My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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Why Blogs Aren’t a Safe Space

It was 1996 when my friends and i started getting attacked online for being queer. Before that, in our niche of the cyberworld, we were invisible to everyone but ourselves. It was a public space, welcoming to all queer folks. It was a safe space by the virtue of shared values, ideas and the underlying goal of supporting one another. There were no walls; it was safe through underlying social norms. But it was destroyed because rigid barriers are necessary to keeping hate outside.

We eventually escaped to the eGroups of the world before fading into oblivion. In 2001, i popped into various queer communities, talking to youth about their experiences online. They recalled stories that horrified me. Stories of older men preying on them, stories of the Christian right telling them that they were going to hell. Always on the search for safe space, these kids didn’t have what i valued so much about the online world in high school: inadvertent safe space, simply by being, sharing, supporting. Even in gay.com, they felt afraid. This saddened me.

I’m in awe of the networks of queer LJs that i see. I know that i don’t see all because much of what is shared is for friends-only, but it gives me great joy to realize that kids are finding new ways to construct semi-public safe space and support one another through the process of grappling with one’s identity. Yet, i know that what i see is only a limited segment of the digital queer youth. I wonder how kids feel about coming out online now, how they find that safe space, how they create friend groups out of nothing. It was so much easier in the 90s. All you needed was access to IRC, Usenet or BBSs. Of course, only a fraction of kids were online then.

When we started getting attacked, i felt the need to defend us, to maintain the safe space. But online, speaking to your attackers is like speaking to a blank wall. You can’t possibly defend yourself because they’re against you at their very core. Topics like queer identity and abortion will never go anywhere online. People aren’t willing to hear one another. Eventually, i gave up, exhausted, saddened, depressed. Since then, i haven’t engaged in debates online; i’ve only lurked. When i wrote to a mailing list, it was almost always neutral material: information about an event, a reference, whatever.

And then, my journals became blogs and read by an audience that i don’t know. And i got invited to help out with other blogs. Suddenly, i had to address a flurry of email and comments about what i wrote. Most of it was curious, supportive. But then again, it was rather unbiased. Yet, every time i write anything with an opinion on it, or truly want to work out a dilemma, i get attacked or the ideas do. I can take it far more when the ideas are attacked, but i truly hate the anonymous emails telling me that i’m a terrible person.

I continue to be reminded that blogging is not a safe space for me. There’s no common understanding, common ground. Even when i build up the gall to post what’s on my mind, i’m deconstructed based on what’s not said. My blog is not an academic paper. I’m not reflexively positioning myself every time i post. I’m not fleshing out all of that which i feel should be assumed simply because this is MY blog, MY post. I take a lot for granted and i only wish that people would realize that these posts are constructed in the context of me. I’m not trying to be a journalist; i’m not trying to address an unknown population from an unknown position. I’m trying to share my thoughts, ideas, life from my perspective.

While i may feel attacked here, in my own digital home, i feel outright demolished at misbehaving. Unlike many group blogs, this one has an identity. It’s a blog about women and tech. It’s a blog by women involved in tech. It’s a blog by thinking women who think, say, and create far more than a few posts a month on the site. There is an unspoken context. These are things that i take for granted. I try to keep posts short, but in doing so, i fail to lay out the framework and thus i’m attacked both for what i say and what i don’t say. Instead of creative suggestions, “perhaps you forgot this,” i usually see you’re wrong/foolish/inappropriate. Sometimes i wonder if we created misbehaving as a tool to increase our masochistic lashings. It’s certainly not a forum for interesting conversation in a safe space.

One thing that we’re missing as disconnected souls reading each other’s words is a shared social structure where we can intuitively understand when to critique and when to support. The blog world too easily lends itself to a forum for attacking each other, purportedly to critique ideas. How often are anonymous critiques truly constructive? How easy is it to tear apart someone you don’t know? Stanley Milgram learned that ages ago… if you feel like your responsibility is to critique, you can do so infinitely, regardless of how another might feel. And the further removed you are from witnessing the horrific reactions, the more you can continue on. Sometimes, i think we’re all a bit sadistic.

