Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thoughts - The Problem With Records

Thoughts - The Problem With Records

We live in a strange age, this internet era of ours.  What we have come to realize is that everything, everything and anything you say or write can be recorded.  For that matter, not only can be, but usually is.  Your emails, your blog posts, your facebook status, your tweets, your text messages.  They all exist in time (and sort of space, somewhere).

The weird part is that instead of focusing on what people are 'now' we are focusing on what people were 'then'.  Because our most cohesive point of contact with them are these strange, textual after-images of moments, these half-formed ideas and pictures.  We can call them up whenever we want, they exist in record for ourselves.  That moment when we jumped off a cliff and dove into water, we remember that, the memory is vibrant of that moment, no matter how much we've changed since then and become different people.

But for some reason, people's perceptions of each other don't seem to grow up.  We remain fixated on how we knew each other at our given points of contact, instead of who we are now.  Our opinions are allowed to change, in fact they will, and do, frequently.  The 21 year old me is not the same me of today, in fact there is very little I share in common with that young man of long ago. 

Part of the reason that this touched off was that Krahulik posted a few things on twitter this morning (before I was even awake actually) that obviously touched off a trans-gender nerve in the community.  He is essentially a celebrity figure for a certain slice of the very engaged, geeky and outspoken populace, so of course the rebuttal was swift and not succinct at all.  It was a fascinating observation point to see someone write one statement, and receive a myriad, almost a hundred responses of varying type and quality.

Some were congratulatory, or satirical.  Some were angry, sought to call him out, others to educate or hold a civil discussion.  Some were just their own insights into the situation.  Some were downright spam or bot posts, trying to capitulate on the attention.  Some were death threats against him, or against his wife, or heaven forbid against his own son, who at my last recollection is all of like 9 years old.  Let me state that one again.  A man posts something accidentally inflammatory on twitter, someone else makes a death threat against that man's son.

It's a fucked up world sometimes.

In any case, Sophie apparently managed to have an amicable conversation about education Krahulik about the trans-gender community, what the different sort of states of trans are, and what they mean.  Why what he said was inflammatory, and how trans people considered a respectful treatment of their status.

EDIT: Gabe did put up the post, here's the summary of it.

Twitter is not great for actually having conversations. Sometimes I get shit on twitter from people and rather than try and have a discussion with them I make sarcastic remarks. Yay for coping mechanisms! But what does it look like when you actually do have a conversation with someone you care about? Well I had this email exchange this morning with my friend Sophie and she said it was okay to post it. I think it’s interesting to see what can happen when you take something off Twitter and actually talk.
From: Sophie Prell
To: Mike Krahulik
Hey guys,

So first off, I want to say that none of what I’m about to write is meant to say you’re wrong, or an ass, or anything like that. I think it’s bullshit that people have been giving you such serious threats and think that they can force you to change your opinion - or that they SHOULD act in such a way. So to be ultra-super clear: your opinion is your opinion; I’m not mad at you for having it, and support your right to it.

That being said, I wanted to let you know that, when I read your words, it makes me instantly uncomfortable, because I wonder what you think of me. My thought and impression was that we were on good grounds, and I appreciated all the kind words you sent my way. But when I wasn’t around, did you talk about me as a guy in drag? Those are the sorts of questions and insecurities that filter into my mind.

My identity and who I am is obviously very important to me, as it is with most people. And I know there’s the whole “Well, you have to love yourself” line that people love to hand off like it’s comfort food when these situations arise, but let’s be honest: humans are social creatures, and others’ opinions are the mirrors through which we often view our self-worth. When I’m not Sophie in someone’s mind, or if “Sophie” is just pretend and the person really sees me as a guy in a dress, that’s hurtful. What you’ve been saying about believing “a man has a penis, a woman has a vagina” is hurtful to me.

Now, again, this isn’t saying I want you to stop saying what you’re saying. Say your opinion and say what you believe. I wouldn’t ask you any different. I’m not even asking you to consider how I or anyone else feels before you speak. All I wanted to do was let you know that someone who has met you, who has worked for you, who admires the hell out of you is hurt by what you’ve said. You say what you need to say, and I say what I feel I need to in order to excise this tension.

