Saturday, November 10, 2012

Insult Handling Skills

I get most of my news links from Twitter. I can go there any time and pick up an interesting story to read about a new scientific story or interesting natural occurrence. This is thanks to the many scientists and science writers I follow who share these things online. I encourage people to participate in this forum because I enjoy it and I see the benefits.

But I also totally understand the reticence to put yourself out there. I do not have a thick skin. I will dwell on the negative remarks and dismiss the positive if I don't make a conscious effort not to. I am terrified by stories of female bloggers threatened with rape and violence. I have been grateful lo these many years that almost all my blog comments are positive and contribute to the discussion.

At the same time I think the bad comments are good for me. It helps me understand that people aren't that good at reading. I got a comment today on an old movie review. "Barbara Fuck You! Dont Make Bad Review On Rajini Movie " What is he talking about? I'm not going to bother to go check, but I'm pretty sure that was a favorable review of Endhiran: The Robot. But the point is I have learned not to even go back and look at what they're commenting on and it didn't even occur to me to respond to it.

Wednesday I got this one I'm quite proud of. "Haters goona hate and you know nothing about tattoos you ugly dyke" I think I got sentence whiplash. That was a self-fulfilling prophecy right there, what? Again I didn't bother to go back to the original post or even consider a reply.

So these are good reasons for a woman to not want to be online. But this is the world. I have to get used to this stuff and learn the proper reaction if I have to write for a living. I'm still trying hard to find something anonymous to work on instead, some dull reports to proofread or anything without my name on it. But if I can't work that out I might have to put myself out there and try to sell something I write. I need insult handling skills.

This story today asking scientists to join the social media trend seems to be skirting the issue of personal insults. I am not sure I see how the internet is "reducing the opportunities for prejudice." I see that the internet increases my ability to find more people that share my interests, and that's great. But at the same time it makes it easy for people prejudiced against my interests to find me and insult me.

SpotOn London 2012: A call for women to get online or lose out
Tweet or Perish 
Some scientists may find it cringe-worthy to advertise their research on twitter and Facebook, while others might shy away from it out of concerns over the time commitment it requires, but no Scientist can afford not to be online. Tweeting and blogging about your work will improve the visibility of your research and deliver your findings to a far broader audience than a conference or a peer-reviewed article could ever hope to achieve13. It isn’t a time-consuming activity and learning to communicate concisely to a general audience is a skill no scientist should undervalue. Not to mention that, as the participation of scientists increases online, its value as a resource increases, with more links to more research being shared between scientists and with the public, a more rapid dissemination of information and fairer access to science. The Internet may not be completely anonymous, but it is certainly reducing the opportunities for prejudice and increasing flexibility for male and female scientists alike. Whether this can provide the push to achieve greater equality in science remains to be seen.
I don't delete bad blog comments. Only ones that are blatant plugs for something. I sort of think the nasty ones boost my blogger cred. I liked it when only people that agreed with me read my posts and made positive comments. But a sign of reaching a broader audience is getting in front of people that don't agree and also don't even bother to read, just skip to the end and call you names. Maybe I don't want to reach a broader audience, I'm not sure. But thanks to a few blog posts ranking high in Google I know how to do it if I want to. And I know that decision comes with a lot of trolls and hateful comments. It's a weighty decision.

*update 11/14/2012
The Oatmeal pointed out something I forgot. You don't have to enable comments on everything you create on the Internet.

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