes, these are very challenging times, but the children are rising up for goodness sake - and they're moving things.

Metafilter I see as a bridge to a possible future- many of us are fortunate to know members IRL. But we're (probably) discussing issues that may be difficult in the open, where we are - also it's a great space to bootstrap ideas\knock off the bits that don't work. I can imagine a more complex future where these same relationships can help the planet - in ways we can't yet imagine.
posted by unearthed at 1:40 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


As someone who may or may not have favourited some of these comments in the past, I have to say: posting "we are doomed" on a climate thread adds about as much as posting "First!", and I think it's not coincidental that those comments tend to be up near the top of the threads.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:51 PM on July 29 [15 favorites]


I know, and read, a lot about climate change. And I've stopped going into any climate change posts on mefi cause it's just too frustrating to hear the same deadshit, ignorant comments over and over again with no engagement in the links or content and nothing meaningful to add.

So many comments could essentially go in a thread that just had the words "climate change" in plain text, I actually find it very disrespectful to the OPs. And everyone's an expert. Cripes, people, if all you know about climate change comes from broadcast news, maybe pipe down a little until you have something substantive to say.

Sorry that was very negative for me, but it's been driving me nuts for literally years.
posted by smoke at 1:56 PM on July 29 [49 favorites]


I was talking about this exact problem in a relationship context recently. There's a huge difference between these two conversations:
"Hey, how was your day?"
"I just read an article about climate change. We are doomed."
and
"Hey, how was your day?"
"I just read an article about climate change. I'm feeling bummed out / totally defeated / a sense of despair ..."
The first one is like, hey, you should feel bad about a fact I know, and as a welcome-home gambit it gives the options of (a) starting an argument or (b) feeling bad. The second one is more like, hey, I'm feeling bad and maybe you could help, whether that's by climbing in the pit with me or helping me find something positive to do or whatever connection-building thing.

Maybe it's the standard therapy thing that "we are doomed" is a feeling disguised as a fact, which greatly raises the emotional difficulty level for readers/listeners to engage.

Not sure how this translates to site culture / moderation practice, but it was super helpful to me to draw the distinction in regular conversation.
posted by john hadron collider at 2:21 PM on July 29 [36 favorites]


Sometimes it's cathartic not to know you're the only one in the pit. There is a utility to sadness.

I think this is where I'm increasingly uncomfortable with certain developments in the site's culture. Because I am down for listening to people's genuine experiences, including sadness...when it's in response to a specific question or piece of content. Like, I will read all day the impact of the burden of emotional labour or the specific impact of colonization on individuals or groups.

But I do not consider the site here to enhance mental health or provide catharsis, and generic "venting" (a practice I find suspect actually, I mean, like everyone, I've vented but I think it's a bit like salt, good in small doses only) is not something I'm here to listen to. "Best place to vent on the web" would be a tag line that would direct me away from a site like, yesterday.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:32 PM on July 29 [35 favorites]


"we are doomed" is a feeling disguised as a fact

This exactly. Nobody on Earth actually knows that climate change will kill us all, because in a day or a year or ten years we could all either be dead from a superplague/saved by some undiscovered technology/dead from a superplague/saved by the second coming of Christ/dead or saved by aliens/WHATEVER.

None of those outcomes seem particularly likely to me, but the point is - the future, by definition, does not currently exist, and baldly stating "we're doomed" is pretending that it does.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:54 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


I was talking about this exact problem in a relationship context recently. There's a huge difference between these two conversations:
"Hey, how was your day?"
"I just read an article about climate change. We are doomed."
and
"Hey, how was your day?"
"I just read an article about climate change. I'm feeling bummed out / totally defeated / a sense of despair ..."
The first one is like, hey, you should feel bad about a fact I know, and as a welcome-home gambit it gives the options of (a) starting an argument or (b) feeling bad. The second one is more like, hey, I'm feeling bad and maybe you could help, whether that's by climbing in the pit with me or helping me find something positive to do or whatever connection-building thing.

Maybe it's the standard therapy thing that "we are doomed" is a feeling disguised as a fact, which greatly raises the emotional difficulty level for readers/listeners to engage.

Not sure how this translates to site culture / moderation practice, but it was super helpful to me to draw the distinction in regular conversation.


Quoting this whole big comment for context for this: maybe what Metafilter can do is help us all move to a mode of communication where we can express 'i feel doomed' and at the same time say 'how do we fix this?'
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:58 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Just wanted to say thank you to people who've commented with your thoughts - I'm glad I'm not the only one who was bothered by this.

Also, sorry to have given you The Fear, roolya_boolya - I wasn't trying to cast blame on anyone. I was just hoping to start some reflection on how we talk about this. I didn't mean to suggest there was anything wrong with your framing!
posted by AllShoesNoSocks at 3:12 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


I'm a big fan of coming down heavy on that “we're doomed” kind of posting, but I'm OK with a “this post doesn't help with my despair because reasons”.

But the main difference is the difference between “we're doomed” and “I feel doomed”. The former's a very forceful way to transfer your mood onto other people, the latter's offering up your mood for whoever wants to to help with it. And for some climate change threads, mutual support is what we want.

I feel that we should probably be careful to distinguish the posts that are “here's how people are dealing with the political/social challenges of climate change” and the ones which are “here's some climate science or climate change mitigation or CO₂ emission reduction strategy” and avoid dumping on the threads which are optimistic. That's just rude.

And one final bugbear: I have seen a fair few people saying that individual changes are worthless and only corporate change matters. These people are bringing social science to a physics problem - every CO₂ emission is identical no matter where it comes from. And frankly, when people say “I've not made any changes, it's for the corporations”, it really undermines those of us who are trying pretty hard to keep our impact down.
posted by ambrosen at 3:20 PM on July 29 [17 favorites]


I understand why some people feel like we are doomed -- as the days go on, I feel more and more like we are doomed -- but the basic unspoken assumption about any climate change post has to be that it's worth talking about (making a post about) because it's not too late to do something, even if you think it's unlikely that people will actually do that something.
posted by pracowity at 3:30 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


And frankly, when people say “I've not made any changes, it's for the corporations”, it really undermines those of us who are trying pretty hard to keep our impact down.

Yeah, that one bothers me the most. You do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. You avoid doing a bad thing even if everyone else is doing it. And you push for corporations and governments to make changes.
posted by pracowity at 3:33 PM on July 29 [18 favorites]


In the long run the sun will engulf the earth, in the longer term, heat death will consume the entire universe.

In the meantime the future remains unwritten.

Let's remember that, and strive to write a better future while celebrating who we are in spite of the impending awfulness please.
posted by nikaspark at 3:36 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]


Also, sorry to have given you The Fear, roolya_boolya - I wasn't trying to cast blame on anyone. I was just hoping to start some reflection on how we talk about this.

Oh no! This is a great conversation and I appreciate what you did. This is a reflection and we're moving forward. High five! [also you've never had The real Fear. I hazard you're not Irish :)]
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:39 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


In the long run the sun will engulf the earth, in the longer term, heat death will consume the entire universe.

And despite it all, are we not lucky to be here in the good times*

*good times = able to post on metafilter
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:43 PM on July 29 [8 favorites]


> Yeah, that one bothers me the most. You do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. You avoid doing a bad thing even if everyone else is doing it. And you push for corporations and governments to make changes.

I'm uncomfortable seeing a MeTa about a specific kind of post be turning toward either (a) the decidedly non-MeTa debate of individual choices vs. collective action in reversing climate change, or (b) an expansion of the MeTa to advocate stricter policing of comments with a particular viewpoint in that debate.

I disagree that individual choices can't have a measurable impact, but I also wouldn't want mods to intervene when someone simply reminds people that these problems are bigger than any one individual's choices, even if they're literally saying they won't lift a finger until corporations do (which is a lot more extreme a position than any I've seen despite following climate posts closely on the blue.) People should have a right to say that. If you know you're doing the right thing for the planet, why should it matter that someone thinks otherwise?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:56 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


If you know you're doing the right thing for the planet, why should it matter that someone thinks otherwise?

When they encourage others to act badly because they figure it just doesn't matter, I care.
posted by pracowity at 4:48 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


[spoiler alert]
We're doomed.
[/spoiler alert]
posted by Meatbomb at 4:50 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


The other day I flagged another "oh woe we are doomed" comment and was happy to see it promptly disappear. The existing policy on this seems good to me, at least as I understand it. I like the framework that was suggested above for redirecting those kinds of comments away from the performative despair.

