liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
[personal profile] liv
I've had some half-baked thoughts about being female on the internet for a couple of months now. My basic thesis is that the internet isn't all one thing, and specifically the parts of "the internet" that have most media visibility aren't the whole story. This may actually be several different ideas muddled together, mind you, and it's always risky to make broad generalizations about gender and social media. But let me have a go, and see if I can refine my vague ideas by discussing them.

What got me thinking along these lines was that lots of people I know from right-on Jewish circles did this #PesachUnplugged thing, where they undertook a social media fast during Passover. Something about this struck me the wrong way, and not just the irony of using Facebook and Twitter to promote your anti social media hashtag / meme. The idea that not being online makes you more "free" and more "connected" didn't ring true for me.

Let's start with the obvious: my friends live in the internet. Since [personal profile] mathcathy moved away I don't really have any local friends outside work. I'm getting to know my neighbour L, which is cool, and there are work colleagues I get on with and sometimes socialize with. But the people who are important to me, the people I've known and loved for years or decades, the people I can talk about anything with, are scattered across four continents. I can't build community in the flesh, when even spending time with a single individual in the flesh requires hours if not days of travel. And I happen to have the money, the physical capabilities, and occasionally even the time, to be able to do some of that travelling; the idea that real connections require flesh would be even more counter-productive to people who find significant travel or even leaving their homes difficult.

It's not just the geography, though. I could in theory maintain relationships purely via one-to-one direct communication. Some of that would use the internet as the carrier medium, email, VoIP or video calls, IM, etc, but that's not what people are on about when they talk of a social media fast. I think there are real advantages to online communities, having part of my social life in public. For my dear ones, reading blogs and status updates means that on the rare occasions when we do get to spend time together we don't have to waste time going, so what have you been up to for the last several weeks / months / years, then? It's not just more efficient, if I only managed to talk to people when I made a specific effort to talk directly to them, I'd be a lot less part of their lives and it would be that much harder to have a rich connection. When I do make time for personal conversations, you might think I would prioritize friends who aren't on social media, but in most cases I don't, simply because if I don't have that connection to people's day-to-day lives and thoughts, I'm a lot less likely to feel emotionally close to them.

Beyond that, social media lets me have a real community, not just lots of links to individuals. People I can have friendly conversations with, and build the kinds of links that mean people care about how I'm doing. Some of these develop into friendships; I'm meeting a whole lot more friends online than in person, and this has been true basically since I graduated from university. But even the ones that remain at the acquaintance level, they're still a social network, in the old-fashioned sense rather than the "all ur bases are belong to Google" sense. When I Tweet that I'm having a bad day, there are people who send me hugs and comforting things, people I wouldn't think of phoning up out of the blue to ask for sympathy, and anyway I wouldn't have time for that, the reason that I'm having a bad day is partly cos I'm over-stretched and not getting any breaks.

What about the idea that social media is a chore, a source of negativity, or at best a waste of time? (I don't think the rhetoric of comparing an unsatisfying FB habit to slavery or even to an addiction is appropriate, even if it's meant metaphorically.) I totally acknowledge that for many people, it absolutely can be, it's managing your image, it's dealing with competing demands on your time and energy, it's a Sisyphean struggle against spam and flamewars. I do find I put something like "work" into social media, but the pleasure I get out of it more than justifies the effort. I can go online and see what my friends are doing, read interesting comments from good writers and people with novel (to me) perspectives on all kinds of interesting topics, see funny jokes and works of art being shared or created in front of my eyes. It's not work, it's entertainment; why would I want to be "liberated" from having fun?

I think part of the reason social media is viewed this way, which runs counter to most of my experience, is that the internet is portrayed by the news media as one gigantic debate forum. In this framing, the absolute best you can hope for from your internet experience is respectful, thoughtful debate, but it always has to be competitive. And it's very easy for "debate", especially if it takes place in a completely open arena, to turn into just aggression and fights. Lots of people count debate as a hobby, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I can quite see why not everybody wants to spend all their leisure time trying to convince a hostile audience of their views.

