Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How to disagree without personally attacking other babblers

Or how to get past the moderation filter on Big Blue Wave.

So, if I get really upset because someone has posted something I consider sexist, instead of saying, "You're so sexist!" or "You're a sexist f***wad!" I could instead say, "It really upsets me / makes me angry when you say that because it sounds sexist to me. The reason I think it's a sexist thing to say is because xyz."

That way, I am not labeling someone ("You are sexist!") but instead naming my own feelings ("I'm angry"), giving my opinion about the statement/behaviour ("that sounds sexist to me") and explaining why ("because xyz").

It would also require the person on the other end to hear "I am angry because I feel that what you said was sexist" instead of "I hate you because you ARE sexist".


I think that, even if people have a good reason to be angry with someone else, we should start really focusing on a "no personal attacks on other babblers" policy that really, really means "no personal attacks".

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you get really mad at someone."

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you do it in a really passive-aggressive, snide way."

Not "no personal attacks on other babblers unless you think someone said something really bad/non-progressive/against babble policy."

Because of the really unhealthy dynamic on babble lately, I think that it should be simply, "No personal attacks on other babblers, period." No matter what.


Perhaps we need to all stick to the issues instead of speculating on each other's motives. I've probably been on the dishing out end of this a few times, and have often been on the receiving end. But I think this is also difficult because we tend to see issues from a broad perspective.


Another thing to try is not to assume the worst about another person. If somebody posts something that is ambiguous enough to be interpreted in a couple of different ways, assuming that the poster had the worst possible intentions before labelling them sexist/racist/homophobic/whatever doesn't advance the discussion in a helpful way.


IMO, it's not about the emotion, it's about how we deal with it. I know I don't want a board where everyone must agree on everything and not say anything to upset anyone. There are a lot of issues discussed here about which some people are very passionate. Being passionate, getting angry, getting hurt, is not the issue; I'm hoping to help create a space where we can express those emotions creatively and constructively and feel that we are being heard and supported, even if we're not being agreed with.


I agree with you Weltschnerz, it is about emotion and trying to control it. Most people try very hard to do just that, but being that there are so many of us whose pasts are riddled with bad things, it is sometimes hard not to get emotional. But yes, totally agreee with you. Now putting that to practice may be a bit hard.

In solidarity ;)