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anomie
November 27, 2012 2:51 AM   Subscribe

[a few comments removed]

please everyone, try to be civil!
posted by telstar (65 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Believing in something means being prepared to disagree about it—to fight over it. But who wants to give a thumbs-up to that?"

I can think of a place...
posted by iamkimiam at 3:14 AM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Asshole sad that people increasingly intolerant of assholery. It's a little hard to comprehend a viewpoint that looks back at trolls, flamers and babbling idiots with wistful nostalgia, not least because it's so easy to find them if you visit the broader internet past your personal facebook feed.

I sentence Nathan Heller to one month of youtube comments.
posted by vanar sena at 3:16 AM on November 27, 2012 [37 favorites]


tsnarky;dr
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:19 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


But when a tsunami hits Japan, an earthquake crushes Haiti, or an embassy attack leaves foreign servicemen dead, even the most calloused tweeter goes soft inside

If this were true, it would not be a problem.
posted by dubold at 3:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


I sentence Nathan Heller to one month of youtube comments.

There may not yet be a widely accepted human rights convention that this would violate, but it is only a matter of time.
posted by brennen at 3:23 AM on November 27, 2012 [18 favorites]


There may not yet be a widely accepted human rights convention that this would violate, but it is only a matter of time

The provision against commentboarding?
posted by chavenet at 3:32 AM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


What internet is this guy using?
posted by item at 3:34 AM on November 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


The one that has a limit on the amount of story you can fit on a web page link.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:38 AM on November 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


The part where he questions people needing antivirus software in light of the reaction to the abuse of the deaf bus driver + the Internet reaction to it ... man, that's like saying you don't need to watch your back as you cut through the back alley on your way home from a charity benefit.
posted by mannequito at 3:40 AM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I sentence Nathan Heller to one month of youtube comments.

Dude, I think he'd LIKE that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


... pettifoggers gathered in dark corners to prey on the lost and naïve . Now, though... journalists have become increasingly lazy and naïve.
posted by sammyo at 4:13 AM on November 27, 2012


The post's "comment deleted" lede says more about what changed than the article itself. We now have tools that allow for easy discussion moderation by individuals and communities. They emerged to combat trolls. Tada! More civility.
posted by rouftop at 4:32 AM on November 27, 2012


I love that this is the first comment:
I defy to you revisit any paragraph from this article and not hear Andy Rooney's reading it to you.
BY WRION
15 Hours Ago
The meta, it burns.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:33 AM on November 27, 2012 [18 favorites]


What internet is this guy using?

That was pretty much my reaction - like, did they make another one while I wasn't looking? And if everyone is so nice, can I hang out there instead?
posted by brennen at 4:35 AM on November 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Heller is mistaking nice and agreeable, although he seems to understand it is the latter he is railing against. That's the problem with things like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media based upon posting your own contributions on your page where people choose to tune in to each person individually and can cut them off individually. Who wants to follow the opinions of someone they disagree with constantly?

His quote of Parks shows someone who painfully misses the point entirely with the sound of a petulant child himself, being called a "noob" one time too many. If the originators of the Internet were largely assholes yelling at each other, what does that say about a mainstream who can't stand each other so much that they dive into digital solipsism, peering only at others through the safety of the blinders they put on themselves? I find it a bit amusing in this situation where the nerds are the ones who interact so openly and freely.

To an extent, I agree with Heller. The Internet has become too agreeable, too unwilling to interact with others outside of a comfort zone, and too easily shaped to be comforting and lacking in challenge. At the same time, it's tempting to find genuine agreement and cheerful sincerity. Telling the difference has become more difficult in a lot of places and that is rather tiring. Perhaps that's what's so great about the few mean places left. When a place known for being disagreeable likes someone, they're not just saying it to be "nice" or agreeable.
posted by Saydur at 4:40 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


A lot of the ideas we have as a society about the importance of completely uncensored speech come from an age of information scarcity. In 2012, we live in an age of information over-abundance and what we want is more curation and filtration of the information we take in.
posted by atrazine at 4:41 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


They'll probably get mad at me for saying this, but we've had another Internet for about 3 years now. It's really nice, and there's a REASON y'all weren't invited. Sorry.
posted by etc. at 4:42 AM on November 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


you know what was really curated and civil and agreeable for some people

the 1950s
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:43 AM on November 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


What's changed is not that people have gotten nicer. People are just getting better at constructing digital bubbles around themselves. What he talks about (wistfully) as the Wild West was a time when people had fewer tools (and skills) to cordon off their online lives from actual strangers and untrusted internet strangers. There's still plenty of assholery if you hang out in the right places, but it's so easy to avoid those places now.

