Common Courtesy

In the past I’ve been a fan of various actors. My fan experience however, only went so far as seeing movies or television shows in which the actor starred, reading the occasional interview and watching if they were going to be making a red carpet appearance.

All of that changed when I became a fan of RA. Google and I became close pals, I went out of my way to read or watch all of the interviews that were available, and I started lurking on blogs. The blogs provided me with a sense of belonging, even though I never commented. I thought to myself, “Hey, there are other people as interested in this guy as I am!”

Eventually, I started my own blog. It started out as a place to post about various issues, but morphed into being mostly about my favorite actor. Over all this experience has been wonderful. I’m made some friends and begun to spread my wings creatively.

But the last few days have made me question whether or not I really want to be a part of such a community. Maybe I’ve led a relatively sheltered life, but I genuinely didn’t expect some of the hateful things I’ve seen of late. I just wonder when we cross the line from simply expressing our opinions to being at least borderline bullies.

Don’t mistake me, I think each and every person is entitled to their opinion. And I welcome hearing said opinions. It would be ludicrous to think that we would all be of the same mind on controversial subjects. However, maybe it was the way I was raised, but I expected better. I expected divergent opinions to be expressed with a modicum of common courtesy and respect. Perhaps my vision is skewed, but some of the comments I’ve read are so vehement or so very specifically directed that to this blogger at least, they come across as personal attacks.

I’m still thinking all of this through, but I don’t think I’ll ever be participating in a fandom wide event again. There are people I know and respect, and I think they may be enough for me.

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37 thoughts on “Common Courtesy

  1. I have to say I too have felt very uncomfortable with some of the things I’ve read. I love the community and camaraderie but it has become clear that it is quite fragile. We are all different people with different backgrounds and viewpoints and that is what makes the community so interesting and is why I love it so much. I for one will continue reading and commenting when I feel especially moved to do so but I will refrain from entering into any debates.

    • Kathryn, I respect you’re views on this. I too love the community and camaraderie that we have in this fandom. We are all individuals so we are going to have differing opinions. I respect that, and agree that each person has a right to express their views.

      That being said, I find it disheartening to read the way in which some have chosen to express their views. It really does seem to me that in the effort to make sure they are heard or understood, they have chosen to throw common courtesy and respect out the window.

      • Jas – I didn’t express myself as well as I could have…I too find it disheartening and agree with everything you say!

    • jazzbaby1

      Kathryn, you really hit the nail on the head for me.

  2. Jas, thank you for this post. I was pondering writing my own post which said same the thing. I was actually enjoying the debate on my blog up until the minute it became permissible to dispense with the modicum of common courtesy and respect because “I’m not wrong.” I’ve been publicly shunned on my blog. I’ve seen self-righteousness and condescension disguised as debate. I’ve been in several fandoms but the sheer ugliness expressed in this particular issue has taken me by surprise.

  3. Oops, cut my comment off there. I’m wondering what I should do next and if I will continue with my blog. I suppose my gorge has risen faster because I’ve seen so much ugliness in other fandoms and here is more of the same. It’s very disheartening.

    • Judiang, “I’ve seen self-righteousness and condescension disguised as debate,” is exactly how I feel. We are all adults who should be capable of having civil discourse. I’ve been reluctant to voice my opinion on the topic that caused all of this in the first place–simply because I knew that it was a controversial issue. But, whether or not people intended their remarks to be so, I truly feel that some of them are coming close to, if not already crossing the line between voicing their opinions and bullying those with whom they disagree.

      I really hope you don’t discontinue your blog. While I don’t always comment, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and thanks to chat I’ve had the great privileged of meeting you and the other ladies.

  4. I don’t even follow the fandom drama, and have no idea what you refer to, but it seems the broader you cast your net, the more bottom feeders you’ll get.

    Sorry if you’ve hauled some in.

    • DarkJackal, I think you may be on to something. I luckily have not been the recipient of the comments that have been made. However, I have a hard time sitting by watching, when from my perspective at least, someone else is be attacked.