But it truly saddens me that blogs aren’t safe space. They don’t sit in a context; they don’t have a set of shared norms. And sometimes, it’s just simply not fun to constantly fight for the right to speak from your own perspective. It’s in moments like this where i remember why some people have no desire to speak up, no desire to fight. I remember asking my mum why she didn’t run for office; she laughed and reminded me that not just anyone is willing to be put through the ringer for the chance to spend every day being hated.

I continue to reconsider whether or not i should blog, or if i should only post uncontroversial material. While i’ve met some amazing people this way, i’ve also seen the increase in my insecurity about sharing what i know. Yet, often, my attackers are anonymous and i should know not to take them seriously. I can intellectually tell myself that it is foolish to let them affect me, but anonymous attackers hurt my soul even more so than actual people. With actual people, i can have a conversation, attempt reason, understand where they’re coming from. Anonymous attacks are just there, unable to be addressed personally, unable to find resolution in me. I will never forget the girl who asked me why i blogged, why i wanted to be a public target? I still can’t answer her.

“why can’t all decent men and women
call themselves feminists?
out of respect
for those who fought for this” – Ani DiFranco

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48 comments to Why Blogs Aren’t a Safe Space

  • Lucas

    We all want tribal intimacy but are seemingly unwilling to pay the necessary price of a well-defined barrier between in-group and out-group. If we are not slow to trust then it becomes difficult to trust completely. The brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity needs to be fought for one person at a time. The shortcut most people seem to want to take to universal love is a symptom of impatience, if not self-martyrdom.

  • Glad to see you are back online. I had begun to read some of your stuff after stumbling onto your blog a couple of weeks ago, and was disappointed to see you go down. (And I feel your pain, BTW. In working on some of my own projects, I know how easy it is to break things.)
    In any case, I hope you don’t let the nutcases, the misanthropes and those who gain meaning through misbehaving stop you from being a presence in the blogosphere. I find your work (at least what I have read so far) fascinating; getting a glimpse of you as a person (at least the onlne version) adds needed context.
    The bottom line is that no place is really “safe” in terms of making us immune to the slings and arrows of outrageous assholes. We all have to measure our own responses and weigh our willingness to expend the psychic energy necessary to deflect a certain amount of hatefulness versus the benefits we gain from putting ourselves “out there.”
    peace.

  • I’m sorry to hear that you are findting that blogs have not been a safe place for you. I enjoy your POV, and respect your opinions.

    Wish there was some way to make it better — the Live Journal approach is interesting, but then discovery is difficult. Maybe there needs to be some way to have the privacy of ‘friends-only’ LJ yet some way to people to discover and join. Not sure how to do that short of an agent AI, regretfully.

    In any case, I’m sure that there are a lot more people like me out there who read your blogs and appreciate them. I just hope it isn’t the griefers that make you close down.

  • It’s a rough neighborhood, isn’t it? Funny how the ones with the most artistic, creative content come with some of the scariest stuff, too. Like going to Paris to see the “City of Lights” in all its beauty only to be confronted with truly intimidating street people and pick pockets…

    In some ways we’ve chosen this. It’s the dichotomy of order/chaos; choosing the freedom that comes with chaos means less order, and this place is absolutely free.

    But that’s where blogs can change things. I’m fortunate to blog inside the shelter of a diverse community which welcomes yet protects, provides some order as needed but doesn’t overstep. A web page on its own wasn’t able to offer this. We have tools which will make the weapon of anonymity more difficult to use – reducing the chaos, but only as necessary. It’s come along way from the entirely lawless place it used to be; I hope that the weight of time will continue to change things for the better.

    It concerns me greatly that the women-in-tech blog has been under fire; I’ve heard about the freepers and spamming. (As if the smallish community needed more barriers…) It would be so easy to just walk away from it — but until a critical mass of acceptance accrues (built on regular exposure until normalcy is perceived), it would be giving in.