There's even a super saccharine and supportive place on youtube: the community of people who post and view videos of people performing music at home. Those comments are like a whole different youtube, it's crazy, but it's a community.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:44 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


"You count the exclamation points. There are sixteen. You wonder whether there is any Advil close at hand."

Wonder? Advil? AN OD quantity of Heroin more like, amirite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just got to agree with other commenters, maybe he should leave his kiddy garden facebook, and try the actual internet for a change.
posted by marienbad at 4:49 AM on November 27, 2012


anomie bonhomie
posted by Wolof at 4:52 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dunno. I've seen it, too, and it's more than "epistemic closure." It's a slow sea-change. For a long while now, Something Awful style trolling, and the proper responses to same, ruled the larger internet. Becoming angry or upset over what someone said or did in pursuit of "teh lulz" was a failure condition for those posting online.

That's changing, and slowly. Being shocking or rude for cheap laughs gets you downvoted or defriended. Controversial viewpoints are only tolerated if they're in earnest, and those holding them engage honestly. Talking points and by-the-numbers flamewars have become tedious and dull.

This is starting to reflect off the internet, too - the edgiest comedy is now autobiographical and introspective. The rightwing media machine is shaking itself to flinders as the party-line talking-point crowd is seen as out of touch when compared to the more nuanced conservative thinkers or centrists like MSNBC.

I think there's snark fatigue. There will always be an audience for snark done well - it's the mediocre and pedestrian nastiness people are weary of. We love it when someone tells us how they really feel - and it's hard to get a gauge of that when everything has to be filtered for a false-front of too-cool unpleasantness.

I think it's a good trend, and I hope it continues.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:01 AM on November 27, 2012 [29 favorites]


The article comes back to Facebook again and again, and no wonder. Facebook is the internet, as far as many people are concerned.

Although I'm opposed to the push for "true identity" on systems like Facebook and Google+, I have to concede there's a possibility that having one's real face and legal name tied to one's comments really does moderate the online disinhibition effect.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:20 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is probably the sneakiest piece of satire ever published. My Poe's Law alarm just up and quit.
posted by Renoroc at 5:30 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Have to express agreement with the blinding/bubbling analogy; digital filters are definitely easier to impose than ever.

For instance, I've had the "No YouTube Comments" add-on for my browser as long as I can remember; it gets difficult to recall sometimes that there even are comments. As others have said, your perception of reality (online or otherwise) shifts and adapts to what's coming in.

The only part of the article that truly made me laugh came just after the last line: "779 people recommend this. Be the first of your friends."

Maybe not the best way to lose your MetaFilter cherry. I dunno. Ahem.
posted by Owain Blackwood at 5:37 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this guy is lost in his own, apparently pleasant, crazyworld. Especially when he talks about "New Yorkers once carried mace; now we sit at home in cardigans and pickle cabbage." I want to know both what internet he is living in and also, what New York.
posted by corb at 5:44 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Selective interaction data point: I ditched LiveJournal for Tumblr to avoid the ONTD crowd* and the anon/secret memes. It's not because Tumblr people are politer than LJ people in general. Tumblr is just especially good at creating bubbles that allow you to interact with the public at large minus the people you've blocked. Tumblr users have further developed etiquette conventions like putting negative remarks in hilariously long tags so non-followers esp. the OP won't be subjected to them, tagging hate posts with "lol [target]" to spare fans, etc. It makes for a more pleasant experience.

