tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (work)
I used to think that arguing on the Internet was a way of procrastinating, and that if I got into an argument it would distract me for the rest of the afternoon because hey, I'm a lazy procrastinator. Now I'm not so sure. I don't want to appropriate the language of triggers, because I'd rather leave that for the people who actually have PTSD (and I'm not one of them, as far as I know). But I am tempted to appropriate it because I'm not sure how else I can talk about the physical effect on me that it has when someone makes a boundary-crossing remark (usually not personally directed at me, but at a group I'm part of, for example); I engage because it's my reflex to; and they respond by shitting all over boundaries even more so. It's a heart-racing, dreading-opening-up-the-next-reply but doing it anyway and then it just gets worse kind of thing. And then I either stay in the argument, or do other equally non-productive things because my ability to focus on anything else is ruined for the next few minutes, the next few hours, or the whole day, depending.

Knowing what I know now, I'm less inclined to explain it in terms of conscious mechanisms (I don't want to do work -- or I don't want to go to bed -- so I procrastinate by seeking out wrong people on the Internet so I can tell them they're wrong) and more inclined to explain it in terms of subconscious mechanisms. Except I don't know how the latter work, or how to talk about it, or whether that even applies to me because my mental health is "not that bad". This doesn't tend to happen to me when arguing about anything work-related, and it doesn't even always happen when arguing about politics. That, I think, has less to do with the content, and more to do with how invalidating the other person is being (which is why the Mozilla code of conduct discussions ruined my ability to do much work for a few weeks -- but that's another post I'm still writing); while there are some technical communities where emotional invalidation is common in technical discussions, I'm fortunate to be in one that's not like that. (It's happened a few times in work-related discussions at places where I used to work; essentially hasn't happened in those discussions in the past year, though.)

I don't recall being actively invalidated or dismissed as being a big part of my early life (although being ignored sure was). I'm almost tempted to posit some sort of collective memory shared by abuse survivors that would explain why it's so upsetting to me to feel like I'm actively not being listened to or not being heard (when someone replies to what they think I said, or to what I represent in their mind, rather than what I said), when I don't have clear memories of having experienced that early on in life. Then again, there's a lot I can't remember.

Does anyone have ways of explaining / thinking about this kind of thing that doesn't step on anyone else's feet? I'm not sure any of this is even understandable; hi.
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
The problem with pointing out that there's something a little bit off about somebody telling you to be more respectful, and telling you to (verbatim) "shut the fuck up" in the same paragraph, is that there's just no way to point that out without looking like a jerk.

(Yes, I know that it's probably just as obvious to everybody else as it is to me, and hence there's no need to point it out -- but I'm a programmer; my job is to restate the obvious.)
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (work)
While walking down the street today to get lunch with my four co-workers from my job that I found out about on LiveJournal, two of whom I originally know from LiveJournal, we ran into a friend of mine who I originally met on LiveJournal who, it turns out, my boss also knows. (Not from LiveJournal.)

Modern communication technology destroys community and makes us anti-social, though.
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
In a post on Jezebel, a guy writing about his experiences pre- and post-transition wrote:
"I can't deny that testosterone has changed my behavior. I used to cry to let my rage out. Now, the tears rarely come, even when I'm sad. I am more assertive, but in control. I channel my anger and aggression into running and weight lifting, into creative projects that set me free from pain. I go for long drives and take more risks on the road. I'm less likely to ask for directions."
In response to that, one commenter wrote:
"So we're to assume that before transitioning, you were a hysterical crybaby? And that testosterone is the reason why men don't stop for directions? For realz? It couldn't possibly be that since your transition to, identification with, and perception of being male you've started performing gender in a way that you have internalized as acceptable male behavior? That gender binary, man, it's pretty....intact.... Also, congrats on your ability to engage in homosocial bonding, gain the respect of other men, and walk alone at night. It must be real nice to be a dude. Sorry, but I really don't like the laguage of this article and think that being so quick to give preference to "biology" or "hormones" over socialization when it comes to gendered behavior only furthers to restrict us to our roles, male and female.
To which I wrote:
"I find it a bit odd that while no one would deny the evidence that someone who begins taking testosterone from a baseline of an average-female hormonal balance will probably (after a few years) sprout some chest hair that was not previously present, and while no one would claim that it's a social construct when testosterone causes the same person to stop menstruating, some people *do* seem to have a personal investment in vociferously denying that testosterone could possibly have an effect on subjective mental states. The brain is part of the body, no? Then wouldn't it be more surprising if introducing a powerful chemical into one's body *didn't* affect one's brain than if it did?

What I think you're trying to do in this comment is deny trans people's lived experience and suggest that they are deluded when they testify that their experience is more than just a social construct. You seem to be suggesting that only cis people can possibly transcend the limitations of social constructs and critique trans people's lived experience based on objective *truth* (that only cis people can access), while when a trans person critiques a cis person's assumptions about trans lives -- assumptions that usually reflect more about that cis person's individual insecurities than what it's like to be a trans person -- that person can be automatically dismissed as a poor victim of oppressive gender roles. That's, frankly, fucked up."

tim: Mike Slackernerny thinking "Scientific progress never smelled better" (science)
Arguing with people on the Internet is compelling for me because I have a thing about not being heard, and almost all the time, when someone disagrees with me (and bothers to engage with me about it), they don't believe anything fundamentally different from what I believe -- or so it seems to me. It's just a misunderstanding, and if only I keep trying to explain the truth well enough, to be a good enough teacher, the other person will see the light and agree with me.

When it doesn't immediately descend into profanity (which is boring, but which actually usually doesn't happen), talking to people on the Internet about gender is even more compelling, because it's just so easy to expose fundamentally wrong assumptions with a few well-honed questions.

For example, everyone is convinced that chromosomes are what make a person a man or a woman -- what give people some fundamental essence of being male or female that is both socialy significant and that no amount of social or medical adjustment can change -- but everyone is also happy to fling about "man" and "woman" all the time for people whose chromosomes they have never examined.

Everyone is convinced that it's easy to spot a transsexual, but nobody actually knows how many people they've seen and believed were transsexual actually weren't trans, or how many people they've seen and believed were cissexual were in fact trans.

Everyone is convinced that, even if one makes the politically correct concession of calling trans people by the right name and pronouns, it's still appropriate and meaningful to call a trans woman "biologically male". But nobody can conjure up the objective, biological characteristic that differentiates cis women from trans women. No, it's not the subjective, social characteristic of having been assigned female (or not) at birth; no, it's not the internal, psychological characteristic of knowing oneself to be a woman or a man. Then what is it? Everyone knows there's something there, something measurable, that denotes your woman-ness or man-ness independently of your beliefs or those of a specific person or group of people observing you. But no one can actually name or describe that very concrete, very objective criterion... whatever it may be.

Of course, you can tell people as many times as you want that some boys are born with penises, some girls are born with penises, some boys are born with vulvas, some girls are born with vulvas, and some people are born with either but aren't girls or boys, and none of these groups are intrinsically more authentic than any of the others. But it's much more fun to try to find the right questions to ask that will force them to say that themselves, if you can get them there before the Shitcock Effect sets in.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
How much did this reddit comment potentially cost you, user valhalla_coder? I suspect you have absolutely no idea.


tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

March 2014

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