Friday, January 15, 2010

Puzzlements in Online Community Building, Blogging, Tweeting, etc.

while there is a specific thing-that-happened which served as a catalyst for what I'm puzzling through at the moment, I'm going to do something that often annoys me when-others-do-it and remain vague. partly this is because of the nature of the thing-that-happened and the fact that as I write I know people are doing their own puzzling out of what to do about it. partly because I do not want to "call out" anyone. that's been done, and for the my part, I said what I felt I needed to say at the time. of course, I don't understand every facet of what's going on for everyone involved, so it very well might be that I didn't speak to half the issues I should have. I'm uncomfortably aware of that fact.

Still. I feel as ok as one can when they have people-that-matter-to-them on both sides of a heated exchange. the sort of heated exchanges that our ability as a social justice community to actually practice justice kind of hinges on, because they exist at the points in time and space where we can be oppressive, or not. Where kyriarchal standards make it easy to marginalize those Others. Where everyone is fighting to make sure that doesn't happen but maybe we're doing it anyway because ffs that's how we're trained to do things. Anyone trying to do anything else is unlearning right along with learning too. That's not easy. That's where mistakes happen. Of course, it's also where growth happens.

but what I'm thinking more about is more general than just this ongoing situation, because what this all brought to the forefront of my attention is the borders we create. the position i've tried to create for myself since getting into this intersectional blogging thing is one where i take seriously the needs people say they have. to trust people. To trust especially, people I have been conditioned Not to Trust. to use what space I have to promote those voices (this is especially applicable to RTing on Twitter or reblogging on Tumblr, both of which I have kept more active on than I have here as this is my "serious" blog).

Now one of my basic assumptions that we're all going to fuck up at some point. I've seen other people say this sort of thing before, in all sorts of contexts; that if you refuse to associate with people who fuck up, you won't have anyone left to work with. We're all mired in the same kyriarchy, we're all imprinted in some way by it. And it's not that I'm going "oh well" and just ignoring it when people fuck up, it just means that when they do I don't immediately write them off (sometimes I do, but it has to be pretty massive repeated unrepentant fuck ups).

but something that has bothered me in watching many such situations where we are trying to figure this shit out (and by "we" I mean people I can see have a history of engaging on any variety of social justice minded issues, stories, work, etc. aka are promoting a philosophy I identify as working towards the same or similar goals as me and others) is that I don't see a lot of consistency (in the community at large), as I understand it, with what kinds of public statements are received as appropriate and/or helpful.

For instance, I will look at two posts with what I consider to be about the same level of harshness, or controversy, or whatever, "NO BULLSHIT" kind of posts, you know? And one will be heartily agreed with and the other will be belittled or responded to with (what oftentimes seems to me defensiveness and) anger. and as far as I can see both writers (almost always women) are doing essentially the same thing: "this thing you are doing hurts me, or hurts a group I am a part of, STOP DOING IT NOW!"

And some people do this in a way I personally would not, some do it in a way I would and have, but from my vantage point, I'm having a hard time telling the difference in message (which is what I look at, because TONE isn't the important thing, right? it's not a valid criticism, so I've read quite often, which makes sense to me). But DOES there ever come a point where it is too much? Is it important to cultivate safe space so that people don't feel intimidate speaking up? And what does safe space really mean in situations like this? Is it "unsafe" to be informed bluntly the true impact of something on another person? These are the borders I'm trying to figure out.

and i have reached an impasse with this, i hope it will be talked about more by others, because I've been trying to come to terms with this stuff on my own and it's just not working.

But, here I am, puzzling out loud. Unfortunately I don't know if I'm even being coherent, or, worse, maybe I'm talking out my ass in an exceedingly clueless manner. But hey, where better to do that than on one's own blog? eh?