That’s the only word for some of the recent spats in what were previously some of my favourite corners of cyberspace. First there were the feminister-than-thou wars about lipstick and marriage (see Pandagon and Feministe), then there were the pseudonymity wars about accountability, stalking and outing (complete with accusations of defamation) (see Feministe for why zuzu’s taken a hiatus), and now there’s people threatening to kill a blogger’s dog.

This sucks. Really sucks.

I wish I had something clever and powerful and memorable to say that would just make people stop getting revoltingly horrible over what other people write. Of course we’re going to disagree, and rightly so (a world of uniformity is an horrific idea). The arena of ideas ought to be vigorous and opinionated. Rhetoric and polemic are not only worthwhile disciplines in the art of persuasion, they are art forms sometimes worth pursuing for their own sake. Some people play flame wars just for fun.

Even creepy cyberstalking, while disturbing, is fairly harmless. Moving on into threats against the wellbeing of people and their families and pets crosses a far starker line.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, relationships, Sociology

Tags: , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Well I guess it’s the same here as in real life. Having just come from (very briefly and then skeddadling) TSSH, it’s bloody everywhere. I wonder whether there was some expectation that blogworld could be a ‘new world’ and it would be better? Aaaargh.

  2. I read some speculation that every few years there’s a new generation of netizens that have to go through a protracted flame war or four to appreciate the benefits of netiquette.
    It’s a bit wearing when you’ve been on the net coming up for about six or more of these generations.

  3. TSSH is unique in a way in that it follows and outs vulnerable people, like the boy Sam, who obviously has iss-yews but pursuing and bullying him in the way they do is uniquely nasty and schoolyard-ish (quite strange for a married couple with a kid and one on the way to put so much energy into trivial nastiness.) There’s no hint of stalking or threats, just cyber-bullying. Funnily enough though, I’ve noticed when Caz attempts a post on a gender topic she’s usually spot on. Her talents are usually misused.

  4. Your comment above got caught in the spam filter, Helen. Not sure why.
    Chris Clarke has just posted to a thread on Pharyngula that PZ put up about the threats to Zeke, by the way. [link] In keeping with this post, the thread got nasty.

  5. Chris has put the blog up again. There seems to be a few bugs in the code, but there’s a poem from Zeke.

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