Misconceptions and echo-chambers

What and what?

I want to write about something that grinds my gears a bit. Misconceptions, and echo-chamber mentalities in the community. I’ll explain a little further.

I have always been an advocate for community, despite my previous complaints, it has done great things for the hobby. I have started communities, been active in them, nurtured them, whinged and moaned about them (hehe) and helped others as much as I can, despite working long hours, working on my own hobby and more importantly spending time with my family – and I expect nothing in return. I am however finding myself getting increasingly alienated by it. What irritates me is that a minority of people, who are incapable of discussing things in a rational manner. Here’s a couple of typical examples I come across from time to time that I’m sure is not limited to just this community – but the internet as a whole.

Having someone initiate a ‘shout-down’. This is an emotive, reactionary keyboard vomit usually in the form of several incoherent paragraphs that flow from someones brain without restraint, and often deviating widely beyond the subject matter. This kind of ‘shout-down’ is the typical reaction of someone who knows, deep down that they are in the wrong or are just plainly incapable of understanding or restraint. Instead of simply retracting and apologising, or even trying to counter with a new argument, the ‘shout-er down-er’ attempts to mask the error with an embarrassing string of emotive pith that gathers ‘sheep’ (usually well-meaning friends in support who have not actually been engaged all that much) in support of their cause. I respect people who can outrightly admit they are wrong, or seek another more rational path to prove a point or prove me wrong. I’ve been proved wrong before, and I learned pretty quickly from a young age that ad-hominem, you-tube-comment style responses in pathetic low-brow sarcasm only served to make me look like a moron, and more importantly not learn anything from the experience. It’s these types who often too, retort incredibly personal insults without accepting any consequence, granting themselves some kind of imaginary license to spout vulgarity, unsympathetic to whoever is targeted for simply trying to engage and somehow confirming to that it’s ok since ‘Im standing up for the victims’.

Another example is the ‘I read between the lines’ type. A person or person (s) who derive a narrative from something as innocent as asking a question or challenging a common belief. Here’s quite a typical example:

Comment: ‘I think what he said about that persons model was mean, he should be helping and not criticising’ Response: ‘Why should he be helping that person? He was only saying how he felt about it’. is translated into: ‘He doesn’t have to say anything about that model, grow up you dick head and stop being such a baby’. Ok, so I embellished that a little, but the point is, reading between the lines is something that is pretty hard when you are not having a face-to-face discussion, and even moreso when you don’t even know who that person is. Over text, there should always be an understanding that the only meaning is the literal. Any such derived conception from a single comment is that of the reader, not the person who is posting – unless of course you have some kind of psychic ability, and this is not even taking into consideration literacy level or language barriers. There may very well be a hidden meaning in there but the point is, never assume anything. This is basic fact to a vast majority of people, but we all for for it from time to time, myself included – and the solution to it is simple – read it again, and take your time to respond. It seems that, in some cases however this basic fact is consistently missing. I’m sure I have gone over this before.. but it has context here.

It’s individuals like this that drain the fun out of communities for me, and create these awful ‘echo-chambers’ of circular masturbation – each ‘shouter-downer’ and ‘I read between the lines’ person congratulating each other’s work and reaffirming their own unchallenged statements. Statements such as ‘many experienced modellers are elitist’, ‘admins have a god complex’ and ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it’. These statements have no place in making a progressive community, and are actually too uncommon to be fact – and whereas a vast majority are fantastic, rational and good people it’s a minority who sadly have the loudest voices – despite their consistent ‘victim’ narrative. Competition and criticism are the drivers of progression. Forcing everyone to have the same mentality, results in stagnation. Look at how communism panned out. History is a great teacher.

I don’t want to run, or participate in a community however that limit’s itself by not allowing these types of individuals in, simply because it goes against something I fundamentally accept – everyone is different. I accept that these people exist, despite my complaint, and I live with it without the claim of ‘unfair’. My blogging about it won’t make a lot of difference, but it’s great therapy for me and I hope some people can get something from it or lend some sympathetic eyeballs on it 🙂

I used to think that it’s just a matter of there being a generational gap – differing education, environment, lifestyle – but this minority seems to stem from all walks of life. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that communities are far more accessible? I don’t know – but I do know it’s something that irritates me from time to time. The world is full of different thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of things. To those people who are consistently complaining that other people have opinions different to their own perceived ‘this is what is good for everyone’ and are not even willing to engage in conversation to…you know, learn new things, have fun and be of actual use to the community I’ll say this: Not all questions are rhetorical. Read, react, read again, understand and then respond.