I had something of an epiphany a while back.

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Title: I had something of an epiphany a while back. (title of essay is technically "epiphanies")
Creator: Margie
Date(s): July 22, 2004
Medium: online
Fandom: posted to a Sentinel mailing list
External Links:
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I had something of an epiphany a while back. is a 2004 essay by Margie. It was posted to Prospect-L and quoted here on Fanlore with permission.

Some Topics Discussed

From the Essay

I had something of an epiphany a while back. I was writing up a post about how frustrating it is to be having a perfectly civil conversation about a thing (say, a story) only to have it be hijacked by angry people insisting on turning everything personal because it's mean to talk about stories.

I mean, that's been driving me insane for years. It's why Prospect-L exists in the first place, because it was impossible to have a simple discussion about a story on Senad without it turning into accusations of bitchiness and worse, usually within three posts. By post #5, the story discussion would have turned into a "how to talk about stories" discussion, which would eventually segue into a "how to write LoCs" discussion. ("How to Write a LoC: Read story. Write comment. Send." sheesh.) The original story won't have made it past post #4.

It's always been very clear that the people who jump into story discussions expressly to either stop them or insist that everyone be "nice" (meaning "give nothing but glowing praise, in equal measure, to every story ever written") honestly do consider a comment like "I didn't like that story" to be a personal attack of some sort on the author. I've never understood *why* they think that, but it's always been clear that they do.

What I never understood was how they could be so upset at the perceived personal attack on the author, and so blind to the fact that they were often attacking *actual people* in return.

My epiphany was: they're not. Or they don't think they are, anyway. At least not before the more blatant name-calling starts.

To me, those endless loops of Senad discussions (which happen nearly identically in many other places, it's certainly not just Senad) moved from the impersonal -- talking about a thing (the story) -- to the personal -- talking about how people should be behaving/talking, often including a fair bit of direct chastising either direct or snide comments about how rude and mean some of "those people" are.

I think, to the folks on the other side of that argument, it went the exact opposite. The discussions started out personal -- talking about an author's precious baby -- and got dragged as quickly as possible to the impersonal to keep it safe -- talking about manners.

Who knew!

So I still don't understand the arguments (honest to god, a precious little baby? It's just words on a page! It won't cry if you don't pick it up!), but at least the reason for their existence makes a little more sense to me now. Sort of. (Except for the part where I'll never understand how attacking a person is less personal and more polite than pointing out that a story sucks. Ahem.)