Stephanie discusses the “advice” Justin Vacula gives on how to deal with being harassed. I put “advice” in scare quotes because it’s not really advice in the ordinary understanding of the word; it’s more of a bullies’ formula than advice. “I’ll stop harassing you if you stop doing all the things that motivate me to harass you” is about the size of it.
Then Justin Vacula showed up, still trying to peddle the idea that the harassment is just the little price that some of us have to pay in order to have an opinion. Novella pointed out that he was both minimizing and mischaracterizing the situation. So Vacula (in a comment that included a couple of quotes for which he both seems to be the source and is demanding citations) tried again.
Here are some tips, anyway, for Rebecca and anyone who faces criticism/hate to reduce the criticism/hate:
Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.
Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.
Refrain from attacking individuals; stick to criticism of ideas rather than persons.
Consider how people might respond to what you write. Can something be reframed so as to not lead to undesirable criticism?
Avoid sharing content when experiencing heightened emotions (great anger, disgust, stress, etc)
Consider sharing something with friends before it becomes public. A second (or third) set of eyes might suggest helpful edits which would avoid negative feedback.
You see what sweeping advice that is. Don’t indirectly engage with dissenters – so, don’t say anything that might get “dissenters” (by which he means harassers) riled up…
But wait a minute. Wait a minute. Everything gets the “dissenters” i.e. harassers riled up. Literally everything. There are a few core harassers – I hope it’s a few but in truth I don’t know how many it is, and it’s probably more than a few – who monitor every single thing I say in public online, in order to post it at the mildew pit and tweet about it and discuss it on blogs and Facebook. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s just that I say it. It’s typed by Pruney (as they call me) so it has to be reposted for jeering and smearing and lying.
So the only way to follow that first item of advice is to stop writing. Period.
And all the rest is just more of the same. Stop writing, stop talking.
And then what? The “dissenters” and “ideological opponents” will stop slandering us? No. No, nothing is said about that, naturally. No, it’s all a matter of “you shut up and then see what happens.”
Stephanie does a brilliant job of asking “how was I/Ophelia/Melody/EEB/Amy/Jen supposed to expect that” saying or doing this one small thing would lead to such ridiculously excessive reactions.
- How was Melody to know that choosing when and where to deal with “critics” on Twitter would lead to Vacula making a YouTube video calling her a “professional victim”? Is there a way to reframe limiting your exposure to constant negativity that can’t have the nonsense label du jour slapped on it?
- How were the Skepchicks to know that offering a workshop at CSICon would lead to Vacula saying they produce “everyday nonsense” on the conference hashtag? Is there a way to reframe teaching skepticism that keeps people from using hashtags for their own purposes, whatever they may be?
- How was EEB to know that leaving a comment on Ophelia’s blog would lead to Vacula doing a “dramatic reading” of that comment on YouTube then posting it at the slime pit? Is there a way to reframe being tired and upset that would keep him from giggling through her distress?
How indeed. We don’t know, we can’t know. We know there will be bullshit of some kind, usually several variants of it by several different people in several media, but we can’t know exactly what kind of bullshit it will be, and we are often surprised. I was surprised by Vacula’s malicious sniggering delight at EEB’s comment. I’m often surprised at the ways people are willing to expose themselves.