* Some of the ONTD offshoots, notably ontd_political, are not bad at all. It's kind of impressive that LJ does politics better than fandom. But then fandom is the more serious business.
posted by fatehunter at 5:56 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this guy is lost in his own, apparently pleasant, crazyworld. Especially when he talks about "New Yorkers once carried mace; now we sit at home in cardigans and pickle cabbage."

Oh, for the love of...

Okay, that kind of "New York was more authentic when it was all gritty and shit, man" thinking is its own kind of rose-colored glasses. It's a dream about a fantasy of New York where you people could be rebellious just by living here, and people think that they could rub elbows with Lou Reed and Joey Ramone every day because "oh I'm tough enough to put up with all of this I'm so cool".

I actually did move to New York in the late 80's, and was living in the Lower East Side at a time when I was freely being offered drugs on my way to and from the subway, when I had people shooting up on my stoop, and when there were shootings on the corner across the street. It wasn't "grittier", it didn't make me any more "cool," it sucked, and the people who did live in those picturesquely gritty neighborhoods didn't want them to be dangerous and were screaming desperately to the police to step things up to make it not be like that. The "it was cooler back then, man" fantasy ignores the actual problems that were the reality.

So if he's one of those "oh noez New York isn't authentic anymore" assholes, thank you for pointing that out becuase that means I can safely ignore him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 AM on November 27, 2012 [27 favorites]


This reminds me of nothing so much as my racist, sexist, homophobic uncle complaining that he can't tell racist, sexist, homophobic jokes anymore. Boo fucking hoo.
posted by emjaybee at 6:03 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sounds like he's got too many marketers, self-promoters & SEO dudes & gals in his Twitter & Facebook feeds. The whole rant is more a reflection on the side of the web he finds himself associating with that the web as a whole. Nothing is preventing anyone from rolling their own html or blog & going wholesale grar, if that's your bag. Sure, corporate America has moved in for the $$, but you don't have to follow those people. 4chan & Something Awful are still there, right where you left them.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:17 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


vanar sena: "I sentence Nathan Heller to one month of youtube comments."

You're too nice. Lock him in /b/ and throw away the key.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


jenkinsEar: "I defy to you revisit any paragraph from this article and not hear Andy Rooney's reading it to you."

Oh heavens, my ears.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:29 AM on November 27, 2012


Who wants to follow the opinions of someone they disagree with constantly?

I've started blocking, dropping, chopping etc. folks on Facebook I disagree with, mainly because I can never resist the urge to say something snide or contrary. Cutting myself off voluntarily seems to be the civil way to do things. So I guess you would say I'm self-regulating.

Interestingly, though, I've noticed that my American friends (I am Canadian) can have what seem to me to be the most bruising political discussions with violent disagreement, but, at the end of the day, they remain friends.

In Canada, at least in my experience, taking a minority position about politics is enough to get you frozen out.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:37 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's more that if you live in a bubble of "web people" – Slate writers, for instance – you are more likely to see these kinds of vapid comments instead of the coursing stream of projected rage that consumes every other corner of the web. Twitter et al becomes a sort of never-ending cocktail party if you're at any way connected with the web/"social media" and you follow many people in your profession. Which is why I reserve Twitter for glib pop-culture observations and photos of cats.
posted by deathpanels at 6:44 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love that so much, deathpanels! Awesome, inspiring comment!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:50 AM on November 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


I mean, it doesn't help that 99.9% of the Internet is now tweens. My solution is to hang out with the .1%.
posted by Mooseli at 7:12 AM on November 27, 2012


By 2010, 80% of Icelanders had become Facebook users to some degree, and in the last two years the last stragglers have been pulled into the fold. You'd think that by now some kind of netiquette and bonhomie had taken over, but instead what we have is an entire nation of people unable to suffer other people being wrong on the internet. Most gossip columns are now filled with stories of brutal arguments between well known people or one well known person against the entire internet. As far as Icelandic Facebook is concerned, Nice is a city in France.

It doesn't help that the nation is not very populous, just over 320000 people (though to that number you need to add expatriates, who are quite active on Icelandic Facebook) so people are continually exposed to comment threads that include people who they have a beef with. So online life and real life is very much intertwined. I wish there was an epidemic of online niceness in Iceland.
posted by Kattullus at 7:26 AM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Love that so much, deathpanels! Awesome, inspiring comment!