The thing is that this framing misses out massive chunks of internet experience, experience which has always been there, long before there was such a category as social media. Take the "don't read the comments" rule. This rule makes sense if you assume the entire internet is made out of news articles or blog posts with space "below the line" for the general public to argue against the idea being put forward in the original post. But the internet is also made out of discussion forums, where conversation, not winning debates, is the whole point, and "don't read the comments" is not just wrong, but nonsensical, in venues where communities are built by people making comments (ie having conversations) with eachother.

But forums and online communities "don't count". This seems to have gone on forever; even in the pre-WWW days, Usenet discussions / debates / flamewars were considered representative of what the internet was like; bulletin boards and MUDs didn't count. In the 2000s so-called Web 2.0 was all about public-facing blogs and comments on online news sources; message boards didn't count, and LJ was always sidelined as not like real blogging. The same continues today: Facebook and Twitter trends and all the various more-or-less professional online essay repositories are "real" social media, Tumblr and communities based on shared interests still don't count. I am beginning to suspect that the difference is that female dominated internet venues are just invisible to pontificating commenters. (Just like casual games don't count as games, even though they make up over 50% of the market, because women and girls who play games aren't gamers, they're doing some kind of weird girl thing that can't possibly be interesting and probably involves, like, handbags or gossip or something.)

This is a bit of a strange thing for me to contemplate, because I don't normally think of myself as someone drawn to female-dominated spaces. I personally do (sometimes) enjoy robust debate, and I deliberately keep this journal as public as I can reasonably get away with. This post itself is an example of what I might generalize as a masculine approach to social media: it's an opinion piece that invites discussion and analysis rather than emotional strokes or social bonding. But I've also chosen to put it on DW, where probably 2/3 of my likely readership are female (or from minority gender backgrounds). Consciously, the reason I chose this is because I like the sense of community, the high probability of having the same smallish group (a few hundred at most) I'm already connected to coming back to read and comment on new posts. I like the way my d-roll contains a mix of thinky essays with creative output and glimpses of people's personal lives. But maybe those two facts are actually connected, not just a coincidence?

I want to emphasise that this is not purely about platforms or technology. Of course, people can put anything they like on DW or Tumblr or whatever; LJ may have been stereotyped as angsty teenaged girls, but it's also, certainly historically and even today, the major platform for Russian political dissenters to provide serious commentary. And there are communities which are supportive and full of good conversation hosted in the comment sections of very public facing blogs on platforms designed for broadcast. But the technology and the sorts of interactions that the platform favours are not irrelevant. For example, DW has inherited from LJ fine-grained privacy controls, and decent moderation tools. Plenty of better analysts than me have pointed out that stable but pseudonymous identities and the ability to connect a commenter to their posting history are a key factor in promoting high quality conversation over poo-flinging, and LJ-based platforms excel at that. Tumblr eschews comments altogether, while easily allowing people to make stable connections with like-minded people.

There are also lots of internet communities which I'm less familiar with personally, but which generally have a members-only model; things like Mumsnet or Ravelry, for example, are very much set up to encourage people to interact with people they know and friends-of-friends. LJ and DW have always been against having a security level of "registered accounts only" on the grounds that there's nothing to stop a malicious person from creating an account. But I think the deterrent of having to create an account does change the conversational atmosphere. Registered-only contexts are like having a private conversation in a public place; sure, someone might overhear, and someone who was being actively malicious might find you and disrupt the conversation to attack you, but it's still a different thing from literally broadcasting your remarks to the whole world.

