Friday, January 14, 2011

Going There

How many times have you seen someone in DIY D&D blogville saying some cuh-razy thing and thought, "-sigh-I'm really not gonna get into this with you"? If you're like me, about a million.

But then occasionally you do--or I do, anyway. And why? It's on those rare occasions when the person saying the cuh-razy thing appears otherwise sane, reasonable and intelligent. And so the crazy thing spurs your desire to know some stuff you do not. How can this seemingly alright person think this seemingly psychotic thing? Am I missing something?

So then you go there. And maybe you even go all the way there, because you really really want to know.

Which then, of course, is when you risk offending the person, because your persistence is, in effect, clearly saying "I still think you are crazy, explain more or concede." And this makes the person mad.

Which is ironic, because if you just thought they were just like whatever some blogger blogging up some elfs you wouldn't have mixed it up with them in the first place. So you only risk offending the people you actually think are smart and interesting.

Someone will no doubt post a long comment under this concerning the benefits of respect, etiquette, and decorum in these matters, and they may be right. And then someone else will post saying "Hey man, I read your blog 'cause you say what you think" and they may be right.

But the real point is: hey, just know, the Ironic Punishment Rule is in effect for blogscraping.


SirAllen said...

I think conflict is entertaining reading. Especially conflict over D&D. I also enjoy when people pile on. Maybe I'm a dick!

Zak Sabbath said...


Anonymous said...

Ah, you're both pretty.

Helm said...

I think about this a lot.

I do not know of a way to not feel bad when I make others feel bad because I've done what you describe in your post. If you find some non-solipsist, non-hermetical solution to this, please write on it.

The risk comes I think with having an extroverted personality = a personality that takes up space. Space is limited, there will be disputes over it. "Why are you as you are?" can be seen as a hostile act in this respect, because although you might not mean it as such, it is percieved as "You shouldn't exist -- myself an assertive and strong person, declares it so". Those that are game for that sort of sparring usually are those that congregate with their similar types and they rarely feel wounded by this analytical game.

Shier people often communicate in roundabout ways instead, to mitigate some of the risk of exposure and pull out early if they see sadness coming. These people don't like to be asked much of anything directly. Even if they speak in big (and sometimes crazy-sounding) words on a subject, this is not meant as an invitation for psychological scrutiny. It's instead meant as a diversion. They prefer a topic is discussed in broad, outer-personal terms. Sorting who of the big-talkers are actually game for "Why are you what you are?" is apparently, a trial-and-error thing, online. You can't tell them apart from what they write.

As a more general comment, I've been taught this: sometimes when people say they like me for being forward it means one of two things. If they're (or they think they are) cut of similar cloth, it is comforting for them that they have found another one. If they're shier, what they really mean is that they are currently enamored by this quality in me that they might find lacking in themselves, but they're also scared of it. When the amore passes all that'll be left is the resentment and alienation. It's really strange, being told 'I like this about you' and it meaning 'I don't really like this about you'.

Delta said...

Originally I assumed that all questioning was argument. Then I had a very smart, kind, intellectually curious friend who over ~10 patient years finally triggered a dawning on me that questioning might be honestly something else and not argumentation.

I may or may not have had the opportunity to use that skill online.

Zak Sabbath said...

this would be a perfect place on the page for somebody to put a snarky little one-liner that seems twice as funny standing in stark contrast to all that.

But i'm just going to say i appreciate your honesty here

Helm said...

Delta, I think I've been struggling with something like that as well. I wrote about it briefly here:

Zak: thank you. Also, excellent post on the Weird below (catching up in reverse).

biopunk said...

Well, I would regard 'calling people on their (perceived) Crazy' as a good thing.

If one is any good at judging people that actually *are* smart and interesting, then those people will likely have some experience with criticism and dealing with it, and the 'risk of offense' can be recognized as an element of establishing an understanding.

But this part of the internets is where a high proportion of the creative people who blog about their shit also self-identify with the term "Master" as part of their job description, and can trip up on the b.s. *that* entails...

Feystar said...

I have been thinking about this sort of thing quite a bit recently too. I might end up talking about respect and etiquette, not sure, let's find out.

One of the reasons I follow this blog is that I'm as much interested in how we differ as the things we have in common. Zak is an American artist/pornstar, I am an Englishman who never finished university and became an IT systems administrator, we come from very different backgrounds and are inevitably going to think differently but while he/you may not like some of the ideas I post I don't feel like i'm under attack or insulted when they are rejected, just that it's not a direction that other people are interested in.

Zak runs a far more sandbox kind of session than I do, kind of a Dragon age to my Final Fantasy XIII but we both run roleplaying games and from there I can find common ground which gives me an insight in to things I wouldn't ordinarily have thought of.

