Splain it to Me
January 14, 2016 5:46 PM   Subscribe

MetaFilter is long familiar with the dichotomy between Ask Culture and Guess Culture. Alice Maz, a programmer writing for the new group blog Status 451, has described another common dichotomy between “harmonious emotional experience” and “information sharing”, and what happens when the two meet. (In short: “Harsh words may be exchanged, and everyone exits the encounter thinking the other person was monumentally rude for no reason.”)
Two particular exchanges stick out in my mind, both “corrections” in response to a series of tweets of mine on esoteric Unix history. One of these replies was simply wrong, while the other assumed I was mistaken about something that I actually knew but had glossed over. I responded to both with information of my own that demonstrated this, and both people acknowledged that I was right. I thought they were attacking my credibility and that I’d defeated their attacks and won the status game. Except: both of them were happy I corrected them. This seemed bizarre to me at the time, and the only explanation I could come up with was that they must be attempting to save face. But, now that I realize they likely weren’t attempting to play the status game at all, their responses make perfect sense. All they saw was that I had accepted their gift and given them yet another.
posted by Rangi (144 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
I greatly enjoyed this piece of hers. and wrote some thoughts on my own site. I'll just echo the relevant bits here.
I suspect that a large part of the problem with “splaining” and other communication failures on Twitter and elsewhere is that we lose much of the metadata of conversation. To borrow Alice’s example, you can tell from tone of voice and mannerisms what someone means when they say “Get the fuck out of here!” to you. In a textual environment, we have to draw inferences from our relationship to this person and our previous encounters with them.

Even among nerds who value information sharing over other forms of communication, we still need some conversational metadata to fully divine meaning. A “Get the fuck out of here!” @-reply could be positive engagement, or it could be a threat. It’s possible to know this with clarity, but the nature of the medium makes it harder. And with a “rando,” it becomes harder still.
posted by SansPoint at 6:18 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


So although there is in fact an East Coast style that involves a lot of saying "yeah yeah yeah!" when your interlocutor is really on a roll — I know this because I've got that tic, which I picked up when I lived in New York, just like I pick up a habit of saying "seurry!" to everyone after visiting Vancouver — I am going to postulate that the effect observed in this article is less like the difference between west coast/east coast styles, and instead a more significant process that just happens to mimic in some small way the east coast/west coast active listening/engaged listening dichotomy.

Okay, so what am I getting at? I argue that this is in fact a question of who feels entitled to speak, and who feels entitled to response. The randos who (possibly wrongly) felt entitled to speak in the situations described spoke, even though they had nothing worthwhile to add and were not connected with the conversation. East Coast or West Coast, entering a private or private-ish conversation uninvited to condescendingly spread wrong information is considered rude, and only someone who felt particularly entitled to speak would even consider it.

When the randos got a response — were invited into the conversation that they had barged into — they were happy, because they had their claim of being entitled to speak ratified. They were now, for better or for worse, part of the conversation.

Okay, so are there any suggested actions that come out of this difference in interpretation? I would propose trying, as best one can, to institute something like progressive stack in your own life. If you are from groups that tend to feel entitled to speak, regardless of the situation, it is your duty to back off from speaking and let others speak first — and moreover, to actively make space in the conversation for people who have been taught by life that they should not feel entitled to speak, ever. I can't really speak for people who've never felt entitled to speak — I mean, I'm shy and anxious, but I'm also tallish, white, male, and have fantastic hair, and that combination encourages you to feel entitled to speak — but maybe one way to build the space to speak is by seeking out spaces where the people who typically feel entitled to speak either aren't present, or are actively discouraged from speaking.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:24 PM on January 14, 2016 [30 favorites]


uh though really I should have waited for at least 40 comments to go up in this thread before posting that. sorry, for reals.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:31 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh God. I'm an "information sharer", for sure. This part rings very true for me:

The idea that the information-sharers are ignorant, willfully or otherwise, of power dynamics at play and must learn how to account for them ascribes to us a values system that we simply do not share. Rather, it presumes the status games played for dominance in mainstream culture must be universal and chides us for not playing them properly. ... rather than leaving us alone, [people who prefer the "harmonious emotional experience" approach] seem quite committed to dragging their social games into our spaces. The cruel irony is that many of us build these spaces precisely because they allow us to escape from those social games. We generally suck at their games, and we tend to lose when they’re imposed on us, which raises some interesting questions about why exactly they want us to play their games in the first place.

Lots to chew on in this post. Thanks.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:40 PM on January 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


another common dichotomy between “harmonious emotional experience” and “information sharing”

Or, as we like to call them, Aaron Burrs and Alexander Hamiltons.
posted by jeather at 6:44 PM on January 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


Burr: Dear Theodosia, what to say to you? You—

Hamilton: My son, look at my son!

Burr: Ugh, randos in my mentions.
posted by Rangi at 6:49 PM on January 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


Metafilter: the other person was monumentally rude for no reason.
posted by uosuaq at 6:50 PM on January 14, 2016 [29 favorites]


One of the comments attached to that article seems bang on:
I think there is a disconnect between what people say (that they don’t want life to be status games) and what they want (they want life to be status games under rules that give them an advantage).
posted by smidgen at 6:52 PM on January 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


Interesting post. "Reading the room" is an acquired skill, and the ability to recognize when a context of harmonious emotional experience is in play, rather than information sharing, has value. Even better is kinfolking, when you establish connection before moving on to business--which works better in person than online.

I liked this: "...until I met people I could talk to without it, whose communication protocols matched my own. It is difficult to describe the relief, the comfort I feel navigating these interactions with people whose frame of reference is shaped like my own..." and yes, it reminds me a lot of Ask vs. Guess. Thanks for posting, Rangi.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't doubt that the "information sharing" personality type she describes exists. I do doubt that it's dominant, or even a majority, in nerdy circles. (Raise your hand, everyone who's been subjected to a stupid little series of gatekeeping questions to determine whether you're good enough to like the subjects you like.)
posted by ostro at 7:00 PM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


This does articulate why sometimes a complaint about a "rando" rubs me the wrong way. (Though I haven't heard them from someone I'm close enough to for me to get all "well actually that rando probably just thought ..." up in there.)



But yeah, caveats. Some people latch onto stuff like "well I'm just communicating facts, you're the one that cares about status" to rationalize that they're using a superior communication protocol. Which ends up a sort of meta-jockeying.

And even under "information sharer" protocol, "randos" can still be annoying if they overestimate the likelihood they are the first person to share this valuable information with you.



The comments on the article are really good. Is that surprising or to be expected, given the subject matter?
posted by RobotHero at 7:00 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think there is a disconnect between what people say (that they don’t want life to be status games) and what they want (they want life to be status games under rules that give them an advantage).

This is exactly what I was thinking when I was reading through this. It has merit, but (particularly within tech) there's a lot of people who talk about wanting thepure information-sharing a-hierarchical spherical-cow communication model where emotions are useless/irrelevant things, but almost none of them (in my experience) actually carry it out, so all of the social jockeying is shifted to a different point/field (ideally one where they can set the ground rules, so to speak).
posted by CrystalDave at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


Nice post, thanks! I cracked up pretty hard at footnote 3.
posted by Quilford at 7:08 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Quilford, since footnote 3 is about the cooperative principle, you may be interested in this Dinosaur Comic.
posted by RobotHero at 7:17 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


What are "randos in my mentions"? I feel it's something like taters from a site I've never visited.
posted by Long Way To Go at 7:25 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's from Twitter. "Randos" is random strangers. Mentions is anyone going @YourUsername in one of their posts.

So the randos are usually, "Hey, I noticed you mentioned something I have an opinion on. Here it is."
posted by RobotHero at 7:33 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Which, I dug around the other posts on the site because I was excited by the idea of a new blog to potentially follow, but they seem to dive pretty quickly into laments about "feminist protection rackets" shaking down tech companies & Moldbug-esque NeoReactionary/Dark Enlightenment bits.

Digging around some more, I was trying to remember where Status451 seemed familiar, and I figured it out: It's where Clark from Popehat went after he got booted from there for going full NeoReactionary/Scientific Racism.

Since it's a group blog, that doesn't necessarily matter for a different author's post, of course, but it does explain why the comments were so quickly coated with things like
I presume you are talking about the “gamergate” movement, and the -related- backlash against the folks trying to invade the space of (male *and* female) logical, linear thinkers (like coders, hackers, software developers, etc, etc) and the backlash against those folks then trying to introduce their “normal” social games and power/victimhood dynamics to those spaces/thinkers by force and coercion, correct?

I'm side-eyeing the conflation above in-article between geeks in their status-free information-sharing zones and intruders worried about social games more than I was.
posted by CrystalDave at 7:34 PM on January 14, 2016 [26 favorites]


I just love the East Coast/West Coast explanation.
posted by corb at 7:35 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The person she quotes under "Here is a view of the culture gap from the other side" is Piper Harron, recently seen on MetaFilter here.

I found the piece confusing. It started out kind of seeming like it was gonna say "Hey there are these different communication styles which can generate some friction when they interact with each other, even though neither one is right or wrong" but then by the end it seemed a little more like "the way me and people like me do things is right, but it's important to recognize that we sometimes have to move in circles consisting of people who do things wrongety wrong wrong wrong."
posted by escabeche at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2016 [34 favorites]


in story-gaming community in Olympia, Washington, there's a gesture-- both hands upraised, palms forward, with fingers fluttering back and forth-- that means "I love what you're saying!". It's great, because it allows you to give enthusiastic feedback without interrupting the speaker.

I really wish it were more widely used.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 8:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


dude yes uptwinkles! I first saw uptwinkling back during Occupy... according to Wikipedia it was originally a green party thing, and was derived from the ASL for applause.

even thinking about uptwinkles makes me all nostalgic for Occupy, and I wasn't even that involved in Occupy.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:04 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


in story-gaming community in Olympia, Washington

I am interested in information about what this is. Tabletopping? LARPing? Something novel?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a nugget of real social wisdom here -- I'm an "information sharer" and I've definitely offended a few people on Facebook by eagerly sharing my information about how wrong they were.

But I do have a problem with the "randos in my mentions" thing. To me this phrase shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet (and Twitter in particular) works. If you tweet publicly, I think everyone on the entire Internet is absolutely entitled to reply to you. They might be wrong, and they might be jerks, but the fact is you're in a public forum and that's how it works.

Or to be more gentle, there is perhaps a dichotomy between people who think their public tweets are only for a certain audience (and one they can control) and people who think public tweets are for the entire world to read and potentially respond to.

But the fact that there's a name-calling word, "rando", for people who respond to public things on a public forum, definitely rubs me the wrong way.

To be fair, the author covers this in Footnote #5.
posted by mmoncur at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


Could some men actually be Information Sharers and not ManSplainers? Off to TFA to read!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:16 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've noticed a similar communication dichotomy that raises hackles, launches arguments and creates assumptions of bad faith where no disagreement initially existed. There is a significant portion of the population for whom the statement "[Noun]s are [adjective]" unambiguously states "Some [noun]s are [adjective]", while to another significant portion the statement unambiguously states "All [noun]s are [adjective]". (Maybe there is a third portion who have no intrinsic assumption and find the statement meaningless until further context arrives?)
Which of the two words it is that goes without saying (when the qualifier is dropped) seems to be a matter of dialect. I'm guessing it's cultural rather than regional, though it might be both.
posted by anonymisc at 8:21 PM on January 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


my favorite bastion of miscommunication, the bird website

That made my day :o)
posted by iffthen at 8:27 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


In addition to the east coast/west coast thing, there is also the Midwest; at least my experience of it in Chicago (mostly in work contexts because I didn't get a long with a single person I met in Chicago in 5 years) is that no information should be exchanged ever. They will just talk around and around and around each other all day and say nothing. That was my experience and it was very frustrating. I actually had to walk out of a meeting once because like 5 people were trying to explain to me that I was doing something wrong and none of them were actually saying anything. They couldn't let themselves share that information with me or something.

Now that I'm on the west coast, after having grown up on the east coast, I feel more at home. I'm noticing a more balanced approach between information sharing & emotional state management, which is more what I'm used to.

