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September 01, 2013

Here Is The Thread In Which I Will Take Questions and Criticisms About My Banning Policy

As I understand there are a lot of complaints about this.

Let me know.

I won't ban you here; you want an outlet, here it is. Rather than doing this silently let's do it openly.

Before going any further, one advisory: People who are on my side? Don't comment. Hold off for a while. I really want to engage my critics and they will not feel comfortable doing so if they don't have a safe place. And an avalanche of pro-Ace comments will make them feel unsafe about it.

My position is simple: This is my workplace. It is better to enjoy one's workplace than to not enjoy it.

I worked all day yesterday and I think I did a pretty good job with comedy. Some people apparently don't like that, and insist that this place be Free Republic, dedicated to "activism," and activism only, and feel the need to tell other people they're insufficiently dedicated to the cause and activism for their liking.

Let me clear this up for people. First of all, this blog is not Free Republic. Free Republic states at the top, and in its mission statement, that it is dedicated to activism. This blog is not, and has never made such a claim.

I like Free Republic. Some of you obviously like Free Republic. But if you want that Free Republic experience, of almost all activism, I'm not quite sure why you wouldn't simply go to Free Republic, rather than demanding a blog imitate Free Republic.

Incidentally Free Republic has plenty of fun stuff and chat too so I'm not quite sure what some are thinking of when they conceive of a blog that's literally dedicated to nothing but activism.

Let me clear up the next thing. I know some people Think they're making a difference when they comment? Like that commenting is itself activism?

It's actually not. Commenting, like almost everything else on the internet, is blow-off stuff. So is blogging. I'm not elevating myself about you; I am just attempting to disabuse people of this conceit that they're Doing Hard and Important Work by dropping a minor comment in a blog's comment areas.

I don't mind that conceit. But what I do mind is when that conceit gets Weaponized By Ego and is turned into an attack, to wit, "Why are you not Aiding the Cause more vigorously?"

For the same reason you're not. Because we're both online to have a bit of fun. Now, you may have convinced yourself that Commenting is Activism, but it's not, and I won't play into your miscategorization of play as "work," and I won't stand for telling me that I, unlike you, must spend every moment of my time Doing Important Work.

I think it requires a high level of self-righteousness and presumptuousness to do this sort of thing, to just blow into a place, to just walk into an active discussion, and to just start informing people of All The Ways In Which They Are Disappointing You. I think it requires a certain level of unwarranted Certainty of Purpose and Righteousness which gets translated, in the real world, into Rudeness and a rather casual attitude towards insults, negativity, and criticism.

I banned Billy Bob an hour ago. Billy Bob came into a thread and told me that I had to "choose" between Twitter and the blog, and also that the post in question was not up the level of quality he expected of me.

Note that he said this on a Sunday night, at 7:30 at night. 7:30 on a Sunday night on a day most people take off, because it's a three day weekend.

Well I didn't. I worked today. I also worked yesterday. But Billy Bob and others wish to tell me that my work was not up to the level they expected and also not in comportment with their current needs for All Syria All the Time.

Oh by the way: the big Syria news is that Obama is delaying a decision and punting to Congress for nine days. So no, I don't necessarily agree with the premise that we must Drop Everything to discuss a Nine Day Delay.

But anyway, point of the story, someone asked Billy Bob if, before venturing this opinion on my lackluster work ethic on a Sunday night at 7:30, he had perchance read the controversy about the last banning.

Billy Bob's answer was classic, and is seared, seared into my brain:

Nah, I was at the beach all day.

Oh that's just wonderful. I sure would have liked to have gone to the beach.

But I didn't. I worked. But not quite hard enough for Billy Bob the Beach-Goer.

Let me say this plainly:

Some of you have turned rather agitated over the current state of America. To some extent, I get this. But I do not except that I -- or frankly anyone else -- should be turned into your whipping boy because all you can do is scream but aren't quite sure who to scream at.

My head is full of plenty of bad chemicals-- anxiety, fear, upset, worry, anger. I do not need all of your bad chemicals as well.

Some people have told me that this blog helps them, because it's like therapy. That's a nice compliment. However, i think some people are taking this idea of a blog-as-therapy a bit too far.

No one is here to be your Anger Puppets as you work this shit out.

Work this shit out on your own. The world will not stop spinning on its axis, and this blog will not collapse, for want of yet another Henny Penny We Have to Do Something!!! Oh God I'm so ANGrY I don't know what to do! comment.

If you don't like comedy, you don't like pop culture, you don't like long riffs of jokes, then find another blog. Stop insisting that this blog be like your preferred blog.

It's not your preferred blog. It's my preferred blog.

90% of the posts here are in fact political. And if you have the mistaken belief that commenting on a political thread is somehow "activism" which somehow translates into real-world effect, 90% of the posts on this blog will permit you to entertain that mistaken belief.

