Thursday, November 27, 2008

NeoPagan Netiquette Revisited

I've been moderating a Pagan listserv for awhile now, so it will not come as a shock when I say that my life has become an endless game of Whac-A-Mole.

It never fails. Just when my co-moderator and I think we've got the locals under control and nominally focused, a new little monster pops up just out of our reach, determined to chew through everything we've tried to accomplish.

The latest spat was relatively brief as these things go, but it still provided an ugly snapshot of the Houston "community." And of course, it started innocuously, with one poor list member assumming she could ask for assistance without repercussion:

Pagan 1 - "Hello! If anyone with a truck is free this weekend, I could really use some help. We've got some furniture to move, and we need to be out of our current residence by Saturday."

Pagan 2 - "I don't mean to sound rude, but..."

Okay, I'm going to stop here for a second. It's one of those pesky Universal Truths: if you feel the need to slap this kind of disclaimer onto whatever it is you're about to say, the next words out of your mouth will be exactly what you claim they're not. If you say you're not trying to be rude, but, your next comment will be rude. If you say you're not racist, but, your next comment will be racist. If you say you're not gay, but, you're about to launch into a detailed dissertation on how desperately you want to have sex with Hugh Jackman.

Mmmm. Hugh Jackman. Yes, please.

But now we're off topic. Let's ground, center, and get back to Pagan 2:

"I don't mean to sound rude, but this is a holiday weekend, and you're asking a lot of us. Why can't you move next week? Or at least offer to pay someone?"

The fact that she could feel so personally inconvenienced by a general request is sort of breathtaking in it's egocentricity. But I do appreciate how she wouldn't feel inconvenienced if money were to change hands. Charity at it's finest, no?

My co-mod and I managed to squelch the situation before the list at large erupted, explaining the previously-mentioned Universal Truth to Pagan 2 and strongly recommending she work towards more constructive commentary. And things calmed down for a few hours. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate the belated arrival of Pagan 3, a two-in-one combo of my least favorite Netziens: The lurker who only participates when there's drama (usually to announce how distraught he is by the drama, which only serves to ensure that the drama continues), and the reactionary who doesn't bother to read all the posts in a given thread before launching himself into the argument. "I demand that the moderators do something!" he cried, bandying his swollen angst about like a baseball bat with a nail through it.

By this point I'd had quite enough, and silently excused myself to go outside and slam my head in a car door. While this particular pastime does not require the same skill set as Whac-A-Mole, it is, in its own way, infinitely more therapeutic.

15 comments:

Anal Slut said...

This is why I'm a loner.

Red Delicious said...

"Anal Slut" is my new favorite Strifemonger. I came on here to comment, and now I've totally forgotten what I was going to say. In a day and age when I believed nothing on the internet could shock me, "Anal Slut" has proven me wrong in a fairly innocuous way, as far at the 'nets are concerned.

I just wasn't expecting it, that's all. Usually, the term "Anal Slut" finds you on the internet only if you are asking for it (for example: if you type "wholesome family values" into a google search).

Okay, now I remember: Evn, you are like a pagan-listserv managing Charlie Brown. Although your situation may be highly specialized (like a horror musical), your plight is universal. Kudos!

Evn said...

Red Delicious, you must own this.

Yewtree said...

I think it's something to do with mailing lists. If you comment on a blog, you have a sense that you're talking to a real person. For some reason, on mailing lists, people forget that there's a real person with feelings on the receiving end of their bile. That's why I don't play on mailing lists any more.

Evn said...

Yvonne, I think you're right. I was just telling someone about how the meanest e-mails I receive come through the "Tell Us What You Think" button on my company's Web site, submitted by customers who don't realize their comments are being sent to a real, live person.

Part of my job is to respond to these e-mails, thanking the clients for their honest feedback. Sometimes they write back, groveling and begging for forgiveness.

I love it when that happens.

Thalia Took said...

Why would someone play golf in a towel?

I mean, unless it's a metaphor or something.

Evn said...

It makes sense in context of the movie (Swordfish). But also, it's Hugh Jackson in a towel, so... y'know, Hugh Jackson in a towel.

Thalia said...

I always wondered if that movie was named for the password in Horse Feathers.

But wow. Hugh Jackman is a towel is so not my type it's scary. As in I literally went, blech, ick! Which is a comment on no one's taste but mine, really.

(And what is it with the Google word verification, anyway? They've been getting less and less random looking and more and more designed looking. I mean "ometh?" Sounds like a name Ursula LeGuin would come up with.)

Thalia said...

Whoa, IN a towel. Not IS a towel. My brain would appear to be malfunctioning more than usual today. Apologies.

Evn said...

I'll have to send you the original picture to which I wanted to link. For some reason, it came up as "forbidden" once the post went live.

And of course, now I get to spend my evening on Wikipedia, trying to figure out who Ursula LeGuin is.

Evn said...

IN a towel. Not IS a towel.

No worries. If Hugh Jackman was a towel, he wouldn't be my type, either.

(grin)

Lisa Adams said...

*hug* I'm sorry you had to handle that Evn. I was a bit annoyed myself and had a drink then read and re-read my post before commenting. As it was rather annoying to have to explain in the first place.

knottybynature said...

I think my favorite one {"I don't mean to be rude") was a rant about how someone tried to utilize the pagan community's resources and that all pagan 'businesses' are unprofessional, have a 'poor mentality' ("I'm poor. It sucks being poor. But it's because I'm pagan and I'm not materialistic."), and pagans should strive harder for their universal image.

(The fact that no one jumped on this was more surprising.)

But... best to just delete the comments before they get out of hand... being that several people take several days to read or post (or just read a few and post), the headache of having to explain something umpteen million times...arugh.

And there are some things, including people, that you just can't take seriously enough to get to you. :) You're head is much too valuable for such abuse, try bubble wrap, it's cheaper therapy.

Yewtree said...

You not know who Ursula Le Guin is????? Boy, have you ever missed out. Go and buy all her books immediately (or get Jack to buy them for you for Yule). Especially Always Coming Home, The Telling, The Wizard of Earthsea, and her collections of short stories (The Wind's Twelve Quarters and The Birthday of the World are my favourite collections, but The Compass Rose is ace too).

Evn said...

Ack, sorry! I've just never been a big sci-fi/fantasy fan. BUT, as it turns out, Jack's was all up in my business last night asking for Yule hints, so I'll pass this information along to him.