Sierra Wyndsong (sierrawyndsong) wrote,
Sierra Wyndsong

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Insult of Sarcastic Proportions

Sometimes the words don't have to sting the first time around. A person who is really good at insulting can get a zinger or two in before you even notice it. One of my editors was fond of referring to the subjects of my stories as "God fearing Christians." It was his way of sidestepping the words he really wanted to use for the child-rapist who only got a couple of years of prison time, the guy who raped his step-daughter over many years and then married her, the drunk driver who killed a couple of kids on prom night. The list was many. The first time he used it, though, I paused for a moment. I thought perhaps he knew these people and I had forgotten to factor in the religious aspect of their sad little tales.

No. It was his way of maintaining an appropriate and politically correct demeanor in the newsroom. It was his way of not looking like an ass should someone actually support or was related to one of the people I was writing about it. It was just a safety measure that allowed the conversation to focus on the writing rather than it falling apart into yet another discussion of why people were horrible. Because it is hard to go home and try to sleep at night when you have a 3D visual of a statistic burned into your mind. It doesn't go away very easily.

But the thing about sarcasm is that it does not translate into the written word. There is no way to hear the edge or see the eyeroll or glimpse the smirk that invariably is paired with a sarcastic comment. That is why it is so incredibly difficult to have a conversation online where people don't take something the wrong way. I think I have seen more apologies written in the last few months over stuff that just boggles my mind. And not just about the relentless race argument. I have seen a few people end up f-locking their fanfiction because people were lighting up their comment section because the pairing choice wasn't OTP in that particular fandom. So, on many things, people feel entitled to apologies because they feel slighted - from the serious to the very whatever.

In fact, a few times I even noticed where someone was actually apologizing because their apologies were offensive or didn't seem sincere enough. It has gotten to the point where people are so busy apologizing or demanding apologies or critiquing the apologies, that it's hard to dig and find out where the entire trouble lies.

Sometimes, some of these conversations are best left occurring in person, where you can hear the tone and see the facial expressions. Body language is really key to certain conversations. You can tell if someone is sincere and not paying lip service. I think it is important to grant at least some leeway to people in lieu of the face-to-face ability. Either that or we all need to hold these conversations via web cam. 

Otherwise, the over-apologies that some people proffer at the behest of people demanding the apologies just really cheapen the issue. At that point, the conversation has been derailed, the original concern is lost in the shuffle and everyone goes back to their corners licking their wounds with a shell-shocked expression on their faces.

I wish I could remember the episode of Enterprise where one of the characters defined compromise as being where all parties walk away not satisfied. The thing is, sometimes 'sorry' just doesn't cut it because one word can't possibly erase the many words it took to cause the hurt feelings. And sometimes, an apology isn't really necessary. There are times when there just isn't a right or wrong side to the situation. Sometimes there is just slight misunderstandings, comments taken out of context, partial quotes referenced where people don't bother reading the entire conversation or the subsequent comment thread that supports the conversation. That saddens me greatly.

The thing is, this has been a few months of watching people snarling at one another over what can really be summed up as a handful of comments that were just really taken out of context and blown way out of proportion. And let me tell, it is damned hard to try and explain yourself to a group of people who have already decided that you are guilty and you have to pull proof of innocence out of your ass. I would think it would be more important to give the person a chance to discuss their decision rather than try to defend an action you have already determined to be their ultimate failure as a human being. 

Please, most of the people on here pointing fingers have failed in several instances of their own. And I would be really interested to see where their blogs stood just a couple of years ago. Some of the fanfiction writers who I often read and have weighed in on the entire race issue have yet to toss out any fanfiction where the main pairings are PoC. Actually, that is a really good point to consider. I wonder how many of them have made a mistake and then had to crawl through broken glass and fire just to try to get back in everyone's good graces.

Punishment should not be the endeavor when trying to open up dialogue with people. You should actively listen to what they are saying without simply waiting for your turn to speak. I have noticed on here a lot of people have jumped on one part of a comment rather than taking the entire comment in context. They have hopped on partial quotes and ran off with the subsequent interpretation. That is a huge failure I think. 

Since we can only imagine the way someone sounds when they are saying some of these things, why don't we try to breathe before we attack. And try to determine whether someone is actually being mean-spirited or whether they just didn't choose the best possible words to convey the tone they meant. Because we can't see sarcasm, we can only hear it, even in a situation where the sound is echoing only in our minds. And where it is only there because that is how we expect the other person meant it to sound. Likewise, it is difficult to see politeness and concern. Sometimes you can get a feel for the tone of a written conversation, but not always. Especially not in situations where the comments start coming at you in rapid-fire fashion and it gets increasingly difficult to answer quickly. And so the humor and the spirit of the conversation is lost in the shuffle.

Sometimes it is just obvious misconception and the person is too stupid to get it. Like the one conversation in which someone ended up not answering a  comment posted in the wee hours of the morning, and the commenter put in a follow -up comment about how clearly the person didn't care because there was no comment yet and what a failure it was and a multitude of other insults. The person probably went to sleep. Sometimes, it really has nothing to do with you personally and everything to do with their own real lives that take priority.

That is why a simple misunderstanding and a planned choice should be determined before the meaning and a breakdown of the goal of the conversation is determined. Only then can you truly work toward determining the real tone of a written conversation.

Of course, then I suppose we wouldn't have anything to bitch about, said Sierra, her tone dripping with sarcasm.


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