This comment is about 300% too clever for this thread. :)
posted by DWRoelands at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


- rictus (n): a fixed grimace or grin
- clafoutis (n): a tart made of fruit, typically cherries, baked in a sweet batter
- inane (adj): this
posted by thejoshu at 7:39 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It could be a vindication of the Zuckerberg Doctrine, that everyone has one and only one identity tied to the name their mother, their employer and the credit rating agency know them by, and use that name online exclusively. Which has made the web more polite but also more banal and conservative.
posted by acb at 7:49 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are all children now, hanging our crayon drawings on the wall and cooing indistinguishably over the collective effort.

Your article is shitty, Nathan Heller; please see me after class.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:53 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


We are all children now, hanging our crayon drawings on the wall and cooing indistinguishably over the collective effort.

If anything, the positive-or-nothing like-button culture of Facebook reminds me of the Pointer subculture in A Visit From The Goon Squad, a subculture of toddlers interacting with products by pointing electronic wands at them to “like” them. And it has starved more effort-intensive online media of oxygen. Nobody who isn't paid to write and doesn't have an audience is going to spend half an hour polishing their prose when retweeting a GIF or liking a post will get just as much connection with a far broader audience.

Five years ago, we'd read our friends' LiveJournals, describing in detail what they've been up to. Now we're informed by Facebook that they like Coca-Cola or lastminute.com.
posted by acb at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


If we look at Facebook and similar sites as a sort of Internet antibody reaction to Eternal September, distracting the teeming masses with Shiny, the geeks who have been online for around 20 years can look on this as a great success and get on with the real nerdy business of the web: Awesomeness.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:09 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kokuryu: Interestingly, though, I've noticed that my American friends (I am Canadian) can have what seem to me to be the most bruising political discussions with violent disagreement, but, at the end of the day, they remain friends.

Um, are you talking about the America immediately to the south of you? You know, the one where several hundred thousand people from two dozen states to signed a pettition demanding secession from the Socialist Republic of Islamic America?

Just checking.

Anyhow, it doesn't matter, because I'm thinking of moving to a kinder and gentler New York City. But only if I get to live in Sipowitz's precinct. I can't deal with my Facebook account anymore. It seemed like a good idea, but the friends of my friends' friends are driving me nuts. Also about half my relatives. Now and then I'll get an email telling me that yet another bozo has gotten on the bus, so I look. I've cultivated restraint, is the best part of the experience. If I didn't have snark I think I'd just swell up and shoot steam from various orfices.
posted by mule98J at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2012


anomie bonhomie

Anomie of the State
posted by dubold at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, the one where several hundred thousand people from two dozen states to signed a pettition demanding secession from the Socialist Republic of Islamic America?


I play in a band with one of these people, and he's been unshakably the best friend (as in the 4 am stranded on the highway, it's okay to call sort of friends) I've had for some 15 years. We give each other good-natured hell about politics all the time. It's pretty hard to wrap my head around some days.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:18 AM on November 27, 2012


Oh, the internet is too nice for you? Just change your screen name to Katie1993 and re-engage. No- don't thank me. I'm a "problem" solver.
posted by cheap paper at 9:01 AM on November 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:07 AM on November 27, 2012


I think he's a successful troll.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of the niceness is also that internet participation has grown too, and that most people are, generally, pretty decent. A lot of early adopters were antisocial misanthropes.
posted by klangklangston at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: My solution is to hang out with the .1%
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:44 AM on November 27, 2012


Well, bless his heart.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:46 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


A lot of early adopters were antisocial misanthropes.

Hey fuck you!

No wait, that's not making my case is it...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:49 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Telstar, Thanks for posting this. I seldom get exposed to such poorly thought-out, badly-written, malodorous tripe. And I work in politics, so I've seen some real doozies from time to time I can assure you.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:56 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I defy to you revisit any paragraph from this article and not hear Andy Rooney's reading it to you

"Today, much like the primitive agricultural lexicon underlying modern language, these nightmares shape the way we think about the web down to the relic­like terms of use."