And one final bugbear: I have seen a fair few people saying that individual changes are worthless and only corporate change matters.

Some issues require individual action, but others simply aren't aggregated from the individual level. (You don't solve the Flint water crisis by telling the people who live there to make better personal choices, for example.) Some things need to be dealt with at a systems level if you are going to change them. That's not defeatist, and it's not an insult to people who are trying to live lives with lower impacts (which is a good thing!), but it's also part of looking at a problem honestly.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:15 PM on July 29 [6 favorites]


> If you know you're doing the right thing for the planet, why should it matter that someone thinks otherwise?

When they encourage others to act badly because they figure it just doesn't matter, I care.


Sure, but that's not a MeTa issue. Are you suggesting that comments that encourage others to act badly should be subject to the same scrutiny as the "we're doomed" type stuff? If not, I'm not sure what the point of raising it here is.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:02 PM on July 29


what seems like obvious despair to one person may not seem like despair at all to another person

Indeed, what one person may seem like despair may be another person's individual action to motivate other people into action.

That said, I don't like the doomsaying either, unless it's meant humorously with the right timing, which is tricky to pull off when the post is kind of a bummer anyway.
posted by ctmf at 6:12 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just seeing things through a bad lens due to my history, but I see the we're doomed style comments as an absolutely necessary component in getting action on the issue.

I'm a computer geek. I remember the Y2K problem, and I remember that literally for decades leading up to 2000 us geeks were giving measured and calm warnings that if we didn't start some work on fixing this problem there'd be major consequences later.

Those measured and calm warnings and requests for resources to try and fix the problem while there was still plenty of time were totally ignored by everyone.

It wasn't until it got close to 2000 and people started screaming from the rooftops that we were doomed we managed to get the people in charge to actually do something instead of just ignoring us. And it cost a lot more, and involved some seriously ugly code, to get everything patched.

My point is that from my POV as a computer geek who saw what it took to get the... very fine people... in management moving was panic and doom saying. And I see no reason at all to think it'll be different with climate change, and the stakes are a lot higher this time. So screaming doom and declaring that we're all dead seems like an entirely correct and logical way to get the ruling class to stop playing golf for a few minutes and actually cut the check necessary to fix it.
posted by sotonohito at 6:37 PM on July 29 [21 favorites]


I'm not optimistic about how Climate Change/ Crisis will play out. A lot of climate scientists are depressed. Some well-informed people are pretty grim in their outlook. It has made me much more of a socialist as I see the harm caused by unrestrained capitalism. I feel much more strongly about politics as I believe that it's criminal of the US to refuse to deal with the mess we've created.

I don't comment in climate threads much, if at all, because I don't have a lot to add. The people saying We're doomed are likely sincere, depressed, maybe cynical. The reason not to post We're doomed is that is has been posted before, a lot, and adds nothing new or interesting. Deleting redundant comments doesn't bother me too much. Seems fair to note in such a thread that a simple comment of impending doom does not add value.

Project Drawdown is my favorite source for what we should be doing. Find stuff to comment in such threads that is hopeful. Make posts about the people and projects that are effective, the candidates who are informed and committed to action. AllShoesNoSocks: I lurk a lot. I get that. People can be harsh. But post anyway,you have something to say,you say it well, it's worth saying. Be the change on MeFi.
posted by theora55 at 6:58 PM on July 29 [10 favorites]


I think the aspect of actual, for real, climate catastrophe in the near-term means this is something we need to discuss differently than just the general idea of what kind of negativity should be tolerated. This isn't negativity in a vacuum. This metatalk thread strikes me as a very kind of "let's keep it at arm's reach" or sticking one's head in the sand kind of approach to the actual, for real, issue of climate catastrophe.

I don't know, personally, how to talk about the actual, for real, climate catastrophe without coming across as negative, and I think some of my comments have been deleted under this rubric.

There just isn't a positive way to talk about actual, for real, climate catastrophe. That's what the data is showing, that's what the research says. Reality has a negative bias here, on the things that are happening in our world and how we, as humans, respond to it.

This website is just as much a part of everyone's real actual lives as anything else. The site means a lot to a lot of us, and it's been around a long damn time. I'd like to be able to share that in this actual community of people who are likely to hear me on it. Exist with me in a shared reality where this is not good at all, nope it sure isn't.

Cause I don't know about y'all, but I DO NOT HAVE that anywhere else in my life, and I actually for real need it. I need to be able to say we are fucked and have people hear me.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 PM on July 29 [29 favorites]


I don’t know if I agree with that. I worry a lot about the climate. What does it mean for my child, my home? But what makes this place different for me is the ability to - hollow laughter - talk and learn more about how long the dooming will take, and the geographic distribution of the doom. That’s what I want doe this place.
posted by kerf at 9:14 PM on July 29


I came here to say exactly what odinsdream is saying. I can understand that someone posting "we are doomed" and leaving it at that isn't adding much to the discussion, but what about posting the reasons we are doomed? Most climatologists don't believe climate change can be addressed without developing moonshot technology to suck carbon from the air. Is that doomsaying, or is that just reporting the facts?

Similarly, I hope I am not doomsaying or encouraging people to be irresponsible when I tell them that studies show policies oriented toward individual action can give people a false sense that problems like global warming are being meaningfully addressed and / or are less serious than they would think otherwise. No one should think that if everyone just did their bit it would solve global warming. At the same time, everyone should do their bit.
posted by xammerboy at 9:14 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


I always vowed that if I'm bracing for impact I'm gonna try my best to provide loving comfort the people next to me.

Given our current situation, I want you all to know that you matter, your existence is meaningful and precious. You are cherished.
posted by nikaspark at 9:24 PM on July 29 [14 favorites]


I'm counting doomsaying (on any topic) as "We're all fucked, nothing is going to help, here are the awful things that are going to happen, end of story." Comments that are, "We are in dangerous territory, and I worry about awful thing. Here are the things I'm doing to help/here is a link with suggestions to help/what are other people doing to deal with this?" seem fine to me. I'm not saying no one should be in despair; I get that that's a natural response right now. But MetaFilter may not be the appropriate place to process everyone's grief on major political issues right now.
posted by lazuli at 9:24 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


This attitude brought up here is part of the reason that I don't engage as much as I used to, not because I don't take climate seriously, but because of the incredibly US-centered, solipsistic attitude of the loudest nihilist voices here. The idea that because of the near term failure of the US to treat climate change with the gravity it deserves means we are all fated to die. For these posters, it feels like the rest of the world has no agency, never mind that even the post in question should indicate the rest of the world is not waiting for the US to save it.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:47 PM on July 29 [42 favorites]


If one doesn't like the tone a conversation is taking shouldn't one try and change it with a comment of their own instead of trying to make it site policy that everyone must talk just so to suit one's sensibilities.
posted by dazed_one at 9:53 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]


So screaming doom and declaring that we're all dead seems like an entirely correct and logical way to get the ruling class to stop playing golf for a few minutes and actually cut the check necessary to fix it.

The thing is, sotonohito, how many golf playing members of the ruling class are reading Metafilter threads about climate change? Because screaming about doom to an audience who already agrees with you that climate change is serious but doesn’t particularly want to be told that it’s hopeless, end of discussion, really doesn’t seem to be helpful in reaching those folks at the very top. Maybe I’m not seeing deleted comments or remembering back far enough but I have never seen a comment here that dismissed climate change as a problem. People may disagree about the action to take but I don’t think anyone needs to be told that “we’re fucked” just to wake up to it being a problem.

dazed_one: nope, making a MetaTalk like this one is essentially the way it works — talking through why language does or doesn’t work for the majority of people and trying to do better going forward is the only way I’ve seen site behavior change on a large scale.

On that note, count me in for another person who hates the doom and gloom comments. I stayed out of the Megathreads because of them even though they were moderated heavily. Oddly enough I find the Fucking Fuck threads to be a lot more helpful as people have shifted to talking in more personal terms about bad shit and offering solace to each other with the occasional “doomed and despairing” comment that doesn’t shut down the conversation because it’s in a place designated as a place to vent, not a place to hold a broader conversation. It works in those threads but I don’t think it’s helpful anywhere else.

