Off Topic: Please excuse my reddened eyes
There’s a nasty thing going around the weblogs. I think the disease made the jump from online forums. And the forums caught it when it mutated from something infecting UseNet. Raganwald was just exposed to the pathogen, but hopefully twenty-four hours of rest will set things right.
The symptoms are this: Someone, we’ll call them Person X, has been involved in heated debates and flame-fests over something-or-other, we’ll call it Topic Y. They are at the stage of taking it very personally. With every exposure to debates over Topic Y, they become more and more emotional. They also slide from seeing the world in colours to shades of grey to stark contrast between black and white. People are either with them or against them, no middle ground, no non-combatants.
Then you say or write something touching on Topic Y that fails to establish yourself clearly and directly as agreeing fully with Person X.
Person X flies into a rage. They read your words, combing over them for “inferences” and “suggestions.” They don’t read your words, they read what they think you meant, assuming that you are in fact one of Person X’s sworn enemies. They don’t read your remarks about Topic Y as parenthetical, or even uninformed. No, they read them as a deliberate attack on their views, and by extension, as an attack on Person X.
In fact, the less direct your remarks are, the less you openly disagree with them, the more they read your actions as being sly or manipulative. They see Topic Y as a battlefield, and everyone on the battlefield as combatants with an agenda.
And they attack you with everything they’ve got. Or rather, they attack whatever fiction they constructed to make you into the enemy. Even though, quite honestly, you have no axe to grind and no interest in sparring with them.
It’s unfortunate, because it is so divisive. These attacks come from a place of people trying to hurt other people, to insult them, to make them feel bad about themselves. There is no interest in furthering our profession and sharing our knowledge.
This saddens me greatly. I feel sorrow when a complete stranger brings unhappiness and vituperation from somewhere else and deposits it here.
And like another thing that saddened me, I have no suggestions. I can’t even really say it is a problem, other than that it makes me feel sad when it happens.
And now, dear reader, I will set this down by the river
. Thank you for listening.