Facebook is just weird, in this respect. FB (in its current incarnation) seems to be set up to try to get men to interact in more female-typcial ways, without giving the site too many girl cooties that might drive away male custom. FB all but automates a certain kind of low-level, perhaps not very satisfying but socially important bonding interactions. Remembering people's birthdays, cooing over pictures of their kids / grandchildren / pets, expressing sympathy for their troubles. You occasionally get opinion pieces by male authors complaining about how trivial and time-wasting it all is, but in pre-FB days this was just naturally assumed to be women's job, the price of entry into having a social life. FB gives people at least the illusion that they're talking to friends and people from overlapping social circles, while its actual privacy controls are broken by design. (Whereas G+ was a sort of cargo-cult version of the female dominated internet, as if the designers were shooting for an LJ replacement but with no understanding of what made LJ successful. "Circles" as a poor substitute for friend filters, the absurd "real" name policy as a substitute for stable identity, etc.)

This brings me to the other aspect of musing about the gendered internet; it's almost a truism that women on the internet are constantly subjected to harassment including sexual harassment, and to graphic threats including threats of sexual violence. It's a real and serious problem, and one that's generating a lot of column inches lately. But again, it seems to me that it really depends what you mean by "on the internet". People like Laurie Penny or Mary Beard who write columns in national media outlets are subjected to really disgusting attacks. People like [ profile] CCriadoPerez and [ profile] karnythia who use Twitter to engage very publicly with current political issues have been treated in ways that only fall short of being criminal because the law hasn't caught up with the technology yet. These are people who are using the internet in what I am tentatively classifying as male-typical ways, and it is disgusting that their right to do so is being undermined by this kind of harassment and threats.

I don't think this is an inevitable consequence of women having opinions on the internet, though. I mean, I'm pretty sure that you can post on Mumsnet without getting hundreds of comments with graphic descriptions of exactly how the authors would like to rape and murder you. But Mumsnet "doesn't count", if it gets mentioned in news media or opinion columns at all it's merely something to mock, it's not big important Social Media, just women talking about all that boring feminine stuff like nurturing and educating children. Other places you can be female-on-the-internet without constantly having to deal with the barrage of violent threats include places for creative hobbies, from AO3 to DeviantArt and everything in between. Parts of the internet that "don't count", like Tumblr.

I'm not saying that nobody ever gets attacked in female-dominated spaces; we've heard of the phenomenon of anon-hate on Tumblr, and I'm sure [personal profile] synecdochic could share some choice horror stories from her days running LJAbuse, and I imagine there's still a bit of this going on on DW now. But it's not an expectation, it's not a cultural norm, if you go outdoors you sometimes get rained on, and if you go online you sometimes get graphic rape threats. And the thing about LJ, and DW as its heir, is that it actually had an abuse team. It had a full-time paid employee and a sizeable team of reasonably well trained volunteers, who even knew something about the relevant law in their jurisdiction, to address abusive comments and harassment campaigns. That's in addition to the tools provided to journal owners, allowing them to block unwanted readers from seeing their posts and unwanted commenters from disrupting their conversations.

So I think in some ways we already have quite a good idea how to reduce attacks on women online. We don't know how to make the internet completely safe for women, but we don't know how make any environment completely safe for anyone of any gender. But it's perfectly possible to have a culture where you get rewarded for making connections and building communities, rather than for "winning" debates or for "winning" the memetic contest for attention, which can more easily be done by creating bland trivial stuff that's easily accessible than rich, detailed, interesting stuff, and can even more easily be done by being louder and more violent and more shocking than everyone else. And in community culture, rather than competitive culture, there's a lot less motivation for people to make violent threats against strangers.

There's a weird backlash against community culture, though. When female-dominated internet spaces don't get ignored or counted out of analysis, people get really angry about the fact that they are resistant to shouting matches and violent rhetoric. Even people who themselves would never dream of posting rape threats against people they disagree with can be really really furious when someone chooses to block harassers from interacting with them. Somehow, blocking and banning is a threat to "free speech" – but never daring to express any controversial opinion in case people doxx you and threaten to turn up at your home and torture you to death is apparently some kind of ultimate freedom. People are absolutely hopping mad about "social justice warriors" and "call-out culture". Telling someone to check their privilege, or not to make sexist (or racist or other bigoted) remarks is perceived as a threat in the way that the actual hurtful remarks somehow aren't. I have quite a lot of male acquaintances who feel really uncomfortable with even DW (which although female-dominated by the numbers is much less of a feminine culture than many sites, I'd say) because it's "too feminist" or "too PC" or even just "too pink".