I read the article with interest because I'm still trying to process something that happened at work a few weeks ago where my coworker decided to completely mansplain a very basic aspect of our job instead of just listening to what I was saying. I complained about this because I felt like it was unfair and possibly coming from an unconscious bias that a woman can't be trusted or know anything. Yeah, I went there. I had to because I felt like if that's what was going on, I needed to nip that in the bud. But I'm still trying to figure out if I was wrong. So I read this article like, could I have been wrong? Could he have just innocently been sharing information with me? On the assumption that no one knows anything? But I'm thinking no. I don't think that's the case. Because I explained my point very clearly and he failed to decide to receive the information I was sending. So I'm not willing to chalk this up to a simple information style mismatch because we both have the same style. Humans aren't APIs and can't live on bread alone. You can't just send information without managing the emotional component at all. It's just not going to work. And managing the emotional component requires really and truly listening & comprehending what the other person is saying and making sure that you're responding to that, and not to some other thing you imagined or assumed.
posted by bleep at 8:59 PM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm not prepared to dismiss the article out of hand, but I have real problems with it's setting up this "emotional types" vs "information types" dichotomy. I really have to reject that. Emotional/social information is incredibly important information (especially for the unprivileged who have to be especially alert to signals, as a survival tactic.)

'Information in a vacuum' both doesn't exist, and is being used as an excuse here. Whether you're aware of it or not, you're gauging relationships and information levels before you butt in to a conversation. I wouldn't dare to explain music theory to David Bowie. If you think that volunteered information is a gift to David Bowie because all raw information is an unqualified gift, then you are obviously going to upset him and a great many people in your life.

But you probably wouldn't explain basic music theory to him. Because you're gauging his information level, whether you know it or not, and you've probably gauged him to be a high information person when it comes to music. The reason there is a "splaining" phenomenon is because you're (consciously or unconsciously) gauging women/minorities to be low information about a great deal of topics, and thus in need of informing.

There's a certain thing male nerds are socialized among each other to do, which is information one-up-manship. It's totally a status game. This article does not address that phenomenon and instead seems to excuse it. There's a TON of hierarchy and social jockeying in nerd information culture. Most of us have probably spent a good deal of time in those rooms and have seen it for ourselves. You can't gloss over it with a wishful "I'm just here to give you information as a gift!" self-categorizing.
posted by naju at 9:05 PM on January 14, 2016 [108 favorites]


I think there are some really interesting, and true, ideas in there, but man that was hard for me to follow. I still have no idea what “Ugh, randos in my mentions.” means. I assume it was written for a specific crowd, but the article assumes a lot of knowledge of social settings I’m not familiar with. The casual switching of perspectives and the confusing narrative didn’t help.

It does explain a lot about MF. The harmonious emotional experience perspective makes no sense to me on the internet. In person with different personalities you’re forced to deal with, sure, that’s part of getting along with people. In an online discussion I don’t really understand how “building a shared perspective” isn’t just an echo chamber situation, or why you’d want that.

I think (if I understand correctly) this relates to my personal dichotomy theory; the world is full of Competitive People and Non-Competitive People. I’m not competitive. I find it tiresome, dull, and confusing. I just want to get on with things, I don’t care who wins. I see a parallel in some of what she is calling social and I see as competitive.

Competitive people in public life make the world go 'round. They are the ones that make the startups, set the records, run things. The Capitalists, the dictators. They are very useful, even necessary, but annoying and dangerous. They make things, but they break things, often the same things, They're the driver of the fast car with no brakes. A NCP just wants to go to the store, the CP picks them up in a F1 car. "It’s way faster!"

This why I’m not totally anti Capitalist. CP are like free energy. They will work their asses off way outside of what seems reasonable, and in many cases produce things that benefit everyone. They’re really not doing it for the money, they’re doing it to win. Money just means you won. But left to their own devices they will wreck the car and kill everyone. If you take that Capitalist outlet away they don’t disappear or change, they just turn their energies to politics and wreck that car. See; every attempt at Communism, every activist group, every Open Source project.

CP often don’t seem to believe that other people aren’t competitive. They may understand the idea, but they don’t really believe it. Even when confronted with it they often think the others are just pretending not to be competitive, maybe because they know they’re going to lose. Or else they're just losers. Why won’t they play the freakin’ game?

NCP often just let them win because they want them to go away or stop talking.

A CP and a NCP engaged in something like mountain biking (where this may have first occurred to me and is definitely something that happens) is a situation that makes no one happy, and makes the premise really obvious.
"Let’s race to the top of that hill" - "I’d rather not, we’re having a nice ride"
The CP is irritated because this is boring, we’re not doing anything, just riding. The NCP is irritated because the CP is taking a great ride and turning it into some kind of weird game.
Often the two will just split up. Someone invites you on a ride and then they just leave you. WTF?
"I kicked your ass on that last hill!" - "I wasn’t even aware we were racing!" - "Sounds like something a loser would say"
The CP is always racing.

The narrative in the media and psyche of America is about The Competitor. It’s all about that guy, he’s the hero. But I really think that the majority of people are NCP or fall toward that end of the spectrum. They are not even acknowledged in the narrative, not represented by the power structure. They will ride in the car and put up with it to a point, but once it gets too fast they’re going to pull the emergency brake and no ones going to like that. They’re just trying to get through life and wish those people would spend less time fucking things up and more time making cool things. They will help make cool things though. Unless you’re going to make some sort of weird game out of it.

TL;DR - Dont’ worry about it, a long rant and someone has surely said it better before.
posted by bongo_x at 9:10 PM on January 14, 2016 [41 favorites]


There's a certain thing male nerds are socialized among each other to do, which is information one-up-manship. It's totally a status game. This article does not address that phenomenon and instead seems to excuse it.

Thanks naju, this is exactly what I was thinking and I was wondering why there weren't more comments addressing it.

I've certainly experience a lot of information one-upmanship--and I bet a lot of them would say that they're just information sharers because they're not aware of their behavior. I also have to fight the urge to engage in information one-upmanship myself. I don't want this to be excused as simple "information sharing," because it isn't.

True collaborative information sharing (even in informal settings) is extremely valuable to me, but it takes work. And it looks different than just telling someone information; it involves the active, conscious recognition that your interlocutor also has valuable information to share. It does not look like a competition.

It can also just be sad when it's playing out in a gendered fashion. Example: A couple of days ago I was at a coffee shop at a table next to a young man and a young woman--maybe on a date, maybe just friends. The young man was obviously trying to impress the young woman with how much he knew about various topics. He probably thought his behavior was totally benign "information-sharing," but the result was more of a lecture than a conversation. Any time she had something to share, he one-upped her. And when he asked her a question, it wasn't "could you tell me more about this thing you said," but "did you know about this, because I can tell you about it."

He seemed very nice otherwise, but it was totally a (probably unconscious) status game. He had something to prove.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:38 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


Randos
Randos
Randos
Randos
Randos
Randos

Picked according to what struck me as representative.
posted by RobotHero at 9:40 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


(they want life to be status games under rules that give them an advantage).

Picking up on this random bit from up thread that caught my eye, I don't know about claims like this. Doesn't individual socialization and personal experience factor at all into what people want? Or are we all just generic types, driven by some kind of biological destiny? I've never really craved status, per se, but I do occasionally have an almost desperate need to feel accepted as legitimate sometimes due to the quirks of my personal background and life experience. And I tend to over-compensate for having always felt a little like an odd ball/damaged goods by engaging in habits that probably make me come across as seeking status. Like, I work really hard at being competent at things. Probably too hard. Really, I'm just trying to pass as normal or adequate because I've never really felt normal or been treated as normal. Being kidnapped by my American grandparents as a kid and entering school in the deep south as an ESL kid has a way of setting you apart (especially with stories surrounding you all your life about being rescued from an abusive heroin addict--for the record, my mother was never abusive. Irresponsible? Sure. Negligent? A little. But I always knew she loved me and beyond letting me puff on her bong once or twice, she never abused me beyond letting me walk in on her shooting up once, if that necessarily counts as abuse. I sort of understood what she was doing at the time, at least enough to know my oma thought it was bad. But it didn't scar me for life or anything, I don't think. It took years, but I overcame my fear of needles and even donate blood sometimes now.)

Anyway, it just doesn't seem an especially enlightened way to look at people, as if we all act as classes rather than individuals enough to justify such broad, categorical claims. I don't really crave status so much as acceptance, but I was also raised to be suspicious of strong group affiliations, so that tends to mean I'm always seeking acceptance without actually feeling like I belong to--or that I really want to belong to--the groups whose acceptance I'm seeking. People can't really be so uniformly alike in their motivations and desires can they? It just seems like a simplistic and cynical way to see people.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:45 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


The cooperative principle is sometimes embodied in facilitation ground rules as "assume good intent."

The goal of progressive stack is met by "step up if you tend to be silent and step back if you tend to be vocal and encourage/support others in stepping outside their common roles"

Facilitating according to perceived identity (where you fit on the advantage\disadvantage hierarchy) instead of over behavior is going to disenfranchise invisible disability and invisible disadvantage. Where do neurologically atypical people fit?

The benefit of these two ground rules is that you don't need to classify people to make them work. The disadvantage is that "assume good intent" hides the fact that outcomes matter, as well as history matters.

The authors' dichotomy requires classifying nerds vs. harmonizers. Even the one-upmanship folks could have a good intent: they may not see status as a zero-sum game and want to build bonds, just as I'm not writing this comment to one-up the author or other MeFites' comments. I'm writing it because the 'stay silent/step back' option means I'm not a participant here and because I have novel experience that parallels the authors' thesis.

I've seen these groundrules do amazing things with expert facilitators in controlled and safe environments. I've also had them blow up in my own clumsy face.
posted by Skwirl at 9:49 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


in story-gaming community in Olympia, Washington, there's a gesture-- both hands upraised, palms forward, with fingers fluttering back and forth-- that means "I love what you're saying!".
<splaining>As mentioned by You Can’t Tip A Buick, this or a similar form of visual applause is used in American (and French) Deaf communities. I’ve also seen it taught by elementary school teachers for applauding during classroom presentations.</splaining>
posted by mbrubeck at 9:49 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


My sense of the meaning of "randos in my mentions" is "People I don't know showing up to pick a fight with me on twitter for no particular reason except that my tweets are public".
posted by bleep at 10:06 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the East / West Coast explanation sort of primes you for the idea that both protocols are fine, as long as you agree which one you're using. But you definitely get where her preferences are.


Re: the Gamergate spin on it, I prefer the comment that comes closer to equating hacker spaces and "SJW" spaces. (Equating rather than saying the former is fact-based and the latter status-based.) You have to demonstrate a basic knowledge, or at least show you value the knowledge, to be accepted to the social circle. If you show up going, "Never mind that you all put 1000 times more time and effort into this subject matter than I have, I'm here to tell you why you're all wrong," you'll be promptly told to GTFO in either scene.


anonimisc linked one thing on MeFi this reminded me of. The other is this one about sealioning because the way I use Twitter is Correct and the way you use Twitter is Wrong. The sealion is participating in a debate he was never invited to, unless you subscribe to the communication protocol that saying these things where I can hear it automatically invites me.
posted by RobotHero at 10:12 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's a certain thing male nerds are socialized among each other to do, which is information one-up-manship. It's totally a status game.

I think there's a missing piece between the account in this link and your version, which that some interactions are simultaneously competitive in nature and entirely friendly. Fact exchange and friendly debate was my daily interaction with my family growing up, is the way I am with my oldest friends, and I do think it's more a game than a learning experience. But for those of us socialized to play it it's a bonding game, not a dominance game.

