Trolls and the Broken Window Theory

by: spacemanspiff

Sat Dec 06, 2008 at 17:13:06 PM EST



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"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."

- Henry Kissinger

Why are people so nasty on blogs?  

spacemanspiff :: Trolls and the Broken Window Theory
Why aren't some people able to have a discussion about the merits of a candidate, or strengths and weaknesses of a specific strategy without getting personal or mean about it? Are the stakes really so low in some parts of the blogosphere, that people feel the need to be nasty about everything?

Short answer.

Yes.

For many people, flaming and hostility are the only reasons to get online. These are folks who suffer from a chronic case of assholicism.

Trolls.

troll
One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. 'you're nothing but a fanboy' is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevence to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.

It's much easier to criticise and inflame than it is to be creative and stimulating.

This is as true for the blogosphere as it is for the real world. Not all trolls are loud, obnoxious and obvious though. One of my favorites subset of trolls is one that does not fit this specific criteria.

The "polite" troll. You know exactly what I'm talking about. These are usually the ones railing against opression and all about their right to spew whatever nonsense they are peddling that day. They usually offer up blisteringly polite, well written 'snake under the rose' posts that are perfectly within the bounds of decency, but create unrest and dissatisfaction with cutting accuracy.

Disruptive people, who keep themselves just at the edge of acceptable behavior. They can drive away the sane people just as much as the loud and obnoxious obvious trolls.

These are the posters all too often cry innocence and hide behind the very worthy excuse of  open discussion, but are frequently just trying to stir up trouble. Those are usually the ones accusing trusted and long time users of promoting censorship and trollish behavior.

Blogs have to walk a fine line though.

- Heavy handed mods find themselves with a dead community, because people do not want to be dictated to.

- Mods that exercise too little input also find themselves with a cobweb, because trolls come in and run people off.

This last point is the one in which I'll expand in this diary.

I came across this very interesting article.

Which tries to apply the Broken Window theory to the blogosphere.

The book is based on an article titled "Broken Windows" by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.[2] The title comes from the following example:

"Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."

A successful strategy for preventing vandalism, say the book's authors, is to fix the problems when they are small. Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less). Problems do not escalate and thus respectable residents do not flee a neighborhood.

The theory thus makes two major claims: that further petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior will be deterred, and that major crime will, as a result, be prevented. Criticism of the theory has tended to focus only on the latter claim.

Original in The Atlantic (1982).

This was in the news again because of a recent article in The Economist in which the theory is proved correct in an experimenal setting.

A PLACE that is covered in graffiti and festooned with rubbish makes people feel uneasy. And with good reason, according to a group of researchers in the Netherlands. Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave. They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal.

How does this theory apply to blogs you ask?

Kottke says a bit like so :

Much of the tone of discourse online is governed by the level of moderation and to what extent people are encouraged to "own" their words. When forums, message boards, and blog comment threads with more than a handful of participants are unmoderated, bad behavior follows. The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages more of the same. Those commenters who are normally respectable participants are emboldened by the uptick in bad behavior and misbehave themselves. More likely, they're discouraged from helping with the community moderation process of keeping their peers in line with social pressure. Or they stop visiting the site altogether.

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Hmmm...

Unchecked comment spam signals that the owner/moderator of the forum or blog isn't paying attention, stimulating further improper conduct. Anonymity provides commenters with immunity from being associated with their speech and actions, making the whole situation worse...how does the community punish or police someone they don't know? Very quickly, the situation is out of control and your message board is the online equivalent of South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s, inhabited by roving gangs armed with hate speech, fueled by the need for attention, making things difficult for those who wish to carry on useful conversations.

I wonder if we could test this theory out.

Maybe track a blog and see how things develop over time.

Heh.

Other than the quasiracist South LA dig I agree with the author 100%. I get a more Medieval vibe from it though.

Kind of Braveheart meets The Warriors meets 9/11 truthers thing. We all know what the end result of a poorly moderated blog is. But few people know their is a Law in monetary economics that can be applied to this phenomena as well.

Gresham's Law

Gresham's law says that any circulating currency consisting of both "good" and "bad" money (both forms required to be accepted at equal value under legal tender law) quickly becomes dominated by the "bad" money. This is because people spending money will hand over the "bad" coins rather than the "good" ones, keeping the "good" ones for themselves.

Gresham's Law of trolls:

Trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it.

Which means that once trolling takes hold, it tends to become the dominant culture.

What do you say Moose?

 

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The Motley Moose speaks .... (2.00 / 7)
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Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen

Heh. (2.00 / 5)
I had troll on my mind too, very recently.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey
 


[ Parent ]
Just saw it. (2.00 / 4)
Brilliant.

Not much going on and found the article on Broken Windows fascinating.

Mostly because we've seen the theory in an experimental setting and it's been proven to be very accurate.


Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
Danke, Broheme. (2.00 / 6)
...and your right of course; the "broken window" theory fits rather nicely into the considerations for troll abatement.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey
 


[ Parent ]
Very, very insightful and spot on. (2.00 / 6)
Thank you Spaceman. The only thing I might add would be a sense of ownership or personal connection that is very helpful in keeping da crib clean. Maybe all you need is good citizenship, I don't know...

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
I had more stuff and cut it out. (2.00 / 5)
I'm thinking of running a series on Trolls.

