To the Pillowfort Users: Can I just say something real quick?

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Title: To the Pillowfort Users: Can I just say something real quick?
Creator: PureSugarKane
Date(s): December 14, 2018
Medium: online journal
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External Links: To the Pillowfort Users: Can I just say something real quick? ; archive link page one
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To the Pillowfort Users: Can I just say something real quick? is a 2018 essay by PureSugarKane at Pillowfort.

As of December 17, 2018, it had 70 responses.

Some Topics Discussed in the Essay and Comments

  • NSFW Tumblr Content Purge
  • Tumblr culture, Pillowfort culture
  • discourse about discourse
  • purity and blame, pledges and wishes for improvement
  • defining "common sense"
  • "The tumblr community has a responsibility to not barge in here and mess Pillowfort's community up. If someone wants to be terrible, they can stay on the sinking ship that is tumblr."

From the Essay

Okay listen, It's obvious a lot of us came here from Tumblr. Wave 5 was almost certainly so big because you had a bunch of refugees on your doorstep, myself included, and there's something I feel is important to say and I think will reach the most people here...

Guys, can we all agree to just... Not be terrible?

Tumblr was terrible. Let's not beat around the bush here, we all know it; In every sense of the word, it was an awful website run by awful people and filled with some of the most Toxic groups I've ever seen in my life. I'm honestly kinda glad it shot itself in the foot, that site and it's users where like zombies, they all wanted to die just just couldn't. Not to mention the staff doing f all to keep the site afloat, it was being held up with toothpicks and glitter glue. This NSFW ban was just the final nail in the coffin.

But the staff wasn't the only thing that made Tumblr a terrible place. We have an amazing staff of awesome people who really care about what they're creating and who it's for, so we don't have to worry about that too much. No, our biggest obstical for making an awesome site might just be us.

But it doesn't have to be!

Can we all just agree, all of us together for a second, to not be terrible people and not tolerate terrible behaviour? Can we stop acting like doxxing someone and sending death threats to them is somehow more acceptable than drawing a normally fat person just a bit skinnier than usual? Can we stop insisting that being a Star is a gender and you saying otherwise is gatekeeping the LGBT+ Community? Can we not tolerate Pedophiles also insisting that their attraction to children is a sexuality?

I didn't participate in fandoms just to avoid that stuff. I literally get anxiety spikes anyone tries to talk to me about LGBT+ topics because I'm a Nonbianary Lesbian and people sent me death threats for "Invading Lesbian Spaces". Im tired, and I'm sure a lot of you guys are tired too.

Let's not dox people.

Let's not send death threats.

Let's not indulge in pointless discourse that literally doesn't exsist off this online world we spend more time in.

And please, if you see it happening, don't stand by and let it happen!

I've personally been putting my pride and fear aside whenever I upset someone here to fix things because I am Determined not to make this place filled with discourse. I am Determined to be seen as someone people can trust and talk to and I am Determined to make this a place where people feel safe. I've seen a lot of people doing that so far in almost every community I've joined so far.

Can we just, for a moment, consciously and intentionally promise to each other and ourselves we're not gonna let Tumblr happen again? That things are going to be better and different.

I'm willing to commit to that.

Some Comments

[AndromedasHive]:

I'm on board with this, let's be better than Tumblr as a collective. I hate the fact that this needs to be said, but it's probably better now that it has been brought up. Fortunately I have only seen civil, level-headed discussions between people so far, let's keep it that way.

[Minerva]:

I mean, hard same. Tumblr on a whole was a giant wreck, and my fandom wasn't exactly known for being peaches and cream. Supernatural is conquered in shittiest fandoms only by like, Voltron or a few others maybe in its reputation. Right now I'm trying to encourage actual creators and constructive people to come across, to build healthy communities, to employ the community function to its strengths for everyone while um, gently dividing us over our differences rather than giant mortar-slinging contests. So far, so good. Like, there's... both a Wincest and a Destiel community on this place that are both really active, at about their respective percentile sizes as usual and with the current environment I... haven't seen a single shot fired? So I'm hoping. I really, really, really am. In and outside of my fandom. Let's start by being good examples and cultivating a healthy place.

[VivaRockstady]:

As goes SPN, so goes us all.

[spankety]:

Cool ideas, but neopronouns and micro-specific labels don't infringe on anybody's good times. I feel ya about not doxxing, but I think we can leave mockery at the door of such things as we personally don't find useful or informative to our self-discovery. There's no list of Real Genders out there to reference, and when you're talking highly specific and subjective experiences, it doesnt make much difference to anyone whether someone's a gender/flux/queer/demi/boy/girl/etc or whether they think "star" sounds better, for whatever it is they're feeling.