I'm not sure that I buy that its necessarily directly in opposition to an "emotional harmonizing" style - it's just a non-universal mode of socializing. As such it's important to realize that not everybody is going to want to play (and that there's nothing wrong with them if they don't). At the same time though just - look this is the way I talk to my parents and and my best friend it's the furthest thing from an intentional show of disrespect.
posted by atoxyl at 10:21 PM on January 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


Or actually maybe a more useful and less defensive take - I think a lot of nerdy male types do judge people on whether they are willing/"know how" to *play* the game, which can be exclusionary and isn't as good a heuristic to find interesting people as they think. At the same time outsiders to the game assume that the actual dynamic of who's right is about proving superiority which it isn't it's just part of the game. Does that make sense?
posted by atoxyl at 10:27 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


The sealion is participating in a debate he was never invited to, unless you subscribe to the communication protocol that saying these things where I can hear it automatically invites me.

Footnote 5 has a good analysis of this. The question of which discussions you're invited to participate in, and in what capacity, is influenced in subtle and sometimes unintended ways by each site's user interface. People instinctively interpret sites as physical spaces and analogize different communication modes to everything from long-distance letters, to face-to-face conversations, to graffiti.

"Twitter lacks the notion of space explicitly defined by something like Facebook’s wall, but people have applied that notion of space here regardless." Its 140-character message limit also makes it hard to participate in a "harmonious experience" culture without already being a member: if you have a point to convey, you'll need to spend a few tweets "harmonizing" yourself with the ongoing discussion.

I like Metafilter's model where you can take the time in one comment to provide necessary prefacing and context, and we can assume good faith because the site as a whole is its own community.
posted by Rangi at 10:30 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think there are some really interesting, and true, ideas in there, but man that was hard for me to follow. I still have no idea what “Ugh, randos in my mentions.” means. I assume it was written for a specific crowd, but the article assumes a lot of knowledge of social settings I’m not familiar with.

Well, please let me gift you that information ;)

That social setting is Twitter. Mentions are when your Twitter handle is referenced in another person's tweet. Randos are people you don't follow, don't know, and so on. Random internet persons. Thus, "Ugh, randos in my mentions" is when random people on the internet are mentioning you in conversation, inviting you to participate in the thread.

This might strike you as an odd thing to care about -- after all, Twitter is a public forum. The subtext is that something you've said has maybe been retweeted, replied to, and criticized in a clique you are not party to. A clique you probably wouldn't want to join, and don't share values with.

MetaFilter operates differently -- the fact I am replying to your comment without prior introductions, is less threatening because we both paid up five bucks to join a community we expect to be mostly like-minded. Beyond the whole Five dollars, there's active moderation and explicit segregation by topics. I can't easily quote a post in another thread here, and if I did, there'd be a good chance it would be flagged as off-topic.
posted by pwnguin at 10:51 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


some interactions are simultaneously competitive in nature and entirely friendly.

I get what you’re saying here, my family is like that. I’ve stated that I’m not competitive by nature (in my mind). But many people would have laughed at that because I will debate all freakin day, much more so when I was younger. It caused me a lot of trouble in life until I figured out that people really took it personally. I just couldn’t fathom that people were insulted or upset by arguing points, I never was, it’s all in good fun unless someone calls someone else an asshole (and even that’s not definitive). I don’t feel any sort of superiority or inferiority from the outcome of an argument. It’s still something that I have trouble with because it seems so foreign.

I think my comments about competition really only apply to people who really care about the outcome of competition. I’ll play video games or argue with you, but if you’re going to get strong feelings about it I’m done.

Being in close proximity to people who take "I disagree" to mean "you’re stupid" has made me a lot more careful.
posted by bongo_x at 10:53 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


This might strike you as an odd thing to care about

Very odd. I had to read that 3 times to follow it. Don’t people in blogs, articles, and even television reference peoples Twitter feeds without their knowledge all the time? To me Twitter seems much more public that MF, but my impression may be flawed. I thought it was a public broadcast, I thought that was the point.
posted by bongo_x at 11:00 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think there's a missing piece between the account in this link and your version, which that some interactions are simultaneously competitive in nature and entirely friendly.

Some of these interactions are benign, sure. Not all exchanges of information are fraught with social jockeying, thank god, and I have lots of conversations with people of similar tastes where we excitedly talk about [THING] and have you heard of [OTHER THING]? So yeah. I can pick up on this by using emotional/social information and contextual clues. It's important stuff to pay attention to. But that same information also tells me that some interactions absolutely are competitive in nature, or if not that, it's about sizing someone up to see whether they belong in the nerd in-group. It's quite common! And off-putting. I'm not into the "friendly" game of seeing whether someone is up to snuff or is just faking, because it rarely feels friendly to me. Because I'm sensitive to those social clues that make me hyperaware I'm being tested. Incidentally, I don't have it all that bad. Women really do, and so they are more perceptive on these social clues (which is why words like "mansplaining" are coined.)

The idea that a whole group of people are "just about information" doesn't sit with me because it seems to be excusing that kind of behavior.
posted by naju at 11:09 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is a public broadcast but that doesn't mean when you write an article that you expect a bunch of people you don't know to call you up and force you to listen to them belittle you.
posted by bleep at 11:10 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


To me Twitter seems much more public that MF, but my impression may be flawed. I thought it was a public broadcast, I thought that was the point.

People very much do use it as friend-to-friend "party-line"-style chat though. For me, the thought of doing that sends shudders of alarm bells because regardless of social expectation, every message technically is an explicitly public broadcast with an effectively-permanent record. Nonetheless there are various groups with their own group norms and expectations for twitter, and "randos" is one of the fruits of how the norms and expectations of various groups differ.
posted by anonymisc at 11:15 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


More on how the medium affects your messages: Facebook and How UIs Twist Your Words
posted by Rangi at 11:17 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Heh, I just described "Twitter" as a "party line"... for I am apparently timeless and stand astride the ages...? :)
Tune in next week when I 'splain the ox plow as a soil-based disc-drive head
posted by anonymisc at 11:24 PM on January 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


>anonymisc

Gotcha. Thanks. Still hard to fathom. Part of me feels like posting here is completely crazy, and most of my friends would not understand why you would participate in any public forum at all.
posted by bongo_x at 11:28 PM on January 14, 2016


You Can't Tip a Buick: "uh though really I should have waited for at least 40 comments to go up in this thread before posting that. sorry, for reals."

Get the fuck outta here!
posted by Samizdata at 11:29 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The idea that a whole group of people are "just about information" doesn't sit with me because it seems to be excusing that kind of behavior.

I don't agree with the "just about information" characterization because a.) I don't think it's true and b.) in the context of this article it seems to end up asserting that the approach of one group is actually superior, which I do not believe either.

I'm not into the "friendly" game of seeing whether someone is up to snuff or is just faking, because it rarely feels friendly to me.

But again what I'm trying to say is I don't think that's what the game is actually about in most cases. My second comment in this thread is the better one I think - because I do acknowledge that people are judged on whether they are familiar with the "rules" and dynamics of this sort of interaction, which ends up being exclusive anyone who isn't steeped in the same culture. I'm just trying to convey that for those of use who are, it's way way less about who's right or wrong, who's winning or losing than often seems to be assumed. It's more about simply engaging in the ritual.
posted by atoxyl at 11:31 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Gotcha. Thanks. Still hard to fathom. Part of me feels like posting here is completely crazy, and most of my friends would not understand why you would participate in any public forum at all.

People tend to import conventions and expectations from other social contexts, and not always for the best. Imagine if you just operated with the assumption that people knew better than to talk to random strangers on Twitter, the same way we all hope patrons would behave waiting in line at the coffee shop. And that most of the time, you were correct. When that assumption is broken, you would be a mite upset.
posted by pwnguin at 11:34 PM on January 14, 2016


It's like playing an actual game with your friends - you don't feel bad when they win you say you got me that was fun let's go again. At the same time, yeah someone who isn't part of the circle might look in and think whoa this group is intense.
posted by atoxyl at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2016


those of use who are,

those of us, just to be clear
posted by atoxyl at 11:38 PM on January 14, 2016


bongo_x: "This might strike you as an odd thing to care about

Very odd. I had to read that 3 times to follow it. Don’t people in blogs, articles, and even television reference peoples Twitter feeds without their knowledge all the time? To me Twitter seems much more public that MF, but my impression may be flawed. I thought it was a public broadcast, I thought that was the point.
"

Not always. I tweeted a friend recently about how her comments about the famous Silent Hill circumcision meltdown of 2015 struck me as very amusing in a Storify about the incident (She's a well known SH grognard) just to have someone favorite my comment. Yeah, I know I should have DM'd, but I was trying a Twitter client I wasn't familiar with.

I was thinking "Really? My self-image DOES suck, but you felt you needed to validate my comment on someone else's sense of humor?" (Yes, I do check my activity on MF for favorites about every time I visit... Why do you ask?)
posted by Samizdata at 11:46 PM on January 14, 2016


atoxyl: I just know that similar games are used, often, to exclude people. Nerd culture is often exclusionary. And it's often exclusionary of women and minorities, who need to be vigilantly aware of such games. For them, it's apparent that there's often a veiled edge to it. Sure, maybe you partake in playful jousting among those in the know. And it's all understood, fine, and fun. But I'm talking about a real thing that happens in nerd circles way too often, and it's defended in exactly the way you're doing now.

And I actually don't know anything about your identity, and it's not important, but if you are in a relatived privileged class of people, there's a possibility that this - "I don't think that's what the game is actually about in most cases" - may be a lack of awareness predicated on that privilege.
posted by naju at 11:47 PM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


naju: "atoxyl: I just know that similar games are used, often, to exclude people. Nerd culture is often exclusionary. And it's often exclusionary of women and minorities, who need to be vigilantly aware of such games. For them, it's apparent that there's often a veiled edge to it. Sure, maybe you partake in playful jousting among those in the know. And it's all understood, fine, and fun. But I'm talking about a real thing that happens in nerd circles way too often, and it's defended in exactly the way you're doing now.

And I actually don't know anything about your identity, and it's not important, but if you are in a relatived privileged class of people, there's a possibility that this - "I don't think that's what the game is actually about in most cases" - may be a lack of awareness predicated on that privilege.
"

I am a nerd, and happily identify as one, but about the only way I exclude people is if you scream incoherently all the time or you identify punching me in the junk as an acceptable means of regular greeting.
posted by Samizdata at 11:51 PM on January 14, 2016


That's great? I'm happy you're not exclusionary. I'm not saying all nerds are exclusionary by nature. It's just a thing that happens often. #notallnerds
posted by naju at 11:52 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


naju: "That's great? I'm happy you're not exclusionary. I'm not saying all nerds are exclusionary by nature. It's just a thing that happens often. #notallnerds"

Actually I find the exclusionary nature of nerdhood both baffling and explicable. Baffling as many nerds are nerds as they really don't fit in and are often excluded, explicable as once they have a group, it's time to turn those tables!
posted by Samizdata at 12:06 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Don’t people in blogs, articles, and even television reference peoples Twitter feeds without their knowledge all the time?

It's an interface issue. If I go on twitter and reference someone by name or even link to their feed, they won't know about it necessarily. If I put their twitter handle in a tweet in the magic format @username, twitter will put that tweet under the tab "mentions", will add it to the notifications section on the website if you have that enabled, and will send you email notification if you have that enabled. Most twitter clients feature the mentions tab fairly prominently, and it's a major way to interact socially on twitter for low to medium profile accounts. High profile accounts get swamped with mentions regardless, so generally have a different relationship with mentions.

Which is a long way of saying that someone being in your mentions on twitter isn't just someone referencing you, it's someone addressing you directly. If you just want to talk about someone, you can do it without @username, or go ahead an use the @username but know that they'll likely see it.

There's also extra UI for replies, which are tweets that it can link as being a response to a specific other tweet. Those usually include a mention, although it's possible to reply but remove the mention from the reply. The original tweeter could still be notified in that case, but it wouldn't be under the mentions tab.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:15 AM on January 15, 2016


atoxyl: I just know that similar games are used, often, to exclude people.

I acknowledged in almost all of my comments on this that it can end up being exclusionary. For one thing if someone is not versed in the ritual or declines to participate they stand out as "not one of us." For another it doesn't always matter in the end whether you were trying to exclude someone if they feel excluded anyway. My point is that the ritual is not designed in itself as a mechanism of exclusion and, among in-group members, does not represent hostility or the intent to tear a person down.