Then again, maybe my experience is just weird. I've presented as female online for more than 10 years, and I've had people disagree with me and criticize me rudely, but never in violent terms, and I've never experienced a concerted attack or been stalked beyond the post that people disagreed with. But equally, I've very rarely experienced street harassment and never sexual violence offline, and I don't go through my life being hypervigilant against stranger rape, all of which I've often seen described as absolutely inevitable aspects of female experience by many feminists.

OK, that probably should have been two or three separate posts. And now I really must get back to my marking!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 05:07 pm (UTC)
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
From: [personal profile] oursin
I agree (I don't this will come as any surprise, given that I've commented about this myself, often enough) that when people talk about 'the Internet' it's a narrow and not necessarily representative and certainly not universal slice, and that it is many things and places, not one ghastly combination of FB and people slugging it out in CiF.

I was going to say that I've been 'female on the internet' in various venues since the mid-90s, but my first name is androgynous and even the variant spellings don't break down along gender lines, which may have some relevance. I was on listservs, indeed I ran one for several years (never again), had a website, etc. I've had cranks and spammers, and people being generally tiresome, and occasionally rude, but that's about it, to date.

One of the things I like about LJ/DW is that one is not writing A [Topic] Blog, though some people do use them for that, but that it's a place where a diversity of things can be expressed in the ways they might be when meeting up with friends in real life - 'Let me tell you about this awful work thing/great book I read/annoying piece in the paper, etc etc' - and the possibility of conversations.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-17 12:24 pm (UTC)
oursin: Cartoon hedgehog going aaargh (Hedgehog goes aaargh)
From: [personal profile] oursin
I've just remembered some guy who wrote a newspaper column (or might have been a blog) that he was giving up online socialising in favour of communicating with his friends by phone. Quite apart from the fact that many of my own friends are in time-zones that would make this problematic, AAAAAAARRRRGGGHHH. Plenty of people have phone phobia, while talking on the phone may not actually be convenient at any given moment. I wonder how many of them remained friends? (history does not relate?)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 06:09 pm (UTC)
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
From: [personal profile] lavendersparkle
At Cambridge Limmud I went to a session on Jewish bloggers. The Jewish bloggers I read are mainly women with a primarily female readership. The speakers at the session were men talking about their political blogs and their experience was so different to my experience of reading and writing blogs. That's when I realised that the majority of the blogs I read are by women and have mainly female readerships and comment moderation. It's interesting that sometimes these blogs can be very political, but often in the drawing from personal experience, relating to caring ways that male dominated media don't regard as political. I never see physical threats and rarely rude replies on these sites. I do see many really thoughtful constructive discussions between people who disagree.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 07:03 pm (UTC)
woggy: (Lurking Frog)
From: [personal profile] woggy
I generally agree with the premise posited here. ('s nice to have something to point to as one of the reasons why I adore Dreamwidth so much.)

I am mildly perplexed to hear that there are, mmm, 'menfolk', who feel threatened and/or alienated by DW. I suppose my gender-noncompliance is showing.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 07:52 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
So much all of this (and me typing ont the iPad and not home until tomorrow night...)

Other things:

1) Having a substantial social community I interact with online also helps with health issues (I am way more often up for chatting than I am for going somewhere and chatting), with having a distributed social network so I'm not burdening people who have their own stuff (people who are won't read my post/be on for chat/whatever, so I can be reasonably confident that the people I ping are okay with most kinds of chat I'm likely to want) .