100% agree that we should be able to express despair and list the reasons why, but as noted above there’s a different between “we’re doomed” and “I feel like we’re doomed because of x, y, z.”
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:52 PM on July 29 [18 favorites]


If one doesn't like the tone a conversation is taking shouldn't one try and change it with a comment of their own instead of trying to make it site policy that everyone must talk just so to suit one's sensibilities.

One of the strengths of MetaFilter is that the site and mods know that this is not some universal rule. There are all sorts of topics where certain styles of responses are discouraged or essentially banned because they don't lead to good discussions.

People who want to use the threads "to be able to say we are fucked and have people hear [them]" (to quote odinsdream) are an uneasy mix with people who want to use them to discuss the specific topics of the FPP, and if enough people are doing the first the only way to change the tone is for them to stop.

I'm not pretending that this point settles it--we have lots of topics on MeFi where the rule is basically that people get space to vent--but no secret which side I personally lean towards.
posted by mark k at 10:59 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


The heat wave example is just dark humor, it was literally somebody making a sarcastic observation in context of the FPP... I truly lol'd reading that. I don't want that deleted.
posted by polymodus at 11:15 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between saying things are terrible, pointing to reasons why that might be so and still discussing ways to mitigate the worst possible outcomes, which might feel "negative" for bringing up things that aren't in any way pleasant to hear and defeatism that suggests nothing matters because we're doomed, fucked, or deserve to die for our inaction. The former kind of "negativity", if one wants to call it that, is trying to place things in context for what still might be done, while the latter just encourages a sense of helplessness and inertia.

I don't think talking about the real depth of problems the world faces is negativity, it's reasonable under the circumstances, but I don't see any use at all, either conversationally or in a more active sense in being defeatist as it has no use other than breeding despair. One certainly might feel like there's no hope for even mitigation, but just dropping that attitude in threads without anything else to add is counterproductive.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:27 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


This attitude brought up here is part of the reason that I don't engage as much as I used to, not because I don't take climate seriously, but because of the incredibly US-centered, solipsistic attitude of the loudest nihilist voices here. The idea that because of the near term failure of the US to treat climate change with the gravity it deserves means we are all fated to die. For these posters, it feels like the rest of the world has no agency, never mind that even the post in question should indicate the rest of the world is not waiting for the US to save it.

This. jeebus fucking keerist, this.

And due to the negativity imposed on the thread, along with the sense of helplessness that such a comment triggers, I don't even want to come in there to talk about stuff or share what might be going on elsewhere. I'm with the majority in this thread asking for a clear eyed look by the moderators at the pattern of 'doomshitting' causing the disintegration of Metafilter and members not interacting with the site as much or with threads because of the all pervasive nature of the negativity - going by the comments in this thread.

For me, its not all doom, gloom, and ignorance through suppression in the media and among policymakers and government departments, its not an official policy to be a denier of the climate emergency. That is not the environment i'm swimming in everyday.

But all the hopeful news and initiatives from around the world won't get posted if the first thing that hits you when you enter the site is a strong blast of hopelessness - this is not the metafilter / best of web I want to come and play in.

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/finland-news/domestic/16548-finland-to-use-presidency-to-lay-groundwork-for-carbon-neutral-eu-by-2050.html
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:18 AM on July 30 [24 favorites]


doomshitting is such a great term I am immediately going to start using it
posted by weed donkey at 1:29 AM on July 30 [23 favorites]



This attitude brought up here is part of the reason that I don't engage as much as I used to, not because I don't take climate seriously, but because of the incredibly US-centered, solipsistic attitude of the loudest nihilist voices here. The idea that because of the near term failure of the US to treat climate change with the gravity it deserves means we are all fated to die. For these posters, it feels like the rest of the world has no agency, never mind that even the post in question should indicate the rest of the world is not waiting for the US to save it.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:47 PM on July 29
[8 favorites −] Favorite added! [Flagged]


I flagged this as fantastic. Since the European heat wave post went up i have been trying to put my feelings into words, and thank you StrikeTheViol for managing to put it into words.
As a European, living in the middle of the European heat wave, there is nothing more galling to me than casual driveby doom saying by people who do not live here.
This is not about some remote fantasy land but real people are impacted greatly.
I would compare it to me writing we are all doomed into a thread about floodings in the US. Not even remotely funny, and as has been hashed out elsewhere in mefi, dark humour is not always appreciated.

Thank you AllShoesnosocks for this meta.

I tried changing the tone of the thread by posting and at least the doom saying stopped.
But boy the anger i feel about my personal experience being used to fuel snark and drive by nonsense is still going strong.
posted by 15L06 at 1:53 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


I don't really understand the nihilistic viewpoint and it disappoints me in cases where I would really like to use a thread as an opportunity to form a more educated opinion about what to expect from climate change and how I can behave ethically and responsibly with respect to climate change risks. Malaria kills half a million people per year, which may be on a similar order of magnitude as projected future climate change, but if I made a Metafilter thread about malaria, I wouldn't get the impression that humanity is fucked, everything is over, we should never have eaten from the tree of knowledge, etc.
posted by value of information at 2:10 AM on July 30 [9 favorites]


Another vote for "I would prefer this kind of comment to be moderated".

I'm very reactive to other people's emotions, particularly panicky doom-laden worst-case reactions like this. Managing this is definitely on me, but opening up the wrong thread at the wrong time and seeing "we're all doomed so why bother"-type comments can send me into a multi-day tailspin of panic and despair that takes a tremendous amount of energy to fight and pull myself out of.

I'm good at analysing cause and effect and I know a decent amount about history. I studied the rise of the last wave of fascism; I know what it looked like, and what it looks like now that it's happening again. I'm not in the dark or in disbelief about the nature of the climate emergency. I'm not even an optimist by nature.

What I do need, however, is to be able to get out of bed every day in the meantime and do the things that keep me housed and fed. Even if things aren't going the way I want them to, socially or politically or environmentally. Even if the things I need to get out of bed and do end up looking very different next month, or next year, or in five or ten or twenty years, because of the way the world is moving. Until I am dead or there isn't a planet any more, I still need to keep getting up every day.

Hearing constantly how we're doomed, and how doomed we are, makes it harder to get out of bed and do the shit I need to do to stay alive right now. I lived with severe depression from my early teens to my late 20s; it's a lot better now, but my default setting is still pretty close to "why bother?". I don't need any more help on the "why bother?" side. "Why bother [because everything is fuuuuuucked]?" is the enemy of getting up and getting what I need to do today to stay alive done. It is absolutely the enemy of having any energy at all to fight what's happening, because hearing how fucked we are pronounced in absolutes totally drains me of that kind of energy.

It's not that I don't know or don't care that things are bad, it's that I need to maintain just enough cognitive dissonance that actually they might be all right, that it might be okay to keep trying, to get me out of bed today, now, when I'm still alive and there's still, currently, a world.
posted by terretu at 2:31 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Malaria kills half a million people per year, which may be on a similar order of magnitude as projected future climate change

Unfortunately that WHO figure appears to be a very conservative estimate - I don't have access to the NEJM article referenced, but it's reviewing more recent research on the effect of climate change on mortality rates.

If we're planning to do away with the probably-accurate-but-questionably-helpful "we're all doomed" one liners in climate change threads, does the same reasoning apply / do people feel the same about the "waiting for the meteor!"-type comments that come up in other threads about bad things?

I don't see a meaningful difference, but I am 'fortunate' / resigned enough to not be much bothered by doomsaying, so very possible there are differences in impact (no pun intended) that I don't appreciate.
posted by inire at 2:39 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


It bums me out a bit, but maybe looking into more "Brexit" type thread rules would be helpful, not necessarily going so far as to say only users from a specific area can comment, but that the comments need to pertain to the thread subject, so if it's an EU thread on climate change informed posts on Eu efforts or climate change more generally should be the demand for the thread. Less of the usual generalities, nihilism, and US centric takes on the subject being tolerated. Connecting thoughts should be fine, even across cultures as long as the noting of it being about more than one culture is forefront.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:46 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I also think that its not anybody's fault there's so much doom and gloom. We're all part of the Anglospheric internet by virtue of communicating in the English language. And, the drivers of the Anglosphere are undergoing massive change right now with a lot of domestic issues of grave importance, on both sides of the pond. All I'd want to say to that is that the rest of the world isn't facing those kind of existential challenges and yes, there is hope and forward movement out there, on many issues of global importance. Let us share them with you.
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:51 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


Widening this slightly, I've flagged stuff like this on the Brexit threads in the past and it has been removed. Posts like "we're heading inevitably for a no-deal Brexit, there's nothing we can do, we're fucked" are not useful or helpful and all they do is raise anxiety levels.