I absolutely don't mean that I or anyone ought to go about life unware of how our behavior (regardless of intent) ultimately affects people. But I do have (as everyone else has) the definitive word on what my intent actually was plus ~1/3 of a human lifetime of experience inside the culture I'm talking about. And I'm telling you far too many times I've been talking to someone I was sure I shared a mutual understanding with, reached for a conversational technique familiar to me, and had it taken essentially as you describe. And trying to explain my side of the story in the moment doesn't tend to fix things, so I'm doing it now. That's it. That's all I bring to the table here. If I ever make you feel that way I'm sorry and I won't be mad at you for pointing out that I came off as an asshole, please though do believe me though that's not what I try to do.
posted by atoxyl at 1:14 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's an interface issue. If I go on twitter and reference someone by name or even link to their feed, they won't know about it necessarily...The original tweeter could still be notified in that case, but it wouldn't be under the mentions tab.

That sounds like work. How much does this pay?

Seriously, thanks for explaining that, I’m far too lazy to have investigated.

If I’m understanding you, the way in which this was referenced is not quite directly addressing someone, but speaking out loud when you know they can hear you?
"Dave, you should listen to this; ‘Hey everybody, did you know Dave is a dumbass?‘"
posted by bongo_x at 1:24 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


My point is that the ritual is not designed in itself as a mechanism of exclusion and, among in-group members, does not represent hostility or the intent to tear a person down

I still have the urge to push against this (when we're talking about the culture and its various interlocking pathologies and systems), but I appreciate that you're partly talking about your own personal experiences and intent and how you sometimes come across in a way you don't mean. (though good intent that still ends up excluding may just be, bringing us back to the article, not performing the proper emotionally centering stuff [emotional labor?], and I'm not particularly interested in excusing that in the way the piece seems to.) I guess I'm content to disagree amiably on this one, but thanks for explaining.
posted by naju at 1:32 AM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


But I do have a problem with the "randos in my mentions" thing. To me this phrase shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet (and Twitter in particular) works. If you tweet publicly, I think everyone on the entire Internet is absolutely entitled to reply to you. They might be wrong, and they might be jerks, but the fact is you're in a public forum and that's how it works.

People are urging Twitter to implement blocking and filtering tools that discourage this. A user can make an account completely private (requiring approval to even read their tweets) or be completely public but there's relatively little middle ground. Users tend to want the benefits of a public Twitter account (anyone can discover and read what I have to say) but not the downsides (any freak can discover and read what I have to say).
posted by theorique at 2:28 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


If I’m understanding you, the way in which this was referenced is not quite directly addressing someone, but speaking out loud when you know they can hear you?
"Dave, you should listen to this; ‘Hey everybody, did you know Dave is a dumbass?‘"


Exactly. Consider this example (@ denotes a username):

Tweet A from @Dave - "(something that @theorique thinks is really dumb)"

Tweet B from @theorique - "Wow. This is really dumb. @Dave (link to Tweet A)"

With my tweet (B) I've done a couple of things. (1) engaged @Dave in dialogue with the @-reference. He may be alerted to my "mention" (2) aggressively criticized his earlier tweet. It's a fairly aggressive (but common) move in Twitter, from what I can tell.

Another thing that people often do is to @-mention people with large follower numbers. Suppose I did the following:

Tweet B1 from @theorique - "Wow. This is really dumb. Don't you agree @richarddawkins? @Dave "

This is even more aggressive - @theorique is calling on someone with 1.3M followers, hoping for agreement or a retweet.

I'm not sure that any of this is "purely informational". A lot of it seems to be competitive sniping from different political, religious, or ideological camps. And #hashtags make it even messier.
posted by theorique at 3:04 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that you're partly talking about your own personal experiences and intent and how you sometimes come across in a way you don't mean.

I was in fact just coming back to cover all the bases and say also that I certainly can't actually vouch that people you've interacted with were well-intentioned.

What I'm saying is just - well primarily just from my own experience of relationships with people from different backgrounds and discovering that they take certain things in an entirely different way that the people I grew up with would. And I really didn't know, and they must think I see them in a very different way than I actually do and it's just frustrating - and certainly no better on their end I'm sure. So I know it does happen that things are meant the way I describe and interpreted the way you do - more than that I can't say. It just gives me the sense that there is some degree of mutual misunderstanding going on but I won't make any claims on your own experiences.

I just spent a lot of time writing more here about in-groups and outsiders and lived experience and culture and the place of competition and fuck knows but it's late and I'm not sure it's coherent and anyway I've been writing a lot in this thread so I'll save it for maybe-later.
posted by atoxyl at 3:11 AM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I believe pretty strongly that the way this kind of competition functions among nerd insiders is misunderstood by outside observers and that my insider perspective gives me insight into that. But I can only say a little bit about how nerd insiders treat (perceived) outsiders because again, insider perspective.
posted by atoxyl at 3:15 AM on January 15, 2016


Only the privileged can afford to be ignorant of other people's perspective and experiences.

I have long been interested in emotion/relationship oriented vs. task/information oriented behaviour and communication, and especially the ways all that intersects with gender, race, SEC etc. But she is taking that idea and using it as an excuse for privileged ignorance and bad behaviour.

Some of them may be saying obvious things that Sue, being well-versed in the material she’s referencing, already knows, and thus are insulting her intelligence, possibly due to their latent bias. This is not necessarily an unreasonable assumption [emphasis mine]

Frustrating. First she puts it like this herself, but then just sort of wipes all that aside to launch into a long explanation of how some splainers actually don't mean anything by that. Hey, the important part was the "latent bias". More splainers need to do some serious thinking around that.

This is roughly as insulting to Charlie as his supposed attempt to gain status over Sue is to her.

Good grief. Having your splaining attempt rejected is as bad as getting splained to? So the splainees need to take the clueless perspective into consideration, while the splainers' ignorance and disregard is just a communication style and thus understandable and excusable. Also, see how the splainees are annoyed by the attempt to "gain" status over them. Implying the playing field is level and there's no privilege involved at all. Just competitive social games and cattiness, I guess.

Those who emphatically agree with her, for instance, before presenting their own information tend to get a much warmer response. It’s a social cue, a way to signal friendliness.

Or... actual agreement? Something to start building an interesting and constructive dialogue on, in stead of endlessly arguing about the premises?

people she sees as belonging to her in-group may be given the benefit of the doubt, while out-groupers are more often judged to be malicious or stupid.

Outgroupers in all kinds of fields and topics often are both uninformed and oblivious (hello, Dunning-Kruger effect), which is really annoying when they (we) butt in, double so with a splainy attitude. Also, sometimes they really are covertly malicious, cf. sealioning.

I can see how it would be really convenient for some to make this all about differing communication styles. That way the privileged still wouldn't need to examine their (our) privilege and assumptions, and can keep ignoring other perspectives.
posted by sively at 3:37 AM on January 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


I believe pretty strongly that the way this kind of competition functions among nerd insiders is misunderstood by outside observers and that my insider perspective gives me insight into that. But I can only say a little bit about how nerd insiders treat (perceived) outsiders because again, insider perspective.

Hmm, well I'm a nerd insider too, just so it's clear. I've been on the inside of more than a few in-groups. My own perspective is from multiple vantage points, and my view is simply less rosy than yours. I don't believe there's anything I'm misunderstanding because I'm not privy to the nerd insider perspective that you are. I also think you might have awesome intentions, but one of my important beliefs about this stuff is that intentions aren't enough; I think it's incumbent upon everyone to be actively aware of how they come across and take steps to mitigate damage and promote inclusivity in the spaces that they call home. It's hard and no one is perfect, but we all have to do our part. This is the emotional/social work we're talking about. Understanding people's concerns and making them feel welcome and at ease. So we can all have a good time!
posted by naju at 3:38 AM on January 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


@sively:
> Good grief. Having your splaining attempt rejected is as bad as getting splained to?

Yes. Did you read the article?
It's mostly about how some people don't really grok the concept of "splaining" and find "rejecting a splaining attempt" is actually rejecting entry to a public conversation -- "cattiness", if you like.

> > Those who emphatically agree with her, for instance, before presenting their own information tend to get a much warmer response. It’s a social cue, a way to signal friendliness.
>
> Or... actual agreement? Something to start building an interesting and constructive dialogue on, in stead of endlessly arguing about the premises?

whoosh

> I can see how it would be really convenient for some to make this all about differing communication styles. That way the privileged still wouldn't need to examine their (our) privilege and assumptions, and can keep ignoring other perspectives.

Like how you have just dismissed Alice Maz's perspective as wrong without anything more substantive than contradiction?
posted by richb at 4:25 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


My experience of "randos in my mentions" is total strangers giving me generic advice - like the time I was in Gravesend and had no idea what I could eat for lunch that was vegetarian. That is not a request for advice except from someone who knows a great taco truck in Gravesend. If someone who doesn't even know me puts three seconds of effort into typing out something that I already thought of -- it feels like I'm expected to be grateful or something, when in fact I'm just mildly annoyed that this person doesn't think I know anything about making a lunch out of chips and hummus from Walgreens.

I am a huge, huge overexplainer (sorry to everyone around me who knows more about Alexander Hamilton than they actually care about) and I know I'm not always socially adroit about it but naju is right; this is the kind of thing that always feels like "I'm going to assume you don't know anything about this thing," and it's frustrating for anyone on the receiving end who isn't actually grateful for a lecture.
posted by Jeanne at 4:33 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This comment is primarily responding to the OP and the original link but I note that some folks seem to have turned up in the comments who might map as well.

I usually speak/write as a feminist, a trans and intersex guy, a minority of almost uncountable kinds. And it usually puts me in a dissenting position from the insides of minority communities. What I'm saying here is that I often end up as an internal dissenter when I speak from the heart about my own experiences in, for example, nerd feminism, because there are often internal and unexamined assumptions and other dynamics going on in there that directly affect how I can or should express myself within activist community.

But I need to flip it for a second and speak to MRA and MRA adjacent brothers because I was raised as a man.

Even if we are being nice and civilized and not doing horrible, petulant, tantrummy, barbaric things, and lashing out against the feminine threat, most of the folks we try to dismiss or explain away are wise to our rhetoric and manipulations.

It's as if we imagine that our opponents are not as good as we are at thinking and thus we do not actually put enough effort into actual diplomacy and internal change (in masculine spaces) to be seen and recognized as making a genuine effort. Instead we come up with slipshod ridiculousness like this. (The original article.)

One reason all this side eye is happening is that our continued efforts to take social justice seriously enough for social justice types to even consider taking us seriously continue to fall profoundly short of even basic respect. Also the proactive work social justice theorists are doing is so advanced and evolving and being refined so quickly that relatively speaking we (men who are arguing MRA and MRA-like agendas, of which I see this kind of work on a similar low level) are still playing with blocks.

If we want to be taken seriously we really need to give folks a reason to take us seriously.
posted by kalessin at 4:38 AM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


This article pissed me the fuck off.

I am a nerd, an information we shared, and I play the "hey let me share this fact I know" game among friends all the time. I find it fun, mostly.

Until some asshole shows up who assumes by the nature of my chromosome that I cannot play the game. That I can only be audience; that I have no information to share myself and know nothing useful. And that I want to hear them repeat a snippet I have know myself for decades.

Then it becomes a deadly serious game of "fuck you". Fuck you, I know what an IPA is and I like mine black and on cask. Fuck you, you're wrong about relativity, and yes I am a professional physicist. Fuck you, I don't need your beta on a V0, let me do this V5 in front of you.

The problem isn't with the information game, it's with the "latent bias" that the op waves away. It's that some assholes assume that I can't possibly play it well because I am female.
posted by nat at 5:48 AM on January 15, 2016 [25 favorites]


If you show up going, "Never mind that you all put 1000 times more time and effort into this subject matter than I have, I'm here to tell you why you're all wrong," you'll be promptly told to GTFO in either scene.
In the hacker scene, "I'm here to tell you why you're ... wrong" is called a "bug report" or a "patch submission". In the latter case it may be literally true that the submitter put in 1,000 times less work than the people addressed; in the former case 10,000 is probably a better estimate.