Also sometimes leads to odd things - I am here in this llibrary interviewing for the job I just interviewed for precisely *because* of online social community, and getting to see people from online more. And I am not scared of losing friends from other places because we have online space to keep connected with. Both of those are exceedingly valuable to me.

2) I totally agree about spaces (I also find fascinating that DW has a fraction of the Abuse reports of LJ at the same size, incidentally, and I think that has to do with culture of the space and how it's framed in a big way.)

3) I also have had very little direct harassment online for being female. (Some, though like you, I don't get much in person, either) though I've had a lot more "You're being noticeably female in a space where we are running conversation by male-assumed-social-standards.

I do occasionally make waves (especially on my other long-time online social community which is a Pagan forum) for not being emotional enough, mind you. (I am all "I want to give you helpful information, and I am going to assume you are an intelligent adult-enough person to want the good stuff and not be coddled about it!")

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-22 05:46 pm (UTC)
jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenett
On location: Oh, yes. I am currently living (though job hunting to try and move elsewhere) in rural New England, where the nearest town larger than the one I live in (8,000 people, which is not exactly huge) is about 45 minutes, and the nearest thing bigger than that is 90 minutes. I do go out and be social with people in person, but the thing I most reliably make it to, my one local friend drives to. (Or if I drive, as I have when it's made more sense to take my car, I know I can ask her to drive home if I wind up too exhausted.)

Anyway. My point is that I can manage this job because (rural as it is) if I live in downtown (which I do) I can have high speed internet access, and talk to my friends online easily. Ten years ago, or if I lived further out, and my access was a lot slower and/or failure prone (like sattelite can be) I would have a vastly harder time living here.

And yet, at the same time, I don't have to try and muster 45 minutes or more to go see people I like - I can do trips to Boston (4ish hours) every couple of months, and they're tiring, but I get to see people in person, and that's great. And between times, there's email and chat and so on.

(One of the things that's driving me to job hunt though - besides actual chagnes in my job environment that are making me somewhat cranky - is tht I'd really like to be somewhere where having more than one local friend is likely, because of the 'if I end up in hospital or just unable to cope for a week or two' the available local services for that kind of thing are really iffy. There's stuff for long-term care and terminal illness and so on, but not a lot in the space of 'can I get my groceries delivered' or 'can I get freezer food that doesn't have stuff that makes me feel lousy in it' or 'Can I get a cleaning service to come do heavy cleaning without a lot of fussing. Which is all stuff I mostly don't need right now, but having it for backup would relieve a lot of stress.)

I kept trying to find [personal profile] synecdochic talking about the comparison, and here it is. Or at least that's one place.

I find the Pagan community spaces fascinating, because a number of segments of modern Paganism skew noticeably female (for a variety of reasons, some of which are about societal encouragement about who talks about religion and who doesn't, but some of which are about historical artifacts of the development of modern Paganism and why people tend to become Pagan as adults, and we're still mostly religious communities of converts.)

Anyway, there's a decided distinction between online Pagan forums that are focused on fellowship and support and those focused on discussion and education. The place I mentioned upthread is decidedly in the second group, but I find it fascinating that the people who have torn into me have almost always (it's about a 8 or 9 to 1 ration, over more than a decade) been female, and have been unhappy that I'm not being more socially female about the interaction. I find it mostly entirely fascinating.

(Also helps that I have a rep there for being one of the most patient people around, so when I give up and stop, there's usually plenty of people willing to step in and point out that I've been very patient.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 08:27 pm (UTC)
nanila: me (Default)
From: [personal profile] nanila
My experience with online spaces mirrors what you've written here. I've been quite selective about my participation in them; for instance, only joining FB very reluctantly when several relatives requested that I do so. Perhaps this came from being on the internet in Usenet days, when communities were de facto arranged around particular interests. I (probably unconsciously then) picked interests in which people mostly seemed to value being helpful and kind over "winning" or being "correct".

