What happens when you engage


Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 01 August 2014

Much digital ink has been spilled over the D&D consultants controversy. There have been a lot of demands for proof, but what proof would actually entail seems to be rather vague and mostly defined by the fans of the two people involved. I don't care about that, what I do want to explain is what happens if you engage one of these two people in an ongoing discussion in which there is a fundamental disagreement.

The Fail Forward blog had a post about the controversy, How Dungeons and Dragons is endorsing the darkest parts of the RPG community. I shared it on G+, stating explicitly that I wasn't sure how I felt about the title. Personally, I don't think hiring someone endorses everything about them, just as I don't think adding a +1 to a G+ post is an endorsement of everything said in the post, but I know that there are people who disagree. There was a long, heated conversation.

During the conversation, I found another post, by someone who wrote the following: "What the heck? Someone found my blog by googling for pregnant rpg porn games?! O_o" In between games of Hearthstone with Jared, I decided to check out my own analytics to see what search terms people used to find my blog. I posted a tweet about it.

Analytics information is always interesting and I looked at where in the world hits were coming from. I looked at a few and then noticed something that I thought was pretty funny. Some person decided to check out a particular page on my site, not once, but twice, and it seems like the person hadn't visited any other pages. The page only has the image on it, no text, no commentary.

I thought this was funny so I posted on G+ a link to my blog along with the context of why I found it funny. The individual in Uruguay hit the page not once, but twice. What happened next is a good illustration of what happens if you engage with one of the two people and then do something that they assume is an attack.

The text:

Seriously, fuck +Tracy Hurley and her lying shitsack Character Assassination. This is utterly fucking pathetic, even by Swine standards. How low, how desperate, can you get?

Also, Tracy, your porn sucks ass. But what should we expect from a fucking prude? The very proof of you being a fucking prude is that you think a sad pathetic lie like this is what will somehow work, because you know, looking at porn is supposed to be shameful, so one way to discredit enemies is to claim they're looking at your porn... how fucked up is that?

I never visited your fucking site once, and certainly wouldn't waste my time on sub-par shit like this. I'd go to Suicide Girls... which is what really pisses you off, isn't it? That things done by people you envy are more successful than anything you've ever had a crack at? How sad.

Go fuck yourself.

The guy making the post is RPGPundit. He makes a number of key assumptions:

  • That I know and/or remember that he lives in Uruguay.
  • That any reference to Uruguay must therefore be a reference to him.
  • That this is porn.
  • That, even if it was porn, that I would use the fact that someone likes porn to shame or discredit "my enemies."

This is nothing but vile and filled with the same old sad personal attacks. This is the response people get when they dare to share their experiences with others. Everything you do, write, or say is analyzed to see if it's really just a veiled attack against one of them. If they find something that can be twisted into an attack, a post like the above goes up, and you get comments like this.

[+Someone else in conversation] So the best option is to act like a passive-aggressive little shit, like +Tracy Hurley ?

She pointed it out she had a webpage visitor from said country for a reason. Considering the history between her and Pundit it's ringing fucking alarm bells. Why would she do that? Seems pretty loaded.

And the "holier than thou" attitude of the other commenters is the most pathetic sight I have seen is many years. 

But I want to point you to something else as well. See the part at the top, where he shares it just with his extended circles? So what does that mean?

When you click on the "extended circles" label, a dialog box appears informing you that the post is "visible to everyone in [the original sharer's] circles, plus all the people in their circles." Meaning that it's shared with those up to 2 degrees away from the original sharer.

Source

So this means that only those who are in his circles and the people in their circles will be able to see it. Now, it's possible he did this because he was trying to let loose on me without bringing down the wrath of the internet, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But this is also an example of why it's so hard to provide screenshots and other proof of this sort of behavior. Much of this is not said in public. It's not easily searchable. This is a big reason why so many people never see it and why calls to link to this are seen as onerous.

Compared to some of the things on the internet I've been through and my friends have been through, this is relatively mild. I'm (sadly) used to people raging at me. I laughed at Pundit's post. Mistaking an Eisner winning comic for porn was a bit interesting (although I can see it). Once he assumed it was that, I can almost see his argument although it's not one I would ever make. Seeing that he was really arguing with the image of me that he's concocted in his head made it much easier to deal with his anger.

It's easy, though, to laugh off this one incident. However, it comes after weeks of having him, on my posts, call a coward anyone who refuses to argue in his proscribed way. Weeks of him asking me to defend arguments I've never made because apparently my side (whatever that means) made them. Of him decrying certain behaviors in one part of his post, only to engage in those same behaviors himself.

It's tiring. It's toxic. It's made people afraid to share their concerns and their experiences in public. It's why the people who are anonymous in the Fail Forward blog don't want to be named. I'm not asking you to agree with them. I am asking you to understand their point of view.

Addendum:
I had also shared on G+ Mandy Morbid's version of the controversy.

I also want to point out that it's not just the targets of people like RPGPundit who get attacks. Someone I respect got such hate directed at him too and I'm glad he was willing to post it. We can make our points without doing this. If you threaten someone in the way he was threatened, you are not my ally.

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