Not much going on and fluff and trashy meta blogosphere threads are always entertaining.

Following up on your post, I see things exactly like you do.

Some stuff I cut out to make the diary a bit less meta:

Another good thing to do to keep jerks out of communities is to cultivate the good will and trust of the members. When this happens, you end up with people who will be proactive in keeping asshattery away. When the number of people grows to a level that requires a moderation team, these folks often make good choices, especially if their interference has been level-headed and intelligently executed.

Hope SG pops out and drops some of his Troll Whisperer knowledge.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
You so smart! (2.00 / 3)


I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
So many good statements in this diary and thread, where to start? (2.00 / 5)
Broken windows, and cultivating the goodwill.

I'm an activist optimist, I try this stuff all the time.  Not in an organizerly way, more of the Libertarian do-gooder, I.  Set an example just because you think it's the right thing to do, let other people behave as they choose.

The block west of Dufferin on King Street, Toronto will always be one of my favorite experiments.  Not that I was trying to be experiemental, I just lived there five days a week for a year and just felt like cleaning it up.  It starts with picking up the litter in your own yard, then on the sidewalk in front of your own house, and while you're at it why not take a minute and pick up all the trash on the block.

It's a task that one person can do in very little spare time that makes a dramatic difference.  Once you do it a few times, less trash accumulates. No broken windows, so the rock throwing slows down.

While you're at that, why not talk to the crackheads and punks intimidating people on the street?  You don't have to break their windows - that just encourages them, they're really trolling the neighborhood trying to keep it the kind of place that decent people stay out of.  Tell them you wish them well, but you just can't have them scaring the little old ladies.  Tell them where to find the foodbanks, if they are really hungry and not just panhandling for crack.  Everytime they come by to break the windows - to lower the feeling of safety on the block - have the same talk with them until they get tired of standing with rocks in their hands and they look for better places to break windows.

Then you live in a pretty friendly neighborhood and the crack dealers don't have the cover of abandoned buildings and glass in the street that makes them somehow acceptable.  The police notice that the place you live is not one of the hopeless areas not worth bothering with, and when you ask them to stake out the places the dealers meet they actually will.

It takes so little effort to fix a neighborhood.  Mostly, it takes one person to pick up the first piece of trash.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
This is quite profound. (2.00 / 4)
It takes so little effort to fix a neighborhood.  Mostly, it takes one person to pick up the first piece of trash.

The neighborhood is a metaphor that applies to so many areas of life.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.


[ Parent ]
The "one person can't make a difference" meme is tied to the "other people are no good" meme. (2.00 / 3)
Forget the second one and the first one stops making sense, too.

Most people are decent, but like the rest of us are distracted and in their own groove.  One person doing something the rest know is right can start a chain-reaction, so one person doesn't have to do everything that needs doing.  They just need to pick up the first piece.

The number of people in that neighborhood who thanked me will always be some of my most cherished rewards.  I've got various chunks of crystal with my name on them that don't mean anything compared to the older man in the McDonald's in that neighborhood who came over and told my children that their father was a good man.

One person can easily make a difference.  This is the only lesson I hope we all take into this new era.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
This is quite profound. (2.00 / 2)
It takes so little effort to fix a neighborhood.  Mostly, it takes one person to pick up the first piece of trash.

The neighborhood is a metaphor that applies to so many areas of life.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.


[ Parent ]
Cruising the tubes and found this tasty treat! (2.00 / 1)

Look before eating.

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


Shit! Somebody is posting tubes of me... (2.00 / 1)


I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


I will stop now... (2.00 / 1)
Maybe.

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
heh. (2.00 / 6)
i just had one of these moments:

but im kinda frustrated that the troll slaying ignores the venican/reily defenbacher's of the world.  and take it from me they are as trollish as the others.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


I know what you mean. (2.00 / 3)
I get frustrated when people rec diaries from the Nancy K's and kosnomore's of the world because "they make a great point".



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
This is the problem isn't it (2.00 / 5)
I don't think Venician is a troll - though he's probably trolling towards you.

You don't think Lakersfan is a troll - though she/he has been trollish towards me.

We have to accept that we all get on with different people, and when in irreconcilable conflict, they seem like bad faith antagonists, not interested in debate, only in misrepresenting and annoying us.

This is where it gets hard.

I think there was a time CG when we both doubted each other's good intentions, but not now. I wonder if I could ever get to that stage with Lakersfan. You would probably say yes. And I would argue the same about Venician.

The hard cases are always on the borderline.

OT: but you didn't post your Favreau diary here. I don't reply on MYDD anymore - too much grief. But the Facebook thing seems to have triggered the unresolved sexism issue all over again. Will we ever reconcile this? Even if women end up being dominant in Obama's cabinet? There is still the underlying premise that Obama supporters are predominantly sexist and the Favreau picture walked right into that minefield.

On another diary on the same issue, a commenter I really respect, said

If this were a cardboard cutout of President-Elect Obama with a noose around the neck, I doubt too many folks here would still be saying "it was just cardboard".

To which there is a proper answer: there is NO way a noose depicts anything but life threatening violence, while a hand on a breast has many many ambiguous meanings, from violation to appreciation, but still, one could argue that posting diaries about this one dumbass picture is concern trolling, and creating another fight among Obama supporters.