For my first few years on LJ I didn't have an icon containing a photo of me or that was particularly "girly". Because I posted about science, I was often addressed with male pronouns. If I corrected a commenter who had assumed I was male, I found that the tone of their replies would sometimes change.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 10:20 pm (UTC)
ghoti: fish jumping out of bowl (Default)
From: [personal profile] ghoti
I really appreciate your adding on that last paragraph. Because
But equally, I've very rarely experienced street harassment and never sexual violence offline, and I don't go through my life being hypervigilant against stranger rape, all of which I've often seen described as absolutely inevitable aspects of female experience by many feminists. is my experience as well, and I feel as though I'm in a distinct minority in online communities for whom that is true.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-11-13 01:57 pm (UTC)
ceb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ceb
AOL - it's not often that saying so is a useful addition to a discussion, of course.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-15 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I've very rarely experienced street harassment and never sexual violence offline

Perhaps you have, but haven't noticed? There might be all sorts of microaggressions being directed at you that you just aren't registering because you aren't sufficiently aware.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 12:47 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Microaggressions are microaggressions, street harassment is street harassment, and sexual violence is sexual violence. While she might plausibly have failed to pick up on microaggressions, I'm pretty sure she'd notice street harassment or sexual violence. Neither is subtle.

I'm pretty sure I do pick up on microaggressions, and I can say with confidence that street harassment is something that is surpassingly rare in my own experience, despite the fact that I am a woman who works late hours in a very rough neighborhood. Sexual violence is even more outside my direct experience.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 09:20 am (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I think "microaggressions" are very different to "sexual violence" - which is much harder to miss.

I also think that, in my own life (which is not liv's life, obviously) I have experienced remarkable little of that sort of thing. I think that probably the absolute worst I've ever had from strangers is rude comments about my body hair at a public swimming pool; and actually that I probably rank the directorial choices on Game of Thrones as worse than that... I guess I'm just really really lucky, lots of people certainly seem to have much worse times of it - I want to know how to replicate really lucky for other people.

I kinda really hate the emphasis that many people put on "stranger danger" (including of course rape-by-stranger). Statistically women are much much more likely to be physically harmed by *people they are already quite close to* - family members, partners, friends - which I guess is just really fucking scary to contemplate? Horrible nasty words are perhaps more likely to come from strangers, possibly in proportion to how likely you are to hear any words from strangers.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-17 06:45 pm (UTC)
shreena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shreena
I've discussed street harassment with a lot of my female friends and what I conclude is that some women just seem to attract much more of it than others. I am in the unlucky camp - though, as I get older, that seems to be less the case (when I was in my teens and early 20s, I used to get men following me through town probably 3-4 times a year, which was genuinely scary) - and I've never quite figured out what it is that is the determining factor. It definitely isn't conventional attractiveness or style of dress or anything like that.

The only thing that strikes me as a common factor with women I know who are also in the unlucky crew is a certain 'vulnerability' about all of us - most of us are shorter, tend to be dressed more casually (I almost never get any street harassment when I'm dressed for the office), have a vague/daydreamy quality and (not in all cases) have some kind of visible disability.

/end anecdata

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-17 09:43 pm (UTC)
naath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naath
I'm short and almost always casual (or 'sexy') (I have a very casual workplace)...

But I'm nearly always travelling at speed, generally on a bike (sometimes on foot). Maybe that makes a difference? And I'm not short-and-tiny, but rather tiny-ball-of-grrrr? Maybe I'm just gone before the nasty words get out of their mouths?