One thing that I've not seen mentioned here that I'm absolutely not here for is dystopian speculative fiction. We've all seen it, especially on political threads. There'll be a negative political development and someone will wildly extrapolate from it and start posting about a horrendous dystopian near future where LGBTQ people are summarily executed in the street by government-sanctioned far-right mobs, or there's Brexit-induced mass starvation in the UK and poor people are the first to go, or The Handmaid's Tale becomes real. There's enough real stuff going on in the real world without this crap. As a poor queer woman I don't want to read someone's grim fantasy about my untimely demise.

Please stop this. I flag it when I see it, but I'd rather not see it in the first place. Can we stick to discussing what's actually happening rather than what often feels like a creative writing project?
posted by winterhill at 2:58 AM on July 30 [37 favorites]


353,633,660 Tree Seedlings Planted in 12 Hours. Ethiopia
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:13 AM on July 30 [14 favorites]


I'm a computer geek. I remember the Y2K problem, and I remember that literally for decades leading up to 2000 us geeks were giving measured and calm warnings that if we didn't start some work on fixing this problem there'd be major consequences later.Those measured and calm warnings and requests for resources to try and fix the problem while there was still plenty of time were totally ignored by everyone. It wasn't until it got close to 2000 and people started screaming from the rooftops that we were doomed we managed to get the people in charge to actually do something instead of just ignoring us. And it cost a lot more, and involved some seriously ugly code, to get everything patched.

I also remember the Y2K problem, and the panic about it. The problem is, while you may have meant to only target the people in the ivory towers, you took a scattershot approach and hit everyone else. And your attempts to get the attention of the people in the ivory towers didn't just result in some ugly code patching, it also resulted in people feeling like they had to make community watch groups and horde food to stave off the inevitable collapse of infrastructure. But....okay, yay, you got the code fixed, finally, but was convincing a teenager I talked to that "Y2K is going to blow up the world" and causing her a week of sleepless nights worth it?

I appreciate your frustration that it takes extreme action to get the attentions of the people in the ivory towers. Please appreciate OUR frustration that you're mistaking US for the people in the ivory towers.

if you want to make the people in the ivory towers panic to get stuff done, all we ask is that you leave us out of it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:27 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


I was in Y2K meetings and I don’t remember faxes going around saying “we're doomed” as a business case (or at all.) Discussion of possible catastrophe in specific terms, sure.

My understanding of the site is that the threads are to discuss specific posts with some degree of thought and care for the actual content in them, with some sincerity. Hearing that people come here to express their Bad Days with doom-laden one liners makes me feel like I’m trying to talk about a book at book club and someone’s sitting there saying life is shit, week after week.

As a fellow human, of course I will offer a hug once or twice. But I’m not coming back if every discussion is laden with that nihilism. And I think there is a significant chance more people like me are leaving or not joining. What I ask isn’t that you feel better or stop visiting the site, just that you post to further the discussion, not to add your zingy one liner of doom.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:03 AM on July 30 [18 favorites]


Basically, goodwill is a resource and think about whether you are contributing any or just burning it up.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:34 AM on July 30 [13 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos if you want to make the people in the ivory towers panic to get stuff done, all we ask is that you leave us out of it.

The only way I know of to get the billionaires to pay attention to anything is to panic the masses too. If you know a way to panic billionaires without panicking everyone else I'd love to learn it.

warriorqueen Sure, but those calm and measured meetings only took place because of the general panic. If they were going to have calm rational meetings without the outside pressure of people convinced their toasters would explode (or whatever) they'd have done it earlier.

From my POV panicking the masses, while not good, was literally the only reason the billionaires paid the slightest attention to the problem. The billionaires and the rest of the management types didn't panic, or not much anyway, but their non-panic reaction was produced entirely by the panic.

My reasoning here is that it would have cost significantly less to fix the Y2K problem long before the panic, but rather than saving money and fixing it when it would have been cheaper they did nothing at all until the general population was panicking.

I don't like panicking people, if for no other reason there's the pragmatic reason that panicked people are dangerous and can do great harm. But we've had decades now of non-panickmongering effort to get the billionaires attention and get them to cut the check to fix climate change, again back when it would have been vastly cheaper, and they kept accelerating climate change.

Either we can keep going with the proven failure of the calm and measured approach, or we can try the proven (if ugly) success of the Y2K approach and panic the masses as a means of coercing the billionaires into taking action. Y'all on the non-panic side have had your chance, you failed utterly. Let's admit that and try different, something proven in the past to work in similar situations.
posted by sotonohito at 5:37 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


+1 for moderating these.

Also +a million for more climate change posts that are focusing on what our friends in Europe and elsewhere are actually getting the ball rolling on. Those sorts of updates don't always make their way to my feeds here in the US and goddamn are they heartening.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:39 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Agreed that quippy ironic nihilism is off-putting when serious anxiety-inducing subjects come up, even if nihilism is how some people cope. If one’s coping mechanism makes others feel worse, maybe cope some other way or day.
posted by spitbull at 5:49 AM on July 30 [8 favorites]


Also calling dibs on “DOOMSHIT” as a band name.
posted by spitbull at 5:52 AM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Mrs Potato’s great contributions bring up another point I was thinking about - these “we are fucked no matter what” type comments, especially dropped into non-US focused threads, are coming from a place of ignorance and in their own way are a form of denialism and rejection of science. The people making them would never like to think they have anything in common with climate denialists, of course! But if you questioned the doomshitters about whether they knew what concrete actions non-US countries are taking to mitigate the effects of the changing climate, or tried to have an in depth, knowledge-based conversation about it, I doubt they would be contributing much. And if everything is fucked and nothing can change that, then why are they bothering to contribute to threads on the topic at all?

but I don't see any use at all, either conversationally or in a more active sense in being defeatist as it has no use other than breeding despair

It makes the doomshitters feel superior—they are the only ones who recognize the real scale of the problem, unlike the rest of us sheep. We see the same impulse pop up in political threads as “don’t you naive people realize ALL the politicians are evil monsters! Burn it all down!” etc.
posted by sallybrown at 6:07 AM on July 30 [21 favorites]


The only way I know of to get the billionaires to pay attention to anything is to panic the masses too. If you know a way to panic billionaires without panicking everyone else I'd love to learn it.

How about DIRECTING OUR PANIC? Instead of just leaving us to panic for panic's sake ("we're fucked") give us a place to direct it ("we're fucked unless you kick this dude in the ass").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the thread. I've been spending a lot less time here (and strictly staying out of the US politics threads) for exactly this reason. Over and over, I see people posting stuff like "this doesn't matter, we'll all be dead in 20 years anyway". Whether true or not (I believe it is not), hearing "we're all doomed and there's nothing we can do" over and over doesn't do anything except greatly raise my stress levels and demotivate me from doing anything productive (environment-related or just in general).

This place is a weird bubble. Nowhere else I know online or in person is anywhere near this doom and gloom. I don't know why this place has become so negative, it wasn't always like this. Maybe because it's so US-dominated -- and I get that things aren't great there now and times are tough for many of you, but it sucks to see that negativity leaking all over threads that aren't US-specific.

It doesn't make it very appealing to hang around here and I strongly suspect this is one factor in the declining user activity in the last few years. I would really like to see more of the great discussions that made me fall in love with this place years ago, without people crapping all over it by saying nothing matters anyway so why bother. It's off-topic, it's not helpful, it actively harms discussion, and as such I would be happier if the more extreme versions were moderated more, or preferably just not posted in the first place.
posted by randomnity at 6:25 AM on July 30 [14 favorites]


The "We Are Doomed" person is not necessarily wrong. I have typed that out plenty of times in similar threads and then deleted it because it goes over as well as trying to explain why one is childless by choice.
posted by terrapin at 6:27 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


If you call another user an asshole [please be clear I am not doing so here], you're not necessarily wrong, but that doesn't make that statement good for metafilter either.
posted by randomnity at 6:30 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


The "We Are Doomed" person is not necessarily wrong.