So while I do not think your diary is concern trolling, I can see why others might mistake it for that. Why? Because it fits in with their preconceived notion that your preconceived notion is that Obama won because of sexism.

I know the reality is much more complex, but I am more concerned about genuine posters thinking each other are trolls, than the real trolls out there.

The division between myself, say, and Lakersfan, and you and Venician, is more troubling that any of the idiots who pretend to have something to say



The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
I have to disagree with this statement: (2.00 / 2)
while a hand on a breast has many many ambiguous meanings, from violation to appreciation,

For many women, that picture was clearly pushing the button that evokes fear in many of us.  Why?
Because it creates the mentality of the woman as a victim. It also sets off warning signals for many of us.  That frat party mentality (and that is what it comes off as) represents those time when many of us sensed danger too late.  Booze, partying, and the woman with no rights.
While it may have not been a clear message to men, most women I know see it as a depiction of a woman as victim.  The cardboard cut out in and of itself is the representation of the powerless person........which is how many women would tell you they felt when surrounded by a bunch of drunken men intent on the touchy feeling sexual stuff.  

Any woman, and there are many of us, who have been in the situation of that cardboard cut out, remember the feelings of being powerless.  You may not see it ...or feel it.
But I do.  And it evokes an issue many of us still deal with.  It bothers me that seemingly so many see it as just a joke.



"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both."
- Louis Brandeis


[ Parent ]
thinking about that pic (2.00 / 1)
I realized that Hillary had to take it lightly, it was aimed at her, but that I don't have to.  She had to, because that stuff happens all the time and there is no way to make it go away, and she has to get along with them, and not make a stink about every sign of sexual disrespect, too many. And I don't have to, because this kind of disrespect affects all women, we can get ahead, we can work hard, and we can do our best at our jobs or running our homes, but we'll still be seen as sexual caricatures, rated on how attractive some guy we don't even know thinks we are.  Jokes about our bust sizes, and our legs and our butts, every body part open to mocking.  One consolation is that guys who acts like giggly adolescents about cut outs of women's bodies may not have access to real bodies.  I mean, that's what it looks like, otherwise ...?  

What, me worry?

[ Parent ]
I do think the Favreu acted like a douche ... (2.00 / 1)
... and if he had a skill that could be replaced, he would be.

Dude is not going to be fired and this hasn't even crossed Barack's mind.

Why?

People are going about it the wrong way when they compare his job with that of a regular white collar or blue collar job.

It isn't.

I think the better analogy is that of football player or an actor.

You can't teach what Robert Downey Jr. does.

It's impossible. Which is why after fucking up so many times he was still given break after break.

You can't teach what Michael Vick does, which is why he'll probably be signed after his stint in jail is over.

You can't teach what this young man does.

I think it was a stupid thing but I also think it's being blow way out of proportion.

I had a Michael Jordan cutout for years. MJ was molested almost on a daily basis in my dorm room.

Playing with a lifelike cardboard cutout is not limited to women cutouts.

Trust me on this one.

(this comment is for everybody, replied to anna so it's looks cleaner)



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
not sure i agree with end top bit. (2.00 / 1)
but everything else - im right with ya.

im not sure how obama will respond.  i think that if this story starts to gain more traction (which seems likely since the media is always looking for ways to cause shit) then he will have no choice but to do something.

but i also  think the difference between MJ and HRC is that you (at least that we know about) arent a public figure who has a famous boss and allowed yourself to be in a photo doing something embarrassing.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
What don't you agree with? (2.00 / 1)
The fact that men (and women) love to play with cardboard cutouts?

Do an experiment.

Next party you host (with alcohol) bring out some lifesize cardboard cutouts.

Or just have them there.

Fun games will ensue.

(if people are tipsy)

but i also  think the difference between MJ and HRC is that you (at least that we know about) arent a public figure who has a famous boss and allowed yourself to be in a photo doing something embarrassing.

I know. I agree 100% on the embarassing the boss bit. I was speaking more on the sexism tip.

Don't agree that it is sexism.

As for the story.

I think it won't get the traction you believe it will.

It really is being blown waaaaaaay out of proportion and in this day and age in scandals it's pretty mild.

We will know so enough though. I could be very wrong on this.

I'm positive Barack let him have it though.

No ughsss and ahhhsssss..

Straight fire.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
the part im not sure i agree with... (2.00 / 1)
is that it didnt even cross obama's mind to fire the guy.  it is politics after all and if this becomes an albatross around obama's neck he most certainly will dump favreau no matter how talented he is.

if it blows over - as they say - a short memory in politics is the best thing.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
Well. It must have crossed his mind. (2.00 / 1)
Maybe he wants to fire him.

But I don't think he seriously considered it.

Remember how big a part of Barack Obama his words are.

The chemistry between these 2 must be amazing and it would be a dumb move to fire the guy now when he needs him the most.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
I love MIchael (2.00 / 1)
That was the worst time, when he could have been convicted, he's such a sweet guy. I don't think he's a child molester, he's loves kids without carnal intent  - he's a child.  I doubt however that you'd allow yourself to be photographed if you thought it would be public and lead people to laugh at Michael.  

What, me worry?

[ Parent ]
Heh. (2.00 / 1)
LOL!

MICHAEL JACKSON Pictures, Images and Photos

I love Michael too.

