The Sannion Solution

Posted: January 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I asked “What can we do?” to encourage people to stop being fucking horrendous humans with their wordchoices in disagreements, by drawing on inappropriate and degrading language that hurts pretty much everyone, and attacks people who are not even part of our debates. Sannion’s reply is a interesting one, which is giving me a lot of things to think about, and it can be here. His primary advice is to just turn the comments off. This is, as he points out, somewhat terrifying to think of, and I’m uncomfortable by the idea of it. I don’t think that I agree, but I also might entirely agree, and am leaving room in my ruminating about it for my resistance to be entirely stubborn emotional response. But maybe it isn’t. However, I really fucking strongly agree with his closing piece, especially the parts that I add bold emphasis to below:

So my suggestion?

Even if you decide not to turn off your comments I think people would be a lot happier and our communities a whole lot better off if more of us followed these few, brief steps:

* Disengage from dysfunctional and irritating people and groups.
* Slow down.
* Be more thoughtful and creative.
* Seek out authentic connection with the people you like. Send e-mails, make phone calls or Skype, write physical letters, and above all get out there and meet folks face to face.
* And when you blog, write from the heart. Share what you’re moved to share without worrying about how your audience is going to take it. Some will like what you have to say, some won’t. But if you’re being honest and consistent to your values, that shouldn’t matter.

I think that the first point is fucking essential and totally answers the question I posed. Let’s just stop fueling these fuckwads by responding to them at all; just disengage. Fuckyeah.

I think that being more thoughtful and creative is always a good fucking way to lubricate the shit out of things and get a more comfortable glide going. So do that shit.

Authentic connection is fucking lacking and oh hey, let’s do that. Yes. Once upon a time, I remember that this is what the internet helped achieved — long before the 2000s. Remember those days? Yeah, they’re long fucking gone. But maybe we can forge and pioneer a new fucking netaissance of connection and interdependence and relation and authentic expressions of self and self in relation to Other, because fuck, the internet is supposed to bring us closer together, not infinitely further apart.

So yeah. That, and stuff. Thanks, Sannion. (I would say that on your blog, but since you’ve turned off comments, I have to say it impersonally over here. Or just tell you in person next week, over some fucking whiskey in a room filling with hookah smoke with a fucking raven on my shoulder.)

  1. There’s no reason it has to be a Final Solution. (Insert Nazi joke here.) Perhaps folks could shut the comments off for a month, see if it has any effect on things and then decide after that if it’s something they want to continue or if they liked things better the way they were. I don’t believe shutting off comments by themselves will do it – it has to be concert with those other points. And I think doing those other things will probably have a lot more effect. But not having the comments has been a reminder to me each time I post to try and avoid gossip and drama-mongering and just share the things I want to share with my audience. So for me it’s been a real positive thing but I can’t guarantee it will for others.

    So looking forward to the whiskey and raven and your company!

    • Heh heh heh.

      I like the thoughts your method is forcing me to have, about internet relations and connections and networking. I’m still letting it all percolate, though. Honestly, I don’t think there is any reason for me to shut off my comments section as — knock on wood — there’s been no trolling here, as yet. I’d probably feel differently if there had been.

      • While it does a great job of shutting up the trolls by not even giving them a place to do their dirty deeds – that’s more a felicitous side effect than the point for me. (I rather enjoy fucking with trolls.) One of the real positives is that it cuts down on the herd instinct. I’ve noticed a couple times in these debates where someone has come in, criticized something I wrote (reasonably or otherwise) and before I have a chance to craft a proper response they’ve been viciously dog-piled by a number of my readers. I’ve also seen some really negative stuff where the readers kept stroking an author’s ego until they believed it or were this chorus of low expectations where the person was like, “Man, I blew it. I’ll try harder next time.” And then the readers swoop in and start coddling them and giving them all these reasons why it’s okay they’re a failure and they stop trying. I’ve also seen posts that were an agonizing sharing of pathos – only to receive a frowny face and two likes.

        Obviously I’m not blaming the readers – I loves me my readers plus, hey we’re all readers at somebody’s blog – I just think the more social social media’s gotten the worse the situation in the community has become. There’s always been arguments and shit – it just didn’t get so heated when we took things at a slower pace. Personally I think the golden spot was when everyone had static websites and participated on e-mail lists. 2000-2003, say. I suspect that’s just my nostalgia shining through though.

  2. Soli says:

    What an utterly novel solution. I hope a few people pick up on it!

  3. I go back and forth on this matter…

    I was upset when Sannion turned the comments off, because he’s posted some really awesome bits of poetry in the last few weeks, and I really wanted to write “Hey, cool! I like this! Thanks for sharing!” and so forth, as I often do…but, because I can’t do that quickly and easily, and I have a lot of things to be doing, I am less likely to write a deliberate e-mail just to say that a little while later. It’s lame, I know, and I’m a lazy bum…

    Perhaps what will end up happening is I’ll compile a list of such things, and then send him this weird and cryptic e-mail in a few weeks that says something like:

    12-30/13 Nice! I like it!

    12/31/13 Very moving…

    1/1/14 Where is that fourth line from?