But in the history of any significant project you won't find much "GTFO"; instead you'll find mailing lists full of "here's why we're not actually wrong" and revision logs full of "you're right, total stranger, we'll do things your way instead". Even "GTFO" is implicitly followed by "but take a copy of all the work we've ever done, and if it turns out that you were right after all then we'll all switch to your fork".

If disruptions in the course of [human] events worked so smoothly in non-hacker culture, Britain would have become the 14th US state in 1778.
posted by roystgnr at 6:06 AM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


we do not actually put enough effort into actual diplomacy and internal change (in masculine spaces) to be seen and recognized as making a genuine effort

How do masculine spaces need to change and/or practice diplomacy? What would this effort look like?

(Also: are you talking about defined men-only spaces, or spaces that are making an attempt to be welcoming to women? The answer's going to be very different in either case.)
posted by theorique at 6:15 AM on January 15, 2016


The idea that sharing information as equals can be the primary goal of an interaction with a stranger IS foreign to many people, I do think. People (and whole cultures) often need to build trust and rapport first. But recognizing good-faith information-building communication for what it is when it's being attempted can be extremely valuable.

But I also agree that waving away any concern for the other person beyond "they will appreciate this knowledge" as "status games" misses a lot of the picture. Everyone has an ego, and even when you like to believe you are impartial sponge of correctness, you have all kinds of biases that filter out certain types of information and it's very easy to convince yourself your emotion reaction was justified after the fact. There is a lot of interesting overlap here with the emotional labor topic; another way to put it may be that even when we think we can just exist on some higher plane of ideas and counter-ideas, emotional work always needs to be done and if you aren't noticing it then you probably aren't the one doing it.
posted by ropeladder at 6:28 AM on January 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


My partner and I struggle with our differences in communication style around this kind of thing.

So although there is in fact an East Coast style that involves a lot of saying "yeah yeah yeah!" when your interlocutor is really on a roll —

My partner and I didn't realize we had a habit of saying, "Right...right...yup..." while we were listening to each other, until one of our parrots started doing it.
posted by not that girl at 6:40 AM on January 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Lot to reflect on here. Mr honey badger tends to be an information sharer, but this thread has really got me thinking more critically about these neat divisions. Thanks for a good conversational chew toy for the upcoming weekend! And having grown up on the east coast but now living on the west coast, I'll have to think about the conversational differences therein.
posted by honey badger at 6:44 AM on January 15, 2016


Charlie is providing the gift of information and expecting the gift of attention in return.

Running further with the protocols metaphor, Sue has a protocol for who is and isn't worth her attention. You could call that protocol social status, if you like.

Which is kind of a defense protocol. She has only so much attention, and a lot of demands on it. Without any sort of protocol for excluding people from the discussion, your conversation about Silent Hill gets derailed by the first guy who wants to talk about circumcision, for an example.

And the more people act entitled to your attention, the stricter you're going to be about who gets it.
posted by RobotHero at 6:58 AM on January 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


roystgnr: "But in the history of any significant project you won't find much "GTFO"; instead you'll find mailing lists full of "here's why we're not actually wrong" and revision logs full of "you're right, total stranger, we'll do things your way instead". "

I guess I was picturing something that was already answered in the FAQ. Maybe it's not a perfect analogy.
posted by RobotHero at 7:11 AM on January 15, 2016


Ideally hacker culture should work that way. However last year we saw a number of developers bail out of projects where the big-name lead promotes a culture of flamewars around code review.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:26 AM on January 15, 2016


Yes. Did you read the article?

As it is more than obvious from my comment that I did, with direct quotes and all, I'm just going to say that there's no need to be this combative. We're only disagreeing about things. We can do that with style and grace, right?

I was trying to explain that in my view, not grokking things like mansplaining and whitesplaining (and their hurtfulness) comes itself from a place of privilege. Splaining is also often the result of biased assumptions. And I say this as someone who occasionally gets her splainin' on, too. Having blind spots pointed out to me is useful information - really a gift.

So the writer of the article says that a splainer doesn't understand why their splaining would be seen as annoying or offensive. I say that that itself reveals that they've never considered the splainee's perspective - because of privilege - and/or misestimate their level of expertise - often due to bias or Donning-Kruger. And so you have a white person telling a PoC how to respond to racism, or a man explaining to a woman how to climb the corporate ladder, or a male nerd assuming an equally accomplished female nerd is ignorant of some basic nerd-facts, or a cis person explaining to a trans audience what the biggest challenges of being trans are. (These are the kinds of real life exchanges I had in my mind when reading the article. Maybe yours are different?)

So I think it's inaccurate to say that the splainee's frustrated reaction stems from merely desiring a harmonious emotional experience. And my opinion is that if you think about this as simply a "some people communicate like this, and others like that" type of thing, you're missing the big picture.
posted by sively at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


> These are the kinds of real life exchanges I had in my mind when reading the article. Maybe yours are different?

Yes, totally different, sorry.

RobotHero linked above to a selection of "randos" comments, and none of them seem to fit that mould very well. TBH, I can barely understand some of the linked comments, so I guess I'm more Charlie than Sue here.
posted by richb at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2016


I've enjoyed this article and this ongoing thread. Lots of good discussion.

However, as an "information sharer", I'm a bit dismayed by the way the "harmonious emotional experience" folks insist—nay, demand—that their workings and norms apply to everyone, even us information sharers, whether we like or realize it or not. (And if we protest, our protestations are obviously just evidence of privilege, or somesuch.)

Isn't it at least possible that—at least in some cases—people are just wired differently? I don't know whether I'm on the autistic spectrum or not—I've never been formally evaluated. But I can tell you that I've been called out for my information-focused communication style more than a few times, and I've easily spent hundreds of hours of my life trying to understand those accusations—at times being driven to insomnia, anxiety, self-medication, terrible self-esteem, avoidant behavior, etc.

And, after all that effort to understand what it is that people would have me do differently...I just don't. I'm sorry. I'm not refusing to do it out of spite. I'm not refusing to do it because I don't care about your feelings, or think they're worthy of consideration or accommodation. I just do not understand what you're on about. Like, I hear the words—I've heard them phrased and framed in a dozen different ways, and I could parrot all of them back to you—but I don't understand the substance of them. They don't seem to correspond to any referents with which I am familiar. You might as well be talking to a color-blind person about "red" and "green".

People don't want to hear that. They assume that I must be lying, or confused, or trying to make excuses for my selfish behavior, or—yes—simply oozing privilege from every orifice.

Maybe I really am full of shit, and I just don't realize it. And I'm sure there really are people who prefer the "information sharing" mode out of simple selfishness and privilege.

But, from my point of view, I'm just being criticized at every turn because I "refuse" to play this esoteric game that's apparently very important to a lot of people—the rules of which I do not understand and which, I'm told, are impossible to explicate to me unless I already understand them.

So, yes: from my point of view, a lifetime of people trying to force my square brain into a round hole that they're more comfortable with—and then accusing me of all sort of unpleasant things when, surprise, the square refuses to fit—is as bad as being "splained" to. It has had a profound and deleterious effect on the arc of my life, the details of which I will spare you.

Since I have not been formally diagnosed as being on the spectrum, I'm reluctant to throw around terms such as "neurotypical privilege"—but, oops, I just did. That's probably not the whole story, but I suspect it's a non-zero part of it.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:43 AM on January 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


@ sively
> there's no need to be this combative

You're quite right, I'm sorry.

I read the linked article, and found that it explained some things I've seen but not really understood.

Then I read this thread to your comment above where AFAICT you said the article was "ignoring other perspectives" and basically came down 100% on Sue's side and dismissed all Charlies as "needing to do some serious thinking". Either that or I didn't understand your comment at all.

It seems to me like we just have completely different interactions in mind, and insufficient shared context to understand one another.

On preview, almost exactly what "escape from the potato planet" said. I enjoyed the article and found it illuminating, but I now feel guilty and tense because you, nat and kalessin seem terribly offended by it and I can't really see why.

(This is not a call for you to make me feel better.)
posted by richb at 7:56 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


It doesn't help much that a great deal of online communication eliminates channels that we critically use to determine which pragmatics apply. It's difficult to tell if a question is a rhetorical hedge on a disagreeable opinion, an honest request for information, or pseudo-socratic argumentation. Similarly, it's difficult to determine whether offered information is an attempt to be helpful, an offer to expand the discussion with new information, or a game of rhetorical one-upmanship.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:58 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


But I do have a problem with the "randos in my mentions" thing. To me this phrase shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Internet (and Twitter in particular) works. If you tweet publicly, I think everyone on the entire Internet is absolutely entitled to reply to you. They might be wrong, and they might be jerks, but the fact is you're in a public forum and that's how it works.

I'm not entitled to join IRL conversations that I eavesdrop on. I mean, I can definitely *try* and join the conversation, but I'm not entitled to that. What's the difference between that and Twitter?
posted by 23skidoo at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


What's the difference between that and Twitter?

You're able to overhear IRL conversations through circumstance—because it's not practical for people to carry around soundproof booths to duck into whenever they want to have a private conversation—rather than by design.

In contrast, it would be very easy for Twitter to design their service with fine-grained privacy controls. It is explicitly and deliberately not designed this way. If you're posting something on Twitter—and you understand how Twitter works—then you know that your post will be visible to any "rando" with Internet access. The act of posting is, therefore, an implicit invitation for strangers to read your post and, possibly, comment on or respond to it. Said randos assume (justifiably, I think) that if you didn't want this to happen, you wouldn't have posted on a public bulletin board such as Twitter—you would instead communicate it to your intended audience via one of the many other private or semi-private channels that are available (email, chat, phone, SMS, various mechanisms on Facebook, etc.).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:20 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yup, though generally the rule of thumb seems to be that if you have a four digit number of followers or less, it's unfair for randos to dogpile your random musings or sealion small conversations between a few friends. I get it as a social etiquette even as I find myself straining to navigate it properly. Definitely if you're in agreement there's more leeway in contributing to the conversation because you're inherently not adding conflict to someone's life at the moment.
posted by aydeejones at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


richb: "nat and kalessin seem terribly offended by it and I can't really see why."

I think the offense comes from, if you describe one protocol as using facts to share facts and the other using facts as status jockeying, there are connotations that the latter is less honest.
posted by RobotHero at 8:26 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


aydeejones, that makes sense. I don't actually use Twitter, so I'm sure the subtleties of the etiquette elude me.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:26 AM on January 15, 2016


What's the difference between that and Twitter?

It's the difference between having a private conversation in public and broadcasting your private conversation to the public.
posted by MikeMc at 8:27 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


(Also: are you talking about defined men-only spaces, or spaces that are making an attempt to be welcoming to women? The answer's going to be very different in either case.)

Oh, I'm talking about all of them.

I think I would be looking for a real engagement with ongoing and developing theory. My sense of most of MRA writing is that it's on my sort of level (as a person who is formally educated, post high school, who has educational exposure to social and psychological sciences) or lower. Part of MRA theoretical writing's problems, I think, are that they aren't really scholarly though, whereas Women's Studies, Gender Studies and other related academic disciplines exist, there really aren't that many for Men.

So while I can cite Dworkin or Bornstein or Stoltenberg or bell hooks (or hundreds of other seminal authors) in my activist writing, most MRA writers I have seen don't, can't or won't do similar in their rhetoric. Like the original link above, most MRA writing I see is inventing theory on the spot instead of quoting sources and relying on a body of academic, philosophical, and research oriented work like many folks in the social justice circles can and sometimes do.

What would also be awesome also would be if MRA writers could bring themselves to quote and engage with and write against seminal works in social justice. Instead of just personally attacking and harassing us.

I'm not saying the OP or the OP's link does, but these are the kinds of people and responses we're dealing with. A modicum of respect for extant scholarly work and tradition, and engagement on non-personal levels would probably help build a real dialogue.
posted by kalessin at 8:28 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Maz certainly puts a finger on a real phenomena, but has a huge blind-spot with respect to the social world. On the one hand, I know what she's writing about is real because I have been that guy; the eager "information-sharer" who means well, but ends up condescending to people by mistake. But on the other hand, I've learned that the social world is wide and multifarious, and it's full of power structures that influence everything, whether I want to be a part of them or not. It's the world we all live in, whether we realize it or not.