    Good luck on finding this balance; you should know that there are many of us who count on you to be here, to be one of the beacons of sanity. No pressure, just validation, do as you will, do as you must. Best wishes~

  • Ark

    I find some of the wording in your post ridicuous; “Unsafe” while you are online at home? Get real. “Community” was alluded to as well. Don’t you think a public blog with an open comment policy should be recognized as a tool to voice the concerns of anyone, anywhere? The internet belongs to everybody.Some of them might believe that homosexuality is absurd, some might believe it is a “sin”.
    Do they not have a right to voice thier views on this very public blog? Once those in the gay community stop viewing the opposition from the perspective of the victim , they will have gained so much more in terms of viability in this war of ideas that is society.At the going rate, “homophobia” will long outlast its opposition in the big picture.Wise up. Stop being such a fucking baby.

  • roj

    this is a non-anonymous, public statement that you are not a terrible person.

    and i should know, because people i know told me so.

  • Hmm. Interesting.

    A blog may be publicly viewable, but it is not a guaranteed public vehicle for speech from both directions — any more than a book is. If one doesn’t like a book, they’re free to say so, but they usually don’t get in the author’s face about it. They usually find something else to read and remain at something more than arm’s length from the author.

    The question for the individual blogger becomes that of writings or conversation. Writings don’t need to allow a vehicle for conversation, yet they have value. Conversation has its own value, but there’s no guarantee that any participant will be polite, well-meaning, or heard.

    Personally, I don’t usually listen to people who cannot persuade. That last comment fails to persuade me there is no issue here that merits further illumination and discussion.

  • Damn, I hate lags and latency! I was referring to Ark’s comment, not Roj! Grrr…

  • Bullies, Victims and Weblogs

    patterns related to the abuse of power established when we were kids and the long-term consequences

  • Ark

    Rayne-What do I need to persuade you to believe? That printed material and online material are two completely different mediums with different formal values?
    How can you create a public blog, with open-access commenting and not expect a dissenting voice or two? Do I make you feel “unsafe”? Palestinians feel unsafe, not white college girls self-righteously typing away in thier apartments.

  • Second Wave

    Or: Why the best way for conservatives to Win Friends and Influence People is to SHUT THE HELL UP, because when they talk. . . oy. Just oy.

  • Ark –
    Just because something is public does not mean all sorts of behavior are invited or acceptable. If I own a restaurant, it’s a public place. Anyone can come in. But it is assumed that people will come in who (a) want to be there, and (b) intend to enjoy what I have to offer. If you come in and strip down to your boxer shorts and start screaming expletives at the waiter about the food not being to your liking, I’m going to ask you to leave and I can probably expect you won’t come back. Moreover, if I own an Indian restaurant and you come in spluttering about how distasteful you find curry, the fault is your own for being an idiot and not mine for opening the restaurant.
    Just because you have a “right” to do something doesn’t make it the “right” thing to do.

  • Rayne – i really like the comparison between author of a book and author of a blog. We draw from that metaphor too easily, but you’re totally right about the distanced element. (Of course, the writers that i know get deeply depressed when they feel like their book isn’t well received, usually measured through sales…)

  • unsheathed claws

    There hasn’t been a lot of posting lately on misbehaving.net. I suspect that the unrelenting negative tone of the comments have a lot to do with that. It’s discouraging for those of us writing there. And what’s most discouraging is th…

  • What Brad said (thanks, Brad).

    I’ve entered a conversation with a speaker/facilitator and a few people, when a member of the group immediately tells the speaker they’re ridiculous and to stop being a baby, using expletives. I tune that person out while I try to pay closer attention to the speaker; I’m not persuaded by such behavior.

    On the topic of safety: it is unsafe, particularly for women and minorities, to be open about identity while exercising free speech. Sure, we’re not yet wearing bhurkas, but the hate speech we get is often threatening. I write under a pen name for this very reason; I don’t want my family impacted by any freak who might decide to take it upon themselves to hunt me down. Need examples of rabidity and hate speech? Ask Margaret Cho. Need examples of threats? Ask Eric Blumrich about Misha.

    One has to be pretty brave to be open and blog.

