complaints, silliness

A mildly exasperating day…

This morning, I woke up to find Bill looking crestfallen. He said he’d tried to play with Noyzi, who responded by submissive peeing on the rug. Noyzi is coming along nicely as he adjusts to life as a pet dog, but he still has some fear triggers. Two things that scare him are sudden loud noises and sudden quick movements, especially if they come from a man. Poor Bill is such a kind, gentle soul, but Noyzi is still afraid of him.

Then, Bill noticed that he had a package coming today… Belgian beer from Saveur-Biere, a Belgian company that stocks exotic beers for when we don’t want to drink another Hefeweizen or Pils. I waited around all morning for the delivery. I finally decided to chance a thirty minute walk at about 1:30 or so. The weather is very nice today. We have sunshine and mild temperatures.

Well… it happened to be about the time the kids were getting out of school, so there was more traffic and activity than usual. Then, when we got to the bottom of the hill, Arran decided to take a crap in someone’s flower bed. I had to clean that up as cars and people were going by. It was a messy job picking up the poop, so some of it got on my hand as we crossed the street, then Noyzi spooked at a lamp post.

After he recovered from that, he spooked again because someone raised their Rolladen and it made a loud squeak. He backpedaled quickly, and almost knocked me over. At that point, I was glad I put the harness on him. He’s doing a lot better on the leash than he was, but he still has his moments of panic.

So there I was juggling the two vastly different sized dogs and a bag of fresh dog crap. We encountered a lady at the bus stop, another lady standing on the narrow sidewalk, and a metal manhole cover that I always seem to hit. It makes a loud clank when I step on it and scares Noyzi.

As we were about to turn onto the pathway through the gardens, we ran into a chatty German woman who wanted to pet the dogs and had one of her own. Thankfully, her dog was super calm. Noyzi was great. He likes women. I was really glad she wasn’t a he.

We got back to the house, just in time to catch the DPD guy who had just delivered Bill’s beer to our landlords. So, after washing the shit off of my hand, I had to go over there and get it. The landlord was kind enough to carry it for me, since it was heavy. Then he said he had another package. I wasn’t expecting one, and it turned out to be for our other next door neighbor. It never fails! If I decide to risk a shower or a walk with the dogs, the delivery people always seem to show up!

Thinking I was done with distractions, I got in the shower. I had just washed my hair when the fucking doorbell rang. I dried off a bit and managed to see the DHL driver taking off. I guess he had a package for the neighbor, too. I’m not sure I even finished my shower.

Hopefully, I’m done with annoyances for today. Bill was supposed to work from home this afternoon, but he got some shit suddenly dumped on him at work. He was named as a point of contact, but no one warned him he would be. Hopefully, tonight he won’t come home without his wallet, like he did last night.

The featured photo is one I took of Arran this morning. He could tell Bill was sad about scaring Noyzi and needed reassurance that he’s still a great dog daddy.

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language, overly helpful people, rants

Hey Digga!

Here comes another one of my rants about overly sensitive language cops. It comes this morning as my friend from my hometown shared a news article about a professor at the University of Southern California, who went viral for teaching about pause or filler words in China and using a word that sounded a lot like the n-bomb.

Professor Greg Patton, who teaches communications, was talking about the Chinese equivalent of “err” and “um”, you know, what we in English speaking countries say as we’re thinking about the next thing we’re going to say, but we don’t want “dead air”. It turns out that in Chinese, the “filler” language akin to our “ums” and “errs” is the Chinese word for “that”, which is evidently “na-ge”. And spoken out loud, “na-ge” sounds a bit like the taboo n-bomb.

Naturally, someone was filming the professor, and the footage made it to the Internet. Several students complained to Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the University of Southern California. And now, Professor Patton is no longer teaching the course. According to the article, Patton voluntarily stepped away, as Garrett stated:

“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”

News of the debacle reached China, where native speakers posted on social media that the backlash was discriminatory toward speakers of Chinese. Interestingly enough, I have another friend who lived in China for awhile and she frequently told me about how racist their society is. In fact, in the Toytown Germany thread I reference later in this post, someone wrote this:

Silly and sad, just shows you how people are tripping over themselves to show how not a racist! they are. Big smiiiiiiles, eeeeeeveryone’s happy, no one’s racist here, nosirreee… All a little different from actually not being racist.