Living here implies a level of responsibility. Being responsible means we have to cultivate an understanding of how our words and actions affect others, regardless of our intent. It's not an "esoteric game;" I know it can feel that way sometimes, but really, it's just having an awareness about the social context surrounding your conversation (to be fair, this is not always an easy thing to do, and I want to stress that failing at it does not mean you are a bad or faulty person).

But of course--no one knows this starting out. Some people don't find out for a long time, because of the insularity of their social groups. If everyone in your group is an "information-sharer," you might not be aware of the way this communication style might hurt people from outside it. But once you do find out, if you continue to act this way, you're acting in bad faith.

The only thing that troubles me in this discourse is that some people will make a false equivalency between ignorance and bad faith. I'm not a fan of the phrase "willful ignorance;" no one can will themselves to be ignorant about something; they either genuinely don't know, or they do know and are being disingenuous. Bad faith is malignant, but no one should feel shame about being ignorant; not everybody knows everything.
posted by zchyrs at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've been in New York for 8 years and I think the article is missing something in the discussion about communication styles right in the beginning, which makes the analogy to twitter misleading at best. In New York, yes, people have a running commentary as you are telling a story. However, they do not stop your story. They do not divert the story, make it about them, etc. (Or if they do, they are labeled assholes and not invited to future parties.)

I am not on Twitter, but from what I am reading, when the "randos in the mentions" show up, they are not just augmenting the conversation. This is not a "go on" or a "seriously? that's fucked up." They are actively stepping completely into the conversation, not encouraging the other person to share more information, but acting like they deserve to be part of it. Which can also happen in New York, but generally (as the article that author linked to explains) around complaints. So if I'm complaining about something, commiseration and offering methods that have worked for you in the past is ok. But if I'm telling a story, or explaining something, nobody jumps in, unless they are actively seeking to contest something.

I am an information sharer. I do my best these days to stop myself from running roughshod over some conversations when I know a great deal about the topic at hand. Because of simple human decency. Because I have more manners than a drooling golden retriever that wants to lick you all over. So yes, the intention may not be malicious. But people still don't want random dog drool on their clothing.

Given the character limit on twitter, I assume it is hard to insert the appropriate conciliatory words before jumping in, the "ignore me if you've heard this before" or "hey, I don't know if you've heard of this." Maybe there should be a set of acronyms to acknowledge humility. If there already is, I have yet to see any mention of it.
posted by Hactar at 8:38 AM on January 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yeah, the character limit certainly doesn't help, I think. Asynchronous, text-only communication is prone to misunderstanding even in the best of circumstances. A severe length restriction, on top of that, makes it hard to fit any coherent thought into a message, let alone any social/emotional padding/context you might want to include around it.

(This is a big part of why I don't use Twitter: every time I try, I find it impossible to fit anything worth saying into 140 characters.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I now feel guilty and tense because you, nat and kalessin seem terribly offended by it and I can't really see why.

Chillax. I'm just enjoying a vigorous exchange of ideas. :)

And yeah, I have no doubt that these things can be really tricky for people on the spectrum. My dad probably is - no official diagnose but he fits the description to a t - and he's a splainer if there ever was one. It never ceases to amaze me how the thought of considering the person he's doing his splaining to never seems to cross his mind at all. And it still hurts my feelings when he splains something simple to me, like does he think I'm stupid? Nope, he just doesn't consider my knowledge or intelligence at all. He shares his information, he's proud of his knowledge, and hasn't paused for a moment to think about anything else than what he's going to say. I don't figure in the calculations at all - it's like I'm standing in a blind spot.

Does my feeling bad about that stem from a desire for a harmonious emotional experience? I just don't think that's a useful way to frame these interactions. My dad's splaining makes him sound like he's underestimating me, sometimes to a staggering degree, and I've learned not to expect anything else from him. But the thing is: I'm pretty sure that him doing the splaining - information gifting - is his version of a harmonious emotional experience. Also, when the other person gauges my level of expertise correctly, I'm very comfortable with information sharing without frills. I'm a Finn, after all.

Bottom line, on a very personal level, I can chalk it up to deep-seated cluelessness and just nod. (It still sucks, though. Ignorance doesn't have to be willful to be hurtful.) But I would urge anyone on the spectrum to work on this tendency as much as they can. Or at least make a habit of slipping "I'm sure you already know this but" into your stream of information somewhere.

But as a large scale internet and RL phenomenon, I don't think you can always - or even in most cases - assume non-neurotypicality (is that a word?).
posted by sively at 8:45 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would like to propose that we avoid conflating "splaining" with "information sharing". Splaining is one form of information sharing, but it's not the only form. To quote the OP:
For nerds, information sharing is the most highly valued form of communication possible.
That is, "information sharers" are simply people who believe that the primary purpose of communication is the exchange of information. As opposed to people who believe that the primary purpose of communication is to negotiate emotional/social territory.

Or are people assuming that this definition of "information sharing" necessarily entails "splaining"? Because I don't think that's the case.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:52 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


FWIW I'm not offended. I just think MRAs and MRA-adjacents have a lot of work to do before their work can be considered academically worthwhile or rigorous.

This characterization of dissent and criticism as offense is a long-running MRA rhetorical tactic and from what I can tell, it makes MRAs feel better about being MRAs but it's the very opposite of impressive outside of the MRA community. To we outsiders, it just looks like back patting, insularity, privilege, and forgone conclusions.
posted by kalessin at 8:59 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm very sympathetic to the pure information-sharing mentality; I guess I must have run into it earlier in my life, but I've only come to understand it (as far as one can understand from outside) on MetaFilter, as I have so many things (thanks, MetaFilter!). But unsweetened information sharing is one thing, and using terms like "stupid," "idiotic," and other such labels for ideas the speaker disagrees with is quite another (I grew up with two brothers and had to unlearn "You stupid idiot!" as a normal part of conversational interaction); there's a huge difference between "That's wrong, because..." or the infamous "Well, actually..."—which, while often employed by mansplainers and other assholes, can also be information-sharing formulas—and "That's dumb," which is out-and-out hostile. It's important to separate the two.

I agree with many people in this thread that the linked article, while interesting and attractively written, inexcusably appears to deny that mansplaining even exists and that anyone complaining about it must be trying to suppress a harmless alternate culture. Which, no.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on January 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Or are people assuming that this definition of "information sharing" necessarily entails "splaining"? Because I don't think that's the case.

I'm thinking of the kind of situation where person X is frustrated or offended because of what Y said. X considers it splaining, whereas Y would say they were merely sharing information.
posted by sively at 9:06 AM on January 15, 2016


I wouldn't assume that all 'splaining is nerd-driven. It's part of the mainstream culture. Just listen to who is permitted to speak with authority on TV. What does their voice sound like? Undoubtedly male, deep, reassuring (when I hear this, I immediately assume someone is trying to sell me snake oil, or rather Pharma of the Year or the latest war). On the radio channel about car repair, who is doing the explaining? A man, to women callers who seem to know nothing abut cars.
posted by bad grammar at 9:26 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not entitled to join IRL conversations that I eavesdrop on. I mean, I can definitely *try* and join the conversation, but I'm not entitled to that. What's the difference between that and Twitter?

What's the most correct analogy with Twitter?

If it's more like a private conversation, then being a 'rando' and entering a conversation is against social convention.

If it's more like an online forum (a la Metafilter, Reddit, etc) then being a 'rando' and entering a conversation is the whole point.

Nobody's entitled to a response in an online forum either, but the expectation is that randos have permission to join the conversation, and build or lose reputation based on how they interact with others.

(Also, usually, the rando label is applied to those who enter a conversation disrespectfully - "YOU ARE WRONG AND A MORON AND HERE'S WHY" Relatively few people on Twitter are worried about those who enter randomly to politely agree.)
posted by theorique at 9:28 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


After reading all of the comments here, I am convinced there's something wrong with me.

I don't understand any of this.
posted by yesster at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


My experience of "randos in my mentions" is total strangers giving me generic advice - like the time I was in Gravesend and had no idea what I could eat for lunch that was vegetarian. That is not a request for advice except from someone who knows a great taco truck in Gravesend.

Not to single this comment out or anything, but that's the exact opposite of how I would write (or respond) to such a comment. We have on a number of occasions done something similar and been grateful for the recommendations.

So how do you know? Is someone just sharing or are they really asking for help when they post such a comment with a hashtag you follow? In the 140 characters of the twitterverse, how does one read the room?
posted by bonehead at 10:33 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The reason these responses are seen as good-faith participation is because this model of communication emphasizes harmonious emotional experience. The responses that don’t attempt to establish emotional rapport are merely coming from a different context, one in which communication is about information sharing.

For nerds, information sharing is the most highly valued form of communication possible.
Quite the assertion! BOOP BOOP BOOP Nerds are like this and non-nerds are like this

I find that nerds, even the nerdiest nerds, are quite interested in emotional rapport and comforting. This is why it's acceptable to just quote a shared reference instead of saying something original. And quite a few nerds are interested in being the Top Facts Dog, which is why they share information. Your nerds may vary.
posted by ignignokt at 10:47 AM on January 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


twitter has a 140-character limit per message, not per lifetime. a tweet that seems too brusque because it's facts-only can always be followed up by a short message that contextualizes the information given.

but you probably already knew that :)
posted by f r i e n d b o t at 10:50 AM on January 15, 2016


just like I pick up a habit of saying "seurry!" to everyone after visiting Vancouver

Yeah there's a lot of us Ontario folks living in Vancouver
posted by Hoopo at 10:53 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that any of this is "purely informational". A lot of it seems to be competitive sniping from different political, religious, or ideological camps. And #hashtags make it even messier.

This seems very true to me. I think the article does an excellent job at describing certain philosophies of communication. Whether the adherents of those philosophies are being true to their claims is a lot more complicated. There is a certain instinctive participation in social hierarchies that's hard to completely eliminate. In many cases, I think this knowledge-sharing approach represents more of an ideal than something which is strictly adhered to. Ego always creeps in, if only a little (and usually more than that). And some participants are actually egomaniacs, and their claims to being purely factual are just a cover for their intellectual bullying.

But I think everyone knows this, at least deep down. I think it's more accurate to say that this "knowledge-sharing community" tacitly agrees to try to live up to this, recognizing that nobody is perfect, and small violations will be ignored. The ability of a person or community to achieve even this state varies greatly. It's not like nerds don't get into vicious personal arguments over whether to indent code with tabs or spaces.

And to make it even more complicated, I think this is true of all communities, to some degree. We all know the kinds of pettiness and status-seeking that we all carry around with us, and most of us politely pretend that others are acting in good faith, until a threshold is crossed. But some communities enshrine this approach more than others, and set the threshold in different places, for different topics. So while I think this article does a good job at describing different communications strategies, it is being overly simplistic in describing how people relate to these strategies.

But anything that helps people understand each other better is a good thing.
posted by Edgewise at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


East Coast style that involves a lot of saying "yeah yeah yeah!"

What is this? I'm a lifelong East Coaster/ten year New Yorker and this sounds like...not right.
posted by sweetkid at 11:02 AM on January 15, 2016


but you probably already knew that :)

Right, but in the example above, someone is say, tweeting with the hashtag of a certain town, which is how a local might discover that. Were I to see something like "Not a lot of options for a vegetarian lunch in #gravesend", I might well respond with "awesome veggie tacos at ..." A purely informational response done from the best of intentions, thinking I was helping a stranger find lunch.

Twitter by nature, with discoverability by search or hashtag, is often a low-context, highly public interaction. It's not, or appears not to be, a more private space like a Facebook wall, where someone might simply be commenting about the difficulty finding lunch. Emotional bonding-type conversations necessarily require an audience or conversational partners with whom context and history can be shared.