Guess I wasn't clear who I was talking about.

But I was talking about Michael Jordan not Jackson.

The King of Pop clearly has mental health issues. I don't think he's ever molested kids though for the same reason people think he has. He's been around thousands and thousands of kids and you would think more accusations would of popped up by now. Especially since he's such an obvious target ( $$$).

But the man has obvious health issues.

I was seriously worried and thought it was beyond fucked up when he dangled his kid over the balcony. That was just crazy.

This was my favorite MJ by the way.

Michael Jackson Pictures, Images and Photos

Love this vid.

Can't find the cleaner version but this will do.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
oh no no no. (2.00 / 1)
this is mj at his finest:



"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
Space, I can tell you if my picture was published like that (2.00 / 2)
and my company had a whiff of that, I would be immediately dismissed. Most workplace have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
Saying that and after my initial comments in MyDD about this incident, I have come to realize that I have more to learn...

[ Parent ]
I understand those are the rules that are in place now ... (2.00 / 1)
... I just think it will be very hard to hold people accountable for this type of behavior in their off hours eventually.

That's just something we'll have to wait and see.

We are all new to this techonology thing.

This guy stepped in it because of having such a high profile job.

Something that is missed in all of the controversy is this....

He called Hillary Clinton.

Dude fucking called Hillary Clinton.

"Wait a minute B, I've got Hills on the other line."

Bastard.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
Well, unfortunately for Favreau, his photograph is now (2.00 / 2)
widely published and referred to. You're absolutely right, that if every stupid idiotic move of ours becomes public knowledge, most of us would be in trouble. Yes, if no photo of this behavior of Favreau existed in the Net, we wouldn't be talking about it. However, the fact is it did, the fact is he is in a high profile position, he is representing more than himself even in his private time. This is the same reason why, when pics of off-duty cops cavorting in strip joints gets published they can get fired.

He did call HRC and apologize. For me, the matter ended there. But for some of the commentators especially women, his behavior was crude and offensive. I'm not sure this would blow away that easy....  


[ Parent ]
I think the picture was tasteless... (2.00 / 1)
...but to compare it with a picture of a noose is almost as tasteless IMHO.

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
You should see the level of crazy in CG's diary. (2.00 / 1)
The first 75 comments were cool.

But once trolls got a whiff of the bait ...

... crazy ensued.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
Yes, That's my point (2.00 / 3)
We can have a legitimate debate here about the meaning of the Favreau image, without bad faith. We can disagree, sometimes vehemently, but we know we're not trolls, and we take the grievances as legitimate, and not just stirring trouble.

However, I realised I've stirred trouble just by mentioning that diary: but my point, to go back to it, was that some would (erroneously) consider the diary trollish, and some would consider some reactions to it (erroneously) as by trolls.

The real debate and the false one are like chalk and cheese - but you're so right too about the 'snake under the rose'. I love that expression. Sounds like a beautiful translation of a Spanish idiom to me. But those are the most difficult to deal with. Chittown, for example, spend months under a rose

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
it's guys horsing arouond (2.00 / 3)
it's unpleasant, but not threatening.  It mainly made him look like a weird guy. You can't fire people for horsing around, that's where you accept embarrassed apologies.  A little humiliation is in order, that's all.  Then, mea culpa, all is forgiven.  

What, me worry?

[ Parent ]
agreed, there was no malice behind it, the guy got (2.00 / 2)
carried away with the cardboard in a moment of drunken excitement.  I have realized, after reading Jcj's comment above that women would feel threatened at the site of the image due to a sense of vulnerability.  Now I guess that never clicked becasue being in a younger generation I haven't witnessed the harrassment and assualt as frequently because every younger generation seems to have progressed more from the last.  I mean I think it's fair to say that 20 years before I was in college, frat boy sexual assault was likely more frequent and common than in whne I was attending school, so I don't have the same perspective, and of course also because I am a guy.

So yeah, i personally don't think this is a big deal beyond his capacity as Obama's speechwriter, but I can understand why others may be disturbed by this behavior.  


[ Parent ]
I dropped in to check that diary (not spending much time here, certainly not wasting any of that time there), (2.00 / 3)
and I have one thought on the whole thing:

The Transparency Generation.

There is a generation developing that doesn't give a rat's ass what you know about them.  As an information security geek - and one who promotes the "Deny Nothing" credo - I heartily endorse this development.

What would happen if we didn't hide our "dirty little secrets"?  What would happen if it became common to acknowledge all the vagaries of the human condition?  If it wasn't a requirement to pretend to be closer to the non-existent "norm" than we really are?

I think we are about to find out.

For my thinking, it makes things better all around.  We all itch, we scratch.  We fart, wake up ugly and have sex (which is not artistic at the best of times).  There is something we like to do in bed (or would like to do in bed) that would peel paint and make the fair maidens faint (and secretly fantasize).

We're human.  We do silly things.  The Queen of England included.

The hypocrisy of scandal is that the scandalized are covering their own relief that it isn't themselves under the spotlight.  Imagine that every moment in your life were videotaped, and try to believe that there is not a moment that would not be "scanalous".

Arthur C. Clarke explored this in The Light of Other Days, wherein technology develops that allows anyone to look at anything from any point in space and time.  Think about it.  Physics supports the possibility, and for one I hope it comes to pass.