As an aside, China is an objectively far more racist society. Pot, kettle, black. The Chinese government knows full well what resonates in foreign media for political effect. Their diplomats will criticize America’s racism, while within China, Africans are called chocolate or monkeys and many restaurants or hotels forbid entry. Not to mention the current Uyghur concentration camps. There are no self-reflective large anti-racism movements.

A few months back, veteran Canadian news reporter Wendy Mesley for the CBC (like the BBC) got in deep doodoo for betraying her secret racism. While in a conference room with producers (apparently none Black?), discussing a specific episode of her show and how they should cover BLM protests and racial issues, she said that word while discussing how they should refer to this work here. It’s the title. The discussion was about that and she said the title. She was (temporarily?) removed as host and issued an apology, etc. Confession and repentance, 50 Hail Marys and 50 Our Fathers.

Obviously the word shouldn’t be used, but it’s hard to see what this kind of official censure for using it in (closed door) academic/historical contexts achieves. The reporter is known for her progressive liberal stances. Of course, CBC as a state broadcaster had to do something… 

My reaction to this? Big sigh. I have already written more than once about my strong aversion to burying language and banning words, particularly when they are words that only sound like offensive words. I am also extremely irritated when people don’t have their facts straight and attempt to ban words based on untruths. But, most of all, it disappoints and offends me that people who attend a prestigious school like the University of Southern California are not intelligent enough to understand the difference between someone deliberately being hurtful by using clearly derogatory and racist language, and a professor who is actually trying to educate them about another culture and language.

Seriously? My opinion of the California USC (as opposed to the “original” USC, my alma mater, the University of South Carolina), has now dropped considerably. With all of the other crap going on right now, one would hope a famous and storied school like USC, where parents are going to prison and paying fines for cheating their kids’ ways past the admissions office, could rise above something as petty as this without it making the news. I certainly don’t think a man’s livelihood should be threatened over this incident. And it should not be international news, either!

What the hell are colleges and universities for, if there can’t be a free exchange of ideas without people getting offended? Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where ideas can be born and hashed out, and language can be used in an instructional way. Professor Patton was not trying to be offensive. He was trying to educate! That’s his job!

You might be wondering about the title of this post. It comes from a recent thread on a Web site called Toytown Germany, which I joined in 2008, when we lived in Germany the first time (pre-Facebook days). I still hang out on Toytown Germany on occasion, as it’s a very useful source of information about living in Germany and the information isn’t strictly for the U.S. military affiliated population. That site has many people on it from all around the world, including Germans. The one thing they have in common is the ability to speak English.

Anyway, recently, a woman who teaches in a German school started a post about the German slang word “digga” and how she finds it offensive. The original poster teaches in an inner city school in Cologne. She’s a native English speaker from an “ethnic minority background”, and she writes that she doesn’t generally try to prevent her students from using slang. However, she tried to draw the line at the word “digga”, because it sounded a lot like the n-bomb, and she felt her students were using the word in a derogatory way. Clearly, it was triggering her a lot.

“Digga” is a word that originated near Hamburg. It’s basically akin to the English slang terms, “dude” or “bro”. She wrote:

I banned the word ‘digga’ in my class and I told the students that they should be ashamed to be using such language whilst considering themselves anti-racist and progressive. Now I have had a bit of pushback from a few parents who say I shouldn’t stop kids from using their German language slang.

I have had to bite my own tongue and hold back. I think  parents need to listen to the music their kids are listening to, they need to pay attention to the media their kids are consuming but most are quite naive or really don’t want to know.

This lady also got quite a pushback in Toytown Germany, which isn’t surprising. That forum is not exactly “politically correct” and people will not hesitate to tell off anyone who comes off as ignorant. Many people told the teacher she was wrong to ban the word “digga”, as it is not a racist epithet. This was the first of many comments she got:

digga comes from “dicker” (a kind of fond way of addressing someone who is your friend, and it also has nothing to do with them actually being fat), it has no associations to nigga whatsoever and I agree with the parents that you are overreacting as well as overreaching.  It is also not a new phenomenon, has been popular at least as long as I have lived here although back in the early 2000s it seemed like more of a Hamburg thing that kind of made its way over.