Twitter's search functions combined with most every tweet being public means that low context conversations happen all the time. It seems a bit odd to me to suggest one should get to know a person before responding to one of their tweets. On somewhere more private like Facebook, sure, on a public forum like Twitter, that seems a bit less reasonable.
posted by bonehead at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


So the writer of the article says that a splainer doesn't understand why their splaining would be seen as annoying or offensive. I say that that itself reveals that they've never considered the splainee's perspective - because of privilege

In a wider context though, while not understanding the other perspective can be because of privilege, often is, and can persist for that reason, often it is not. Often it is because different areas and different peoples differ in unseen unwritten ways on things that are universal in another area or people, so far off the cognitive radar that theorizing someone's response could somehow be miscommunication simply seems far-fetched next to the much-more-likely hostility or privileged indifference or incompetence or whatever.
I think the situations where people do consider the others perspective and are miscommunicating regardless and neither know it (or know why) - those are not only very interesting, but trickier to catch and extra rewarding.
posted by anonymisc at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I really feel, like most things in the world, there is a lot of grey area here and most people would prefer things were black and white.

There is no disputing that the explaining thing is a real issue. Nearly all of us have seen it, experienced it, and yes it’s a different thing depended on who’s on the receiving end. But I think there are lots of subtle variations and you can’t just apply a blanket term to everything that bothers you.

Every time I tell someone something they already know it doesn’t mean I think they are an idiot. This, to me, is the competitive perspective, trying to gauge who is gaining or losing social status in any exchange.

Sometimes I’m trying to be polite, I don’t want to assume you know X and then have to be in the position of explaining this to you, making you feel like I’m lecturing you, or dismissing it, which makes it seems like I don’t think you could understand the subject. That’s all just impolite and potentially demeaning and uncomfortable for everyone. I’m treating everyone with the assumption that we’re both intelligent adults, that doesn’t mean we know the same things. Many people are going to take it as insulting that I’m talking over their head, and must be doing it on purpose.

There are a lot of people that see everything anyone does as a power play. For me this is a situation where the only way to win is not to play, and not engage those people.

However, as an "information sharer", I'm a bit dismayed by the way the "harmonious emotional experience" folks insist—nay, demand—that their workings and norms apply to everyone, even us information sharers, whether we like or realize it or not. (And if we protest, our protestations are obviously just evidence of privilege, or somesuch.)

This is what I mean by competitive people not really believing that other people aren’t competitive. By competitive I don’t mean "I will crush you", I mean there is a score keeping aspect to everything, and I think this is so natural to a lot of people they don’t even recognize it.

So yeah, I’m looking at people trying to judge what they may not know about a subject (like everyone), but I’m not going to assume you don’t know about cars because you’re a woman. I’m going to err a bit the other way because I don’t want to be insulting, but I may miss the mark.

And no, I’m not saying that is what is happening in all cases, but I’m sure someone will skim this and then berate me for saying the explaining phenomenon is not real and making excuses for assholes. (I’m not going to fight spellcheck over explain anymore).
posted by bongo_x at 11:37 AM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't think I buy this idea, largely because I suspect that many people do both in different contexts, and I'm highly suspicious of dichotomizing people who come from the same culture(s) into sheep and goats in this manner.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:43 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


It seems a bit odd to me to suggest one should get to know a person before responding with tweet back to one of their comments.

i didn't suggest that.

the article has my thought-gears turning in a different way, i guess. personally, i have never encountered "randos in my mentions," but i have been plenty condescended to by people who have had the opportunity to get to know me, such as my co-workers.
posted by f r i e n d b o t at 11:54 AM on January 15, 2016


It's the difference between having a private conversation in public and broadcasting your private conversation to the public.

Is it? Because I'm not sure I buy the argument that something being passively discoverable automatically means it is inviting a response. In your analogy (correct me if I'm wrong) sounds like people are taking tapes of private conversations and broadcasting it on the radio. In those situations, of course there's a different expectation of privacy and tact. But on Twitter, there is no global feed, no captive audience. Someone doesn't see my tweets unless they actively seek it out in some way, either by searching for my name or my tweets or by following me. In that context, mentions from randos would be as if a person were walking through a crowded square of many private conversations, and every time they hear the keyword "feminism" they interject with "SO HAVE YOU CONSIDERED". You can choose to engage with them, of course, but the initial interjection can be a jarring experience, and oftentimes those interlocutors undeservedly feel entitled to a reply and behave accordingly.

BOOP BOOP BOOP Nerds are like this and non-nerds are like this

Yeah, this is the other part that really bothered me. Not all nerds consider "pure information sharing" to be the "most highly valued form of communication possible", unless you consider the latter to be a necessary quality of being a nerd, in which case that's engaging in the kind of unproductive gatekeeping that this seems to be trying to address in the first place.
posted by Phire at 12:03 PM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


you would instead communicate it to your intended audience via one of the many other private or semi-private channels that are available (email, chat, phone, SMS, various mechanisms on Facebook, etc.)

Some of Twitter's most charming qualities lie in the ephemeral yet communal nature of the ongoing conversation of your timeline. Those other private/semi-private channels (other than maybe FB, which has its own set of issues) don't generate the same kind of passive awareness of another life that Twitter provides. There are benefits to Twitter that don't exist on those other channels, and so users with public feeds have to balance those benefits against the instability of privacy-through-obscurity and the likelihood of discovery and so on (and this is often an ongoing analysis that takes place - I've been private while dating, job hunting, etc, and went public again when I felt safe to do so).

Just because this is a calculus that takes place and users decide in favour of a public feed that carries greater risk doesn't necessarily mean all expectation of tact and social context goes out the window. Just because you can doesn't mean you should, etc.
posted by Phire at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I buy the argument that something being passively discoverable automatically means it is inviting a response.

Then why is it discoverable? The entire platform is designed to put your posts in front of strangers' eyeballs. That isn't accidental, the way that a stranger can accidentally overhear your conversation at a cafe—it's deliberately built into the way the service works. It's what the service does.

What else would be the point of putting a post in front of strangers' eyeballs, complete with a button that allows them to comment on / respond to that post with a single click, if not to invite strangers to read and (potentially) comment on / respond to the post?

And if you have something to say that you don't want strangers to read and (potentially) comment on or respond to, why would you post it on such a service?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of my interpretations of the sealioning comic is that the sealion becomes something of a stalker. Which I've seen sealions follow the person in question from platform to platform demanding a response to the latest version of the argument.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2016


Someone doesn't see my tweets unless they actively seek it out in some way, either by searching for my name or my tweets or by following me.

Or if they search and one of your tweets appears in the results, or if they click on a hashtag you've used, or if they see that you've retweeted (or been retweeted by) someone they do know, or...
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:14 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Stalking, sealioning is clearly a bad faith interaction though. The article is about full faith miscommunications leading to misreadings of intent.

I don't think anyone is denying that bad things happen, but that too many good faith attempts at communication end in failure and bad feelings because of a misunderstanding of the other's context.
posted by bonehead at 12:18 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


And if you have something to say that you don't want strangers to read and (potentially) comment on or respond to, why would you post it on such a service?

Because you don't mind them reading it, but are just not looking for them to pipe in. It's like talking in public. It is not illegal on Twitter or in a public area for people to jump into your conversation. In fact, everyone once in a great while, it's cool! But generally not.

Sometimes, as a result of a retweet, someone you don't know will follow you, and eventually, you'll get a sense of each other and have friendly conversations. That's why people keep accounts public. I've come to know cool people this way.
posted by ignignokt at 12:33 PM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's like talking in public.

That's the part I think we're all stumbling over. I don't see it that way at all. It's not like having a private conversation in public, where, from context, it's obvious one is speaking to a few other people. There aren't, for example, a few thousand or more folks monitoring every conversation in a coffee shop for mention of a certain band or city.

If you're using twitter, and especially if you're using hash tags, then you're putting your thoughts out there for any number of folks who are listening, often for specific things. I see it primarily as a way of community building exactly because strangers are able, even implied to be welcome by twitter's architecture, to join conversations. The expectation to be able to curate a semi-closed audience on not just a public but a public multicasting service strikes me as at odds with what it was built to do.
posted by bonehead at 12:42 PM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK, well, I guess I just don't understand Twitter. Because I've never thought "gee, email sure is convenient—but I wish it would make every message I send available to any random Internet user who might want to read it". I'll quit belaboring the point now :)

(worth mentioning though, these points are addressed in the footnotes to TFA)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:44 PM on January 15, 2016


I would suggest reading what people are familiar with it are saying TBH.
posted by Artw at 12:47 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of Fanspeak about a talk at an sf con by a speech therapist about how con-going fandom communicates.
On those occasions when she showed up at a con to meet Elise [Matthesen], she saw lots of fans in groups talking. To her they seemed angry and rude. To Elise they seemed nothing of the sort. [...] We accept corrections on matters of fact and of pronunciation; when I asked her about whether fanspeak might be related to Asperger's Syndrome, and mispronounced "Asperger's", I was corrected in mid-sentence by the man sitting next to me, corrected myself, thanked him, and finished the sentence. One Doesn't Do That in Mundania. Fans understand that mispronouncing words one has only read is very common in fandom, and not mortally embarrassing.
posted by Zed at 2:33 PM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


It might be hard to understand unless you've had, or know people who have, a sizeable following on twitter. I have a modest following so I rarely deal with this, but some friends have 10,000+ followers, and at that level, randos definitely become a concern. There's an "attention economy" aspect to it. When your friends and people you trust/know respond to you, it's wonderful. And they're people you've built up a rapport with over time. But when everyone feels entitled to your time, including complete strangers, it's taxing. This is compounded by being in a specific group: people feel more entitled to women's time and attention. It's often more "look at me, pay attention to me" than it is genuine helpful information sharing. Then there's the case that if you're tweeting about certain social justice topics, there are many people searching specifically for those tweets to argue with you about them, often in ways that show a lack of reading comprehension or understanding of the topic. In some cases they don't even bother reading the thread of tweets you JUST MADE, so they haven't taken the few seconds to even know what you're talking about. This is the context I see "randos" in often. You only have so much attention you can devote to twitter, and when strangers are popping in with irrelevant, wrong, or unhelpful information, and assuming you don't know better, it's just frustrating.
posted by naju at 2:36 PM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was about to link to the "What to do if a woman is funny on Twitter" post where men keep making her own joke back at her, but the post is gone, and so is the original Tweet that inspired it, so maybe I won't.


But I think there are multiple things that sometimes but don't always coincide. One is kind of like Fanspeak, and that's what the OP addresses. Another is that attention economy.
posted by RobotHero at 3:22 PM on January 15, 2016


escape from potato planet, since you aren't a Twitter user I think your strident arguments for what Twitter is and how people should use it need to take a back seat to those who are active on the service.

The public/private nature of Twitter is definitely a conundrum, as it is for many other social networks. How we deal with it and what types of conversations we have are being negotiated constantly — 'randos in my mentions' is a phrase developed out of that public/private push/pull, a way to discuss a certain kind of behavior that some folks experience as rude, obnoxious, etc. Sure it's public, but the day-to-day experience of many (most?) folks on twitter is defined by interactions with a relatively small group of people. Friction often arises when that small-group and the firehose of all twitter intersect.

I was thinking about this last year when #crimingwhilewhite became a thing on Twitter, with white folks sharing examples of crimes they committed but weren't held accountable for. A lot of black folks were upset and arguing that it was offensive, that black folks didn't need this kind of inequality rubbed in their faces, that they already knew. What I saw, as a white person, was other white folks having a consciousness-raising discussion amongst themselves, sharing these experiences that they were only just realizing were mediated by privilege. But that small-group conversation had reverberations beyond, and folks outside heard it as a broadcast, as public speech. So, again, somewhere between the public/private, and, again, friction where the lines get blurred.
posted by wemayfreeze at 3:32 PM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I used Twitter as an example in the MeTa discussion of the Emotional Labor thread. While the details are different, problems arise in both cases due to the distinction between what's "common practice" or "convention" on the platform, and what's "technically possible".

In the recent and controversial thread publishing case, there was no technical barrier to a person doing what he did (i.e. publish a popular thread as a PDF and disseminate to a wider audience). But it was ultimately evaluated to be against the culture of Metafilter, as well as in violation of the copyright of the individual users on their own words.