We’re also all going to die, but it doesn’t make sense to go comment in threads, “what does this matter, a hundred years from now we’ll all be dead.”
posted by sallybrown at 6:41 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


You may not like the comments or the people making them, but name-calling them doomshitters is bad behavior.

Metafilter is no different than the rest of the world. There are always going to be people who are really negative.

This thread feels typical of metatalk - concern raised, discussion, then devolving into obtuse interpretations of a comment one disagrees with, name-calling, increasing noise, decreasing signal.
posted by theora55 at 6:46 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


doomshitting

To piggyback on what theora55 said, there's lots of Mefites in this thread who've popped in to politely explain their reasons for wanting to leave dire, despair-filled comments. Calling these comments "doomshitting" seems like its unnecessarily adding additional tension to the conversation that doesn't need to be there if the comments were described less snarkily and more descriptively. Plus, "doomshitting" just seems like "outragefilter" or "dead goat comment" or any of the other snarky phrases in the Metafilter lexicon: if you're against that kind of comment, then the definition may seem obvious, but if you're not against that kind of comment, you may have no idea what the definition is or why people are against it. I'm going to suggest people don't start using this as Mefi slang (and then I'm bouncing out of this thread).
posted by 23skidoo at 6:58 AM on July 30 [14 favorites]


making a MetaTalk like this one is essentially the way it works — talking through why language does or doesn’t work for the majority of people and trying to do better going forward is the only way I’ve seen site behavior change on a large scale.

The majority of those commenting on the blue don't read/participate in MeTa threads. If the tone of a thread is "gloomy", it suggests the majority of people participating in that thread are alright with that tone. Instead of trying to pre-emptively sculpt conversations by cutting comments someone deems as depressing before they can be responded to, be the change you want to see and jump in there with some positivity. Making it site policy is literally tone policing and I'm not a fan of that.
posted by dazed_one at 7:09 AM on July 30 [7 favorites]


If we’re throwing “doomshitting” on the pile of somewhat-insulting, definitely-insidery terminology to scale back on, does “threadshitting” go also? I can’t speak for the other people using it, but it seemed like a more specific variant of that term to me. I can’t recall past objections to using the term “threadshitting” but maybe it’s less objectionable because it’s less specific?
posted by sallybrown at 7:25 AM on July 30


If we’re throwing “doomshitting” on the pile of somewhat-insulting, definitely-insidery terminology to scale back on, does “threadshitting” go also?

I wouldn't call the word "threadshitting" insidery - I've definitely seen it on other forums, it's not a Mefi thing specifically.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:32 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I do hate it when folks shit doom.

Its poor form.
posted by clavdivs at 7:48 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


The term is "threadsitting", is it not?
posted by tobascodagama at 7:52 AM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Both terms are used: a little more detail on threadsitting vs threadshitting.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:01 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I could do with a lot less of the “with us or against us” posturing i see in every climate thread labelling anyone not recklessly optimistic as literal enemies of the future. We are all equally culpable, and having an appropriately dismal outlook is not the same as surrender.
posted by rodlymight at 8:15 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


sotonohito, I am also a computer geek who remembers the Y2K problem. I appreciate the analogy and think it's apt in some ways. But if the argument you are making is that grassroots panic is necessary in order to motivate decisionmakers, because that is (from your POV) how decisionmakers were motivated to mitigate/address Y2K, then I want to double-check whether that is in fact the dynamic that actually happened back in the 1980s and 1990s. Maybe you're right about the fairly simple causality; maybe the course of events was shaped by lots of conversations among regulators, shareholders, customers, boards of directors, etc. that weren't as visible to your POV.

So I started looking for a little more research and data about Y2K mitigation/prevention decisionmaking especially on the institutional level, beyond the US Senate special committee report. This question -- what caused institutions to take Y2K seriously? -- seemed like the kind of thing historians of technology and organizational sociologists and political scientists must have studied. I did some digging and ended up writing a giant thing that, upon reflection, would be a derail. But, (a) I think there are a lot of important differences between the structure of the Y2K problem (and its mitigations) and climate change, and (b) I believe the story's a lot more complicated than "mass panic -> billionaires finally paid up". For one thing, getting companies to actually act involved some amount of influence/pressure from the outside, especially from the mass media and from regulators, state and federal agencies, and industry-wide consortia and working groups (including credible experts talking about the risk of legal liability), but also people inside companies needed to believe that the threat was not being overstated by doomsayers or IT departments seeking more turf.
posted by brainwane at 9:16 AM on July 30 [17 favorites]


Brainwane, for the record, if you want to post the giant thing anywhere else I would read the heck out of it.
posted by peppercorn at 9:31 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


For the record I'd also be interested in your huge thing, if you don't feel its appropriate to post here can you please memail it, or a link to it, to me?

I'm entirely willing to be convinced I'm wrong here.
posted by sotonohito at 9:38 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the encouragement, peppercorn and sotonohito. I published it on my blog.
posted by brainwane at 10:20 AM on July 30 [10 favorites]


MetaFilter is an interesting problem space for making community. It's big enough and anonymous enough that here on MeTa we talk about problems in the aggregate (for the most part) rather than pointing fingers at particular users. So rather than dealing with particular users, we talk about creating user-blind "expectations" or "policies."

In enforcing any of this, the mods DO deal with individual users. Good online discussion is impossible without moderation, but the mods have to deal with both legitimate criticism (tone-policing people of color) and ridiculous complaining ("Silenced All My Life" censorship complaints from people who miss the days when community norms enforced boyzone heteronormative white supremacist culture--you can go back and see what awful kinds of comments were allowed to stand in the past).

What I think is really hard for us non-mods to suss out is how much this (meaning not just the doom problem, but all the other highly topical MeTa problems under active discussion) is a problem of individual users, and how much this is a site culture problem. Is a particular problematic behavior something that 10% of users do 90% of the time? Or is it just something that most of us screw up on from time to time?

The fact that there are still folks here who seem to harbor a serious persecution complex from the mods makes me think that a lot of complicated policing could be cut out just by banning people who can't or won't behave. I get that mods want to work with people and only ban as a last resort, but if the resource that is their time can't be maintained I would rather free up some of it by removing people than letting the whole ship go down.

Having community standards always means somebody can't say what they want to say. Some punching is going to be involved, but we want to make sure we're punching up, not punching down.
posted by rikschell at 10:47 AM on July 30 [6 favorites]


I long ago quit even opening the posts about global warming because of all the hopelessness expressed inside.
posted by octothorpe at 11:04 AM on July 30 [4 favorites]


I don't find these comments useful but I also don't think they rise to a level of harm that makes them worth moderator resources to delete them.
posted by drlith at 11:27 AM on July 30


Re the supposed need to “panic the masses“, as a member of the masses i really resent the condescension this statement (unintentionally i assume) conveys.
I am perfectly capable of panicking myself, thanks very much, and do not need to be made to panic. Least of all in order to mobilise a billionaire.
posted by 15L06 at 11:52 AM on July 30 [16 favorites]


The comments that get me are "Just plant a small garden and stop using hydrocarbons to save..." great, what does that mean? What would happen if we just stopped pumping the entire world? No food deliveries, no farm harvests, etc... basically unintended consequences: genocide.

Less restricting stressful comments, more help for the folks that have issues. Let the stressful zeitgeist flow through the blue, perhaps a helpline of sorts triggered by flagging. I mean it's just words, learn to work through, either with understanding, talking it out or heck meds.
posted by sammyo at 11:56 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I agree that these comments are damaging to both the specific discussions in which they occur and damaging to the site culture more broadly. I would like to see less of them. But I think it matters how we go about achieving that goal.

If our only options are "leave doomsaying comments unchallenged" and "delete them with prejudice," I don't think we're in a very good place as a community. People's feelings of despair are valid feelings, but not every conversation can be about folks' most negative feelings, regardless of whether they're valid or not, and dropping heavy despair into a thread tends to suck up the oxygen for other discussions. I think that:

1. Asking people to consider the effects of their despairing comments is an important component of addressing the problem, which I think this MeTa does well.