In any case it really has nothing to do with nigga.  

One person was sympathetic to the teacher’s plight and wrote this:

Verbal violence is a form of abuse and precursor to other violence. It all starts somewhere. Sigh. Fighting it is an uphill battle. Letting slip leads to the abnormal becoming normalised. Saying nothing condones this undesirable behaviour. This possibly escapes the attention of the parents. However, their and your energy is limited and you have to choose how to use it. The insider connoisseurs claim the expression is harmless… but you see it in context. You don’t have an easy job!

Okay, but words are always evolving. I can think of a half dozen of them right off the bat that once were totally innocuous and later turned into insults that need to be banned. The word “faggot”, as well as its abbreviated form “fag”, for instance, has a few meanings, only one of which is derogatory. And yet if you say that word in certain places, you will face a huge backlash.

Ditto for the word “retard”, which is a perfectly innocent word with forms that are used in many languages. In fact, we heard it correctly used in France and Italy– it had to do with the train schedules. But now it’s pretty much banned in the United States.

It seems to me that we focus way too much on words and not nearly enough on attitudes and context. Instead of banning words and firing hapless professors who use certain words in their classes, we should take a moment to consider the context. Was the professor trying to be hurtful when he used that word? Was the professor being oppressive? In the case involving the USC professor, I don’t think so. In the case involving the teacher in Germany, I would argue that trying to impose the standards of one’s own language and homeland to people from another country is overreaching.

Banning words or making them taboo doesn’t change negative attitudes. A person can be racist and never drop the n-bomb. A person can be non-racist and use the n-bomb in an instructive way. Think it can’t be done? Try reading a slave narrative and banning that word. Try listening to certain musical selections where it’s referenced. “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder immediately comes to mind, as it has in my previous rants about this topic.

To the teacher’s credit, she did come back and thank everyone for setting her straight. Ultimately, she was looking for clarification and the right way to handle this situation, even taking into account that she has an “obvious walking disability” and is a person from “an ethnic minority background”. The thread continued for several pages and was revived when the news came out about the professor at the University of Southern California.

Again, I reference what Dean Geoffrey Garrett said in response to the uproar about the Chinese filler speech that sounds like the n-bomb…

“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,”

Wow. So he’s very concerned about the “psychological safety” of students in a world where they have been regularly threatened by school shooters, terrorists, cops who kill innocent people, and deadly rogue viruses like COVID-19? I mean… people are getting killed or dying by the day in the United States, sometimes while just sleeping in their own beds! And he’s worried that his students will be permanently scarred by the Chinese word “na-ge”, which just happens to sound like the n-bomb, an English slur? Seems to me that the dean needs to gain a global perspective and stop being so politically correct. Don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out. That’s my motto.

Right now, many people are focused on simple SURVIVAL. The people who are lucky enough to attend the University of Southern California ought to know the difference between someone being hateful and derogatory toward a group of people, and someone who is talking about another culture with another language. They need to grow up and wise up. In the vast majority of cases, if they’re at USC, they obviously have had a lot of things go right in their lives.

They’re in a class where they’re learning about something that most people would never have the opportunity to study because they’re too busy learning skills that will keep them alive and able to pay their bills! They are probably the last people who need to be up in arms over a professor teaching them about Chinese filler words that happen to sound like a racist epithet in some parts of the world. And if they’re offended in the classroom in California, God help them if they go to China and actually hear Chinese people saying “Na-ge” over and over again. There will be many special snowflake meltdowns!

Jeez!

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rants

God forbid I say that out loud…

Today’s post is a bona-fide rant. And no, I’m not “mad”. I’m irritated and annoyed, as usual. This is just a vent.

This morning, I read a very depressing (to me) article about how to train children to wear face masks. The tips were in The New York Times, and they were accompanied by pictures of adults trying to coax little kids into tolerating masks at school. Even though I don’t have children, and thus, have no skin in the game, I read the article and looked at the pictures. Then, against my better judgment, I left a comment on the Facebook page for the New York Times. I wrote “How depressing.”