  5. I am so sorry to see all this happening. I had hoped we could all agree to disagree in, as you say, Jas, a civil and courteous way. I was raised to believe good manners don’t cost anything and everyone can afford them and I still try to abide by that. Sadly, I saw this sort of thing when I was at the paper and people felt the need to attack us, sometimes personally, over an article aor issue with which they didn’t agree. Therefore they thought it gave them a right to plaster our website with nasty remarks. As Judiang, says, all this is very disheartening. And I think it is the last thing Richard Armitage would want.

    • Fedoralady – you make an excellent point. RA gives the impression that he has no idea just how attractive he is or even just hiw good an actor he is…and therefore I always imagine he must think we’re all slightly mad. I imagine though, he’d be horrified to discover infighting. What did he say in his Christmas message? “Peace and goodwill (and I really mean that, be willingly good, extra good, extra peaceful and extra forgiving)”

  6. Angie, I too am very sorry that this is happening. Part of what drew me and kept me in this fandom was the fun of it all. I truly don’t understand why it is so hard to be courteous to other people. Sure, I have some snarky remarks that I would like to voice now and then, don’t we all. But, I use the filter between my brain and mouth (or in this case, my fingers), to try and remain respectful of others. You and Judi are both so on the mark when you call it disheartening.

  7. gracie

    I blame Richard Armitage for not keeping us busy with new pictures of photo shoots, Hobbit videoblogs, articles, etc. Instead he has left us to ourselves and of course we are getting ourselves into trouble by going into deep waters with all these complex issues. LOL.

    i am trying to keep it light. I truly hope that you do not give up your blog and your writing. I am loving it. And you have a lot of people who support you.

    • I’m laughing at the fact that you jokingly blame RA. 😉

      I do tend to think that “the drought” is actually bringing out issues that people don’t have time for when there is news stuff to discuss.

      I not planning on closing my blog down, so don’t worry about that. This was not about anything that has happened on my blog, rather about my perception of what has been going on in the larger community. It just got to a point where I couldn’t remain silent.

    • LOL!
      This reminds me of a 70s film I watched that states: “Every time granny f*rts, the dog get it”. 🙂

  8. This is one of the biggest problems with the written word. When we interact with another human in person, we can tell a lot about their perspective, their point of view, where they are coming from, from their inflection, tone, and body language. When we read something, their perspective is open to interpretation, and we insert a perspective that comes from our own imaginations. (It’s why we created a million different smilies, so we would have fewer miscommunications.) It is because we do not know a writer’s true perspective, that we must, as readers, give the writer slightly more slack when trying to interpret what they are trying to say. However, our human nature is not inclined to do this. As humans we tend to think what we want to think, to hear what we want to hear; and where we see debate, dissention, disagreement, we tend to take it as a personal challenge instead of as another way of seeing an issue.

    No two humans come to an arguement with exactly the same background, life experience, knowledge, wisdom, personal truth. For us to get along, we must remember this, embrace our uniqueness, and be willing to at least listen to the various perspectives that are offered to us. Only when we do this can we grow as people, can we learn new wisdoms, can we evolve into better people.

    I know of at least two blog posts that I think Jas is refering to, (I got swept up into one of them and worried that I was being misunderstood, which is why I pulled out of it and stayed silent for the rest), there may be others I’m unaware of in which the debate became messy, but in those two I can’t say I saw a lot of disrespectful, “bullying-like” behaviour from the majority of the commenters. In fact, there was only one person who’s comments/responses leaned in that direction, (and I suspect it’s not who you are referring to). Perhaps I give people a bit more slack than the rest. Maybe it’s because I’m still fairly new in the RA fandom/blogger world and don’t know the background, don’t understand the factions that have risen up from it. I think some commenters with dissenting opinions may have been misunderstood by others, but I didn’t see their comments as truly disrespectful, (except in one instance after a responder made it a bit more personal).

    We have to be careful that we don’t confuse disagreement with disrespect. Nor should we be quick to call someone’s comments “bullying” when they are neither personal nor intended to harm. And even that definition of verbal “bullying” can be too broad. What is “bullying” to one person may be harmless debate to a person with slightly thicker skin. We must all try to accept that a dissenting view may have merit. We need to let that view rattle around in our brains for a while to see if there is any wisdom we might gain from it. If we dismiss it too quickly we become more narrow-minded, we stop growing and evolving as humans.