2. Helping build a consensus on the site includes discussing the issue on MetaTalk as well as users raising it when it happens on the Blue or elsewhere. Yes, most people don't read MeTa, but those of us who do now have a thread to link to when we see this happen. Responding to "Welp, we're fucked" with "Hey, I get what you're feeling, but we've talked about how damaging comments like that can be to discussions about climate change in this thread on MeTa, I think you should read it" is one way to help improve things.

3. The moderators should have more tools than just comment deletion in their kit for addressing this problem. The problem with full-on deletion is that it removes any opportunity for people to learn what's wrong with that type of comment. For many of the things the mods delete, of course, that's fine; as a community we don't really need to learn that trolling is bad, for example, we just need it cleaned up. But for comments which can be legitimately read in good faith, even if they are damaging to the discussion, I think the bar should be higher. As is a recurring problem, the mods should have some sort of boilerplate text they can post after a "we're all doomed' comment to challenge it and explain why we're trying to avoid comments of that type. If specific members persist in doing this after having the problem explained to them, then they lose the benefit of the doubt.
posted by biogeo at 12:06 PM on July 30 [6 favorites]


Could there be a focused metatalk: helpline.metafilter.com ?

If we actually are a community, let's try to help.
posted by sammyo at 12:42 PM on July 30


If we actually are a community, let's try to help.

Not to pooh pooh this idea, but this was something I tried to push through way back in the day and the mixed reaction meant that it did not happen. Might want to read through that thread, see if something could get improved on.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:46 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Yep, as the editwindow closed I had a bout of oh noos, what if's, legal omg's, and serious intestinal conflagrations.
posted by sammyo at 1:06 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


Less restricting stressful comments, more help for the folks that have issues.

One could also say "less MAKING of stressful comments, more help for the folks that have issues".

And I'd wager that many of the people who are advocating the dialing back of doomsaying comments are working and doing their bit to help offline. I admit i don't have the same trust and confidence in the people who are doomsaying - after all, if they've already made up their mind we're doomed, why would they?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I'm sticking by my "this is the Metafilter equivalent of 'FIRST!'" comment above. Maybe some people are compelled to post "FIRST!" because of untreated anxiety disorders, but I think mostly they just want attention.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:00 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


(The tendency to excuse various disruptive posting behaviours by attributing them to undiagnosed mental health issues is something that's probably worth its own MeTa.)
posted by tobascodagama at 2:02 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


And I'd wager that many of the people who are advocating the dialing back of doomsaying comments are working and doing their bit to help offline. I admit i don't have the same trust and confidence in the people who are doomsaying - after all, if they've already made up their mind we're doomed, why would they?....

I'm a complete doomsayer when it comes to the climate crisis. I am also vegan, childless, carless, buy secondhand etc. My carbon footprint is smaller than the vast majority of people in my country. Why? Because I have a conscience. What incredible bad faith to suggest otherwise.
posted by sarahw at 2:37 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]


if they've already made up their mind we're doomed, why would they?....

That is a really odd thing to say.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:47 PM on July 30 [5 favorites]


Gotta say I'm not really enjoying the massive amount of comments calling me (as a "doomsayer") mentally ill and it's pretty disheartening they're allowed to stand while calling for "negative" comments to be removed.
posted by odinsdream at 3:13 PM on July 30 [11 favorites]


> brainwane: "I did some digging and ended up writing a giant thing that, upon reflection, would be a derail."
Sounds like a great post for Projects, with a link to it here.
posted by theora55 at 3:18 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


is it feasible when FPP's like this are posted that users have the option to create a meta where they can say "this FPP is causing me "we're doomed feels", if anyone has capacity to explore this with me let's do it in this space".

That takes it out of thread and creates another space for unpacking heavy shit.
posted by nikaspark at 3:24 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I apologize for projecting and making an assumption about the doomsayers. I spoke without thinking and from a place of frustrated emotion, and I apologize for the hurt i caused.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:28 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


I think it's really important to be clear on what people are actually saying here. There's a very important distinction between negative comments and defeatist or "doomsaying" comments, and several people here have tried to make that very clear. Some people have called for defeatist/doomsaying comments to be removed, which I don't generally agree with (unless it gets really out of hand or there's someone who refuses to recognize that that type of comment is damaging to the discussion). I don't believe anyone has called for negative comments to be removed, and a search of the thread for "negative" finds nothing of the sort.

Speaking as someone who suffers periodic depression, I recognize statements of the form "We're fucked" or "We're doomed" as the kind of thing that would be a symptom of my depression when I'm in the middle of a bout. However, that doesn't mean that other people saying these things are suffering from depression and I agree that it's really unhelpful to conflate those things or engage in armchair diagnosis of others based on their comments. That said, depression is a disease characterized, in part, by irrationally over-weighting negative information and under-weighting positive information, even when being completely rational in assessing the truth of the information itself. There is a sense in which these defeatist comments contribute to a sort of community depression, as a social phenomenon rather than as any individual's mental illness, and I think that's worth taking seriously.

I agree that in general it is impossible to discuss climate change without being negative, because the real outlook is negative. But I see a really important difference between the following kinds of comments:
  • The only way out of the climate crisis is to stop pulling fossil carbon out of the ground and back into the carbon cycle. But the economics of fossil fuel extraction are still so powerful that market forces won't save us, and the political leadership doesn't seem willing to do anything about it. Hoping for a sudden advance in technology for either renewable energy or fusion power seems like gambling our futures on an uncertain outcome. The next few generations are going to have to do a lot of work to clean up the messes of the last few, and do it with a lower quality of life.
  • This is really demoralizing. I feel really defeated by all of this.
  • We're doomed.
The first is focused on information which can be objectively evaluated. It includes factual claims which may or may not be true (I think they are true) and negative predictions about the future based on those claims. The second is focused on a personal response to information about climate change, which is a valid statement of emotions. The third is an opinion couched as a fact, and while it comes from a valid place emotionally, it leaves nothing to discuss and serves only to communicate despair. All three are negative, but while the first one promotes conversation about the facts, and the second promotes conversation about feelings, the third is a conversation stopper.

My understanding is that people are objecting to defeatist, despairing statements about climate change, not negative comments in general.
posted by biogeo at 3:44 PM on July 30 [12 favorites]


The problem is that the thread is full of people agreeing that "we're doomfucked" comments are to be removed, while also putting some real fucking heavy shade on the first kind of comment in your example. Even the entire reason this MetaTalk was opened lends itself towards addressing Type A comments, which I don't think is practical, reasonable, ethical, or logical.
posted by odinsdream at 4:15 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Hm. Well, I haven't noticed that in this thread myself. I thought the framing of the MeTa was fairly clearly about "drive-by doom" as the OP put it. Perhaps you and I are reading the same comments differently and so I'm not seeing what you're seeing; can you point to examples of what you mean by people "putting some real fucking heavy shade on the first kind of comment in your example"?
posted by biogeo at 4:28 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


Odinsdream, perhaps I'm misunderstanding or I personally have miscommunicated, but for my part when I was lashing out I was thinking EXCLUSIVELY of the type C kind of comment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Also on an entirely less serious note, "doomshitting" and "doomfucked" are delightful concepts if you interpret them slightly more literally than they were meant here. Like, I've been a bit sick recently and I really relate to doomshitting right now.
posted by biogeo at 4:38 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]


My understanding is that people are objecting to defeatist, despairing statements about climate change

The thread framing might be focused on drive by doominess, although it’s not that clear, but many of the comments (including the above) read - intentionally or not - as talking about doominess and despair as such, not just in drive by / one liner “we’re doomed” form. There are comments sometimes made in climate threads that are pretty much Type A+B+C, with analysis and facts, despairing emotion in the face of those facts, and a deeply pessimistic conclusion about how fucked things are going to be as a result of those facts. Some of the comments here read as pushing back against that, as well as the one liners - i.e. against expressions of despair and doominess in general.
posted by inire at 5:33 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


many of the comments (including the above) read - intentionally or not - as talking about doominess and despair as such

I'm sorry to be obtuse, but which comment above do you mean? I promise this question isn't rhetorical. I'd like to determine whether your and odinsdream's read of comments in this thread as being about negativity generally rather than despair specifically is something that I can understand once it's been pointed out to me.
posted by biogeo at 6:23 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


long thread, lots to read. My immediate response (because I just go into it with a friend) is along the lines of, "Are you f***ing serious? Do you think any of this is news to me? I've been fucking worried about the state of the so-called environment since at least 1972. And getting active about it. Meanwhile, I didn't hear a whisper from you until at least 1988. And now you've got the fucking nerve to play the despair card!?!?"