It is depressing to me that small children have to worry about coronavirus at a time when they should be free to explore their environments, interact with their peers, and learn lots of new things using all of their senses. It is depressing to me that many very young children are going to be taught to fear germs before they even know how to count or recite the alphabet. Some of them will still lose friends and loved ones to the virus even though they wear masks, wash their hands, and eschew playdates. To me, that’s sad, even if I understand why children are being forced to “mask up” and can’t freely go play with their pals on the swings.

But God forbid I should mention that out loud. I knew that when I posted, and sure enough, along comes a busybody to remind me of what’s “important”, because we all need a member of the thought police to slap us upside the head and remind us of how “wrong” our opinions are…

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. We have to remind ourselves of the doom and gloom that is happening daily right now, thanks to COVID-19. Thank GOD for masks. They will save us all. And thank God for the lady who set me straight. Thanks, I needed that. /sarcasm

If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s some all-knower who can’t simply let people make a statement without adding some obnoxious one-upping, thought policing, virtue-signaling comment of their own. And it’s not just the issue of masks that get this treatment, either.

For example, today happens to be the one year anniversary that we learned that our sweet, loving, amazing dog, Zane, had lymphoma. I remember how I felt one year ago, when Bill took Zane to our local vet because I had felt swellings where his lymph nodes were under his jaw. I hoped it was an infection, but knew deep down that it was cancer. And Bill brought Zane home to tell me the news. I knew that Zane would be dead very soon. I commented on Facebook that I was very upset and my life “sucked”.

Sure enough, I got lots of responses from people telling me that my life doesn’t suck. One person argued with me about my statement. Another person told me to “buck up”. Still another said I should “get a grip”. After a few comments such as those, I posted this:

This was my admittedly snippy response. That was a legitimately AWFUL weekend.

I seem to remember that the evening that we learned about Zane’s cancer, we also spent responding to a truly ridiculous letter from our former landlady’s lawyer. Precious time that we could have spent with Zane was spent with Bill writing in German that, “no”, we didn’t steal a refrigerator from the ex landlady and we can prove it. And “no”, Americans don’t routinely clog up toilets with toilet paper. Hers was the only toilet I’ve used in my 48 years of shitting that has ever routinely clogged up, and I have taken dumps in MANY countries. It is sad that we had to spend an evening on that bullshit instead of enjoying sweet Zane’s company. But God forbid I say that out loud, either.

One week after I posted the above status, Bill and I drove Zane to the vet for the last time. Sometime during the night, he started bleeding internally. I don’t know for certain, but I think he had tumors in his spleen that had ruptured. When we awoke on August 31st of last year, Zane looked like he had grown teats. They were full of blood. I do take comfort that his last week was relatively pleasant, as cancer deaths go. He spent the week enjoying the outside, agreeable temperatures, sunshine, eating what he wanted, and being with his people. But losing him hurt me a lot. I still think of him every day. This is the first time I’ve lost a dog and not replaced him soon afterwards. Some of you will remember that a few months ago, we did try to give a new dog a home as the COVID crisis was beginning. Our attempt to take in a dog ended in senseless tragedy. Guess I should “buck up”, though, because things aren’t so bad.

Dealing with COVID-19, a year after losing Zane, is depressing for different reasons. The world has changed so much in such a short span of time. I think people want and need to talk about it. Many aspects of the pandemic world are, indeed, very depressing. But if you dare mention it out loud, you run the risk of some asshole reminding you of what’s “really important” (in their minds). If you acknowledge that small children wearing face masks is abnormal, you have to brace yourself for an upbraiding by self-important twits who have to contradict you. You know what? Fuck those people. I have about had my fill of dealing with them.

I have a feeling the one person who “laughed” at my comment to the busybody did so because he’s also sick of dealing with this type of person who can’t just let people just express a thought without correcting them. Honestly, I think people like the woman who retorted to me are the reason we have people like Trump in charge. Most folks don’t want to be lectured to or told what is “right” by holier-than-thou people. And, as much as I now identify as more of a liberal type, I also understand that sometimes preachy liberal types are “insufferable” and tiresome. I can understand why that makes a loudmouthed cretin like Donald Trump seem refreshing to certain people.

