In this post I discuss the tone of this blog, and whether I want to publish articles that may have negative social consequences for myself.
Recently I published a post, that, at the time I was aware that it might not be popular.
I think there is a social convention to not acknowledge this kind of exchange, at least not publicly.
- It’s not good for me socially because it reveals that in some of interactions people don’t like me. This serves as an example of negative social proof and influences other people to adopt a similar attitude towards me.
- It seems vindictive, which could make a bad social impression. The blog post could be interpreted as a calculated attempt to embarrass or vilify this particular person. Even though their details have been anonymised, so they won’t likely be publicly embarrassed, she could read it a still feel embarrassed or humiliated.
What I forgot to include when addressing the reasons why I shouldn’t post the post, was the reason I chose to publish the post in the end.
The reason was, having ummed and ahhed about it over a week, the post was just ready to come out on to paper. I didn’t want to curtail my creative expression because of social backlash. The Mark Twain quote springs to mind:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain might have never said that by the way.
When I decided to publish the post, I did so thinking ‘I can always take it down’.
As it happens, there was a bit of social criticism. (To be fair to the participants of Facebook thread, they did take care to mitigate any hurt feelings when expressing disapproval).
There was two points of criticism. The first was pointing out that that someone might be offended at being labelled; I’d shown my awareness of that in the post.
The more controversial point was that I’d mentioned being premenstrual as a possible reason someone might be acting grumpy.
Here, it seems timely to bring up the first obvious caveat, the person might just be having a bad day. Perhaps they slept in and were late for work. Perhaps the kids were playing up at the moment. Perhaps they’re premenstrual. Perhaps there was no coffee in the house.
The point of the criticism is that suggesting that someone’s grumpyness might be due to being premenstrual is dismissive, and offensive.
Meta: At this point I need to discuss the social appropriateness of screencapping conversations. It would be easier for the purposes of this post, to simply screencap the Facebook thread that discussed the post. It’s fairly public, it’s on my Facebook wall, so people posting on the thread in some sense are OK with other people seeing their opinions. That said, they might feel betrayed if I were to screencap it post it up here (where it’s 100% public, and not restricted to just my Facebook wall) , even if I did black out the names and profile pictures (which I always do).
The problem is, I wasn’t, and I’m not convinced that, in an attempt to empathise with someone, you shouldn’t consider that they might be premenstrual amongst several other things.
It’s entirely plausible due to the way that I’d written it, it was interpreted as either a hostile attack against the person, or a way of trivialising the persons feelings on the mater. The opposite is the case – in considering PMS, you imagine what their emotional state might be.
So then… I was in a state of considering writing a post ‘Is mentioning menstruation offensive?’. I was considering for it, doing some research on what PMS is, what causes it, and just whether it does in fact cause some women to act grumpy.
The problem is, this is likely to be another antagonistic post, which might upset or offend people.
So this brings me to the subject of this post:
What is the purpose of this blog?
Well – let’s start with what this blog isn’t intended to be:
- A forum for airing my online disagreements.
- A troll blog. The purpose is not wind people up for the sole intention of winding people up.
- An ‘edgy’ blog that exposes uncomfortable, thought arguably rational viewpoints.
- A social justice warrior/anti-social justice warrior blog. I think discussing social justice issues with social justice warriors, is a game where the only winning move is to not play.
- A blog to discuss the social rightness of other people’s actions. As an agnostic atheist I don’t believe there is any objective blueprint for the correct way to live your life. An attempt to evaluate the rightness of other people’s actions is really an attempt to find a reason to hate them and is simply not constructive.
Leaving that – what’s left remaining for this blog to be?
My purpose here is to simply be a creative outlet for writing, that I find interesting and enjoyable to write, and hopefully it provides some value to the people who read it.
Why is this relevant?
Because I’m considering a career in writing, and I would show this blog to potential employers. The reaction I got to the rude messages post suggests that potential employers might find it unsavoury too, in which case it might be the smarter move to remove both this post, and the rude messages one.
What are you going to do?
I’m going to leave them up for now.
What about socially controversial posts?
Good question! I don’t know. Being socially controversial is an interesting subject in itself:
- Some people make a career out being socially controversial. eg. attack bloggers.
- On the other hand, some people make a career out of get along with everybody they meet. eg. good managers.
- Some people are successful regardless of the social controversy they cause. eg. Eminem.
- Some people’s careers are built on generally not being controversial, but pushing the envelope a little. eg. conventional popstars.
- Some people’s ideas were once socially controversial, and now are regarded as heroic. eg. Women’s suffrage activists, Martin Luther King.
There’s an interesting dilemma here. The social feedback I got does make consider removing some posts and censoring myself.
However, I think there’s a dangerous precedent, I think social cultural improvement happens, in part, because people resist and put up with negative social feedback to the socially controversial ideas they’re expressing.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t take everything criticism seriously. Some criticism might occur, again because someone said something without thinking, or because they’re a hateful person.
And then of course, there’s the implicit assumption I’m making here that any socially controversial posts do have some kind of legitimate value, and aren’t me actually just being an (unwitting) asshole.
The posts are staying for now. For next couple of weeks the material you’ll see probably won’t be that controversial, I don’t have anything more controversial to say at this point anyway.