Go fuck yourself and write an email. A suggestion for comment behaviour on Indymedia.

Opinie, gepost door: Professor Fartsparkles op 08/07/2022 07:04:53

This article was written after talking with friends on some personal frustration about commenting behaviour online. Although we didn’t want to write be too serious about this topic, you will find some points in the article worth thinking about. But don’t take everything to serious, seriously.

The constant nagging and negative feedback online contributes to an overall nasty vibe. A vibe where activists or people who are on the verge of becoming active or recently became active might not want to do stuff just out of fear of criticism. And there I also needed to do some self-reflection, since I hate(d) a lot as well. But before we come to problems and solutions we need to dissect and categorize the commentators of Indymedia. So it is clear what exactly is happening and why this is counterproductive.

Diversity of Indymedia commentators
I think there are five kind of people who are somehow involved in the comment section of Indymedia. The Trolls, The Criticized, The Nihilists, The Academics, The Haters. I will give each of them a short description.

The Trolls are all about having fun and putting oil in the fire. Although they sometimes touch upon some kind of criticism, their goal is usually to have a laugh and cause a shitstorm. Often their comments are fun to read (see Nihilists), and often they are really not, but people still find that funny (see Nihilists). The comment of a troll usually isn’t coming from an ideological point of view or a need to clarify their own perspective on the situation. That would defeat the whole purpose of a troll, namely, wreak havoc and chaos while not getting personally involved. By definition, a troll isn’t contributing in a constructive way to the discussion it’s about going on peoples nerves for whatever reason.

The Criticized, the group which probably suffers most on these discussions. The criticized take most of the comments personal on any kind of level to the extent that it also affects their personal lives. Less sleep, more anxiety and less confidence. Just because a comment mentioned “If you say eat the rich, you would probably eat your own family” and they wanted to respond to that in an academic way (see academic). But instead of commenting the criticized is more afraid of the comment that would follow on their response. Thus instead of responding a downward spiral into oblivion and uncertainty follows. Only asking oneself what you could have done better for the coming weeks, in order to avoid any online criticism in the future. (sometimes it comes along with some strange attempt on being always as correct as possible). While they still ponder on the comment placed weeks ago the hater or troll who wrote the discerning comment forgot about it 2 minutes after they post it.

The Nihilists are often composed of the Indymedia veterans who have turned completely cynical about online discussion. Albeit for good reason. Instead of watching Temptation Island for daily drama, they crack open a cold one and read the Indymedia section for laughs. Mostly you won’t see them interacting with the discussion, as you won’t meet them on the demonstrations either, however, if they had a couple of beers they might write a single troll-like comment to keep up the soap. Nevertheless I hope they do comment on this article, since they likely know more about the indymedia drama dynamics than anybody else.

The Academics, in all this diversity you will have the comments which are way too long and might even contain footnotes and references. Although rare due to the time they require to write they are often quite constructive and explaining in nature, even nobody asked for it. Contributing to the discussion in an often polite but reflective way but mostly using words you require a masters degree for in order to understand. Therefore, their effort often goes by without much praise, is downplayed by someone who most likely found a spelling error, or is even more academic in quoting dead white males.

The Haters, similar to the trolls but less fun. And unlike the troll, who just comments when they smell opportunity, the haters believe its their mission to comment on every post. Maybe because they believe everybody is interested in their opinion (wich is not true). The haters’ comments do come from an ideological point of view and \ or a personal perspective. However this perspective is not immediately clear to the reader, since it is disguised in either a very short message or a very rude one. I personally believe that from all these groups, we can win the most from the haters. Since the haters often do have a good underlying reasoning and argumentation for their comment. They just don’t bother writing it down, or put it in such an arrogant way that nobody feels like arguing with them anymore.

The problem
If we look at the above named groups, which is of course the most brutal simplification of people contributing to indymedia, We can all probably imagine examples of indymedia discussions where some of these groups clashed with each other. It is nice to have a discussion where we all throw some poop and mud at each other, but I wouldn’t call it constructive, or helpful. Moreover for groups like the criticized or organizers of an event who wrote a report on indymedia negative non-constructive comments can be harmful for their personal state as well as their continuation of activism. We all make mistakes, and a couple of us even learn from it. But if we are not supportive to the people who actually do stuff, the people who learned from their mistakes might not try to organize something again. Why would you be part of a movement that just gives negative non-supportive feedback all the time? I mean this is what we get all the time from shitty newspapers, bourgoise liberals etc.

Besides that why would we follow up with a non-constructive discussion on every fucking thing that happens. Not only does it look like nobody does something right, it also gives the media, police and other unwanted institutions a sense of what goes on behind the scene and how we feel about certain actions. Besides, isn’t this kind of destructive communication behaviour what we most likely criticize on society ourselves? Don’t we wish for a more constructive and progressive way to talk to each other in a society build on solidarity?!

I once heard that someone mentioned “Who needs fascists, when you have communists like that”. Yes that quote is pulled completely out of context, but the same thing goes for indymedia comments. who needs extreme right when we have our own haters and trolls? - think about it

A suggestion for a solution
So my suggestions is as follows: Write a fucking email. If you want to give feedback or criticize a certain event, person or group, just write an email to them instead of commenting on indymedia. You will have to put some effort in it, but since you clearly don’t agree with it you might as well take the 30 minutes. It will make them more prone to actually listen to your points and take them into consideration. They might even respond with a clarification or some friendly feedback as well. Moreover we keep everything a little bit more private from institutions. Yes haters and academics, I am looking at you for this one. Gimme hope.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t have discussions online. There are actions/posts that don’t provide an email address were you could write to. So might as well comment on indymedia. There are some people or posts that are clearly sketchy or outright wrong which should be pointed out immediatly and publicly. Like the crying baby of the pinksterlandagen, thank fucking god that we collectively cancelled that. But we can still think about what we write in a more constructive manner. Because in the end the people you want to reach are probably not taking you serious with a shite comment, I mean who wants to answer to this, seriously. And the people that you do reach, you reach in such a negative manner that there is no point to comment at all. So there is no good reason for writing that comment, other than you unleashing some frustration which is probably not the problem of the people you unleashed upon. All the more reason to write something more serious so that you might have chance of reaching the people, our people, with your undoubtedly valid points.

So in the end I didn’t put an email adress in this article, hinting on a nice discussion in the comments.
Let the haters hate, let the trolls troll, let the academics academic. Get it out of your system. Or better yet do something else, its likely more productive than commenting on indymedia. As long as next time you write some constructive criticism in an email to organizers instead of putting your frustrations or our dirty laundry in the comment section.

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