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Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?  June 16, 2005

Mari — June 16 @ 10:53pm

I’ll start by admitting I’m extremely uncomfortable with conflict. I will go to great lengths to avoid it, and usually I will work hard to get any feuding parties known to me to make up with each other. I enjoy blogging and reading blogs because it’s relaxing and helps me feel like I’m part of a great community of Saints. But lately in the Bloggernacle, I’ve been so overwhelmed by just how nasty things have become that I can’t even bring myself to comment.

Let’s look at some recent posts. At Millennial Star, a nice post welcoming Naomi Frandson. I remember her guest-blogging stint at Times & Seasons. I’m excited to read more of her posts, and I’m glad she’s going to be blogging over there for a while. I post a comment offering my congratulations, only to find a couple of hours later that the whole thread has turned into an ugly back-and-forth between a certain individual and his detractors. Naomi’s welcome has been tossed aside quickly to make room for an ongoing blog feud; clearly these folks think it’s not about her, it’s all about themselves. I usually reserve judgement when people aren’t getting along with each other, but this time I won’t. For all of you who contributed to the ugly atmosphere in a thread that started out giving praise to someone praiseworthy, shame on you.

At Times & Seasons, a really thought-provoking post from Rosalynde about the nature of personal revelation, with some very thoughtful comments, and then suddenly she’s accused of fictionalizing her own experience by a commenter who appeared out of nowhere.

A post about why books by and about women are worthwhile from Feminine Mormon Housewives gets slammed immediately by an anonymous individual whose goal seems to be to disparage all women writers, anyone who likes to read them, and pretty much everyone who goes to FMH for a safe place to discuss women’s issues. Foul language ensues, and in this case it’s probably called for.

And at our own little blog, a heartfelt post from Septimus about passionate kissing, posted in part because the commenters on a post at Millenial Star had become toxic. Some good discussion, and then suddenly, an influx of bickering, complete with inappropriate suggestions for older but faithful, single Latter-Day Saints and some name-calling. It all makes my heart sick.

Where is our compassion? What happened to tolerance? Why must every post or comment thread contain these childish swipes at each other (Utah Mormons, women who shop at Old Navy, women with highlights, DKL, single adults, Republicans, people who enjoy housework) ? Are you feeling the spirit when reading these posts and comments? Does it make any of you feel grateful to be part of a thriving online community of Saints? Is anyone else feeling uplifted by any of this? Because I’m not.

26 Comments

  1. I could be found guilty of being intolerant about issues that I feel strongly about. I do try to stick with the issues, though, and NOT degrade the messager(s). If anybody has been offended, I apologize (or I forgive your offense!).

    I think most (all?) of us are on different paths and different levels of searching for the truth and oftimes are in a state of conflict or dead-end. I believe that a lot of ‘put-down’ is because people (unconsciencely?) project these personal conflicts on others, scapegoating them in order to escape, justify, or feel good about themselves.

    I’m all for a good discussion about issues, but I agree with Mari, let’s ease up on the put downs.

    Daylan Darby — June 16, 2005 @ 11:11pm
  2. I was going to comment with my “this entire thread is a load of crap” line that I traditionally reserve for posts that bemoan the dominant derogatory tone of the bloggernacle. But in this case, I feel the need to say thank you, Mari. I’m glad that someone has the guts to stand up to Davis Bell and his minions over at M*. He always thinks that everything is about him.

    DKL — June 16, 2005 @ 11:44pm
  3. Mari, you should take heart that you have a firm ally in at least one member of the Bloggernacle–Jim F(aulconer) over at T&S. There are others who have spoken out against the problems you discuss here, but none so consistently and often as he.

    Justin H — June 16, 2005 @ 11:48pm
  4. You’re right, Justin H. Nothing pisses ol’ Jim Faulconer off like a good argument.

    DKL — June 16, 2005 @ 11:50pm
  5. On a complete tangent, the abridgment of this thread’s title on the “Recent Comments” sidebar is kind of funny. Why indeed?

    Justin H — June 17, 2005 @ 12:33am
  6. I honestly posted my apology before I clicked on this thread. I don’t mind a lively exchange, but when it starts to get personal, any dialogue is lost. I haven’t seen the brouhaha at Millennial Star, either, so no context.

    When it stops being about the issue, a topic, and becomes about personality, you might as well just shut it down.

    annegb — June 17, 2005 @ 8:06am
  7. annegb, the brouhaha involving me and my detractors was in Naomi Frandsen’s welcome thread on M*. At comment #15, Davis Bell decides to try his hand at being an alpha male. It’s really worth reading.

    DKL — June 17, 2005 @ 8:27am
  8. btw, my first comment (comment #2 above) was made in jest, as was my second comment (mostly).

    DKL — June 17, 2005 @ 8:29am
  9. Next time maybe you could try for a Pollyanna personna. Give it a shot and see if you annoy people anyway.

    annegb — June 17, 2005 @ 8:38am
  10. If I tried being a Pollyanna, then everyone would ignore me. Haven’t you heard? Pollyanna is the new Cassandra.

    DKL — June 17, 2005 @ 8:47am
  11. Mari– I think that perhaps you have misinterpreted the tone of the M* thread. It seemed all in good humor to me. There can only be so many posts saying, “Naomi, you’re grrrrreat!” before the conversation turns to other topics.

    I was also following the thread on FMH that you mention, when a troll appeared and (in a poorly spelled post) said that all books by women sucked. Why even respond to such a post? I am always surprised when people keep feeding anonymous trolls that are coming out of left-field. Save the fights for at least plausible combatants.

    NFlanders — June 17, 2005 @ 8:50am
  12. It would be nice if people would be kinder to each other, but I have to say that when compared to flame wars I’ve seen in the non-LDS online world, Mormon flame wars are a bit like waving sparklers at each other.

