A concise explanation of the dynamic which bothers me so much is that the complaints (as opposed to criticisms) I get seem to be extremely reactionary in nature, and they get decidedly personal. It’s fine with me if my shortcomings prevent me from being easily understood, but my problem with it is that some people are quick to assume that they finally do understand, and instead of using this to discuss the ideas, they instead assume that this would be a great way to pigeonhole ME, to use what understanding they feel they have to try characterizing me and arguing that others see me through this same filter. And in order to do this, I then need to be removed from the discussion. Why it bothers me is not that this process is critical (hardly), it’s that I think it is fundamentally dishonest, and extremely petty.
What attracted me to bOING bOING originally - both in print and online - is it’s progressiveness. Some may disagree, but for me, the reactionary and the progressive exist at opposite ends of a spectrum of ways of addressing social issues and behaviors. Progressiveness I describe as having qualities such as clarity, honesty, and a willingness to go past ossified traditions. Reaction I describe as using obfuscation, muckraking, and stereotypes to maintain a status quo. So, when a loud portion of the commentariat seem more invested in stereotyping me than discussing the relative merits (or lack thereof) of my ideas and opinions, then I look for someplace more progressive.
At the very least, what I think people need in order to be properly understood in a group discussion is equanimity. And that is what I think is lacking here. I am interested more in discussions of “This is why I think that will/won’t work.”, and not at all interested in “Gotcha! Don’t you know what this says about YOU?!?” I think it’s a pretty safe guess that if I am really as weird as I am told, I probably have a better idea of what it really says about me than most others do. I am not interested in helping people to fill in the partisan paranoia crossword puzzles.
For example, look at a controversial topic I bailed from: Oregon militiaman arrested after stealing wildlife reserve vehicle to go shopping
The topic is ostensibly about property, theft, occupation, commons, and diverse topics areas which touch upon these. So I discuss these, because it seems like an interesting intersection of ideas. I get shouted down as being “off topic”. So what is the nature of the comments of these now-happy campers after I stop posting there? It’s mostly just snarky partisan complaints: “Fuck these guys” and GIFs. Is that ACTUALLY more topical than discussing the underlying issues? And if I (and to be fair, those others who were discussing in good faith) kept going with discussing what we found relevant, would it honestly have prevented any of those people from offering the same input?
When anybody who is sincerely interested in what people do and why is always strung up as equivocal to those being discussed, it functions as a reactionary spiral, and I think undermines real discourse in favor of (often imagined) personality conflicts and ineffective tribalism. Hell - there are times when I have participated in topics here only to have other people who were not even in the discussion originally arrive specifically to tell me to leave. Precisely because what they imagined my position to ultimately be made me the type of person who they didn’t want there. Functionally, reactionary liberals are much more similar to reactionary conservatives than perhaps they would want to admit. But they are more conflicted and less consistent due to the disparity between reactionary tactics and the progress they supposedly strive for. Meanwhile, radical left movements which could be seen as more progressive get thrown under the bus because they aren’t “safe”. Hope you like “the new boss”.