[mica]:

+1. i'm with you OP, and lets leave "cringe culture" at the door as well!

[Desiderri]:

+1! Yes. Fuckin' cringe culture and policing people for stuff that makes them happy and has zero impact on anyone but them.

[Kalium]:

That shit can go die with Tumblr!

Honestly? Sometimes I see stuff that makes me eyeroll, but... I keep that to myself. It costs nothing to leave people alone and let them do their thing. The cheap bullying is way more distasteful than a few kids working themselves out.

[VivaRocksteady]:

I agree-- and one thing I'm excited about with communities is people can create those little places wherever they want. There can be a comm for "People who identify as a Star" and comms for "Non-Star gendered people." You don't HAVE to be in each other's spaces! Just live and let live.

[opilopes]:

I hate that this even has to be said at all but you are 100% right. We have to be better and I for one will be ensuring my time and the time of others I interact with will be nothing but a good time. <3

[thouthpaw]:

I think the flip side of this is: as a community, we need to encourage smart usage of safety tools like blocking/muting. Make it part of the culture. Some folks feel guilt about blocking people or things they don't like, when the strength of sites like this is their curation tools.

We strive to not be terrible ourselves, but we also practice not giving any fodder to that kind of toxic person. They're on power trips and crave attention and silence is their worst enemy.

[PureSugarKane (OP)]:

That is a good point. I think on any site we need to destroy the weird stigma against blocking people. Putting your pride aside can be owning up to your mistakes, but it can also be realizing someone isn't worth your time and just hitting the block button. I'm not personally super nervous about blocking, I'm very trigger happy with that button and it makes my experience on any website 10,000x better.

[Kacchan]:

This is a good post. We really all need to work together to make PF stay nice, and enjoyable.

[beatnik]:

Thanks for posting this, OP.

I hope call-out culture dies with tumblr. It’s toxic to communities, people, and the causes.

[RacoonGoon]:

Totally with you. I felt confined to a small box on tumblr, so I wouldn't risk getting any hate sent my way - both from anti-LGBT and LGBT folk alike. And it wasn't just that, it was...Just about anything else. Anything could turn into a fight, and I got sick of it real fast.

I don't want anyone to feel excluded or left out, let people be people so long as they're not harming anyone. But toxic behavior brings everything down, no matter what "side" it's on. Let's keep the bar high. It literally only takes being civil and learning what battles are worth fighting.

The tumblr community has a responsibility to not barge in here and mess Pillowfort's community up. If someone wants to be terrible, they can stay on the sinking ship that is tumblr.

[(CR)Valkyrie]:

Well said, and I’m so happy to see this mentality spreading to more people than just myself.

I’ve been a bit taken aback by the developments in many of the places I used to “live” on the internet. People just became terrible. And my response was to retreat and retreat and retreat until I had nowhere left. But I’ve made my own site now, with a small community of people who just want to feel safe and happy, and it makes me happy to give that to them.

And I’ve got Pillowfort now. I’m so happy to see this many people who want nothing more than to make a positive and happy environment. Let's work together and make a positive space where everyone can feel happy and comfortable.

[buckrogers]:

I agree with the sentiment of "let's not be terrible to each other". The problem of the matter is that most people don't think they're being terrible. They think they're following the rule: "if you see it happening, don't stand by and let it happen!"

Unfortunately, the people who doxx often think they are "doing something" to "not let it happen". The people who send death threats think this is "doing something" instead of letting whatever-ist get away with saying something bad by showing them that there is a social consequence to being whatever-ist. Etc.

Using your example: "Can we stop insisting that being a Star is a gender" - the way this request is worded implies that to insist "Star" is a gender is, universally accepted as, bad. Obviously, the person who insist this can either be a) trolling and does not believe in this or b) truly, genuinely believe this, and thus feel attacked when reading this request that clashes with their moral values. If instead we re-stated this request to say "Can we agree that the genderedness of 'Star' is under debate and disagreement over this debate is not reason enough to engage in personal attacks?", this would help mitigate some of that agitation. (Of course, for those who do feel this is reason enough to engage in personal attacks, this re-statement will still come off as judgemental and aggressive, which...well, brings me to my next point.)

Words are, for the most part, usually difficult to use in a precise manner. People are also prone to take dissension personally. At some point, these requests, no matter how passively/non-aggressively worded, will offend someone. I do not think it is actually possible to "not be terrible to each other", simply because everyone has a different idea of where the line for "terrible" is drawn.