But I'm afraid I must insist you shut up about the other 10%, or 15%. I don't want to hear it.

You visit here, yes. But I live here. You comment here. You come and go as you please. Some people take off months and months because, as they tell me, "I just couldn't take it anymore."

I understand that. Little secret: I feel that way too.

I have been rather depressed over the state of affairs and hating my job (because it makes me think about the state of affairs every day) for some time now.

But I can't just take off for months and months. I have to be here five days a week, and sometimes seven days a week.

Like this week.

So I guess what I'm saying is pretty simple: I know it's important for this to be the blog that you want, but I'm going to have to exercise executive privilege and insist that this has to be the kind of blog that I want, and if that means some funny posts that have nothing to do with activism or even this Fake Activism people think they're doing in comments, you're just going to have to let that slide.

And you can let that slide without telling me How Much You Don't Like It every time I do it.

I know you don't like it. You said so many times already.

Many, many, many times.

Kind of time to let this particular argument go.

I have to have fun here too. And it's not fun to get a facefull of kneejerk negativity every time I check the comments of a thread.

Some of you have become waaaaayyyy too comfortable expressing your Inner Nasty.

I know, I know: It's "Authentic." It's "How You Really Feel."

Yeah, on that point: New York City is known for being Authentic. And also Critical and Mean.

California is known for being Fake. Fake, and yet Nice and Polite.

People complain about California -- why, they smile at you and hardly even mean it!

Yeah, having lived in both places, I prefer California.

Your "real authentic self" may be quite critical and very eager to share with me all of your complaints about how I'm Doing It Wrong and also Ruining Everything.

But little secret: I don't really care to know such real authentic selves. I don't know where conservatives, of all people, got the idea that the world Just Can't Do Without the full expression of their real authentic selves.

Now, I'll turn this over for your POV.

I know I have fans out there-- and I appreciate it greatly. But for this one, just wait it out a bit until a conversation gets going.

Thanks for the support, but for this thread, just hold back on it. Please. I have to address my critics, and that means they have to get their words in.

Update: FenelonSpoke lodged a complaint I thought I should address.

He/she said that he didn't like the idea that people would just be banned "for criticism."

Let's be serious about what we're talking about here: We're not talking about criticism. At least we're not talking about the thoughtful kind. And when I say "thoughtful" I don't mean "nice;" no criticism is nice.

I mean "thoughtful" as in "you put some thought into it, wrote 100-200 words about it, and posted it."

See, that's a real criticism. I have to take that seriously because the writer himself took it seriously. And I would never ban someone for that.

What I'm talking about is YouTube Style "This sucks" micro-assholery.

If you don't like something, understand what your negative comment does. It does the following:

It makes the recipient feel worse about himself. If he was feeling good before, he's feeling less good now. In fact, he might even now be in a bad mood.

So if you're going to throw some negativity at someone -- and sometimes it's needed, let's stipulate that -- should you not at least have the decency to put some effort into it? To write more than the typical one or two sentence sneering dismissal, as some love to do?

You know my favorite?

I spend three hours on a long piece and then people start offering the five-character sneer "tl;dr."

That's wonderful. That's wonderful.

Now, I don't object to that too much because I think some of those people are joking around. But others aren't. I can't tell who is who, so I ignore it.

But yes, let me tell people something: If someone spends a fairly substantial amount of time writing an essay, he probably either deserves silence (if you didn't like it or didn't read it) or, if you read it and didn't like it, then some kind of thoughtful response where you actually justify the negative energy you're throwing out there by doing a little work yourself.

Not that much. But one can say a lot in 100-200 words. (I can't, but I'm told it can be done.)

But the YouTube Style Drive By Sneers? Yeah, about them: Fuck you. If you don't respect me enough to put some thought into your criticism of me, but will be content with a quickie, "No, this is not for me, it's not amusing and What About Syria," then I'm not going to respect you right back.

And I don't have to. Now, some people insist that I must respect their right to engage in this sort of thoughtless, I Just Wanted to Say Something Easy and Nasty "criticism," but why? I'm personally asking that if you have a criticism, you think about it, put it into Adult Words, and write it up in a mini-essay yourself. And my request isn't being respected.

People feel very empowered on the internet-- too empowered. The rules that get us through Real Life -- the life that's not pixels on the screen -- say that if you have something bad to say, you should keep it to yourself. And if you still must speak, if something is askew that you must point out, then you should offer it in the form of constructive criticism. Understanding that your criticism is about to make someone's day worse, you should probably put some actual thought and care into your expression of it, rather than "tl;dr" or "Not for me" or whatever else the 13-year-old anti-social types are doing on YouTube comments which we've apparently now all decided is the proper mode of conduct for ethical grown adults.



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posted by Ace at 09:08 PM

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