  • Cycle time and immediacy are so different in digital writings from print. Even the local newspaper is more like books in spite of tighter cycle time; one really doesn’t expect to engage their local metro reporter on a topic any given day of the week. (Heck, were it not for being interviewed recently I wouldn’t even know the names of our local reporters.) That’s the old paradigm: books = longer cycle time, greater removal, author identity important. Newspapers = tight cycle time, less distance, author less important. All that is collapsed on the internet with the exception of identity; that option must be selected.

    That’s where risk enters, in the selection of this option.

    Yeah, writers used to be people who measured success on money; now it’s on page reads. In spite of this shift there are fundamental truths here: good writing and important ideas will be read. And it’s true what they say: location, location, location. (If they can’t find you, even good writing won’t be read.)

  • Danah, I don’t know if there’s anything I can say that won’t come off as unsupportive, or mean, or nasty, or some variation thereof.

    The postings at misbehaving.net make such broad statements about this weblogging world, and are said with so much surety, so much confidence in your own validity, that it can’t help but attract strong views. And yes, sometimes you have touched on that part of many of us that feels hurt and isolated from what you and others are doing at misbehaving.net.

    It really is not the world against you. If you write something that brings out strong opinion, you can’t take on the role of victim, and force the role of bully on the rest of us. By doing that, this shuts down all communication, and hurts those of us so labeled.

    Your research is on social software and community. Then you must be aware that when you make strong statements, or presumptions, that you will get equally strong statements in return.

    I have had famous A Listers come into my comments and call me a loser more times than I can remember — say the most hateful things. Other people I have cared very much for have said things that have literally brought me to my knees in despair and hurt.

    But either we run, or we stand; and from the standing become stronger.

  • Danah, can you share whether what makes this space feel unsafe is the visible comments in blogs or emails which the public can’t see? I’ve heard extremely hateful stuff has been sent by email to folks who belong to certain groups;

    I wonder if it makes it less obvious to the greater public how really nasty it can be to blog. I wonder if non-blogging commenters are aware of the amount of non-comment communication related to blogging? I get half-and-half; the intimate/gritty stuff never gets published.

    Shelley, could it be the double-edge sword for tech women that unlike their male counterparts, they can’t just make a strong statement without being bashed? By bashing I mean strong, emotional statements against the author and their personal attributes rather than technically addressing the content. I have other theories, but this is one point I notice that’s different in all-woman tech group blog versus other mixed-gender/all-male tech group blog.

  • Rayne, there was one person that bashed because he wanted to bash, but that wasn’t what started this posting I believe.

    I have seen male techs bash each other to a fare the well. I’ve been bashed in those circles for going on three years of weblogging, more just being online. Technology, like many other topics brings out strong feelings.

    To be honest, I didn’t see that the recent comments at misbehaving were bashing. I thought that Danah was making some pretty far reaching statements, and people were responding. When I was told that I was hostile in my comment, and it was written about in another blog, I was stunned and shocked.

    Perhaps the people at misbehaving should just close of comments, but then people will disagree in their blogs. I have a feeling they aren’t going to be happy with that either. But I also have a feeling that less people will respond. No one wants to be called a bully.

    Let’s face it: the only way to make a weblogging environment safe is to put it behind password protected walls and only invite like minds in.

    Is that what the women of misbehaving really want, or Danah wants? I don’t know. I know that I won’t comment there again, and I think I probably better stop commenting here, too.

  • Rayne – i’m getting email messages that are threatening as well as one’s that are hostile. That’s the most frustrating. I’m also finding myself constantly having to defend myself to people who don’t know me, don’t know what i stand for, what i’ve done or what i do. I’ve spent many years doing anti-violence work and building a safe space for people working to end violence. The kind of language and the tone of challenges would never be tolerated in those spaces. They make people recoil. And frankly, i’m tired of constantly having to be defensive online. There’s a HUGE difference between constructive criticism/supportive suggestions and just being torn apart to make someone else look good. The former is productive; the latter is about power plays.