Eventually I cued up the Raider's take on Eve of Destruction. Because it's so ridiculous, because it pulls the rug out from under the whole idea that anybody knows what's going to happen today, tomorrow, next week. Except yeah, we're all gonna die. Same as it ever was.
posted by philip-random at 12:20 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I've been "guilty" of posting "doom and gloom" comments to climate threads. To be clear, I never wanted anyone to feel down or sad or hopeless because of it.

I'm a bit fascinated when there is a thrashy resistance to the idea that humans could ever go extinct - I understand that denial, but it is something that will happen. No one really wants to think about that though (I'm a weirdo in this respect, I suppose), so I am hearing loud and clear that it isn't cool here. It's a bit of a bummer to me that we can't objectively talk through humanity-ending scenarios, purely because I find them interesting, without being labeled a shitty person because of it. I don't think I'm a jerk for being intrigued by the fact that humans have created what is possibly our own demise, but if it's delete-worthy than what else can I do but accept that. Please don't hate on me for sharing my perspective.
posted by agregoli at 7:41 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


It’s not fun to speculate about the deaths of every single person on the face of the earth. Please don’t do it.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:13 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I think it's worth looking at the comment that actually inspired this MeTa thread to remember what kind of thing we're all talking about.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:14 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Although I'd suggest that anybody who reads a "hey, can we stop doing this" thread and then immediately gets defensive about some tangentially-related thing they like to do even though the thing they're getting defensive about isn't actually the thing the thread is about should probably also consider not doing the thing they're getting defensive about.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:24 AM on July 31 [8 favorites]


I respectfully disagree Huffy Puffy. I am interested in this science, and learning about it, and talking about it. It doesn't make me a ghoul. And I'm amazed to be reprimanded by you after I carefully wrote that comment and expressed that I understand the sentiment here. Please don't do that when I'm writing in good faith here.
posted by agregoli at 8:57 AM on July 31


As someone who lived through a big part of it, I think 'we are doomed' talk was an absolutely crucial element of the grass roots global response to the threat of global thermonuclear war, which actually did succeed in staving off what very well could have been an extinction level event.

Suppressing doom talk is like taking an immunosuppressant instead of antibiotics when you have a life-threatening infection — you feel better briefly, and then you're done.
posted by jamjam at 9:52 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]


which actually did succeed in staving off what very well could have been an extinction level event

Somebody tell the Atomic Scientists. The only thing that moved the clock away from midnight was reduced US-Soviet tensions, which had nothing to do with public fear of the bomb.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:06 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Can we dial down the egos that think that doom and gloom comments on metafilter are the only thing keeping us from extinction? Comments here wouldn’t have solved y2k problems or thermonuclear war either. This is an online community and we’re not made up of global elite that need to be shocked into taking action. Talk to us like people, respect that people are telling you that comments like “we are doomed” are harming many of us. If you think those kind of comments are necessary for everyone in the world to start to respond to climate change — I don’t even know what to say to that reasoning. If we’re all doomed, why give a shit? The more of those comments I see, the less I want to engage. The more I start to feel resentful about the people making those comments. I’m not the only one who has said that here.

No one is asking you to stop advocating for real, drastic change in the face of dire circumstances. We’re asking you to treat your fellow Mefites like people with their own anxieties and agendas, living in different places (eg not the US), and the comment in question and the variants of it we’ve seen a lot are affecting this community in a shitty way.

Not a single person in this thread is telling you not to talk about anything negative. Your reaction to comments like mine and the many above that make that clear is really frustrating. Literally we’re just asking for people to add something more substantial to a thread than a one liner about how we’re doomed, full stop. If you truly feel like we’re fucked and think everyone around you needs to hear that on a daily basis I suggest a classic AskMeFi trope: therapy. (I mean that seriously.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 10:21 AM on July 31 [31 favorites]


Literally we’re just asking for people to add something more substantial to a thread than a one liner about how we’re doomed, full stop. If you truly feel like we’re fucked and think everyone around you needs to hear that on a daily basis I suggest a classic AskMeFi trope: therapy. (I mean that seriously.)

Quoted for truth; this is my request and additionally my belief. This is literally what I'm asking and it also goes for statements like "eat the rich." I don't care if you are negative or positive on species survival, I just would like discussion I can engage with.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:37 AM on July 31 [22 favorites]


In the long run the sun will engulf the earth, in the longer term, heat death will consume the entire universe.

In the meantime the future remains unwritten.

Bolded for emphasis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


years ago in a more psychedelically inclined phase of my life, I found myself watching the not particularly good movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes whilst high on LSD, which suddenly made all the difference, suddenly this movie was very much talking to me.

The scene I'm thinking about here is where Jason Robards (the father) is pitching into a despair and regret sinkhole aided and abetted by Jonathon Pryce (the sinister bad guy, Mr Dark) and his calmly stated encouragements toward pointlessness, meaninglessness, all the regular existential doom talking points. Anyway, around the same time, I'd also been reading some of CS Lewis's more serious ruminations on the nature of faith, Christianity, how the Devil really works etc ... and suddenly, the two sort of fused. I saw the Mr. Dark character as the Devil and his sort of seductive arguing for despair as how the devil works. Which isn't to say I was suddenly believing in God and the Devil and all that rote Christianity stuff. No, this was more about grasping something true about the human psyche and how we sometimes come to understand its functioning via myth, legend etc.

Anyway, long story short, that experience genuinely haunted me, but it also informed me. So that ever since, when I encounter somebody who's sort of taking on the Mr. Dark role, advocating for despair (usually unwittingly), I feel like saying (and sometimes do), "Could you please shut up? Stop doing the Devil's work for him."

Which in the context of all this, I suppose, puts me on the side of those who are saying, not so much, don't say anything negative, as please, take a moment to examine where your more negative notions are coming from and, more to the point, how they're landing -- Stop Doing The Devil's Work For Him. Because I remain with the future-remains-unwritten crowd. If you've somehow become convinced otherwise, I suspect you've fallen for a Lie.
posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on July 31 [17 favorites]


I felt that way at the end of 'Donnie Darko'
posted by clavdivs at 11:49 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


There is no need to tell the atomic scientists tobascodagama, because they were the chief doomsayers, both individually, and as embodied in Bulletin, and it's 'passing strange not to recognize that in a publication which featured a clock at two minutes to midnight in its masthead!

And if it hadn't been for the pervasive atmosphere of nuclear doom, do you really think that Russian sub captain would have ignored his standing orders to launch his nuclear missiles at America as depth charges blew up around him off the coast of Cuba?
posted by jamjam at 2:41 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Speaking as another veteran of the nuclear war era I don't remember the message as being "we are doomed", I remember it more as "we are doomed UNLESS" or "we are doomed IF".

The "unless" and "if" give the scared people a way to ACT, and therein lies he difference, to my mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Yeeeeah I was thinking about The Day After and how that was pretty much just wholesale showing doom, and even if you catch Nicholas Meyer's interview clips about it, he sort of tends to say "this is what it will be like when there's a nuclear war," and yet...I was a child-activist surrounded by nuclear activists (my bio family has deep connections to the development of nuclear weapons and power) and the energy as I remember it was very much "let's stop this," or "make peace."

That film did, in my belief, contribute greatly to making nuclear disarmament politically palatable and Reagan really did respond to it, but it wasn't until Gorbachev came to power that anything came of it. But even with the stark, terrible, darkness of that film, I would say that the discussion that surrounded it was - at least actionable. I mean remember that Mr. Rogers ran a series about conflict the week before it aired and there were like, trauma lines set up for people watching.

However, it wasn't people saying we're doomed. It was people showing what the military and scientific documents posited and pulling clips from various documentary films. This made me think about the difference between posting things online, and pulling together the funding -- while sponsors were refusing to run ads against the TV movie -- basically an uncompromising commitment to research and details and portrayals of real townspeople really impacted. This is the opposite of a drive-by "we're doomed" in a lot of ways.

By the way, the INF agreement ends Friday, August 2.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:17 PM on July 31 [6 favorites]


To the people defending doomsaying as some sort of call to action... no, it doesn't work that way. Maybe it seems to you that people hearing "we're doomed" will hear "it's bad and we must act." No, what everyone is telling you is that we hear "it's bad and there is no use acting."