Deny nothing.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
dont agree. (2.00 / 2)
for my part - there are lines you dont cross.  

say for example i would smoke a cigareete in the same vicinity as my child.  why aside from the health issues?  well because it would be sending the wrong message to them.  while i am human and promote honestly in both my personal and professional realms - this has nothing to do with that.  although in my experience some people (of many different ages) really do not understand that there are levels of professionalism that you should adhere to.  for example, i had a staff member that once started discussing her sex life with me - her boss!  i mean really?

in this situation, favreau messed up professionally.  he allowed someone to take a picture of him that is highly embarrassing to himself, boss and a member of the future cabinet.  maybe your point is accurate in that some people of this generation do not have an appreciation for discretion - but im pretty sure they are going to learn hard lessons in their lives like favreau has.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
I smoke, and I don't hide it from my kids (2.00 / 5)
I have friends who smoke and do hide it from their kids.  Nothing you can do like hiding something to make it attractive, my kids think it's disgusting and they're right.

I know a married couple that went twenty years with her hiding her smoking from him - she's passed away now (not from cancer), and all that time wasted hiding from each other...

Discretion is highly overrated.  Honesty is not.

I'm staying out of the conversations on that particular pic.  How that all plays out is another conversation, but inasmuch as it has to do with the topic of the Transparent Generation I think the issue is to separate all of the things we do in our lives that are out of a given context and what we do in a given context.  Any number of images of me acting like a douchebag could be dug up, but none of them intrinsically proves that I was being a douchebag at that time (I may have been, or I may have been goofing around), and they aren't likely to show whether or not I am qualified to act in some other context.

I don't think the point of the Transparent Generation has been enunciated well (at least it hasn't by me), but I think the point is valid nonetheless.  Maybe this example will work:

I went through my financial crisis a year or so before it was fashionable.  It made a lot of people uncomfortable, because everyone I know was trying to act like their financial lives were rosy, or at the very least money problems were not a Topic for Polite Conversation.  Now I know lots of people struggling with cash, and it is suddenly much easier to talk about.  In fact, I can't count how many conversations have included statements about how nice it is to be able to talk to other people in the same boat.

Being Transparent about your human failings is imo a better path than pretending they don't exist.  There is no path to solving them when it seems you are the only one who has them.

Interesting topic.  Worthy of a diary of it's own, whenever I get back to writing diaries.  Tomorrow we move (seven houses down, buying instead of renting - yea!), Holidays and other things are tying me up.

BTW - spoke to Stipes last week.  He's hanging in, life is still chaotic, but he'll pull through and will be back.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Great news. (2.00 / 4)
BTW - spoke to Stipes last week.  He's hanging in, life is still chaotic, but he'll pull through and will be back.

I felt overwhelmed with emotion suddenly.

Fucking miss Stipes.

We both got hit hard at the same time by life.

I remember he even came back to post in my welcome back diary.

He played such a big part in what this place is all about.

I've been praying like crazy for him and his family.

Can't wait to have him back.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
You doubly cheered me up Chris (2.00 / 2)
The return of Stipes
And the fact you smoke

The fact Obama smokes made me realise he's human, and that was a plus.

That you smoke, despite memes and your general good disposition and incredibly smart ideas cheers me up too.

I smoke too - cigars, and occasional evenings. But I used to smoke lots. Nicotine gum these days. Few health side effects, and greatly increased memory apparently.

I also love your honesty about financial matters. If only people stopped trying to impress each other with fictions, and revealed how complicated and fucked up life can be, then we'd all relax and treat ourselves a lot more leniently

Especially in the US. My previous partner was American, and it was like an exhausting race to avoid some demon, or capture a new frontier.

Someone famous once said that most of the evils of humanity could be avoided if we were all content to sit happily in a room. I'd only add...

with a glass of red wine
and a good cohiba
and a friend or two
or maybe one if she was female

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
No smoking in the White House! (2.00 / 3)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

"What I said was that there were times where I have fallen off the wagon," Obama said. "What I would say is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier, and I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House."

I only smoke when I'm drinking beer or after a big meal (cigarretes that is).

By the way, I crossposted this diary over at the D.

In the words of the VP elect :

"In my neighborhood, when you've got something to say to a guy, you look him in the eye and you say it to him."

On his blog will do.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
good luck with the move. (2.00 / 3)
i too started smoking again after i gave birth.  dumb, dumb, dumb.

no as to your point about transparency - i agree that one shouldn't live their life with secrets.  but there is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.  and the work/personal is a perfect example of this.

IMO the picture is highly questionable - well more importantly - getting caught having posed for the picture (and apparently at least one other) is the issue.  we shouldnt forget how this came to light - namely that the transition team asked for potentially embarrassing links, etc.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
My grandfather smoked (2.00 / 3)
But he hid it from everyone - I didn't know that he did it until I was in my twenties, and I don't think my grandmother knows even now, after his death (caused by high blood pressure, which was probably caused by smoking).  He had the perfect cover, though - he spent long hours in the fields on the family farm, so he had plenty of time to smoke in anonymity.  I guess he didn't want us to take up smoking ourselves.  

[ Parent ]
Grandma knows, (2.00 / 2)
there's no hiding it from a spouse.  You just play a "pretend not to notice" game.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I think it gets down to (2.00 / 5)
what men and say and do when they are around their chums.