Therefore, rather than relying on an amorphous, undefined social norm to form across the platform with regards to what is considered "not terrible" behavior, it's much more productive to give community moderators the tools to say: "Here are the rules by which you must follow; here are the clear definitions and delineations of the lines we draw; here is how you will be punished if you do not follow these guidelines."

Maybe I trust too much in the power of the institution, but I do believe that internet communities, like meat-space communities, need to codify "bad behavior" instead of assuming people can actually agree without a formal process. (Think real life battle for legalization of voting rights for non-land owners, voting rights for people of color, voting rights for women - all values that we take for granted as "not terrible", yet these rights only came about within the last 200 years, because last century there were still a substantial amount of people who thought letting non-land owning members of society vote was a "terrible" thing.) It is up to the moderators to consistently enforce a set of rules which will guide the community's behavior. Relying on the masses to "be nice" has never worked, simply because while everyone can agree being "nice" is good, what constitutes "nice" is heavily in debate and not at all universal.

[LeandraHolmes]:

... I'm just going to reply to this one (because I liked it very, very much! Seconding most of what you said)

Listen up, kiddos. Take it from someone who's probably a couple of years older than the average fandom person; someone who, in the past, has spent many hours infuriated over people's behaviour, writing post after post and reply after reply, defending her beliefs and her original statement, spent time even crying over fandom wank and personal attacks, and has foregone sleep in order to 'settle an argument'.

No matter where you are, you will never have a 100% 'safe' space. People are vastly different in the way they talk, in what they consider totally fine or immensely offensive. They have different opinions and beliefs (and yes, some of those beliefs are horrible and toxic and SHOULD be opposed, but not all).

But the thing is, it doesn't really matter. Sounds trite, I know, but it's something I have learned (through often painful trial and error). It's not fully ingrained in my consciousness in every instance, but over the years I've grown a thicker skin. And not just that, I've learned to accept other behaviours and opinions much more easily. When a disagreement occurs, I do not always and automatically feel the need to 'defend myself' anymore. I more often just shrug it of. And how do I do that? By taking a moment, taking a breath and asking myself "Will continuing this discussion lead to a result that is satisfactory to me? And furthermore, will it lead to a result that is satisfactory to the other party as well? Or will it be me making the other person look like a fool and feeling superior over it myself?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely free of the latter. I guess it's very human that, especially when we strongly believe in something, we want to 'prove' that we are right and show it to everyone, have others clap us on the back and say "Well done".

But I've learned that, very often, it is much more satisfying to just walk away. To just shrug and say to yourself "ok, I don't agree with this. I think it's silly, but whatever... to them it probably makes sense, and I don't know their entire background and how they came to have this opinion. Maybe it is valid after all. At least to them. Because how many truths are there that are truly universal??"

I know this isn't something where you can switch a button on and suddenly you FEEL this way about things. It doesn't work that way. It's a long process of learning through either error or confirmation.

To me, the confirmation has often been a completely "Wow!" moment. An understanding, not just of the other person's opinion but also of myself. Like: I actually CAN be this tolerant and accepting, and it feels so, so much better to gain an understanding than be bitter and annoyed or worse.

It doesn't mean you have to agree with them, or to draw the short straw and remove yourself from the entire activity. But it means that you remove yourself from the negative impact it has on your psyche!

This applies mainly to things where there can, ethically, be different opinions, such as whether a certain fandom pairing is toxic or not, etc.

Like I said, when it comes to thoroughly awful opinions, that's a different matter. But even there, it is immensely helpful to learn to distinguish between two types. A) someone is genuinely being a horrible dick (e.g. saying "All gay people should die" or something other a little less extreme but still awful) or B) someone just lacks understanding while not being a horrible person all together.

For the A types, I'm happy to hit them with all the condescending energy I have. But still, I do not engage with them in detail. I drop a sarcastic line and then let it go. Because they're not worth anything more than that (in fact, even the sarcastic line might be too much, but that actually makes me feel good). Type B, however, are the ones you can engage. And I've learned that it is so, so, SO much more gratifying to educate them with kindness. To remain logical and factual and respectful to them while explaining to them where they erred and leading them towards a better understanding. Bitching at them only leads to them closing off, and you feeling bad about the exchange. It doesn't help YOU. It's one of those terrible, toxic experiences that make you feel unsafe in a fandom or other environment.

I do hope we won't encounter many Type A's here, but we'll definitely encounter Type B, especially when the community grows. And we'll encounter many, many people who simply have different views and different experiences. Maybe even an entirely different cultural background that makes it completely logical to them to think the way they are thinking, while making little to no sense to us. If we keep that in mind and open ourselves to it, we make any fandom experience so much more satisfying for ourselves.

Please, for your own sakes, do try it out sometime and see how it works for you.