Nobody on here actually knows me in real life so to you I'm just another random internet crazy person, as far as I'm concerned that means until people have got to know me my natural tendency for sarcasm and glib comments is currently turned off, those things don't transmit well across forum posts and could be taken the wrong way, equally if I read someones post and feel it could be taken two ways, one of which is unpleasant, I'll try and choose the other one. (unless it's clearly a troll)

Not entirely sure there's a point in all of that lot but it doesn't normally stop me.

Chris said...

Been there (both on the "crazy moonman babble that sounded fine in my head" side, and on the "Huh? Has [name] been replaced by bizarro [name] today?" side). I suppose its an inevitable risk of the cat-herding attention economy that is the blogosphere.

So you only risk offending the people you actually think are smart and interesting.

I rarely engage enough to dig in and fight it out in the comments. Guy thinks he has a valid point; after all, he's gone to the time and trouble of posting on it. I'm not going to commentcrap him and possibly kill-by-derailment-into-squabbling an idea that could be the next Quantique, Urutsk, Riskail or [your personal benchmark here].

Usually I just shrug my shoulders and click onwards. But sometimes - oh so very rarely - the crazy is alluring and dangerously infectious...

E.g: You know there are wild-eyed, shaggy-bearded hermit gamers playing versions of D&D written in the 70s and 80s?! In 2011. I know! How wacky are they? (etc.) ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey! My beard is NOT shaggy. I keep it (rolls d8) well trimmed.

Nice post. And so it goes...


mordicai said...

I disagree with SOMETHING almost EVERYONE says. I try not to let it bother me that people aren't all all extensions of my hive-mind. YET.

Zak Sabbath said...


i am now in the unenviable position of having to acknowledge that hey, that comment was kinda tongue-in-cheek, ha, while simultaneously pointing out that to whatever degree it was serious it misses the point completely.

Stefan Poag said...

As someone who probaly registers high on the 'sensitive' scale, I find the whole question raised to be interesting. I'm thinking of it beyond terms of discussing fun and games. Persistent questioning often strikes me as invasive or passive agressive. So Helms observations are very interesting to me --- something to keep in mind because I'm always trying to get more sane. If people aren't attacking me by asking questions, then feeling like they are is a waste of energy and sanity.
Zak, I also think this post stands somewhat in contrast to your previous, "Why don't you want a Vegan Tuna Wrap?" one. Do you think it's a case of shoe-on-other foot, or is there something else at work?

E.G.Palmer said...

I clipped a Dilbert strip out of last sunday's paper because I recognized myself in Dilbert and I thought it wise to remind myself to be more diplomatic in attempting to convey my positions.

Dilbert and a coworker are siting across from their pointy haired boss at a meeting.

Coworker: "I have to disagree with you Dilbert."

Dilbert: "Actually, you don't disagree with me."

Coworker: "I don't?"

Dilbert: "No, you think you disagree with me, but you're mistaken."

"You're simply experiencing an illusion caused by the limits of your comprehension."

"If you were able to fully comprehend both the problem and my solution, you would agree with me."

"So, what appears to be a difference of opinion is just you wrestling with your own defective brain."

"There's no reason to get the rest of us involved in that mess."

Dilbert to Dogbert in final frame.

"Have you ever noticed that clarity makes people angry?"

Yeah, that's me. I just seem like a tolerant easy going guy on the net because I can't be assed to correct you guys. heh..

trollsmyth said...

Where's the "thumbs up" button on this here bloggey thing? I love locking horns with you, Zak, precisely because you're an extremely deep thinking who doesn't do his thinking in the same depths as I do. I'm only sorry Natalie and I didn't get to see any of your art when we were in NY. It might have given me some insight into how things look from your perspective.

mordicai said...

Arguing-- hell, communicating-- through only a written format is just as hard as only ever talking. You miss subtleties or create the illusion of complexity when you don't mean to, jokes that lack smiles sound like attacks, things that deserve more detail get taken for granted...a whole host of things. One of the Wikipedia ethical tenet is "assume good faith," & I try to carry it over to commenting anywhere on the internet.

Zak Sabbath said...


there's a difference between being angry because someone prefers a kind of game (or picture or book or food) and asking questions about why someone would hold an ethical position affecting other people's lives and implying a judgment about how they should or shouldn't conduct themselves in real life.

You don't like my art, no problem. You think my art helps people get raped, this is an issue.

Stefan Poag said...

Yeah, I understand that. And sometimes the amount of venom people interject on the net over arguments about game stuff seems disproportionate to real life-and-death stuff (like war, blood, oil and taxes), but as humans we often seem to enjoy a good scrap.

One of the things I've tried to do in the last year is not to participate in any discussion (online, mostly) where I don't see a point to entering the discussion. So if someone is railing on about whether or not a Paladin can kill baby Kobolds, I just pass on by simply because I've discovered that 99.9% of the participants in such a discussion are interestedonly in hammering their 'ideological opponents' rather than discussion as a form of shared thinking.

huth said...

No one isn't crazy.

mordicai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.