  • Shelley – i can’t agree with “But either we run, or we stand; and from the standing become stronger.” This is the rhetoric that has demoralized less privileged communities who are high self monitors. There is a way to build a team, to provide social support that is not just about defending attacks. Frankly, this shit has been fed to me every time i deal with sexism in computer science. And it sucks. I want to be feminine and accepted for it, not simply told to become more masculine.

    I’m not trying to pull out victim rhetoric. I’m feeling personally insulted by the lack of intellectual, cultural, social support. The crap people say here would never go down in RL because there are social norms that prevent people from saying things that would be so blatantly insulting. When i speak, people challenge me. Constantly. This i appreciate. But the shit i get on these blogs is not constructive challenges; it is just meant to tear us down. That which is constructive is appreciated. But i do wish that those who wanted to be constructive would try harder to frame their language into supportive and suggestive instead of just critiques. Basically, you can’t just deconstruct and expect anything to change.

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • Ark

    Brad-Your resteraunt analogy fails in that a resteraunt is material and it is owned; protected by law.Any resterauntuer has the right to evict anyone from his establishment for any reason. If he hates lesbians, he can kick them out.
    This web site does not exist physically and is governed by the policies set forth by the whoever runs it: Open comments, public blog.
    Of course, it isn’t socially acceptable to do the things you mention in resteraunts, but there are an entirely different set of rules online.
    The vehicle that allows anonymous ickiness is also the one that allows you and me a venue to spout off about whatever.You are just as anonymous as anyone else online, including the assholes that like to harrass.My point is, if you believe the same standards ascribed to in public -say a park-are the same you’d have us have online,I suggest you go out to the park with a loudspeaker and read your emo blog entry to everyone.
    As far as something being “right” for people to do, that is for the individual to decide.Is it okay to harrass a nazi online? If , in a public forum a nazi speaks, is it wrong to call her names?

    Zephoria- You complain about being judged by people who “don’t know you”. How can someone know another online?
    We are judged by what we write.

    Rayne- I understand that the qickest means to attain a feeling of moral righteousness and superiority is to identify yourself as a victim of oppression, but before you write it, you should really consider wether it will read as legitimate victimhood, or a spurious product of rich white shame.

  • Ark — being not white nor male, nor rich depending on one’s perspective, I live in world where I don’t have the social capital that comes with being any of those things. I can tell you there is a different consciousness developed when one is continually treated differently — and in most cases, not better — solely by the virtue of not having those attributes. Perhaps you don’t share that same consciousness for the reason that you have some if not all of those attributes.

    Further, there is a difference when one is constantly harassed by virtue of their innate, in-born traits. Were every blue-eyed person on earth subjected to this, I suspect they’d have a similar reaction. Is it victimology, to point out there is an inequity? I don’t think so. Recognition of inequities is what founded the U.S.; this recognition spurred and spurs our human growth.

    Do inequities improve by recognition alone? No. Nor do they when they are ignored. What do you suggest beyond ignoring the inequities? What constructive approach would you take, were you to find yourself systematically shouted down or undermined because of that to which you were born?

    It would be helpful if we could get to a point where we didn’t care what if any social capital a person had, only what ideas they entertained and how they could be put to use to help others. As long as the social capital gets in the way and inequities obstruct, we won’t optimize this open environment.

  • my thoughts on blogging and privacy

    my thoughts on why blogs aren’t a safe place (as well as unsheathed claws and their comments): why do i blog? i like sharing some of my thoughts, reading some of the reactions, and making the reader laugh, upset, sad,…

  • my thoughts on blogging and privacy

    my thoughts on why blogs aren’t a safe place (as well as unsheathed claws and their comments): why do i blog? i like sharing some of my thoughts, reading some of the reactions, and making the reader laugh, upset, sad,…

  • Wrapping words in flannel

    I wrote in a previous post, To Keep Burningbird or Not: One issue I’ve been debating off and of about with myself is whether to keep the Burningbird weblog. I’ve splintered off so many interests into different weblogs, and the main reason I do so is th…

  • ‘Your resteraunt analogy fails in that a resteraunt is material and it is owned; protected by law… This web site does not exist physically and is governed by the policies set forth by the whoever runs it: Open comments, public blog.’