(I feel I get more grief as a cyclist than a woman; but also *as a woman* less grief than male cyclist-friends get - maybe that's the "cuteness" talking? I'm pretty good at being "cute and helpless" in a way that makes other people help me get my bike onto trains... but I think I don't usually read as vulnerable)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 01:05 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Facebook is just weird, in this respect. FB (in its current incarnation) seems to be set up to try to get men to interact in more female-typcial ways, without giving the site too many girl cooties that might drive away male custom. FB all but automates a certain kind of low-level, perhaps not very satisfying but socially important bonding interactions. Remembering people's birthdays, cooing over pictures of their kids / grandchildren / pets, expressing sympathy for their troubles. You occasionally get opinion pieces by male authors complaining about how trivial and time-wasting it all is, but in pre-FB days this was just naturally assumed to be women's job, the price of entry into having a social life.

Brilliant observation.

I think I disagree with you about cooperative vs. competitive -- I participate in online debating spaces which are nakedly, explicitly, formally competitive, in the sense that they keep score, and nevertheless they tend to be quite collegial -- but I want to go think more about it. Perhaps it's as simple as competition not being the same thing as aggression; these competitive spaces may be fiercely so, but aggression isn't tolerated.

I agree very much about the multiplicities of internets -- a fact which makes my teeth grind at much of the moral panic writing on the internet among therapists. However, I think whenever you see anyone ascribe generalizations to "social networking", it should be, in the present moment, decoded as "FB". Or maybe, if we're generous, "FB + Instagram". I don't even think most people mean Twitter when they pontificate about "social networking".

And the elephant in the room about FB is that FB == Family. I learned this from my patients. People wind up with awful relationships to FB because of the "friending" of family members. But it's so beyond the pale of social acceptability to say, "Augh, my FB experience sucks because my mother/rabid Tory cousin/alcoholic sister/racist BiL/etc is on it and I keep winding up in conflict with them or they humiliate me in front of my actual friends or they otherwise are excruciatingly inappropriate", so instead, people mouth platitudes about how awful FB in general is, and beg off of it.

Part of why FB's privacy settings are inadequate isn't just because of all the obvious ways they're broken by design. It's that there can be no software which solves the problem of Meddlesome Aunt June demanding at the wedding reception why you never comment on her wall, and have you seen all the articles she posted for you about how magnets will cure your medical problem?
Edited Date: 2014-05-16 01:10 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 04:41 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I agree about FB and family, but also it's becoming a social expectation, so even when nothing anxiety-inducing is happening there, it's an anxiety nightmare for those of us who deliberately limit contact with family and friends for mental health reasons. I got a facebook account to keep up with my brother who was living overseas, and immediately everyone was friending me and asking why I wasn't talking to them, when the only person I had friended was my brother. FB's settings are designed for maximum intrustion and the people who want to intrude use that to their full advantage.

Fortunately, my entire immediate family got onto WeChat instead and now I don't have to go to FB anymore.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 06:38 am (UTC)
lavendersparkle: Jewish rat (Default)
From: [personal profile] lavendersparkle
Part of why FB's privacy settings are inadequate isn't just because of all the obvious ways they're broken by design. It's that there can be no software which solves the problem of Meddlesome Aunt June demanding at the wedding reception why you never comment on her wall, and have you seen all the articles she posted for you about how magnets will cure your medical problem?

I think Facebook have inadvertently provided a bit of a solution through having algorithms that don't show you all of the content of your friends and not explaining how it works. I've used the "Hmm, I don't remember seeing that. Maybe Facebook's weird algorithm thing is making it not show up on my wall." excuse. It sounds plausible to a meddlesome aunt.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 09:02 am (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Oh yes. I am the Weird One of my spouse's family because I deleted my facebook account years ago, and haven't recreated it, and don't know all the stuff they are posting there.

On the whole, I think this is more restful, and the occasional friction because of invitations only made via facebook, or photos only shared that way, is worth the lack of hassle. Also there's definitely a gendered-expecations thing going on, because my spouse is the one who still maintains a facebook to "stay in touch" with his family, but I'm the one who gets complained at for not knowing stuff (because spouse is really not very good at passing on the kind of family update that they put on FB and expect me to know).