Here's some examples of greeting cards I have sent to my various girlfriends to cheer them up:

1)  I'm advocating a new social movement "Grow your own dope...plant a man".
2)  Got you a six-pack for your birthday (picture of young, tan, oiled man's stomach)
3)  Honey, a man is like a slinky...not good for much, but you can't help but smile when one tumbles down the stairs.

and the misogynistic
4)  Whenever life gets you down, just look in the mirror, realize your goddess qualities, toss aside any insecurities...and hope they land on some skinny bitch.

They're funny among women and in the right circumstance.  But I bet the males reading this think I'm a totally sexist man-hater.

My point, if I have one, is that we can't behave in mixed company the way we behave with our buddies. Women have 'invaded' what used to be men-only places over the last couple of decades and the men have been slow to modify their behavior accordingly.  Not sure if men are now attending quilting bees but if they are, women will be struggling with the same problem.


[ Parent ]
This is a great comment. (2.00 / 2)
But I bet the males reading this think I'm a totally sexist man-hater.

Man hater! ;~)

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
Lesbians don't hate men, (2.00 / 3)
they don't have to fuck them.

Roseanne.  

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
That's hilarious... (2.00 / 2)
...and it raises a good point.  Even feminists make risque jokes and enjoy them.  Blacks make black jokes.  Jesus, take Dave Chappelle.  He's ruthless, tasteless, and hilarious.  No one is safe.

The suggestions that Obama's speechwriter is a sexist frat boy misogynist advocating violence against all women are way out of bounds, IMO.

On it's face, the photo is pretty tastless, but I seriously doubt it was intended for mass media consumption.  We weren't there, so we don't know the context.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey
 


[ Parent ]
Thanks! (2.00 / 3)
I usually tell that joke when my straight women friends start bitching about men. Either they laugh or they shut up. I am always interested to see which they do.  

I have not gotten terribly bent about the picture, it was a dumbfuck thing to do, and I am sure glad that phones didn't have camera's when I was younger.

Two things.

1. If the situation was reversed and some dumb ass from Clinton's camp did something like this, the press would never let it go. I don't think that's about sexism, just Clinton hate.

2. There is intention and response. I doubt his intention was overly sexist, but my immediate response was revulsion as it looked like one guy was holding her head/hair back and forcing something (fill in the blank) in her mouth. I am not sure a man can get that right away. That was ickier than the hand on the breast.

After that initial response, I moved over to thinking his intention may be more political than sexist. She was the adversary, an even greater foe than McCain. It is probably very tough for the "old timers" to get over that and view her as an ally.

For what it's worth.

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
Oh and I have a ton of dyke and queer jokes that I save (2.00 / 2)
for teh gays. Which I can do, being one of teh gays.

I am years behind and decades ahead. ~ Somebody else, I am certain


[ Parent ]
They are funny among women, (2.00 / 1)
because sexism doesn't go only one way. Women and men have been denigrating each other forever. I love a good joke as well as the next person. In fact, I've got lots of funny jokes that make fun of men or women. The problem is that these jokes contribute to stereotypes that feed sexism. Apparently, it is alright to make fun of the other sex as long as none of them are present. That attitude is exactly what gives rise to groping cardboard cutouts or saying that men's brains are located somewhere below their navels.

You can't have it both ways. If racism is wrong then jokes about watermelon stealing African-Americans are wrong. If sexism is wrong then jokes about women being too emotional are wrong. Justify the jokes as being funny despite being sexist, but don't try to pretend they are anything less than sexist.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.


[ Parent ]
I agree 100%. (0.00 / 0)
I said as much to CG in her diary.

Well. I have a bit of trouble with the title and what you imply.

Lessons for the Facebook generation?

What lesson is that exactly?

Posting pictures online or getting drunk at parties and having others posting pictures online?

Should we stop drinking if phones are around?

I find it hard to believe most people here haven't done worse things than posing in a suggestive manner with a cardboard cutout.

The difference is that the Facebook generation is also the camara phone generation.

I'm pretty sure if  everybody at the office Xmas dinners  had Facebook  and camara phones regardless of age or this whole Facebook generation thing embarassing and douchey pics WILL pop online.

Drunks will act like drunks. Alcohol doesn't ask for your age.

We went on to talk about how people born in 1990 and after do not know a world without the internet.  Which then changes how everything is done, from education to work.
Everything does change. Especially the way our e personas and the impact they have in the workplace and social settings are percieved.

We DO understand how this works.

Just see it a lot differently than others.

See the last sentence.

We do see it differently .

CG replied to you:

maybe your point is accurate in that some people of this generation do not have an appreciation for discretion - but im pretty sure they are going to learn hard lessons in their lives like favreau has.

This is what we disagree on.

Hard lessons WILL be learned.

But I'm sorry. This is NOT one of them.

There is a generation developing that doesn't give a rat's ass what you know about them.

So true.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
but... (2.00 / 1)
did you read the rest of my comment?  a woman that works for me (my age) also does not understand discretion.  this is not an age or generational thing to me.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry CG. (2.00 / 1)
for example, i had a staff member that once started discussing her sex life with me - her boss!  i mean really?

I don't understand the relevance of this example you cite to the point I'm trying to make.

Apples and oranges.



Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
i guess i wasnt that clear. (2.00 / 1)
the woman that worked for me is my age and doesnt understand boundaries of professionalism.  so its not an age thing - in my mind - its a maturity thing.

let me give you an example - would you go to an interview at a hospital and tell them you just sparked a j?  or rather - invite your interviewer to view pics of you partying with friends?  if so - i imagine that not only would you not get the job, but also that not many patients would want you as their doctor.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
Boundaries and professionalism I'm all in favor of, (2.00 / 2)
but I agree with Spacey that the example is an apple (or was that an orange?).  Doing things - no matter what, and with or without cameras - outside of a context and behaving professionally inside a context is the very definition of professional boundaries.  You can be sitting in a meeting focusing on professional issues and the person you are working with was tied up in a police uniform being spanked with a haddock eight hours before - what does it matter?  If that person brings it up, they have a boundary control issue.  If you know about it and can't focus on your task, you have one.

There's the gap between the Transparent Generation and those before it, I think.  The Opaque Generations assume you can only be professional as long as you don't know something, the Transparent Generation asks "what does it matter?".  In many ways it harkens back to the 60s: "What does it matter what I do in my spare time?  Right now I'm your doctor, and that's all I'm thinking about at the moment."

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Yes, we used to (2.00 / 2)
in the sixties say things like "let it all hang out", and laugh our asses off about "drugs, sex and rock ad roll..."

And then some of us got jobs.

Even at 22, I knew that my behavior mattered in my teaching profession.  While I still had fun, I knew where to draw the line.  While some of my friends who were in the medical profession or in business, could talk freely about our escapades at work, I knew better.  I did not need an explanation or a course to tell me I better NOT be talking about getting stoned or passing out drunk or share who I was sleeping with or wanted to, at school.  DUH.

This guy is in a high profile job.  Is this generation so clueless as to not get what discretion means when one is in the public sector?
And yes, I smoked and even though many of my students parents smoked, I never wanted them to know I did.   It's one of those things that to me does matter.

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both."
- Louis Brandeis


[ Parent ]
Heh. (2.00 / 1)
Better.

I get you canada.

I've gotten drunk with most of my doctors and smoked up with a few others.

My chief in NYC loved hash.

But yeah, I understand what you're getting at. But it's hard to not have embarassing pics out there right now.

Extremely hard. Unflattering pics are everywhere and many can be taken out of context.

I'm guessing everybody will form a mental truce and not give these types of things the importance they had in the past. I see a lot of that right now being on the older end of this generation. My cousins and some of my patients are even less discreet than me and my peeps and I'm not what you would call shy.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
Interesting idea (2.00 / 3)
And maybe such a world would be very liberating, but I think that there will always be an impulse to hide some things about ourselves from family, friends, coworkers, etc.  I don't think we'll ever stop judging others completely.  Plus, some "scandals" are more serious than others and shouldn't be shrugged off even if they are public knowledge.      

[ Parent ]
concern trolling? (2.00 / 1)
nit sure how any could get the reading from my diary that way - unless one was keeping score of who i supported during the primary.  in fact - it was suggested by several obama primary supporters in the other diary, that someone diary this properly.

that said - the problem i see is so many cannot get over the primary - people like venican use every comment as an opportunity to rehash this or spout ring-wing talking pointswhich to me is the ultimate in trolling.

take for example this commnet. are they stupid?  how in any way is opposing or debating the merits of kennedy reliving the primary in any way.  the same can be said for my diary - this is a newsworthy item, one which has been covered by newspapers and blogs - why is it not worthy of discussion?  because some trolls who supported obama in the primary and trolls who supported clinton in the primary cannot discuss anything without relating it to the primary?

and while i share your opinion in on its own that the cardboard groping is not sexist on its own i do understand why others might think so not matter who they supported in the primary.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson


[ Parent ]
This is the problem with blogs... (2.00 / 2)
We read and type too quickly

You'll see that my comment was about Venician. He thinks you're concern trolling: you think he's trollish. I don't think either of you are trolls at all - so that's the point of the comment.

I do think the picture was inappropriate and sexist BTW - I just don't think it can be equated with a representation of a noose (for example round a tree)

I'm not disagreeing with your diary, CG. I'm disagreeing with whom we designate as trolls. Or rather trying to finesse it beyond just 'people we disagree with'.

I'm sure if you read my comment again you'll get this.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
no i got what you were saying... (2.00 / 2)
and you make a good point.  i just dont agree with you about him in particular.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
and... (2.00 / 2)
i would also add that if we all used the same litmus test on everyone then it could either be great or horribly bad.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
Not sure who you disagree about... (2.00 / 2)
Favreau or Venician?

Either way, I don't expect you necessarily to agree. But I would call Venician or Lakersfan trolls, even though I've had unpleasant interactions with one of them

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
Ooops I WOULD not call... (2.00 / 2)
Typo

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Some always slip under the radar (2.00 / 3)
I think that sometimes a troll will say things that we would like to say, and so we let them get away with it or we assume that the person is well-meaning but just overly excited, or something.  Unfortunately outing them can take a lot of work and derail a legitimate discussion.

[ Parent ]
And derailment is of course... (2.00 / 3)
...their raison d'etre

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
i love that animation - (2.00 / 3)
You will AGREE WITH ME!!1?!!