    1/2/14 I know what you mean…

    Or, perhaps not. 😉

    For myself, when I get a deluge of comments, and more than one of them is some argumentative person who seems to be deliberately missing my point, I tend to think “Fuck all of this!” more often than not lately…and turning off the comments would alleviate that. At the same time, though, I often also get really useful feedback and discussion in the comments on those same posts, so I’d simultaneously be losing that. Aargh…

    I suspect you’ll get few if any trolls here, because they know they’d be walking into a Thracian blood sauna just by the general tenor of your posts, and at the end of the day, most trolls are yellow-bellied shitbags that envy sponges for their backbone, and you just might actually tear them a new one and drain their shitbag-selves entirely if you responded to them…or, you just might figure out where they’re posting from and give them a virus they can’t go to a clinic to get looked after, for even this is in your power, innit? 😉

  4. There’s a much more elegant solution for the flametrolls, if that’s happening on your blog. You don’t have to shut down comments, just put them into moderation. You can dee-lete all the puerile free-of-cognitive-content troll feces, while still allowing the actual, productive discussion to continue. I think the interactivity of blogs is crucial.

  5. Because I got quite a bit of negative bullshit when I got involved in the racism issue. I had to use moderation very actively and found it incredibly helpful. I actually think shutting down comments altogether is a terrible idea. I tend not to want to read blogs that don’t allow comments. It suggests the author is disinterested in dialogue. And it also encourages balkanization of communities, and the entire Tumblr effect that it’s a response to. Because when there’s not a direct mechanism for communication with the blog author, all you can do to respond to their ideas is to go off into your own corner of the internet and post a response elsewhere. The whole community benefits from the direct exchanges and evolution of ideas that goes on in comment pages. If you don’t want to deal with managing your comment section to keep it productive, why are you writing a blog instead of a book? Why choose a venue that is designed to be interactive?

    • This is my current feeling on it as well. I am using a blogging service platform (rather than just running my own website entirely separate from a thing like WordPress) specifically because of the community cohesion/connection that comes with it.

      I have comments set up right now so that I have to approve any new posters, but regular commenters are cleared for regular commenting.

      Even when there are disagreements in the comments section, as a blog reader I still value those exchanges; what I don’t value is the trolling.

    • Thank you for proving my point.

  6. I absolutely agree with the “disengage” idea. That’s a boundary I hold; I have to, or I lose any of the goodwill I have toward my fellow humans. If I dive into the internet arguments or read the horrendous comments, I can’t do the work that I do. And by work, I mean, follow my spiritual calling to serve my community and hopefully leave it a better place than I left it. A lot of my work is to help people find the best in themselves and go forward with that, become more than they were, to become the types of people who can go out and make better things happen in the world.

    To do that kind of spiritual work, I need to believe that people can be good. When I read nasty comment threads and debates, even when I watch the news, I lose all hope for humanity. A friend once said that a pessimist is just an optimist with a broken heart, and I have to resonate with that.

    Honestly, I could rage at the people who are being jerks, but that won’t change them. I focus my own efforts at the other end of the spectrum–on the percentage of people who want to be better, who want to do good work and make the world a better place. I’m too oversensitive to focus on the jerks.

    I’ve written a bit in the past about how I have gotten various kinds of hatemail/hate comments in response to my environmental posts on the Pagan Activist blog. I mean, shocking, to ask Pagans to stop using styrofoam cups in rituals, I know. But apparently finding a different solution is “too hard.”

    I’m an introvert, and I have found more and more over the years that I just need to have clear boundaries about whom I interact with, and that includes physical events as well as online interactions. If an interaction is sucking the life out of me, I need to have a boundary.

    What those boundaries are will differ from person to person, but I have found a huge improvement in my own life the past years by saying (verbally or internally), “No, I’m not going to engage with you.” I probably miss out on some really interesting theological discussions, however, I also keep myself in a good enough mood that I can actually get writing and artwork done, and not lose hope for the spiritual/teaching work I do.

  7. EmbracingDaydreams says:

    When I was a little girl, a bit different than most, I’d get made fun of for a variety of things. I’d. Cry to my Grandpa about it. He’d often take out his tobacco, perhaps tickle me with a feather, let me help polish his blades, little “important” things in my eyes. He’d share a story of some sort, often involving animals or nature, and then he’d remind me that most things worth having don’t come easy, and that one must not allow themselves to be seen as easy prey less they wish to be preyed upon. And some other not so random comments about a warrior’s soul and heart.

    For me, I think leading by example is important, if not always easy. Being polite goes a long way, because why the hell do I need to dirty myself because someone else is. And if I am going to speak publicly or write publicly, the last thing I want is for everyone to agree with me, to only be read by those who understand what I’m saying, nor to expect to be discluded from irrational or ignorant response. If what I’m saying is important to me and different than what the common populace is saying then I have to expect extreme reactions, belittling reactions, awful reactions that test my patience and resolve. For a number of reasons. If it’s not something I want to deal with, then I need to only speak in safe places. I’m still trying to decide if I want my journal public or not just because I know if I end up with readers I’m not sure I care to put up with the bs that comes with the territory. I know it’s not the same. But in some ways it is.

    The biggest reason I’ve never bothered with the pagan, etc community online is everytime I’ve dipped my toes in and started reading somewhere it seemed to be soap opera central with all the inner bickering and hair splitting. I mean no offense to anyone who reads this nor am I directing my next words anywhere as they’re really just a blanket thought that goes through my head when I’m enjoying various people or groups writings and they get sidetracked by someone being a doofus. Who the fuck cares? Sure words can have power, but they can also be sound garbage. I seriously doubt that any of the gods or goddesses anyone worships gives a rotten fig. If they did, they have the ability to do something about it. They don’t need any of us to take up for them, nor do they need anyone else to approve of who worships them or how they worship them. It’s their business and theirs alone. To me, the squabbling amongst ourselves just shows how very little we’ve learned.

    Got many an entry to catch up on. Having to go anon because I seem to have forgotten my pw, so apologies for the weirdness of it. Too big of a pain to chase it down on this tablet. The 90’s were a great time to get tangled up in the electronic web. It really was a different world.

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