    And my final point, I promise. 🙂 If you ask for the opinions of others, be prepared for a wide variety of them. If you are participating in a debate where you feel you aren’t being heard, don’t shout louder, longer or more often, as it lessens your impact. Just present your arguement in as concise and clear a manner as you can, with as much background into your own perspective as you can so others can understand you better, and then let people read your words and roll them around in their heads for a while. You can’t change everyone’s opinion overnight, but sometimes you can open people’s eyes to other ways of thinking. And if you go into every debate with an open mind, maybe they can tweak your opinions. 🙂

    That’s my two cents. Sorry Jas if I’ve just hijacked your blog. Hope you are all still awake. I think there’s a lot of love in this fandom and I’m happy to have all of you in my cyber life, even the ones I disagree with, because occasionally you say something I can learn from. (That was friendly teasing – just so there’s no misunderstanding – haha) 😀

    • jazzbaby1

      Hi, Mrs E. B. Darcy. The discussion that’s currently taking place has been happening for a long time, it just crops up every now and again. Then some variation of the following happens.

      “Oh my God, you can’t say that, did she just say that, I can’t believe she said that!”

      “What’d she say?”

      “You know, THAT, I thought we were CLEAR we wouldn’t talk about that! The ad-hoc Armitage Biddy Committee decided we wouldn’t talk about that and we sent out a memo and everything!”

      Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s tiresome, it’s annoying, it happens every couple of months like clockwork.

      • Jazzy,
        Thank you for this response. I have been trying to formulate a way to describe how this is not something new.

        Mrs E.B. Darcy,
        I don’t think that you were writing to just me, but I still feel the need to make some clarifications. I am a people pleaser by nature. The reason I share that is because, this is the kind of discussion that my people pleasing ways lead me to shy away from. In fact I was really reluctant to write this post, because I didn’t want to deal with the fall out. But sometimes our consciences won’t allow us to remain silent. This is one of those times.

        I agree with you that yes, nuances of communication that we have when communicating verbally are lost when we communicate through writing. However, I also think this puts more responsibility on those who choose to put written words out in the public to read. I am not quick to see bad in people, and I make a point of taking the time to think about whether my interpretation of someone’s words could be wrong. There are occassions, this situation being one of them, where the intent, while still important, doesn’t hold enough weight with me to overlook some of the words that have been written.

        I don’t know if you have read the same things I’ve read. But my views are what they are and they are valid. That doesn’t mean I discount views that are different from mine. As I said in my post, I’m all for courteous discourse. I don’t use the term bullying casually. My genuine perspective, after having thought these comments through is that they are beginning to step outside of the bounds of simply expressing a differing opinion and at least traveling down the path towards personal attack, which yes, I would use the term bullying to describe.

        That being said, I wouldn’t trade the friends that I’ve made or the fun that I’ve had for anything. Overall, I love being a part of this community.

      • UK Expat

        Jazzbaby1,

        What you’ve written is absolutely HILARIOUS!!! I guess it only goes to show how new some of us are (as we likely were not around before).

        Always love your well placed, well timed comments of insight and humor. 🙂

  9. Brooke

    It’s very disappointing when we end up reading some of the comments. Blog and socializing should be something to look forward to whether you write or read them.
    Some of the bloggers are passionate about blogging and just want to share what is a part of their lives and nothing should stand in the way of those feelings.
    My wish for this community is that the level of respect and self-control is raised and maintained. Then everyone can come together and enjoy what is intended to be enjoyed.

    • Brooke, thanks for commenting. One line of your comment really resonated with me: “My wish for this community is that the level of respect and self-control is raised and maintained.” What a wonderful world it would be if we all made that our motto.

  10. Jas, I definitely wasn’t directing my comment at you, but at the communtiy of fans in general. Which brings up a point that I think might explain why some blog writers feel they are being criticized directly or personally by dissenting comments, but others visiting the blog might see it as someone just expressing an opinion, and that point is that the original writer generally gets the comment in an email directed to their personal account. (I suspect we’re both misunderstanding each other right now) 🙂

    • Mrs. E.B. Darcy, I am perfectly happy for you to voice your opinion. I don’t see how a blogger reading a comment in their email versus on their blog makes any difference. As a blogger myself, I view the comments in my email as a notification that someone has commented on my blog. Are you referring to comments made through the contact page, that are not blog comments but actual private emails?