In the Twitter case, there's no technical barrier to a person @-mentioning all sorts of people who may not wish to be @-mentioned (aside from the person mentioned having already blocked the other user). But for many Twitter users, it's considered impolite practice - hence the 'rando' title.
posted by theorique at 3:59 PM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


I can't even Twitter. I've tried, but I don't get the conventions or culture at all. It causes me anxiety to even think about that crazy place, though I'd like to learn how to use it properly and make sure I don't have a bunch of weird followers involved in harassment campaigns. I'm a solid programmer, I think, but man I don't get the internet anymore.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:24 PM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


OK, well, I guess I just don't understand Twitter. Because I've never thought "gee, email sure is convenient—but I wish it would make every message I send available to any random Internet user who might want to read it". I'll quit belaboring the point now :)

When Twitter was new technology, its adopters brought along their own mental model. Your model is email, and brings along some conventions regarding privacy defaults. On the other hand, another set of people think of it more like IRC / chat. "Gee IRC is nifty, but it would be way more popular if it were more permanent and available through a web browser." Under this model hash tags directly map onto IRC channels, and I literally have my twitter feed on a buffer on irssi alongside the rest of my channels. You might assume people expecting conventions other than IRC would leave, but they might have a lot of , and there's a huge swath of people who treat twitter as read only, and another set who's communication back to the community is purely retweeting and likes. And another set of people whose clique has settled on Twitter; more private social networks are useless if your friends don't use them.

But really, what I want to talk about is the psychology of personality. Big Five gets all the 'actual science' kudos, but there's other models based on the same type of factor analysis, I've come to like DISC because it doesn't have a bucket called "Neuroticism" that comes with strong value judgments with which to label people. It basically has two dimensions: Dominance vs Stability and Influence vs Conscientious. So it conveys less info than the big five, but for this thread I think it suffices.

Rather than say 'nerd culture like this', we can use DISC instead say that a high D + high I personality will receive a 'well, actually' correction differently than a high C + high S. And we can leave what personalities nerds have to aside, because the reality is there is no one nerd personality, and social contexts mediate it anyways.

Crucially, when most people observe behavior (e.g.: a correction) and work backwards to what the person was thinking, their own personality shapes their guesswork. Especially in the case of strangers. So when a high C is corrected, they're more likely to think "facts must be really important to this person," while when a high D is corrected, they'll think "this person thinks they one-up'd me."

I don't know whether high C personalities are scientifically proven to be 'information-sharers' but it seems in their general wheelhouse. And there's no reason a person can't be both a high C and a high D, so in a way, a person's reaction to a factual correction says as much about them as it does the person correcting them.

And that's really what the author is getting at, and it makes me a bit sad that people feel the need to reinvent personality theory from scratch, and then assign it to culture, as if nerds are a monolithic bloc.
posted by pwnguin at 1:25 AM on January 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I used to work at a company that used DISC as part of their Diversity and Communications initiative so everyone had to take the tests and the training on how to talk to everyone else. I think it helped but it also (both positively and negatively) helped management ignore and sidestep basic EEOC concerns.

Anyhow I tested consistently as high D, high C. The way we came to explain this is that in my personality I tend to follow higher D folks (because of my high C) but if I feel something is not being managed or being mismanaged I will take it over and do it how I think it should be done.
posted by kalessin at 7:14 AM on January 16, 2016


and it makes me a bit sad that people feel the need to reinvent personality theory from scratch, and then assign it to culture, as if nerds are a monolithic bloc.

I’m finding it hard to understand why people are getting "every single member of group X is like Y" out of this. I’m pretty sure all nerds have not been officially locked in a category. I read this discussion as being about personality types. "Nerds" is not assignment given at birth, or something you need a passport for, it is a social label.
posted by bongo_x at 11:03 AM on January 16, 2016


I feel as though I've been invited to hear stories from someone's therapy session. And in this session, the analysand is doing their own research and working to convince the therapist of their own diagnosis using a mix of medical, and psychological concepts with their own perceptions and hypothesis of the motivations and internal rationalizations of others all mixed together like fisherman's stew. In the medical profession, however, there is a natural bias for sick people to incorporate the work of others to rationalize their illness--it's a real potential trap for the intellectual.

Before you get the wrong idea and think I'm objecting the validity of the social behaviors outlined by the OP, let me say I agree that there is certainly the possibility they are right. This critical perspective reducing social behaviors to a binary abstract which maps well to the zeitgeist of computational concepts is most interesting. Where’s the club house? Give me some Kool-Aid.

And there's certainly precedence for someone to diagnose their own situation, to the objections of the establishment, only to be proven correct in time. Take this example from This American Life: "577: Something Only I Can See" (JAN 15, 2016) When you’re the only one who can see something, sometimes it feels like you’re in on a special secret. The hard part is getting anyone to believe your secret is real. This week, people trying to show others what they see—including a woman with muscular dystrophy who believes she has the same condition as an Olympic athlete."

Its most interesting genre to find the explicative laden story both entertaining and insightful, but not in the distanced way of good fiction. No. This tries to get very personal, and I don't know how I feel about that.
posted by xtian at 11:21 AM on January 16, 2016


FWIW, communication habits reinforced by professional expectations and work culture can also influence people's communication styles. For instance, I've developed a speech habit some (like my wife) have told me can seem really condescending: I like to summarize and recap established facts and background information before moving on to make my conversational points, partly because in my working life, I spent a lot of years leading meetings and effectively leading discussions of various topics. At work, it was drilled into my head to always reestablish the context in this way before proceeding to make my substantive points to promote clarity of communication (and consistency and completeness in the case of the deliverable documentation that are usually given to participants in these discussions). When you have to do that kind of thing all the time, you have to learn to do it reflexively to really feel comfortable up there speaking. But the same communication habits that are effective and necessary in public speaking type contexts can come across as obnoxious and condescending in less formal social contexts. Ideally, you leave your public speaker persona at the office when you leave, but in practice, sometimes you lapse back into it. It can be crazy-making to people not steeped in that sort of culture or who might be more sensitive to perceived condescension, I think.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:15 PM on January 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I almost did not get married to my wife.

She was one of the first non-nerd friends I ever made. One time at a party, back when we were just friends, she was telling a great story about something we had done together. Someone expressed doubt about some minor detail, and she looked and me and said something like 'You were there,tell him!'.

My answer, which now makes me cringe, was along the lines of 'Well.... Actually he is right, we were about 2 miles north of playa de los muertos, in a different ejido, and the cliffs were closer to 6 than to 10 meters high, as there was a high tide.'

We had a huge fight, we did not speak for weeks. I insisted that she wanted me to be a liar, she insisted I was acting like a six year old. Finally she very patiently explained that she did really appreciate my constant search for knowledge and facts, and that i was great to have arround for practical problem solving, but that a drunken party were one of us is telling stories is not the place for that, it is place for having fun, strengthening friendships, having each other's back, giving emotional support. Also, for making out and maybe getting laid if one did good in all of the above.

This was a huge revelation for me. All the friends I had, many going back to primary school, were nerds of some kind, and we thought it was FUN to have huge arguments trying to prove a point, with like evidence and logic and shit. And most of us loved to be definitely proved wrong, because now our common ground was larger and better.

This article may have saved me that fight, and many friendships lost to my well actuallys.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 7:03 PM on January 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


For instance, I've developed a speech habit some (like my wife) have told me can seem really condescending [...]

I've seen something similar at times in friends and family members who work(ed) as elementary and high school teachers. Some people call it "teacher voice". It's one thing to use this tone of voice to address a group of 25 eight-year-olds - quite another to use it to address your spouse or other loved ones.

Sometimes I wish I could deploy that voice - it's highly effective (as a nuclear option only) for arrogant and incompetent (the worst combination, sadly) customer service staff or a snooty maître-d.
posted by theorique at 7:26 PM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


richb: "@sively:
> Good grief. Having your splaining attempt rejected is as bad as getting splained to?

Yes. Did you read the article?
It's mostly about how some people don't really grok the concept of "splaining" and find "rejecting a splaining attempt" is actually rejecting entry to a public conversation -- "cattiness", if you like.

> > Those who emphatically agree with her, for instance, before presenting their own information tend to get a much warmer response. It’s a social cue, a way to signal friendliness.
>
> Or... actual agreement? Something to start building an interesting and constructive dialogue on, in stead of endlessly arguing about the premises?

whoosh

> I can see how it would be really convenient for some to make this all about differing communication styles. That way the privileged still wouldn't need to examine their (our) privilege and assumptions, and can keep ignoring other perspectives.

Like how you have just dismissed Alice Maz's perspective as wrong without anything more substantive than contradiction?
"

Yay! I am not the only person that still uses grok!
posted by Samizdata at 8:42 PM on January 16, 2016


escape from the potato planet: "What's the difference between that and Twitter?

You're able to overhear IRL conversations through circumstance—because it's not practical for people to carry around soundproof booths to duck into whenever they want to have a private conversation—rather than by design.

In contrast, it would be very easy for Twitter to design their service with fine-grained privacy controls. It is explicitly and deliberately not designed this way. If you're posting something on Twitter—and you understand how Twitter works—then you know that your post will be visible to any "rando" with Internet access. The act of posting is, therefore, an implicit invitation for strangers to read your post and, possibly, comment on or respond to it. Said randos assume (justifiably, I think) that if you didn't want this to happen, you wouldn't have posted on a public bulletin board such as Twitter—you would instead communicate it to your intended audience via one of the many other private or semi-private channels that are available (email, chat, phone, SMS, various mechanisms on Facebook, etc.).
"

Of course, this is predicated (sometime falsely) on having a private backchannel to communicate with said person. In my case, I can communicate with said person via Twitter, spawning a new thread on a forum (which would not be accepted for a quick one off comment) , or asking a "question" on a question me site, none of which are really apropos to the content.
posted by Samizdata at 8:47 PM on January 16, 2016


ignignokt: "
The reason these responses are seen as good-faith participation is because this model of communication emphasizes harmonious emotional experience. The responses that don’t attempt to establish emotional rapport are merely coming from a different context, one in which communication is about information sharing.

For nerds, information sharing is the most highly valued form of communication possible.
Quite the assertion! BOOP BOOP BOOP Nerds are like this and non-nerds are like this

I find that nerds, even the nerdiest nerds, are quite interested in emotional rapport and comforting. This is why it's acceptable to just quote a shared reference instead of saying something original. And quite a few nerds are interested in being the Top Facts Dog, which is why they share information. Your nerds may vary.
"

Actually, you may not know this, but that is BEEP BOOP BEEP BOOP, correctly.
posted by Samizdata at 8:50 PM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: "I can't even Twitter. I've tried, but I don't get the conventions or culture at all. It causes me anxiety to even think about that crazy place, though I'd like to learn how to use it properly and make sure I don't have a bunch of weird followers involved in harassment campaigns. I'm a solid programmer, I think, but man I don't get the internet anymore."

But Twitter exposure would do wonders to promote your practice!
posted by Samizdata at 8:57 PM on January 16, 2016


There's a certain thing male nerds are socialized among each other to do, which is information one-up-manship.

This is in no way limited to the male gender, or to nerds. I have female bosses and clients who do this on the daily (minutely?) who are neither males nor nerds.

You're right that it is totally a status game. But, it's also really sad - all the emotional energy put to proving you know something that the other person doesn't in order to validate yourself. Instead of just being nice to people.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:07 AM on January 20, 2016


You're right that it is totally a status game.

Context surely matters. Sadly, platforms like Twitter give so very little affordance to contexts like 'the room' or 'the conversation.' The re-tweet alone is an aberration of every normal social convention, practically designed to rip context from communication and expand your own posts beyond your direct followers. It occurs to me that if you look at the behavior of retweeters, they are sharing information to a broader audience. A gift of information, and exposure for the retweetee.
posted by pwnguin at 6:23 PM on January 20, 2016


allkindsoftime: "This is in no way limited to the male gender, or to nerds."

Yeah, but the OP kind of made the opposite claim, that only non-nerds would use correcting someone as a status thing.
posted by RobotHero at 12:42 PM on January 22, 2016


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