Be...excellent...to each other.

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Lori Koonce » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:45 pm

You didn't do anything. Mark and I are just commenting on how we deal with the stuff you say that upsets us.

FWIW, I just noticed that this thread is a bit heavy on the Frank bashing, and was doing my best not to add to it.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:07 pm

Lori Koonce wrote:You didn't do anything. Mark and I are just commenting on how we deal with the stuff you say that upsets us.

FWIW, I just noticed that this thread is a bit heavy on the Frank bashing, and was doing my best not to add to it.


Thank you, Lori. The intent is to be constructively critical.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby admin » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:56 am

Any piling on Frank is largely my fault for using him in the examples. I think it's fine to bring up examples or suggestions like avoiding certain threads but let's keep it positive and focused on the behavior.

It would be interesting to me to have a list of those who have left, and I wonder many would come back under any circumstances...

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:00 pm

Sorry guys.

I my comment above was poorly written. I was confirming Lori's comment not criticizing it.

She was withholding the bashing and I am in agreement that this thread needs to be constructive.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:01 pm

Rick -

Perhaps people ought to email you names. Posting the name of people who have left the forums publicly might not be all that helpful in coaxing them back.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FinderDoug » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:33 pm

(Note: this goes long. Go get a snack before you start - there's no intermission.)

The expression, first heard from my grandmother, was 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'; and I'm here first and foremost to apologize to all of you for doing just that. Last week, I walked away from a website; and from a community. The former is easily disposed - I have sites I don't go back to all the time. The latter is different, for it is comprised of other souls who put the same emotional investment in participating in a place. In deciding to toss in my cards and collect my chips, I sold all of you who had no stake in my conflict with the party that exploded, as well as this place, short. For that, I wish to say "I'm sorry," and ask your forgiveness.

I hopped the ferry to Valinor in frustration. Don't get me wrong: I'll go toe-to-toe with someone who wants to have a passionate discussion. But getting savaged while I was minding my business, and then seeing the total ambivalence of the party that did it (who shrugged because eh, he kinda didn't care for my tone anyway, which sorta justified it), is a different fish. There were mitigating factors as well, but the bottom line was the party in question doing to me (with only whatever provocation was in his head) what he had done in the past, most dramatically to Harlan, and deciding whether or not I really wanted to be around his particular brand of toxicity any longer. Walking away probably kept me from escalating further.

I tuned out. I took some space to think. I had a trip to Las Vegas and some time in Harlan's company. I had several discussions, including an open and heartfelt exchange with Steve, and a conversation with the missus, who I met through this website. She's the one who gets to see the world's effect on me, good and bad. Her point was a simple one: "You should do what will make you happy."

Leaving didn't make me happy. It satisfied an immediate need to get the fuck away from the party in question, but it was an angry play, not a joyful one. What makes me happy is being around the people here. This place is chock full of good and decent people: stout hearts, bright minds, passionate souls, creative sorts. In many instances, we've met one another, broken bread, shared events or stories, become entwined like roots in the forest. Even when we haven't, we find kindred spirits in shared joys or sorrows. We discover people we know we wouldn't mind sharing the table with - even people who come from completely different perspectives on life, art, politics, philosophy, whatever. There is camaraderie here, even when we disagree.

But sometimes - myself included - our self-expression falls short. This is one of the twin failings of the internet; communication is fragile when it moves beyond face-to-face or voice-to-voice. So much of how we convey nuance and subtlety is in facial expression, tone, body language, and there's no font or typeface for that. Couple the loss of these clues with the immediacy of the internet, and BLAMMO. There's misunderstanding everywhere. A lot of it is accidental. Some of it willful. Mankind has reached the point in discourse where people will talk utter bullshit just to be heard, or say things to total strangers on the internet they'd never dream of saying while sitting across the table from them. In that, familiarity no longer breeds contempt; it is, in fact, familiarity that breeds respect. If you know someone outside the environs of the digital world, you're going to be far less likely to take a willful pot shot at them than if they are an unknown; and they, in turn, are going to be able to put a better context around what you say if they know you. And that absence of a personal connection is taken by many as a license to (sometimes literally) go nuts.