It's not just that it's depressing; it's that it counsels doing nothing.
posted by zompist at 4:17 PM on July 31 [26 favorites]


The point of the Doomsday Clock is that it's a quantifiable measure of how close we are to actually being fucked. It can not ever actually hit midnight because when it does nobody will be alive to set it. The fundamental message of the Doomsday Clock is "if you're looking at this, there's still time".
posted by tobascodagama at 5:59 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Does it matter if hollering a content free "we're doomed!" in threads changes minds?

This is not an advocacy website; community members should not be targets for you; you should respect the minds here as they are.

It also breaks several site guidelines and norms, namely engage with the bloody content, have something meaningful to say, respect your fellows.

If this is your idea of what effective advocacy looks like, it's frigging terrible. Why are we even debating it?
posted by smoke at 8:59 PM on July 31 [21 favorites]


> scrump: "The performative despair in these threads and the politics threads"
You may not feel the same way I feel, but my feelings about Climate Crisis and the horrifying Presidential incumbent are genuine. When you describe my despair as performative, it's dismissive and disrespectful.
posted by theora55 at 1:41 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Not saying anything about you or your posts specifically, but it's completely possible to have genuine feelings about a thing and still express them in a performative way.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:43 PM on August 1 [17 favorites]


Man, after reading this thread, I for one would like to see the word performative banned.
posted by y2karl at 11:39 PM on August 1 [12 favorites]


I can understand that someone posting "we are doomed" and leaving it at that isn't adding much to the discussion

Good, because that's literally the only problem. Driveby dooming.

If one doesn't like the tone a conversation is taking shouldn't one try and change it with a comment of their own instead of trying to make it site policy that everyone must talk just so to suit one's sensibilities.

It's sometimes pretty impossible to try to re-rail a derailed thread, which IIRC is why the moderation came about in the first place. But this isn't about tone, it's about substance - 'we are fucked' is noise in a thread about climate catastrophe. If it were surrounded by literally any information I would just consider it a negative comment and not even notice, but as a single line driveby it's pointless for pretty much everyone but the poster.

"we are doomed UNLESS"

It's the Lorax's last word, and how many of us even started thinking about environmentalism.

I for one would like to see the word performative banned.

Yeah I don't think it means what people seem to think it means.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:01 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]




This is eponysterical on a meta level
posted by Mrs Potato at 12:24 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


it's that it counsels doing nothing.

No jest intended, but, I’d like to make J. Odell’s recent book How To Do Nothing mandatory reading for those who’ve seen things this way, and are aching for an out.
posted by progosk at 3:20 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I’d like to make J. Odell’s recent book How To Do Nothing mandatory reading for

I suppose it's the correct use of ironic to point out the the various headlines (Most Viewed Stories) next to that review of HOW TO DO NOTHING -- Resisting The Attention Economy:

This New Ivanka Podcast Is the Juiciest Show of the Summer

RFK’s 22-Year-Old Granddaughter Found Dead at the Kennedy Compound

Horniness for Jay Inslee Is a Renewable Resource

‘Should I Just Give Up on Saving Money?’

The Harvard Professor and the Paternity Trap


That is, I really think they're trying to hook my attention.
posted by philip-random at 5:58 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


This cartoon should have everyone in agreement - it’s all getting really bad but we owe it to the penguins to keep fighting: If you act now you can maybe avoid the worst of climate change. But you know you're not going to
posted by bitteschoen at 7:17 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


I have seen a fair few people saying that individual changes are worthless and only corporate change matters. These people are bringing social science to a physics problem - every CO₂ emission is identical no matter where it comes from. And frankly, when people say “I've not made any changes, it's for the corporations”, it really undermines those of us who are trying pretty hard to keep our impact down.

If you know you're doing the right thing for the planet, why should it matter that someone thinks otherwise?

When they encourage others to act badly because they figure it just doesn't matter, I care.


This is what bothers me so much about these threads too. Metafilter has some non-negligible influence on the world at large (the emotional labor thread comes to mind), especially on the kind of people who might be convinced to care enough to make some kind of change. I fear greatly that dismissiveness about personal efforts at sustainability give people a righteous-feeling excuse not to do anything, which is the zero-effort path anyway and thus very tempting. But I feel like by not doing anything, we are demonstrating to corporations we don't care, so why should they? This seems very, very dangerous. I mean, everybody should feel free to make their own decisions, but negativity toward the idea of making a personal effort to stave off climate change seems to be spreading like wildfire in progressive circles and it's super disturbing to me.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:42 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]


This is probably not the place for a deep dive into that, but here on MetaFilter at least I've generally only seen people push back on personal efforts as an exhortation to do more - usually pushing people toward political activism.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:57 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Personal effort is personal. I have always pushed back on the idea that if we all just do thing it will be good, because to me that is an abrogation on the part of higher level social structures - the state, corporations, etc. - it is a distraction.

"Stop eating thing, it is destroying the ecosystem!" "Why the fuck is the state allowing corporations to harvest thing?!"
"Don't buy thing, it is made by slaves!" "Why are slaves allowed to be a part of the supply chain?"

Sure, do the personal thing, but vote and rally for social justice and sane legal frameworks, that is where we get systemic change. And do not "perform" or shame about personal stuff, because personal stuff is farts in the wind if the larger structures are not also taking action.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:28 PM on August 5 [2 favorites]


takes a planet of billions to work this out ...
posted by philip-random at 11:24 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Personal effort is personal. I have always pushed back on the idea that if we all just do thing it will be good, because to me that is an abrogation on the part of higher level social structures - the state, corporations, etc. - it is a distraction.

During the overnight hours there's a commercial that runs frequently for Lipozene that promises "nothing in your lifestyle needs to change, just add Lipozene and lose four times more weight!" That's the issue with denying personal responsibility. It's saying nothing in your lifestyle needs to change, just try to remember to vote every couple of years or so and we'll save four times more energy! It's bullishit and separates people from the causes of the problem, depersonalizing it and making it an abstract problem "out there" that those dang elected officials need to deal with, though they somehow never really do.

The reason they don't is that by removing the emphasis on the personal connection it removes pressure on the elected officials by keeping people from speaking from a place of personal responsibility and the demand for action that comes with that. We are the corporations and government, they are made up of people, not some distant unapproachable "other". The actions we take and beliefs we hold may be insignificant individually but they build pressure and create a sense of connection to the problem, a dynamic of actual changes to lifestyle that are necessary from our own accord rather than waiting around for someone to tell us we'll have to change because our way of living is obviously unsustainable, and in aggregate individual actions do matter. We know this. We see it happen.

We would gain nothing if we just wait around for others to decide to give us rights and change the way government and businesses operate. It's the demand from individual actions and stories that inspire further action and build mass demand. The women of the Me Too movement couldn't wait for men to maybe get around to deciding to notice abuse and its ramifications, they acted on their own, demanded change at great personal risk and sacrifice and inspired others to do the same and not accept the status quo any longer. That sense of personal action is at the heart of all social justice movements. You can't just vote and wait, you have to push and act personally to get things done.

Companies already are taking some steps to address demand as well as their own knowledge of what climate change may bring. The steps are often small and are clearly designed not to burden the companies in any great way, but they still start to add up both in the effect they have but more importantly for starting the process of change that will make it easier to adapt to different expectations and demands of new ways of living. Pressure can be and needs to be exerted along many different axes, it isn't just "the government" needing to act but the entirety of the system. Individuals pressuring and supporting seemingly little changes like getting fast food places to offer meatless burgers matter because they can scale due to pressure and demand if people take problems seriously. It isn't ever going to be just one big fix, but an entire shift in philosophy on how we live that matters and all the little efforts feed into that.

It isn't that everyone can effect the same level of change, as our needs do differ, but acting like our individual actions don't matter just contributes to the sense of powerlessness that allows individual actors without conscience to define things. One shitty money grubber can design a website, invent a product, build a business that puts convenience before care and we just glom on to it as if it was inevitable and unavoidable to do otherwise. "Everyone's doing it" so we can't expect it to change. Maybe someday future scientists, should there be any, might have good reason to name this epoch the Lipocene since nothing in our lifestyle changed as our environment crumbled.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:05 AM on August 6 [5 favorites]


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