    Susan M — June 17, 2005 @ 10:17am
  13. Susan M, I agree, but I guess I have higher standards for the way Latter Day Saints should treat people (and each other). NFlanders, I think the M* thread started out a bit funny but quickly got out of hand. I have to admit I think Davis Bell had a very good point, and well-put, but in my opinion it was misplaced.

    Mari — June 17, 2005 @ 10:38am
  14. Susan makes a great point and I love the sparklers image. In Mormon forums at least people typically try to be witty and clever, or at the very least they try to make the other person seem stupid and themselves seem smart in the politest way possible.

    Honestly though, this sometimes annoys me. Seeing people bend over backwards and tie themselves in knots trying to sound spiritual and moral as they essentially tell someone else they’re a delusional moron is sometimes really comical to me.

    I find myself thinking Mormons often sacrifice honesty for the sake of courtesy in heated conversations and I’m not so sure it’s a good thing. I hope my non-confrontational friend Mari never falls in that trap.

    SeptimusH — June 17, 2005 @ 10:38am
  15. Septimus, I just don’t see any reason for rudeness. It’s possible to politely disagree even when discussing something controversial and keep your integrity intact (although I dislike controversy for its own sake too). Moreover, I really think that at times integrity is compromised for the chance to make a provocative comment at someone else’s expense.

    Mari — June 17, 2005 @ 10:55am
  16. Davis Bell’s emasculation of DKL was nothing short of brilliant, and it was long overdue. It made me feel slightly embarrassed for only ever making quips about DKL. Tolerance for people like DKL is too high, and we need to take a more proactive stance and call people like him out more often. And given DKL’s disregard for the topics of other people’s post, nobody should feel uncomfortable making comments like the one Davis made in any post at all.

    Miranda PJ — June 17, 2005 @ 11:40am
  17. I get a bit discouraged at the coarseness of public discourse in general, and I think it does make a difference in how we treat each other. (remember Newt Gingrich? He would always use hateful words to describe the Democrats - and this created even more partisan rivalry).

    That said, I do sort of believe in the “sticks and stones” theory and also the well known corollary “his bark is worse than his bite”. I think it’s important to keep personal attacks well in check, and to focus on the substance of the comment/post. But usually, it’s much more entertaining to poke fun at someone than to raise the level of discourse. I think that’s just human nature.

    Elisabeth — June 17, 2005 @ 11:46am
  18. Miranda,

    With all due respect, you’re nuts! if you think that openly confronting DKL and his ilk is going to make them stop. You’re assuming that DKL is dumb, or just doesn’t get it, or is really well-meaning but obtuse and would change if he could only see the light.

    He’s none of those things. He’s very intelligent and can be incredibly reasonable and articulate. When he expresses himself thusly, I am frequently in agreement with what he has to say. However, you (and others) must realize that since he’s smart, he knows exactly the effect his more insouciant comments produce, and people who “call him out” play right into his hands.

    Indignation, even if righteous, is not going to do anything but encourage the DKLs of this world.

    If you don’t like what he has to say, either delete his comments or ignore them. (Preferably the latter, as I’m willing to let a fair amount of asininity pass on the off chance he says something worth reading.)

    Justin H — June 17, 2005 @ 11:51am
  19. Miranda,

    Lack of tolerance for people with whom we disagree is exactly the problem being addressed here. It’s not hard to scroll down if you don’t like a comment.

    Eric Russell — June 17, 2005 @ 12:06pm
  20. Well, Miranda, you seem unusually sour. Are you having a bad hair day? I’ll tell you what: If the effect of Davis Bell’s comment was to embolden you, then I’ll thank him for it myself.

    Justin H, I appreciate your (kind of) defense, but I’m was surprised to read about “the DKLs of this world.” Are there more of me? If so, I’d just love to meet them! Maybe we could all gang up on Miranda.

    And Elisabeth, you must have just started watching television when Newt Gingrich came to power and then turned it off just after he left (due to trumped up ethics charges from opponents intent on calling him evil, no less). The recipe for political power is to stand on a soapbox and call your enemies wicked. As much as I’d love to give Newt Gingrich credit for another political innovation, this has been true since time immemorial.

    DKL — June 17, 2005 @ 1:44pm
  21. don’t forget that we are only internet personas, typing in a hurry and posting with reckless abandon. Many of us may actually be mortified to see what we wrote the next morning after an evening of blogging…. ;P

    Jordan — June 17, 2005 @ 1:54pm
  22. Mari-

    sometimes it can be very difficult to tolerate mean-spiritedness and villification heaped on whole scores of people by certain individuals who claim to be quoting God’s word.

    Jordan — June 17, 2005 @ 4:32pm
  23. I know I’m frequently mortified.

    annegb — June 17, 2005 @ 9:28pm
  24. Just read this post–thanks for your kind words, Mari. I am a relative newcomer to the bloggernacle myself–only since last January or so–and I often feel immobilized by some of the fights that start up. But I also think there are lots of good willed people out there–including the ones who sometimes make incendiary comments–and really, it can be an interesting sociological exercise to see how people relate on fora like these. At least, that’s how I sometimes comfort myself when things get heated.

    Naomi Frandsen — June 20, 2005 @ 12:56pm
  25. Don’t let let the dregs of the bloggernacle (and you all know who you are) put a damper on your involvement, Naomi.

    Miranda PJ — June 20, 2005 @ 2:55pm
  26. Mari, I’m late as usual, but just wanted to thank you for your kind words about my post. You’re thoughtul to consider my feelings; although the comment you refer to was a little random, it didn’t upset me. As long as people stay away from literary theory, I’ve got a pretty thick hide.

    Rosalynde — June 20, 2005 @ 10:15pm

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