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 04:38 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: Black Widow with sights on her (black widow)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
My online experience has been very similar to yours except that I'm a comics fan and spent a lot of time in majority male forums which contained a lot of abuse - not just against women, but against men who didn't conform to the Right Opinions as well. My solution to that was finding more female-dominated (though not female exclusive) spaces.

But I was also a comments moderator at a reasonably prominent feminist blog for a fortnight, replacing a usual mod while she was on holiday. It was frankly appalling, the violence and hate that was directed against writers, commenters, the subjects of articles, other famous women, the posters' female family just went on and on. Ban someone and they'd spring up with three new identities. There was a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes, soaking up women's time and energy and goodwill, just to keep the site functional and user-friendly. I couldn't deal with it for longer than the two weeks I had promised.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 06:40 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
One of the utter delights of LJ as a platform is that ban evasion is a major offense. Doesn't eliminate it, but cuts down on the people who are willing to do it there -- one way or the other.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 08:13 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
After a few years which involved some really strange and often bad interactions, I started moderating my spaces with a lot fewer second or third chances. I observed a marked improvement.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-17 06:18 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I found the same thing.

Small spaces generally find it fairly easy to use social cohesion to maintain community conduct. It's when spaces get larger that things fall apart - and if you don't maintain social norms through judicious moderation things get really bad very quickly.

I have major regrets from not moderating comments on my journal more strongly earlier than I did, and letting some of the conversations get badly out of control before I stepped in. It's tricky if I'm at work when these things happen, but nowadays I do a much better job.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-28 02:21 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic

For a while, I had some unfortunate friends, who packed along problems like a picnic. With them no longer friends, things are much quieter.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-16 10:13 am (UTC)
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaberett
[Thank you for writing this! I appreciate it.]

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-18 06:12 pm (UTC)
pretty_panther: (misc: kitty kat)
From: [personal profile] pretty_panther
I find this a fascinating post. I saw it when it first came up and I felt I didn't have the words that fit this. I had to go away and think about it and I have, several times. Now I think an honest spitfire like approach is best.

First off, I agree. It is...different identifying as female on the internet. I also think, as a side on, that it is hard in itself because many circles I am around are fighting for non binary rights and while I support that tooth, nail and more some it is hard. It is hard to be cis and female. There is a feeling of being caught between spaces. There is a lot of 'yeah your X is bad but my Y is worse' which doesn't help anyone involved.

I think what is hard is that you can't predict where you will be safe identifying as a woman and where you will be attacked for it. For example, tumblr is a pretty safe place to say you are female. Recently it has become a rather uncomfortable place to say you are cis.

It is hard to juggle. There are times when people are rude because they are rude, and times when people are rude because they are sexist.

It makes it hard to speak up because some times you can't be sure. I think this is an interesting topic though and I was very interested in your thoughts.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-20 09:57 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
*reads with interest* - and this is utterly inadequate as a response, but sadly, is all I currently have brain for.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-24 06:13 pm (UTC)
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx Lynx" arranged so that one y is superimposed over the other. (Yellow background grafix)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
Thanks for this (I'm pretty sure I saw this post last week but brain may not have been up to processing it then), since I started realizing that my default third-person pronoun for unknown accounts tends to be "she" (I was an English major. Singular "they" is a struggle).

Just so you know: In the 15th paragraph, the link to xkcd has an extraneous %22 that leads to a 404 Not Found.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-25 12:44 pm (UTC)
doseybat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] doseybat
In Madagascar for most people "internet" = "FB" (for the ones with enough privilege to have any). Many people have told me they have chosen to not be part of the internet because this is the same as voluntarily exposing yourself to critical examination and gossip by family and contacts. It is also complicated by the fact that being online is in itself a prominent privilege symbol as most people cannot afford to have it at home (considerably more expensive than UK in both relative and absolute terms) and net cafes are over capacity. In the office we have ca 10 computers with the screens facing the centre of the room; most of the time it is either specimen databases of FB.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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