I remember sometime last year, I wanted to issue a complaint to USAA about their two-factor authentication system. I would have done so privately, but was unable to find an email where I could send my feedback. So I posted my comment on their Facebook page. Sure enough, someone had to come along and contradict me. She couldn’t just let a fellow customer voice a valid complaint. She had to discount my comment by praising USAA, and reprimanding me for daring to make it in the first place, even though I’m a paying customer, too, and have a right to voice my concerns.

I know people don’t like complainers, but there has to be room for criticism in every situation. Nay-sayers provide information about what could be improved about something. Take the face masks, for instance. Lots of people are just fine with them. They happily strap them on before they do anything, from shopping to having sex. Some are even expressing delight in how they can make them fashionable and how the masks might help them avoid getting sick as they also hide their resting bitch faces. They actually enjoy smelling their own breath. They probably enjoy the smell of their own farts, too. And you know what? That’s fine and dandy for them.

But there are other people who have legitimate issues with wearing face masks. For instance, there are people who have trouble wearing them because they wear hearing aids and the ear loops on most masks knock the hearing aids out of their ears. Some people feel claustrophobic or super anxious when they wear them. Some people need to be able to read lips and can’t because of the masks. Some people make their living or just really enjoy playing woodwind instruments or singing. And some people literally lack ears! I’ve actually known a couple of people in that situation. One was a guy whose ears were deformed due to years of wrestling and being grabbed by his ears. Another was a man who’d lost part of his ears at war. Yes, there are masks available that tie in the back, but in the case of the war veteran, that was also problematic because he also had arthritis in his hands.

These people have needs that should be considered. They don’t need to be shut up by self-righteous dipshits who can’t simply let people have their say without a virtue-signaling, “one size fits all” rebuttal. People have a right to point out why masks are problematic for some folks and should strictly be a TEMPORARY measure. If no one complains, what incentive do we have to make things better for everyone— not just the cheerful, super responsible, self-righteous types who revere the masks?

It’s not normal, natural, or fun for most children to be forced to wear face masks. Really young children are just starting out in the world, learning how to socialize and communicate with other people. I do think it’s depressing that they have to be “trained” to wear a mask, which will hinder their ability to communicate, instead of being allowed to interact with others the way generations of people before them have been allowed to. I can make that statement without failing to realize why the masks are currently necessary and needing a fucking lecture from some stranger about how people are getting sick and dying of COVID-19. DUH. I’ve gotten the news. It’s on EVERY channel.

I can also make a statement about being really upset about my dog dying and my life temporarily sucking without some twit reminding me of how good I have it (especially since most of the people making those comments have NO IDEA what my life is actually like– they can only make assumptions).

People need to let people say their piece without contradicting them with their own virtue-signaling bullshit. Although to be fair, there’s a reason why I rarely bother posting comments on newspaper articles. It’s mainly because I hate dealing with people like the woman who corrected me this morning with her parental wisdom. Thanks, lady. You sure set me straight. I learned something new from you and am suitably chastened. Now run along, pick out your favorite mask for today, and let me go back to being my cranky self.

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complaints

OMG, I hate IKEA…

I really do. There’s a lot to dislike about IKEA. I hate going in their stores, which are invariably horribly overcrowded, and having to meander through the sales floor to find whatever item I need. I hate that when we went to the one in Sindelfingen and had a cart full of stuff, we couldn’t use our credit card because that location wouldn’t accept American cards (this was in 2014 and we now have different cards). And then, when Bill tried to get cash from the ATM, the machine wouldn’t accept that, either, so we had to leave empty-handed after spending a couple of hellishly stressful hours shopping.

I also hate that almost everything has to be assembled, unless you are lucky enough to score one of their floor models. We do have an old TV stand that we bought at a U.S. based IKEA that was already put together when we got it. That was a coup, although the TV stand was made for those honkin’ big TVs that were the norm until we evolved to flatscreens.

Spotted on the way into the Sindelfingen IKEA. Should have been a sign of what horrors were to come…

We live really close to IKEA now, and aside from one or two trips there when we first moved to Wiesbaden, we don’t shop there. However, I’m thinking we might have to bite the bullet soon, because there are a few things we need. Unfortunately, in Europe, IKEA is kind of a necessary evil. Almost every single rental house we’ve stayed in over here has been at least partially decorated by IKEA because they’re ubiquitous and inexpensive.