Thanks guys. Hope all is well.


From:Mike Krahulik

To be honest with you I had no idea that you were not born a girl until just a couple months ago. When we met and hung out I always just thought you were a woman. Knowing your situation changed nothing about how I would treat you. I am happy to treat someone however they want to be treated. Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way.

But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body.

I think you’re awesome and super talented. I have no idea what your body parts are and I don’t want to know. I will treat you as a woman if that’s how you present yourself to me.

I hate the idea that because I think boys and girls have different parts I am “transphobic” that pisses me off it makes me angry and so I lash out.

Sorry if I hurt you at all.

From: Sophie Prell

Thanks Mike, I appreciate the response. And like I said, I wasn’t looking for an apology, or for you to consider my feelings, or anything. I was just letting some of what I was feeling air, albeit privately, since (like you!) most people don’t know, and for now, I’d like to keep it that way.

As for the transphobic thing, I won’t get into a big long spiel about that, but I will say that I don’t think you’re transphobic, and I hate that you’ve been getting such a ridiculous reaction too. I’m pretty miffed about how the LGBT and trans community in particular have gotten regarding this talk, and how people in general just want to yell their opinions but not listen when others give theirs. It’s actually a big part of why I got out of the LGBT social justice movement; I couldn’t handle people I was supposed to be a part of, supposed to be representing, reacting in the way that you’re seeing now. Prime example: I don’t disagree with you that I’m male. When it comes to chromosomes and genetics, that’s just what I am. But that’s not what I identify as, and for acknowledging reality some trans people have even chewed me out. It’s ridiculous.

We don’t all have to agree to respect each other, and I think that’s something important that people lose sight of. But before I ramble on too long, just want to say thanks for hearing me out and responding, and I hope I’ll bump into you at PAX or something in the future. =)


P.S. We cool? =)

From: Mike Krahulik
Of course we are cool! We were never not cool!

So there you go. It’s not an easy conversation to have. Or maybe it is if you’re willing to actually have a conversation. My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole. It’s essentially how I defend myself. It’s been that way since was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go.
-Gabe out

I think a problem is that the 'public' at large that is observing this exchange sees only what is posted on the internet.  They have no idea about the deeper or underlying exchanges going on, or who people really are.  What we post on the internet has for a long time become a persona of what we think we are, not who we actually are.  This entire blog of my own isn't really me, it can't be.  It's filtered through my perceptions, edited, controlled, and disseminated in such a way that it can never really be the raw 'me' that people get when face to face with me.

The next thing is that people forget their own perceptive reality.  If you follow a celebrity on twitter, or their website, or their blog, you have an immediate, interesting, ONE-WAY connection to them.  They have no idea that you are reading their work.  They know that people in a general way, ARE reading their work, but they don't know you, or your situation, or your particularities of your life.  Of course you know your life, but the communication is strictly one way.  You can attempt contact, but they are under no contractual obligation to reciprocate, because you read their things.  Certainly a million people follow Neil Gaiman, myself included, and assuredly he does not read what a million people post back to him.  We don't know everything, we're humans, and the follow up of that is we don't know everything about everything just because it's available.  Yeah it is available, on the internet, in books, in conversation, but just because it's available doesn't mean everyone knows it.  That's a hard ontological hurdle to overcome.  Because one person is a master of electrical science does not mean everyone is.  Sometimes we just haven't learned it yet.

The final thing I find boggling is that people aren't allowed to change their opinions.  "But you said here that-".  And people can be wrong, and recant their statements, and apologize, and learn.  But somehow the 'internet' does not allow you to forget that you were wrong in the first place.  We fixate on the error instead of the learning.  That's weird.

What are we doing?

What am I doing?  And why did I write 3000+ words about this crazy sociology-phenomenon?

I guess there's a slight frustration point where I wonder if we can fix this problem.  This misunderstanding.  I don't want to be mean to the people that thrive on this kind of thing, but some of the responses have ranged from ludicrous to downright threatening.  And why?  When did we decide as a society that this was acceptable?  When did we acknowledge that we were alright with letting people attack others for opinions?

When did we declare that death threats were an appropriate form of social discourse for disagreement?