      We might be misunderstanding each other, but we also might just be in disagreement about that. Which is perfectly fine. There’s no mud slinging going on, so I’m cool with continuing the discussion.

  11. I was deeply saddened when I checked out the RA Kingdom after my Easter break. I don’t want to Pollyanna the whole thing, but I really do believe that we have created something special. Here we are, from all the corners of the world, with different experiences and backgrounds, brought together in admiration of a certain sexy Mr. A. We bring our thoughts, emotions, perspective. Of course they are going to be different, but that’s what makes the RA community speacial.
    I have often explain my participation to “outsiders” by stating that. no matter where you are from, you feel welcome here and that you will experience a community free from trolling, hate, negativity. You are free to express yourself and get a chance to share a part of yourself that you may not be comfortable sharing in RL. I really do still believe that this is true.
    I am deeply saddened that we have reached a point where, forgetting about mutual respect, we are moving dangerously close to bullying. Because, although we are grown women, that’s exactly what it feels like. And I, for one, cannot stand for that!
    Thanks Jas for giving me the opportunity to vent 🙂

    • IWantToBeAPinUp, I’m glad you felt like this was a safe place to vent. All of the reasons you love this community resonate with me, which is what makes the situation so frustrating.

    • Brooke

      I have to agree with you and I also can’t stand any of this. I think now is the time to step up and step out of this garbage. It doesn’t help anyone to get that extra income, make new friends, relax, and more. Blogging is also about expressing who you are. It shouldn’t be connected with having to be tainted with any the nastiness that can be prevented by making good choices.

  12. Believe me Jas, I always feel welcome here 😉 I’m feeling a bit upset and drained of energy and keep on thinking “why can’t we just all get along”. Then again, this too shall pass 😉

  13. Pingback: Step 1: Reforming my own discursive behavior « Me + Richard Armitage

  14. I find it interesting that some are offended at others taking umbrage enough at the real fic and the blogger’s actions to express an opinion about it, yet the subject matter is imflammatory enough that even the blogger felt the need to post a policy statement before publishing. I appreciate the heads up and have said as much, but no one gets to say whatever they want in public with only favorable reactions allowed. That’s unrealistic, and actually, I expected some flak for my statements as well. So I’m not surprised at all by the exchange here.

    But this idea that we are a community and yet some of the community just need to remain silent about what they witness others doing doesn’t make sense. That doesn’t sound like community. A community is able to speak to each other (good, bad or otherwise) and hash things out if need be. Frankly, it sounds like not wanting to deal with the reality of what’s occurring. Wouldn’t it be nice if life worked that way? Maybe, but it sounds so dull.

    Now I’m sure someone will think I am angry by saying this. Not one cell in my body is angry. I wish that we could actually talk about this, but there is too much defense of the blogger to do it and for my part in making you all defensive of her, I apologize. I realize a particular part in my blog piece has eclipsed the subject. But it’s too late to take it back, and that’s how I really feel. I hate to see this being done for the heartache it may eventually cause the blogger, and comments on my blog wil be the very least of it. When I say this, I’m not thinking of RA universe but rather those outside looking in who will not stop to really get to know the blogger but perhaps characterize her in a way that’s unfair. I also did not appreciate being associated with the fic by many others who thought I supported it. So yes, I published to make myself clear.

    I also realize that some of you do not feel welcome on my blog. I’m sorry that’s the case when I’ve made it abundantly clear by word and by deed that I do not mind disagreement. To date, I have never shut down comments when someone disagreed with me or was trying to hassle me. I believe in speaking openly even if it’s something I don’t like. But perhaps that is just me. I’m beginnig to think that’s the case given the reaction here and the reaction with the blogger closing comments. I hope I’m wrong.