Just now, I went to their Web site to see if they have anything we need. It detected my German IP address, but offered me a choice of languages. Or, at least that’s how it appeared at first… I was initially delighted that their site was going to make it easy for me. But it wasn’t to be.

Try to click on the language tab and you’re fucked…

It looks like I have a choice of languages, right? But I don’t. If I click where it offers me a choice, the drop down menu doesn’t work. So I am forced to use the site in German or, barring that, use Google Chrome, which will translate for me automatically. I know… I know… in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal. Just use Chrome, right? Except it annoys me that they appear to offer me a language preference, but don’t, actually. It’s kind of like that day when we loaded up our cart only to have our credit cards refused. Why have the option to choose a language if you’re not actually going to allow a language preference. What a tease!

I don’t like IKEA’s mod, overly plain style. Some of their stuff is kind of goofy looking. I prefer more classic looks in furniture, although that preference is definitely not notable in my art. I have some admittedly weird art in my house, which reflects my unconventional and off-color sense of humor. I also don’t like that so many people buy their furniture that it’s everywhere. Thanks to our ex house, I especially hate those cheap hanging paper lanterns they sell. They suck. They’re cheap, tacky, impractical, and fragile. I hate the way they look and I hate bumping into them. I hope I never live anywhere else that has them… well, if I have my way, I won’t.

I know some people love IKEA. It definitely has its place. If you like IKEA, more power to you. I just wish there were more alternatives to IKEA… Just had to say that. Maybe later, I’ll be back to write about something of substance, but for now, I’ve got IKEA on the brain.

Edited to add: My German friend reminds me that there ARE alternatives to IKEA here. It just doesn’t seem like it when everywhere you go, there’s IKEA shit spread around. Seriously, it’s unavoidable.

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complaints

If you’re too busy to read, you’re too busy to comment…

Today’s topic is about one of my many pet peeves, which will probably seem silly and very petty to some people, but is a genuine irritant to me. If you’re not in the mood for pointless griping, you might want to move on. Here goes.

A few days ago, I shared a story with my Facebook friends about a raccoon who went to one of Germany’s many Christmas markets and got drunk on Gluhwein. The story’s headline was “Drunken raccoon staggers through German Christmas market, passes out”. Unlike a lot of people who saw that headline, laughed, and moved on, I took the time to read the article. I knew it wasn’t going to end well for the raccoon, because just under the headline, there was a sub-headline that read,

“The tipsy raccoon apparently couldn’t hold back from having a good time at Erfurt’s Christmas market. However, the furry creature’s daytime drinking binge ended in grisly fashion.”

It turned out the raccoon, whose welfare had been safeguarded until the fire brigade could pick it up, wasn’t taken to an animal shelter as expected. Instead, the raccoon was given to a hunter, who then shot it. I was reminded of a discussion I’d had with a college friend who had friends under the impression that there are no guns in Germany. I tagged him in the post and wrote, “Now see… there are guns in Germany after all.”

What did this friend do? Like so many other people, he laughed at the headline without reading or even skimming the article. My comment about guns wasn’t even enough to tip him off that maybe he should read the article to see why I mentioned guns. The piece, by the way, wasn’t even behind a paywall. But I empathized with him, since I had the same initial reaction of laughter at the headline. I was almost tempted to share the article without reading it myself. So I wrote this:

You would think he might change his reaction after this comment, but he didn’t… I guess he still thinks it’s funny.

What made this even more annoying to me, though, were more laughter reactions from people who didn’t even bother to read the comments on the thread. After a few more laughter reactions, I edited the post thusly… and I know it sounds petty and stupid, but I can’t help it. I was genuinely irked.

I know… I know… but dammit, this bugs me.

I remember ranting on my old blog about how much it annoys me when people chime in without reading. Years ago, there was a great site called Television Without Pity, which had snarky commentary about television shows. TWoP also had lively forums with hilarious, witty comments about the featured shows and their recaps. Those boards must have been run by a very anal retentive lot, because there were many rules about posting there and actual consequences for those who broke the rules. One of the cardinal rules was that posters must read the previous comments before posting a new one. I wish I could find the actual rules now, because I liked the way the moderators explained why reading before commenting is so important. Basically they wrote something like this:

“But I don’t want to read fifty comments before making my own very important point!”