Uh, nope.

"Good faith has become indistinguishable from good speech, and agreeable words risk outweighing the actions that push them toward fruition. In truth, crucial decisions are never quite as simple as an exclamation-filled post of support."

I'll be contrarian and say I "liked" it. ;)

I also quite enjoy YouTube comments. Much like Reddit, you'll find the funniest and most original comments there (among 95% dreck).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If, as Saydur says, "The Internet has become too agreeable, too unwilling to interact with others outside of a comfort zone, and too easily shaped to be comforting and lacking in challenge," it is because PEOPLE are too agreeable, too unwilling to interact with others outside of a comfort zone, and too easily shaped to be comforting and lacking in challenge.

There is no such thing as "the internet" as a homogenized whole, the way Heller envisions it. The internet is, within a reasonable margin of error, representative of humanity itself. As of this last June, a third of the world's population was online with that rate being higher in some places (North America: 78%) than others (Africa: 15%).

If Heller finds himself spending too much time in communities that are too polite and well-mannered for his taste, then he should fuck off to 4chan or the more awful corners of Reddit, or the comments section of newspaper articles. There are plenty of places to find rude people, if you are willing to hop the Facebook fence.

I myself find the culture of A Certain Knitting-Related Social Networking Site to be a bit too stiflingly over-moderated and nicey-nice. Which is why I choose not to spend time in the forums there. Easy as pie.
posted by ErikaB at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the internet, nobody knows you're a wussy.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:05 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love that this discussion thread has one of the higher median favorites-to-comments ratios I've seen. He's brought us all together!
posted by chortly at 12:19 PM on November 27, 2012


Hmm, I wonder if that's a useful measure.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:32 PM on November 27, 2012


If Heller finds himself spending too much time in communities that are too polite and well-mannered for his taste, then he should fuck off to 4chan or the more awful corners of Reddit, or the comments section of newspaper articles. There are plenty of places to find rude people, if you are willing to hop the Facebook fence.

This exactly. While he's at it, he should stay the hell out of such corners of the internet as I manage to stomach on a regular basis, or spend time moderating (especially those, please), because not a single god damned one of them is in need of more contention, and I presently consume just about as much diversity of opinion as I can conceivably reflect on while maintaining an approximation of my sanity.
posted by brennen at 1:49 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> digital filters are definitely easier to impose than ever.

"digital filter" is so much nicer than "killfile."
posted by jfuller at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2012


Fuuuuck, I'm so glad I posted this. Snarkalicious!
posted by telstar at 5:51 PM on November 27, 2012


I sentence Nathan Heller to one month of youtube comments.

No, I sentence him to spending one month online using the name "Natalie Heller." He'll get over this nice idea RIGHT QUICK.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:51 PM on November 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know, the one where several hundred thousand people from two dozen states to signed a pettition demanding secession from the Socialist Republic of Islamic America?

Well, obviously we're all going to share something in common with the people in our FB feed, so the assumption here is that people with wildly divergent views (or intellectual interests and abilities) aren't going to show up.

So I still say that Americans are able to discuss politics way more easily than Canadians, and with way more intensity, and remain friends.

As a case in point, my community recently held a by-election after a popular politician stepped down due to health reasons. The riding (electoral district) is pretty solidly NDP (social democrats), but there was a strong challenge from the Green Party, plus Conservative and Liberal candidates.

I supported the Liberal candidate, who's a personal friends, and with whom I've worked on a variety of projects over the years, but I would never have thought to have promoted him on my FB feed, since so many of my local FB friends (these folks usually date back to my university days) are NDP supporters.

As friend of mine on FB remarked that the Greens are a "party of small business", as if that were a bad thing. I wanted to ask her why it was so bad, but I refrained.

Way to easy to hurt feelings in Canada.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on November 27, 2012


KokuRyu: In Canada, at least in my experience, taking a minority position about politics is enough to get you frozen out.

I see what you did there.
posted by MattMangels at 7:25 AM on November 29, 2012


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