    Hey Ark,

    Newsflash for You!

    1. It doesn’t have to be material, like a place or item, to be privately owned. (Ever heard of intellectual property? There’s an example.)

    2. On this occasion, ‘the whoever runs it’ happens to be danah boyd. She either paid for, created or was given the resources to place this site online in the first place. (Nope: not public property.) And then she *chose* to allow comments — just as though she invited us all into her home for a chat.

    Her place. Her rules. That’s all.

    And if she’s not impressed with a visitor’s particular use of the commenting tools then she’s well within her rights to tell them to fuck off — be they a Nazi, you, me, or anyone else.

    Put simply: There are doors that can be closed. danah has chosen to open them. Yes! Even to people like you, who call her by abusive names like ‘a fucking baby.’ You have no right to complain if you’re told that it’s not okay for you to do that.

  • Ark

    Rayne- I know you are white. Are people born homosexual? I don’t believe so.Prove it. Who on earth is “shouting you down”? Don’t flatter yourself. I’d say the only real criticism comes from the religious right.I doubt they’d ever harm you.
    The best way for a minority group to deal with the majority is to
    try thier damndest to integrate themselves into the host culture.
    This might not be a moral, feel good answer, bu it is true: Homogeny is destiny. All systems work towards efficiency and
    by casting out alien elements, effecincy is maximized.
    Not just in “culture”, but in nature and technology as well.
    African American culture is a dying one not because they’ve been
    oppressed for so long, it is because of thier unwillingness/inability
    to compete (thus contribute) to White America.If they have been opressed, it is because they have maintained alien systems within thier own “culture”.
    If The Lesbian “community” were to attempt to integrate, the allure might disappear and all of the ‘socialized’ lesbians ( who choose, out of fear of the other sex, a desire for moral superiority
    and a belief in thier own intellectual superiority, to become “lesbian”) might recognize thier folly:”I am a college Lesbian!”

    I’m shaking my head at the shear stupidity; It doesn’t matter if you can own intellectual property.That fits nowhere into the analogy.
    Can you “enter” intellectual property? You can own patents too.
    You can own plenty of things that are not physical, like stocks.
    How this applies to the working analogy, I don’t know.
    It isn’t even knit-picking, as it does nothing toward either argument.

    You said it best when you said: “Her place. Her rules. That’s all.”
    Exactly.When I say it is a “public” blog, I mean that it is open to the public.If “Danah” chooses to evict someone from this board, I couldn’t disagree.If “Danah” didn’t excpect some dissenting voice -a voice that might not approve of your psuedo-intellectual ,feel good self righteuosness-then Mrs. Danah is naive…

  • “How easy is it to tear apart someone you don’t know? Stanley Milgram learned that ages ago… if you feel like your responsibility is to critique, you can do so infinitely, regardless of how another might feel. And the further removed you are from witnessing the horrific reactions, the more you can continue on.”

    I wonder if Hawaii Girl — http://dartblogs.com/lisachau/archives/001289.html — would have had the balls to pull this off if it weren’t almost completely conducted in cyberspace!!! *still miffed*

  • Misbehaviour

    I’ve never felt welcome to join in the discussion at Misbehaving.net and the reason why is probably because of the overtly academic tone of the discussion. They bill themselves as ‘highlighting women in technology,’ when in reality they only highlight…

  • Danah — note the comments here about “publicy” versus “privacy”: http://www.mcluhan.utoronto.ca/blogger/2003_12_01_blogarchive.html#107184093362428431

    Ark — you and I will have to agree to disagree. We will not find common ground at this rate in this forum. And I’m not white. I “pass”, one of those so-called integrated into host culture. In Hawaiian: hapa.

