25 votes

How do I opt out of the culture wars?

For the most part, I enjoy April Fools Day online. I find the levity comforting, especially in the world we're currently living in. My favorite AFD bits are the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request For Comments (RFC), like A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers or last year's The Internationalized Deliberately Unreadable Network NOtation (I-DUNNO). I decided to search this morning to see if a new AFD RFC had been added yet and came to the IETF Documents page, which includes the latest updates to an RFC and/or new drafts for potential RFCs. I clicked through all of the drafts for today, and came across two drafts(1) (2) that were only meant to be as blatantly offensive to transgender people and other marginalized groups as they possibly can.

 


A quick note, This is not the work of the IETF, nor do they as a group endorse these RFC drafts, this is just how the RFC process works.


 

I just don't get it.

I've been in a constant state of befuddlement since I stumbled on those drafts this morning. I don't understand why people still think this stuff is funny. Haven't we shined a bright enough light on societal injustice, especially since last May 25th? Is this getting more pervasive, or has it always been this bad and I've only been noticing it for the past half-decade? I know things used to be worse, but I could have sworn they were getting better, right?

:sigh: Sorry for the rant, I just needed to get this down somewhere.

9 comments

  1. [3]
    PapaNachos
    Link
    Both of those drafts used the same fake name "Les White" (IT'SAJOKEHAHADON'TYOUGETIT?), so it's probably the same hateful asshole working overtime, rather than multiple hateful assholes...

    Both of those drafts used the same fake name "Les White" (IT'SAJOKEHAHADON'TYOUGETIT?), so it's probably the same hateful asshole working overtime, rather than multiple hateful assholes independently. Which is sort of a comfort? I guess?

    I don't know if it's objectively gotten worse in the last few years, but it certainly feels like bigots are much more loud and proud of their hatred and ignorance than when I was younger. I don't know how much is me growing up and how much is an actual change. I was admittedly pretty ignorant of a lot of stuff when I was younger, but I still feel like Trump really encouraged a lot of people to take their masks off.

    I'm sorry you had to deal with this. This shit is exhausting enough when people aren't actively being abusive assholes.

    If it makes you feel any better, I had some pretty shitty views when I was younger, that I like to think I've made progress on. So I want to believe many people are capable of change. And progress is happening, even if it sometimes feels like it's at a glacial pace.

    12 votes
    1. Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      To add to this, if you've spent any time in trans spaces online, you'll find that many of us used to make the attack helicopter jokes back before we understood why they were so damaging because we...

      If it makes you feel any better, I had some pretty shitty views when I was younger, that I like to think I've made progress on. So I want to believe many people are capable of change. And progress is happening, even if it sometimes feels like it's at a glacial pace.

      To add to this, if you've spent any time in trans spaces online, you'll find that many of us used to make the attack helicopter jokes back before we understood why they were so damaging because we did not understand the trans community or how that was dehumanizing and demeaning to their life experiences. I suppose its no surprise that jokes about gender would appeal to someone who is internally confused on gender and something reduced to absolute absurdity could be appealing on first glance without further thought, but the regularity with which people comment about how they used to have problematic views is rather refreshing. It's a level of introspection I don't often see in other communities and it's extremely humanizing and uplifting to hear about how someone great today used to be not as great and celebrates the strive to be better. An abbreviated version of a Maya Angelou quote fits well here - “do the best you can until you know better, but when you know better, do better.”

      14 votes
    2. vegai
      Link Parent
      Every time you change something in a society, a counterforce springs up. I don't think there's any way around that, at least without violence. And violence also tends to generate a reaction. Not...

      Every time you change something in a society, a counterforce springs up. I don't think there's any way around that, at least without violence. And violence also tends to generate a reaction. Not to mention how immoral it usually is.

      Sometimes it goes away within a generation. Sometimes powerful people upkeep it and make it worse (or better, if it was a good counterforce).

      5 votes
  2. skyfaller
    Link
    Responding only to your title, I think one major problem with wars is that you can't opt out of them. A lot of civilians would love to opt out of wars, but their choices are to live in a place...

    Responding only to your title, I think one major problem with wars is that you can't opt out of them. A lot of civilians would love to opt out of wars, but their choices are to live in a place fighting a war, or become a refugee fleeing to someplace else, which is far too disruptive to be considered "opting out" (will anyone even let you in?).

    The internet is a battleground in the "culture wars", with real effects in the physical world. Hate groups organize/recruit online and then kill people offline. Neutrality favors the oppressor, and ignoring these people won't make them go away (although deplatforming might, to some degree).

    Even civilians and soldiers on battlefields need downtime to try to escape the horrors of war in order to keep functioning. That's fine and good, and if you can find safe spaces online where you can catch your breath, excellent. Just don't confuse that with "opting out" of a war, the war continues to affect you regardless.