[mojoflower]:

So on point, hon! It's often nice to have a few decades under your belt and realize that that perspective might be worth something. Usually: disengage ;)

[PureSugarKane (OP)]:

I wasn't exactly making this post as "The bible of Pillowfort Good Behaviour". In fact, I was mostly just exsaughtingly ranting after coming out of Tumblr for the first time in 5 Years. And 5 years is nothing compared to some of the serious Tumblr veterans here!

I think most if what I hope people will get out of this is just "Can we all just have some common sense, please?"

[buckrogers]:

I think most if what I hope people will get out of this is just "Can we all just have some common sense, please?"

I understand that. My point stands that "common sense" is not common. That's the problem. There is an assumption there is commonality that can be found, when reality is that there isn't. If there were, we would not be having the kind of battles we are having right now all over the world. Asking for common sense is a futile and ultimately pointless endeavor. It's far more productive to introduce rules (laws) and enforce these rules that the majority can agree on. And when it's brought up that those rules (laws) unjustly punishes a minority group, we argue, debate, and go through a formal process to get those rules (laws) changed.

That's how communities stay coherent and orderly, be it in real life or in an online community.

[Blue26]:

yes, 100% we should use this opportunity to be better than Tumblr.

[Zita]:

I feel like a lot of the intensity of vitriol/harassment in tumblr spaces was because people were forced into spaces where they had to interact with others with conflicting preferences without any real alternatives. (ie: a fandom tag contains all the content users apply that tag to, which means people will easily end up seeing content about their fandom that they don't like.)

There was a desperate bid to remove content users saw as harmful through vigilante community activity because tags could not be moderated and tumblr wasn't even all that good at enforcing its actual TOS.

Hopefully with a combination of communities so that users can create/control the spaces they want and sitewide moderation that can resolve damaging content, things won't be as bad as they were.

[Drift]:

This place is already starting to be a toxic shithole. It has nothing much to do with staff, but the overall culture of a website, and kind of people that congregate here.

Just curate your PF experience the way you want to and you'll be fine, while other people are off doing their own thing, too

[PureSugarKane (OP)]:

Source? I've seen nothing but civil discussion here so far.

[Drift]:

You’d just have to happen upon it yourself. This site is really slow at the moment and I don’t have the time and patience to go back to every single instance. But maybe I’ll start collecting receipts from now on.

I will say that a few days ago I made a post addressing my concerns about rape and incest content being allowed here and several people commented about their rape fetishes, which was totally uncalled for??? And then other people, older adults, basically defended their right to draw and write porn of minor teenagers. So. My first impression so far is toxic shithole.

Sorry that I sound frustrated it’s really not aimed at you! Hope you understand.

[guinevak]:

You'd have more "receipts" if you hadn't deleted that post, just sayin'.

[Drift]:

I deleted the discussion for my own safety. Thanks.

[embraceyourfandom]:

I solemnly swear to be respectful towards other users.

I promise to show respect for the views expressed by others, even if I strongly disagree or don't quite understand why they think like they do.

I promise to not let disagreements or conflicting views become personal. Name-calling and shouting are not acceptable ways of conversing with others. No. Matter. What.

I promise to remember that behind every username there is a real person with feelings.

I promise to really think about my motivations and to refrain from posting things just to upset or hurt others, or to stir up a fight.

I promise to brush up my understanding of most common logical fallacies to make my argumentation better and thus cause less frustration amongst my fellow users.

Before I insist on being an ass, I promise to take a break from conversation and read these promises again.

[ArthaDemon]:

Without a Shadow of a Doubt! I have been wanting to leave Tumblr for a few years now, but found no alternative until Pillowfort rose from the ashes of Tumblr's fall like a mighty Phoenix. I hope this place can stay positive and good, and that Tumblr stays alive just enough to soak up all the SJW's xD

Tumblr is good for nothing but a SJW sponge.

[arizona]:

Wonderfully put and I agree wholeheartedly. It all boils down to "BE KIND." I wish I could reblog this! (Which I say not because I don't respect your right as the author to keep it from reblogging, but because I agree and wish I could have it on my blog to share with others.)

[PureSugarKane (OP)]:

I wouldn't mind it being rebolgged, I just thought making this a discussion post would open just for more feedback

[VoxVesreyal]:

Yeah, I mean, sounds good. Can't see a problem with just committing to not being a dick.

[asrewrites]:

I agree with this. I lived my Tumblr life that way and came over here in the summer after the first wave of mysterious blog disappearances when I bought into the Kickstarter. I don't think it's that hard to be a decent person and avoid the content you may not like, so I am hopeful that pf wil be a better place.