  • Ark –

    To equate a legal definition of permissable (i.e., a restaurant is governed by laws and the owner can kick anyone out) with ‘acceptable’ (“I’m not really here, so you can’t kick me out, so I can say whatever I want”) is to miss the point. If someone creates a space online in which they invite people to discuss certain topics in a particular way or within particular boundaries, they have a right to make that choice. They aren’t appropriating public space, like a park, to the exclusion of others who may want to yell and scream and otherwise reveal their ignorance. People who don’t respect that space are not necessarily trespassing in a legal sense, but using that argument to justify the peurile desire to insult or demean someone is childish and serves no purpose.

    When people visit my political rant blog and send me emails about what an idiot I am, that’s fine because that’s pretty much expected within that genre. I have created a space where that sort of behavior is (unfortunately) expected. I don’t necessarily like it, but the rules were established and understood before I showed up, so I don’t have a problem with the digital spew.

    Finally, as an aside, your statement that African-American culture is dying because of African-Americans’ unwillingness to surrender to the dominant culture is completely circular and ridiculous. If a minority culture’s only hope is to subsume itself within the majority culture, then we shall all be happy, one-star Sneetches in no time.

  • Courage, danah. It can be very hard to put yourself out there, hard to deal with the anonymous critics.

    But, as enough of us come online, create blogs (LiveJournal, blogger, MoveableType, whatever), we are creating new spaces, new links, new communities, opportunities where nothing existed before.

    Bad exists, yes; but it must be seen in the context of all the good that happens, the serendipitous moments who you find something (or someone) you need (or didn’t even know you needed until that very moment).

    My experience coming out in Winnipeg was a lesson for me. Thre was little going on outside the private house party networks and the bar scene. So I helped start up an arts and entertainment group, and a sports and receration group, both as a way for likeminded queer peope to get together events likes concerts or floor hockey, and as a new way to make some new connections in the process. Both have been running successfully for a couple of years now, and I have made many new acquaintances and friends from the initiative.

    The thing is, if you don’t act, you’ll never know what you can accomplish. Sometimes you have to take that deep breath and put yourself out there. Don’t forget you IRL friends who are your support group, and other offline things you do to recharge.

    The point I am trying to make is, making a community from scratch sometimes takes work, even hard work marked by periods of pain and self-doubt, to create something new, something different. Something that may lead to benefits that you never dreamed of, or may never even know.

    And if all else fails, go to the MoveableType support forums to find out the latest in managing unruly anonymous commenters on your blogs.

  • Misbehaviour

    I’ve never felt welcome to join in the discussion at Misbehaving.net and the reason why is probably because of the overtly academic tone of the discussion. They bill themselves as ‘highlighting women in technology,’ when in reality they only highlight…

  • Misbehaviour

    I’ve never felt welcome to join in the discussion at Misbehaving.net and the reason why is probably because of the overtly academic tone of the discussion. They bill themselves as ‘highlighting women in technology,’ when in reality they only highlight…

  • noel_lapin

    i can’t image what is “unsafe” in blogging itself. if it hurts, it may be you yourself that hurts you. i don’t think you never want to be cheered up only 😉 i want to say your sincere struggle/thinking attracts me and i hope you to go on and be relaxed somehow.

  • I like the bravery suggested by the summary you give this weblog (you, more than most, must know how dangerous and difficult “collapsing contexts” are):

    “I’m interested in how people manage social contexts and adjust their presentation of self accordingly; i’m particularly fascinated by the tension between the social and technology that supports it. This blog is my attempt to collapse a lot of my contexts in a public way. More precisely, it operates as a collection, revealing the variety of topics that i’m invested in thinking about, from social software to drug policy reform to gender theory.”

  • Harry over at Harry’s Place once said that blogs were better than mailists because the owner gets to control the content. Mailists, in his experience, drew in trollers till the list became useless, whereas on blogs they could be filtered out.

    Why not turn off the comments on this blog? Or on any blog? I’m stunned more people don’t do this.

  • Noel – safe space is a term that is frequently used in queer, anti-racism and feminist communities. The idea is providing a forum where people feel safe to present their ideas in a way that will be supported. Critique can be supportive; attacks are not. There are general norms to safe spaces. No hate speech, no anonymous attacks, etc. It is not all about physical safety, but emotional and intellectual safetey as well.