    11 votes
  3. DanBC
    Link
    I think the IETF response - calmly shut it down, post links to the code of conduct and anti-harassment policy - is pretty good. The only thing I'd add to that is seek out people who are targets of...

    I think the IETF response - calmly shut it down, post links to the code of conduct and anti-harassment policy - is pretty good.

    The only thing I'd add to that is seek out people who are targets of this kind of harassment and let them know you're on their side, you have their back. And maybe amplify voices that don't push hate I guess.

    9 votes
  4. TheJorro
    Link
    Yeah, tell me about it. I like video games and Firefox and cyber privacy and security, but I can't say I like any of the large communities of any of those things because they're filled with...

    Yeah, tell me about it. I like video games and Firefox and cyber privacy and security, but I can't say I like any of the large communities of any of those things because they're filled with wannabe South Park writers who seem unable to correctly identify a proportional response. Especially tech communities.

    I just ignore it now. There's no helping groups that choose to rile themselves up. I think we all got sucked in at one point or another and eventually learn that the healthy thing to do is step away and be at a level removed from down in the weeds. This is pretty much universal. Something less impactful and important I can think of but with the same effect is the general meme culture: how many times have gamers heard about "follow the train CJ!" and now have the impression that this is the hardest mission in any GTA game? It's not, at all. It was just a funny joke that got repeated so much that the joke is gone and now is seen as some kind of truth. When a community repeats something over and over, it becomes all-consuming despite themselves. The prominence of culture wars in a lot of tech communities feel to me like they followed the same path of Star Wars prequel memes and gamer memes: repeated ad nauseum until it's taken as truth. It's how the "attack helicopter" meme became the templated One Joke that is always used in reponse to anything to do with gender.

    I see it happen in these communities, and I just stop paying attention. Not just with culture wars though, pretty much with any issue that gets overblown immediately. I dropped out of Firefox communities around the time they started treating the Megabar like a human rights violation, I dropped out of privacy communities pretty much as soon as it's clear they lost the plot with personal risk factors and tolerances and started responding to anything that didn't run on CLI only three VMs deep with castle doctrine.

    I think it's gotten worse as communities got fewer, larger, and more homogeneous. It used to be that the world was a constellation of millions of little groups that all had their own little jokes, views, perspectives, approaches and more that skewed all over the spectrum depending on many, many factors. Didn't like how one group was going down a rabbit hole? No worries, there were five other ones that took the same information and went in a different direction. Now we're down to a fraction of a fraction of number of groups, and everyone is writing for a mass audience instead of a trusted few, with the subconscious fear that going against the grain will mean they not only lose the platform but the entire community.

    7 votes
  5. [2]
    joplin
    Link
    Yeah, I feel this, too. I have been pretty relentless about avoiding social media, but it's starting to leak out everywhere in the last few years. There was a time when HackerNews comments were...

    Yeah, I feel this, too. I have been pretty relentless about avoiding social media, but it's starting to leak out everywhere in the last few years.

    There was a time when HackerNews comments were kind of useful and had good links in them. Sure there was the occasional tech bro saying something ignorant or a super libertarian spouting off nonsense about all regulations being bad. But it was only in the last year that I started seeing actively hateful stuff like people equating the Jan 6th insurrection and the Black Lives Matter protests. And the mods did nothing about it. I now avoid HN as much as possible and if I do go, I don't ever read any of the comments. I just open the interesting links in a bunch of tabs and then close the tab with HackerNews in it. It's ridiculous.

    So I'm down to reading Tildes, getting my news from NPR in text-only mode, and visiting a few tech news site where they actually moderate the comments. It's probably for the best, though, as I probably spend too much time online anyway. Unfortunately, TV and radio news are a dumpster fire, so I have to avoid those as well. I don't want to be ignorant of what's going on, but my mental health is more important than keeping up with the latest outrage.

    7 votes
    1. nukeman
      Link Parent
      I will say that I’ve personally found the evening network news shows (e.g., World News Tonight) to still be mostly straight news without any punditry. Not a lot in the way of analysis, but that’s...

      I will say that I’ve personally found the evening network news shows (e.g., World News Tonight) to still be mostly straight news without any punditry. Not a lot in the way of analysis, but that’s what The Atlantic and other similar sites are for.

      4 votes
  6. Grzmot
    Link
    You're assuming that the person who wrote this is fundamentally good. A lot of the humour people like the author of that RFC draft derive from doing things like this are that they are deliberately...

    Haven't we shined a bright enough light on societal injustice, especially since last May 25th?

    You're assuming that the person who wrote this is fundamentally good. A lot of the humour people like the author of that RFC draft derive from doing things like this are that they are deliberately outrageous and offensive to people.

    The more attention you give them, the happier they are and the worse you're off. It's a complicated discussion because doing nothing isn't always the best choice, but in internet culture wars like this, it is. Don't feed the trolls.

    5 votes