I’ve updated the previous post, Backlog of Links, with a more accurate description with how Kate Bornstein & S Bear Bergman are handling the response to their use of ‘tranny’ in their call for submissions to a new, updated Gender Outlaw. Ultimately, my summary (“the CFS used ‘tranny’ and Bear wasn’t willing to engage in a discussion about whether that was OK”) was really unfair to both he and Kate. As I said in the update to the previous post, life is often more complicated than it first seems and my assumptions about his behavior were totally off-base.
I wanted to take an extra post, though, to more fully go over my thoughts on how the Internet can (negatively) affect communication. In this case, I mean ways my communication was handled poorly, not anyone else’s.
This is not the first time I’ve written about a situation where my initial response was one thing and, ultimately, the correct response would have been A) contacting the person directly and not via intentionally or (more often) unintentionally passive-aggressive online postings, and (ultimately more important) B) giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.
In most situations, that would allow everything to be cleared up much more amicably.
That isn’t to say the correct response is never to get up on a high horse. Sometimes people cross a line to an extreme where the only appropriate response is calling them on it in an extreme fashion. But I’d wager that should never – or, at least, very rarely – be the first response.
I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson from this, but the Internet is seductive in that it lets you think, “Oh, the person I’m writing about will never read this!” Likewise, even if you’re directly writing to someone and you know they’ll read it, the Internet allows you to forget that the other person is actually a person, and not just the site/blog/etc you’re posting to. Internet escalations, in my experience, happen much faster than offline, simply because it’s so easy to say the first thing that comes to your mind, without reflecting on how it’ll be received by others.
At the very least, I’ll try harder to keep that in mind going forward.