This ties back in with yesterday, in part, and goes beyond it.
Angie put up an excellent post called The Rudeness of Strangers and I wanted to point you in her direction today.
Now, as I understand it, Miss Snark has the Crapometer going these days. As though it isn’t enough to brave public humiliation by putting your work down in front of someone who will happily dig their stilettos in and twist hard and then let Killer Yap use the remnants for ‘business’, I hear that some snotty readers are adding insult to injury by trashing the submissions in the comment threads.
I have not read any of this myself.
The reality is, some people use the internet to bully and harass others. I’ve seen it on forums. I’ve seen it on blogs. I’m always tempted to fuck with these people a bit, but really, it’s pointless. They’re self-appointed assholes. And, unfortunately, they’re something the world has no shortage of.
If you decide you’re going to be active online you do have to make decisions about how to handle yourself and protect yourself. I recently took the unprecedented move of emailing someone I don’t know off a forum, warning them to be careful about sharing personal information. In this particular case, they’d openly admitted it was their first time on a forum, and the poster who responded to them, asking some personal questions, is a known troublemaker who was recently booted off of another forum for inappropriate behaviour. I don't think my email was appreciated. It'll make me more reluctant to warn the next flakey female that hits cyberspace - after all, you can't be everyone's keeper, right?
Now, lord knows I’ve gotten into my share of online scraps. It was less than a year ago that I bickered with a few gentlemen over at Sarah Weinman’s, over the issue of the Edgar nominations. And I didn’t kick Steve or Kevin at Harrogate. In fact, I’m theoretically interviewing both of them next year for Spinetingler. My secret plan is to get them to admit they were wrong. (Joking! Although I’d like to add that Steve’s latest post made me snort coke out my nose. Worth the uploading time - the most festive thing I’ve seen so far this holiday season.)
Okay, but setting aside legitimate disagreements that come up from time to time, just going around being an obnoxious jerk? Really, do people have nothing better to do?
I don’t need to add to this. I think Angie said it well, and this is one of those (rare) times I’m exercising some self control and staying far far away.
Bottom line is, I decided that I didn’t need to invite this level of frustration into my life. Which is why I’m also steering clear of unmoderated forums. Free speech is nice but being harassed and abused online isn’t. Trolls like the ones plaguing Miss Snark’s place and some forums shouldn’t use their ‘freedom’ as license to abuse others.
See, the thing freedom is that it’s all good and fine, as long as nobody uses it as a way to abuse others. And this is where I could get a bit naughty and say that even though these people are harassing others from the comfort of their own home it’s still wrong!
That’s part of where the discussion yesterday ended up. One of the things evil kev didn’t add in his comment was something I’d hoped he’d talk about – the problems the fire department faces in Chestermere, which is a community in our district. Chestermere is an affluent area, surrounding a lake, lots of new homes going up, close proximity to the city (much closer than we are). And they have a serious problem with grow-ops. One of the things they do in these to protect from theft is take out part of the floor and put a bed of spikes down. There have been fires (grow-ops are definitely a fire hazard) and firefighters enter and – bam – down on the spikes.
It’s a nice idea to say anything is okay in the privacy of someone’s home but that isn’t something I can completely get behind. Every time Kevin goes out on a call I know there’s a possibility he won’t come back, or won’t come back in one piece, all because of a decision someone else makes – legal or illegal. These are slippery slopes. We say it’s okay to shoot up in the privacy of your own home, but who protects the fire fighters when they enter to save that family, and maybe get stabbed with a needle?
You can’t look at any one part of a situation in isolation and say that, because in theory it’s good, it should be this way.
Now, I’m treading into touchy waters, because there were some strong opinions expressed yesterday. My darlin’ brother Bill and evil kev disagreed on some things. Fortunately, they handled it like grown ups and didn’t resort to kicking and screaming and temper tantrums, at least, not on the blog.
But there is one thing that Bill’s latest comment made me think about. The fact that doctors here have refused to treat patients who won’t quit smoking. It’s a contentious issue, one that prompted much debate and you know what?
There are no easy answers.
So add that into the mix. Someone wants to smoke. We say it’s their right.
Should doctors be allowed to refuse to treat them? Isn’t that their right? Particularly in Canada, where we have a public health care system ‘free for all’ should doctors be allowed to prioritize people who actually don’t engage in destructive habits?
But then, where do you draw that line? Obesity? Should someone waiting for cancer treatment get bumped down if they smoke? Should someone waiting for an organ transplant be placed lower if they drink?
I don’t have the answers.
Getting back to free speech, I believe in it, in principle. But in reality you have to face the fact that there are stupid, abusive and sometimes dangerous people out there you have to protect against.
You’ll notice I’ve put the word verification for comments back up. I’m not happy about it. But the reality is, I’ve been getting so much spam lately on the blog that I couldn’t take it anymore. It was turning up on the backblog, mostly older posts. But it seemed to work like a magnet, and once a bit of spam went up one place and wasn’t removed they kept at it. I had to go on some threads and delete 8+ spam posts that had come up within a short span of time. One night I got something like 15 spam posts over a half hour. By the time I'd cleaned them all up it was a considerable amount of time gone.
All that stuff ends up in my inbox, and that gets old fast.
I’m not that desperate for emails. I recently went off one listserv because I wanted to thin out my email.
So you could say that while I tried to have a free, unregulated blog, the abuse of some has made it necessary for me to protect my inbox and my time and that means all of you must now use the fucking verification.
I hate verification. They have to make it so long and unreadable. But sometimes life sucks. And I really don’t have time, now that I’m working on the book featuring Micky Rickards (From the short storyFucked Again which doesn't seem to be up on Demolition anymore. Shame. If you haven't read it and want to, you can always email me. That email, I don't mind.)
So, peace, liberty, freedom everywhere else, but it’s back to semi regulated comments on my blog.