“Oh you don’t, huh? You want people to read your thoughts, but you don’t want to give them the same courtesy? Well, fuck you.”

And then there followed a very good explanation as to why the moderators stringently enforced their rule about reading before commenting and why it’s so rude not to take a minute to read. Unfortunately, since the forum was dismantled, I can’t find the TWoP rules spelled out anymore. I’d like to frame them and hang them at the top of my Facebook page.

Since I can’t find Television Without Pity’s rules, here are a few reasons why I think it’s important to read first, and then comment or react. See the bottom of this post for an update 12/17/21.

  • There’s an excellent chance that your point has already been made by an earlier poster and thoroughly discussed by other thread participants.
  • Perhaps you don’t even have a clue what’s being discussed.
  • Maybe you’re about to make a jackass out of yourself by reacting inappropriately.
  • It’s the polite thing to do. It shows people that you’re interested in what someone else has to say and are paying attention to them.
  • It saves other people’s time and energy, since they don’t have to explain that your point has already been covered, is irrelevant, or inappropriate.

Think about this. If you were talking to someone face to face, how would you react if a third person came up and inserted themselves in your conversation without any concept about what you’ve been discussing? Say, for instance, you’re talking about how the weather led to a fatal car accident and someone else came up and started talking about socks. Or they said the same thing that you said five minutes ago. Or they started laughing about the weather, not knowing that someone had died because of it. It would be awkward and rude, right? Well, to me, it’s rude and awkward when this happens on social media. It really bugs me, even though I know I’ll never change it. I know… I know… build a bridge and get over it. Or start deleting the worst offenders.

A couple of days after the raccoon post, I wrote that Peter Frampton is coming to Frankfurt. I wondered if I would enjoy the concert. Several people opined. I like Frampton, but I have one of his more recent live albums and I didn’t care for it, even though I love Frampton Comes Alive! from 1976. At the same time, I know this would probably be my one chance to see him play, because he’s going to be retiring soon. He has a disease that affects his guitar playing. I knew about the disease, because I had read about it some months ago… probably when I bought that album I hadn’t enjoyed very much and wanted to know if something was up with his health. So when a friend was offering her opinion about Frampton, I mentioned that he has health issues and linked to the article about it. Then, the next day, someone else chimed in with this:

It wasn’t even a long thread. It wouldn’t have even taken a minute to skim over it to see that this point was made the day before. I can see not wanting to read 100 comments, but this thread had a fraction of that many responses. A quick glance at the earlier responses would have revealed a link to People.com with a headline about Frampton’s health issues.

On that same Frampton thread, someone left what seemed to be an inappropriate reaction– an angry emoji. I was puzzled, so I wrote this:

Lots of people scroll through their feeds and hit the reaction buttons without really reading first. Sometimes it’s simply someone who accidentally hit the “wrong” reaction, but I think a lot of times, it’s someone who isn’t actually reading but still feels the need to respond somehow. Not everything requires a response… especially if you aren’t paying attention. I’m not just picking on this friend. Many people do this. I’ve probably done it, too.

I pretty much hate the Facebook reaction buttons, anyway. They often end up being misused. I mean, I use them myself a lot, but I don’t think they’re very effective because most people don’t pay attention to what they’re reacting to. A lot of them seem to be in a trance, scrolling through the many conversations and postings, listlessly clicking as they scroll, halfway cognizant about what they’re “reacting” to. I go on Facebook and see that I have a ton of notifications, but they’re all “reactions” from the same person. And half of them don’t indicate any understanding of what was posted… they’re just reactions to be reactions. Like, the person just wants me to know that they saw my post, even if they didn’t actually read or understand it. It’s depressing, because the random “reactions” have a negative effect on effective communication. Personally, I find it disheartening when someone “reacts” inappropriately, making it clear that they didn’t even read. It seems oddly dismissive to me when I post a sad article about something and I get a laughing reaction. Or I post something I think is thought provoking and someone reacts with a sad face. I supposed I could just preface all of my posts with a request that people read and/or think before reacting or commenting, but that would seem hyper-controlling. And I don’t want to be hyper-controlling.

