Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OT: "I'm YBA and I Approved This Message"

Late last night I was planning a post along the lines of "Why Discussing Politics on the Internet is a Bad Idea". I watched a fight break out on a listserv I belong to composed of people with stronger bonds than those based on what music they listened to. I was reminded of my city's first election where friends attacked each other via blogs, and how the anonymous blogs have multiplied. Strange how more talk has led to less communication, even locally.

Presidential elections are the worst. I was tired of the bullshitting and posturing back in June. I don't think it will ever change because American elections have been like this since Thomas Jefferson ran against John Adams. Talk about close elections and nasty campaigning - IMHO that was the worst of all, even by today's standards.

I wear my heart on my sleeve in a lot of things and I've been hurt my share of times, so when I know some debate is going to get heated, I've learned to back out of it. I don't look at my laptop screen and see light and chips, I see the people behind it. But I don't always expect the people I see on the other end to reciprocate. So I get internally defensive when I see an online political conflict on the horizon. (Which was the inspiration behind "Why Don't We Live Together.")

It's no secret that Barry has supported Democratic candidates for as long as anyone can remember. But unlike most (all?) of his contemporaries and colleagues in entertainment, he doesn't mix his musical performances or appearances with his political support. Further, you never hear about said support through Stiletto, his website, or whatever. It's always from a blog or another source.

So I was initially disheartened when some fans broke from that example and mixed music and politics by starting a Democratic group on the Network. From years and years of past experience I initially believed the scenario would turn out like other online groups I've known: where anyone who agrees w/ the POV of the "artist in residence" will gleefully use their voice and those who disagree would be warily silent, or bullied if they voiced their opinion.

As of today, I'm glad and relieved to say that I was wrong about that. I seriously was concerned about sticking my neck out and saying that my opinion was the opposite of the more vocal ones. So others were braver than I and started engaging in that "tolerant discourse" that is much encouraged but never happens. (CC, you're my hero. Keep an eye on your email.) And son of a gun - it actually stayed tolerant. Even as other *ahem* "alternative" opinions crept out of the woodwork and passions were raised - the bullying I imagined hasn't happened. And TPTB let the discussion thread stay - something else I kept my eye on.

So again, I've found hope for humanity. We're not out of the woods yet - the main election is a week away, and then there will be fallout. Let's see if the "tolerance" holds out - I'm more hopeful that it will, whatever happens.

Keep in mind kids: the only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner, whatever party they belong to. So keep remembering you're dealing with real people here on 11/5.


Updates 10/31/2008:
Points of order:
  • Disagreement is not "venom", no matter how passionate it is
  • Copying/pasting an article from someone else's blog is not the same as making an argument for yourself
  • Belittling people who disagree with you does not change their minds
  • Demonizing those who disagree with you will NOT lead to "healing" and "unification" after the election, no matter who wins
  • If you accuse someone of bad behaviour, read your own posts and make sure you're not guilty of it yourself. It won't kill you to try and see yourself through someone else's eyes
  • No one likes a sore winner any more than a sore loser. See the point above about that outcome.
The only reason the Network hasn't gone to hell yet is because TPTB are staying out of the fan discussions. Praise be for small favors.

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