How do we beat that? My two cents: civil discourse, an animal we're all capable of grooming. Exercising the power tonot read or respond - you don't buy and read Danielle Steele, so you know you have the power to discern things that will only disappoint you. Engaging in dialogue: if there's a particular poster whose style yanks your short hairs, tell them politely. Engage outside the public arena, and have a conversation without feeling you need to do so in front of an infinite number of internet eyes. They may have no idea there's friction. A reasonable human being - and I think we've got a pretty high percentage of those here - has the capacity to stop and say, "you know, it's possible I come across that way," or "I can see where you might have gotten that from what I said; let me clarify." An unreasonable person will display that unreasonableness in short order, and then you know who not to pay attention to. I believe re-humanizing each other goes a long, long way to being able to get along with each other in the long term. And take a pause. Seriously. The Internet Civilization has given up the effort required to understand one another in favor of the crushing need to respond RIGHT THIS INSTANT when we feel aggrieved. (There's a wonderful adaptable metaphor in the episode of THE SIMPSONS where Homer becomes a gun owner, in which he goes to the gun shop and is told the law requires a five-day waiting period, to which Homer declares, "Five days?!? But I'm mad now!") We're creatures of blush response: we get an immediate physiological reaction to things; the rational response doesn't come until we've processed what happened. It's in our best interests when people on the internet ruffle us to take a waiting period, to calm, to gather a reasoned response, and then say our piece. The caveat being unless a comment is so far outside the bounds of civil discourse that it requires swift action: threats, blatant personal attack, that sort of thing, which should be brought to moderator attention anyway.

And as someone who recently took a sabbatical from posting, I can attest: if any website gets on the nerves, taking a week away - hell, even from the internet at large - can be very restorative. I expect Patton Oswald is the most calm, relaxed and happy person in earth, given he took the summer off from social media.

If you'd asked me when I was in full-on emotional mode last week, I'd have suggested Rick burn the forums, gasoline the earth, burn it again, and salt it in such a quantity as to make people believe Lot's wife was buried here. But I'd have been wrong. That's an emotional reaction from someone who felt battered. This place has intrinsic value to its members, both intellectually and emotionally. It's a small enclave, but a sincere one. And my desire to return has almost nothing to do with anyone being banned. It comes from the general quality of the people here, and missing the patter of the conversation. I like being among Ellison fans because they are, by and large, a broad and diverse and fascinating group. I'm enriched by the discourse, the recommendations, the interests of those who come through the door.

Even though it has those moments where it seems the center will not hold, I wouldn't want to see this place go. In the end, ensuring its survival and continued health comes down to something very simple, that's incumbent upon anyone who posts here:

+ Whether writing, reading, or responding, every post we make is a choice in service of two things: ourselves, and this place.
+ We should make those choices informed by honesty, civility and respect: for each other, for the authority that governs the place, and for the place itself.

For my own part, I will in the future do my best to walk the walk I've talked.

And finally, I want to say what goes largely unsaid and sometimes unappreciated: Rick and Steve are very much heroes here. The former is the landlord of a house on top of a volcano, who pays the bills and manages the upkeep and fixes the things the tenants break; and he's more screwed than anyone when the volcano erupts. For every plume of lava and ash we see, I guarantee there are ten other disasters he's quietly protected his tenants from. The latter keeps himself in a role where every day, every thread, every post, the first person he has to moderate is himself, a horrible corkscrew ride between Our Pal Steve and Barber the Moderator, the least fun ride on earth upon which to throw up. They're not perfect, they're both human, they have feelings too. Whenever we have the desire to grab four irons and start swinging at each other, the best thing on earth to consider is how a little extension of civility to one another, that turn of the other cheek, makes both of their lives - and the lives of any future moderators - THAT much easier.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:37 pm

Have a real and deep respect for Doug right now. He really nailed it. Good going there Doug. You really see the shine on the pond and not the rocks at the bottom.

If you don't like the tone of a comment just ignore it or if it is an actual attack obviously that should be dealt with. I love politics, some, many do not. That's my problem. We all are a cultured lot, we get it. If we cannot get along then the dust ball is at parade rest.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:37 pm

Doug, that was pitch-perfect and should serve us all as a guideline.

A very happy chill went down my spine when I saw that you'd posted, and even more now.

Have you ever considered writing for a living? 8)

Glad to have you back. And even moreso I am able to call you Friend.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Douglas Harrison » Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:15 am

Thank god someone put that tent pole back.

D.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Lori Koonce » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:58 am

Doug

First and foremost, not only do I forgive ya, but I'm so glad you've decided to come back. You have an qbi!ity to calm me down that no one else around here has. It has been needed.

As for the other, you are so spot on that we could just close the thread.

Lori

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Ezra Lb. » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:45 pm

Doug there's nothing to forgive. Yours was a perfectly natural response. I'm just glad you've rejoined us. This place would definitely be hurt and diminished without your contribution.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby diane bartels » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:11 pm

Doug, just wAnted to add my voice to the chorus. Glad you came back.

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Chuck Messer » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:23 am

Doug, glad you're back. I understand the need to get away from the poo-flinging that was going on. I too like to have this oasis in the Great Cyberdesert.

Chuck
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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:23 am

I think we lost Nason.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Keendawg » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:07 pm

Has there been more dialogue here about the challenge Rick has placed before us?


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