People are busy. I get that. And I tend to cut slack to certain people whom I know may not be as attentive as they otherwise might be. For instance, yesterday I shared a ten year old Facebook memory, because it happened to be the anniversary of the day we brought Zane into our family. I’ve been missing him a lot.

The person sending vibes probably doesn’t know about MacGregor, who was Zane’s “daddy” and best friend. MacGregor died in 2012, and Zane died on August 31st of this year. I know she had good intentions, since we are thinking of getting another dog.

If you think about it, posting before reading because you’re “too busy” to read what’s already been said or explained is likely to waste other people’s time. There’s a good chance you won’t be leaving a high quality comment that adds anything to the discussion and might even irritate the anally retentive types, like me. If you don’t like it when people waste your time, you should alter your behavior accordingly. Do unto others, and all that. If you’re too busy to read, you’re probably too busy to comment.

I read another article about a woman in Wisconsin who walked with a cane and had gone to renew her driver’s license. For some reason, the examiner told her that she needed to prove she could walk across the room without the cane before she could get her license renewed. The woman tried to walk without the cane, fell, and broke her wrist. The headline was this: “DMV made a woman walk without her cane before it would renew her license. She fell and broke her wrist.” I had a feeling that headline would prompt inappropriate comments, so I posted this to head them off:

Actually, I’m relatively pleased by these comments, which were appropriate.

The reason I suggested reading first is because the headline doesn’t reveal that Mary Wobschall, the woman in this story, died a few months later from other causes. I didn’t want to see people posting about her as if she was still living. Her estate is now suing the DMV because they didn’t handle her appropriately or do things by the book. The broken wrist and subsequent surgery could have been avoided, and the examiner wasn’t qualified to make a determination about the Mary Wobschall’s health. Taken from the article:

“According to the suit, if a DMV worker thinks an applicant needs to be seen by a medical professional, he or she is supposed to issue a 60-day temporary license. Wobschall’s suit says his wife was not issued that license and was told she had until the end of the month to renew or lose her license.”

“Making applicants who use canes or other “personal mobility devices” like crutches demonstrate they can walk without the device as a condition of getting a license violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Wobschall’s constitutional guarantees of due process, according to the suit.”

I know I’ve said it before. I’m losing my patience with social media. It’s probably time I gave up Facebook and Twitter and any other platform that has me interacting with strangers. I’ve even been giving thought to giving up blogging, since I don’t think most people care about what I write, and some people only seem interested in using my writing against me– like the woman who lived in our previous house before we did and was keeping me under surveillance for four years. If she’s reading this, she should know that she’s not as anonymous as she thinks she is and two can play at her game. 😉 But really, I have no desire to stalk other people, and I completely understand that this is a petty grievance that I should probably let go of for my health’s sake. It would probably be a good thing if I went to a “Fuck It” retreat or learned yoga… or maybe got into drinking hot tea.

Edited to add on December 17, 2021

I found TWOP’s rules and explanations. I totally agree with their thoughts.

I can’t possibly read all these messages; I’d just like to post my own thoughts.

Oh, is that so? Well, that’s rather rude of you. If you have time to post, you have time to read what others have posted before you. 

Before you post, you are expected to read — and not rehash — the content in a thread from either the last 15 pages or the last 15 days, whichever makes the most sense. If a moderator mentions the “15/15” rule, this is what they’re talking about.

Confused? Okay: Let’s say you’re in the Lost episode thread; if the episode aired the night before, the thread will not go back 15 days, so you must read at minimum the last 15 pages. On the Buffy forums, some of those threads go back for years; in that case, you read the last 15 days’ worth of posts to bring you up to date. 

The idea here, basically, is for you to have read enough of the thread to give you a solid feel for what people have already said, so that you don’t repeat things people have mentioned twenty times already or derail the discussion by interrupting with a random question. It’s a conversational-manners issue. 

We know it’s a lot to read on some forums. Tough beans. Show your fellow posters the courtesy which you expect, and read what they’ve written to make sure you aren’t repeating what dozens of other people have already said. 

Again: 15 pages or 15 days, whichever applies. Please use common sense, and please do not argue the letter of the law with the mods when it is the spirit that counts. Be a good listener. 

And if you don’t read the other posts before adding your own, for the love of Mike, don’t say so. It’s obnoxious, the mods hate it, and it’ll earn you a boot. 

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