[ Parent ]
Any one who has been a teacher (2.00 / 3)
knows that trolls exist in real life.

Over the years I have seen them:  in the classroom, on the playground, they are there to "stir" things up.  You know it, they know it.
The extreme trolls are also known as bullies.  In many ways, they are easier to deal with.  But the "border" trolls can be so frustrating.
They know what buttons to push to get the rest of the class going.  They are ready, willing and able to set off a mess of nastiness and make life miserable for certain kids.

On the net, the trolls can drive people off bbs.  But in the end, except in extreme cases, it is easier to deal with the trolls in the cyber world. In your class room, you have to deal on a daily basis.  

I wish I knew the answer.  

I was a part of the discussion on the picture.  Once again I saw a huge divide in reaction between the genders.  And while some crossed over, some younger women making light of it, it seemed those most angered were women; those thinking it was just a joke and calling for others to lighten up, get over it, or get a life, were younger males.

Favreau is a 27 year old in a public job.  If he had chosen teaching as a career and pulled that stunt using a student's picture, a colleague's picture, or a superior's picture, he would have lost his teaching job, and possibly his teaching license.  I started teaching at age 22.  I was considered the ADULT in charge of 25 children.  If in fact, I was able to be responsible, I would lose my job.  I know young teachers who did lose their jobs for being stupid and irresponsible.   His age is no excuse.  His experience is more vast than many at his age.  

Whether or not he is fired, I really don't care but to trivialize this as "he's just a young guy having some stupid fun" is insulting to me.  Why is mocking another person this way considered fun, anyway?

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both."
- Louis Brandeis


Is anyone here saying... (2.00 / 2)
He's just a young guy having some stupid fun?

If they are, I'd disagree: it's a pretty insulting image. Whether or not it's sackable is another call. Whether it's anything like putting a noose on picture of a black person is clear cut to me: it doesn't threaten immediate violence and lynching and so is no more indicative of an existential threat to women than most magazine covers or pop promos.

But it was a dumb move, and clearly incendiary given the context of the primaries.

I expect Favreau to issue an immediate apology.  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'


[ Parent ]
I don't know why it has to be a battle between racism and sexism (2.00 / 3)
A noose around the neck of either cardboard character would raise questions, just as would grabbing the cardboard genitalia of Obama.  The question is whether firing Favreau is proportionate to his act, and I am not prepared to say that it is with the information available.  Also, for what it's worth, I don't think that he would be terminated for this if he were, say, a doctor or a lawyer - reprimanded, certainly, but not terminated.  

[ Parent ]
If he were in a private practice (2.00 / 3)
I suspect it would depend on whether his actions would turn off potential clients.

If he were a policeman or a teacher, I am guessing he would be terminated.

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy. But you cannot have both."
- Louis Brandeis


[ Parent ]
actually I am saying that. (2.00 / 4)
He was just having some stupid fun.

I think he is a numnuts for doing that based on his position, but yeah, I don't (didn't) see any sexist malice in it from my perspective.

I do get the reaction about it now that after reading the comments.  I think for the younger generation, where this guy and myself reside, we grew up in an environment where women are viewed as equals compared to our more age experienced friends.  Thus this probably didn't strike him as severely offensive, just a little heh, check out my witiness.  Point being, I think because he (and myself) haven't really experienced a time when women were not treated as equals it doesn't automocatically register that, holy shit, women (or people) will see this highly suggetive act as extremely denigrating and potentially dangerous.  Yeah we know history, but we live in the now.  Now after analyzing it in hindsight, I think this guy probably gets it now, as do I.

I am not arguing with you, rather trying to put it in persective of the younger generation that hasn't been exposed to an environment where women were sexually assaulted, professionally suppressed, and denigrated on a regular basis.  Therefore, I think he didn't really know the effect something like this could have.  I initially thought: dumbass alert, he works for Obama and potentially for or with Hillary, not cool, but not sexist.  Now, I can see why people would be offended by this.   I still don't think it's sexism because I really don't think he knew the magnitude of the innappropriateness of his actions.  I am not offering this as an excuse for dumb young men, in fact I'd counter that the women in my generation have no problem with goofing around with cutouts in a risque manner, I've seen it personally. But again, I can also understand why this resonates negatively with many people.


[ Parent ]
One mans troll is another woman's comrade (2.00 / 3)
Divide and conquer

Troll, troll, troll your boat...


By the way spaceman (2.00 / 4)
very well written diary.  'Tis truly wisdom.  Similarly in sports, it is interesting how sometimes an amazing team or player can play down to the level of the opponent.  I found that to be true in tennis, some very psychological goings on.  

BTW, My new favorite new nugget is from Mr. Blask, fuck those fucking fuckers


Awesome analogy. (2.00 / 3)
Similarly in sports, it is interesting how sometimes an amazing team or player can play down to the level of the opponent.

So true. Add to the fact that a weaker competitor plays up to the competition and it makes for a fun game (to watch).

I love that Blask knowledge as well.

I've been dropping it the last few days in random conversations.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


[ Parent ]
I love the way the trolls can't resist commenting ... (2.00 / 3)
... in my diary over at the D.

I knew that it would be obvious troll bait but still ...

... pretty funny that they would be so obvious about it.

Just because they are posting on a progressive site doesn't make them progressives. - John Allen


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