    • RAFrenzy,

      Please tell me where someone, myself included said anything to the effect that, “we are a community and yet some of the community just need to remain silent about what they witness.” I certainly didn’t advocate that kind of censorship, nor did anyone else in the comments. What I did write and what others seem to agree upon is that we treat each other with respect and common courtesy when expressing our differing opinions.

      Was the content that sparked this particular debate controversial? Absolutely. Did most of us expect that there would be a wide range of opinions on the subject? Quite frankly, we would have been stupid to think otherwise. However, some of the comments surrounding this issue came across, not only to me, but others, as more about the blogger than the issue at hand.

      You will notice I didn’t mention anyone specific or even point to a specific site or post. There were comments in more than one place that sparked this frustration. All I am advocating is that we make sure our discourse doesn’t stray into personal attack. This doesn’t mean I discourage the voicing of strong opinion about the issues. I would however go so far as to say that authors would be wise to avoid even the appearance of personal attack. As mentioned in one of the comments above, there are a lot of communication signals lost when we are expressing ourselves on the internet, and we open ourselves up to interpretations that we never intended. In some cases this has clouded the issue. So rather than bring about an intelligent discussion about why people feel differently, many have gone into defensive mode.

      In response to the comment you posted below, as I said in private, I wasn’t telling you to change what you wrote. If you understand that people may take what you say the wrong way and don’t have a problem with it, then that is your prerogative. However, I do think that the removal of that paragraph may help lead to a conversation that is more along the lines of what you were hoping for. So with that in mind, I am glad you removed the paragraph, with hopes that its absence will lead to a more productive discussion.

      • Point taken, but I hope you know I wasn’t responding to your post so much as the comments which spoke to the audacity of someone to verbalize being offended by what someone else has done.

        Sadly, somehow I’ve become a bad guy in this when I didn’t start anything. I’ve admitted I should not have put in a particur paragraph, but the blogger should not have closed comments, and I very much appreciate that she has said that herself.

        So I said what I said on her blog and thought that would be the end of it for me. Unfortuantely, not the case. But now that I’ve been drug into this, I think the discussion about sexual real fic is valid. A debate? No. A discussion whereby all of us might learn something? yes.

  15. Okay, I have taken out the troublesome paragraph so that new commenters cannot springboard from it.

  16. jazzbaby1

    Lovely of you to have edited your piece so that you can appear more reasonable to new people but *I* can’t unsee it. I also can’t forget that for all your protestations to the contrary — that you didn’t have a chance to clarify your position, that you would have advised her to not publish if you just had a
    chance — you advised her to “go for it” not once but four separate times on
    her blog. It seems to me that you’ve been trying to play both ends against the middle here and the only thing you’ve really accomplished is slitting her throat in public after she did something that you encouraged her to do. I’m not angry, either, Frenz, just incredibly disappointed.

    • You are justified in being confused by my comments; however, I did make it plain that I would not be reading and why, but when I thought better of my “Do it!” comment and how that could be construed, I came back to clarify and couldn’t. What I wanted to make clear is that you can’t just write for yourself when it’s the public and especially something a significant number of people find in poor taste and not expect some very negative reactions. I should have clarified sooner. Ironically, the “siege” I joked about not occurring on Judi’s blog happened to me instead in private. I mean almost immediately as I said that, it started happening.

      I apologize again for the paragraph I have now edited, but I was so disappointed at what had occurred that I let that get the best of me. I admit that freely. But the rest I do not apologize for. I do feel like I was dragged down into something, and it mars other things that are more worthy of her and me, and this may completely overshadowed the balance of what we’ve both done. I hate that.

  17. I really really don’t want to butt in but I need to address something that seemed/seems blatantly obvious to me and wonder if I’m crazy because I read the “Go for it” as “Do what you’re going to do. I don’t like it. But it’s your blog and you can post what you want.” I did not read it at all as an “I think it’s ok for you do this.” Am I wrong?

    Sorry, Jas…I just followed a link here and have no intention of commandeering your blog but wow, this has gotten so out of hand. And I think we ALL are to blame if a scape goat must be had.

  18. servetus

    I just want to say, for anyone who is subscribed to this thread, that Frenz and I have talked about this and that I would feel badly if this incident caused people to avoid her blog.

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