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Archive for June 4th, 2014

Is it just me, or are you less patient than you used to be?

Marilith by Kerembeyit (2009)It all depends on what you mean.  I’ve never been patient with fools, trolls, ninnies, sophists, fanatics and the other assorted riff-raff who attempt to lay claim to my time and energy.  In fact, my impatience with such people is almost legendary; Grace describes the results of my being obstructed by such a person in real life or on the telephone as “maggieing”, and when someone behaves in a way that she knows from experience will precipitate it, she is often heard to say, “Somebody’s about to get maggied.”  Offline, most of the recipients of this kind of vitriol are either bureaucrats or obfuscatory customer service people who have been trained not to give me what I want, but online they generally have some kind of axe to grind.  Most of them are prohibitionists deliberately trying to waste my time, or seeking to make me look bad by drawing me into some kind of no-win interaction; others are such narcissists they actually imagine they have the right to make demands of me:

…Apparently, every last anonymous prohibitionist on the internet believes that I just lie about all day, looking at myself in the mirror and eating bonbons while my staff writes my blog; I…surely have unlimited time to refute all of his tinned arguments, look up links for him and restate…my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites.  As I told one such individual recently, I would take as much time with him as necessary if he were a legislator trying to push for decriminalization or a celebrity who planned to advocate it on national TV; I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that he was offended by the suggestion that he did not have the power to influence millions…

Even when confronted with trolling, I generally try to be as polite as possible:

…when it’s in the comments here I usually just employ my screening process so as to avoid subjecting my readers either to annoyance or to the unlovely sight of my eviscerating someone with my Medusan agony blade…On Twitter, however, it’s different; I was ingrained from a young age with the principle that it’s rude to ignore people, so when I’m in what I perceive as a public space (rather than my “home” here) I find it difficult to simply ignore drive-by comments directed at me.  Since I hate arguments I start out politely and often finish the same way; sometimes the commenter reveals himself to be a troll or buffoon and I can excuse myself in good conscience within a few “tweets”.  But other times I am confronted with someone who seems to imagine herself (and it’s nearly always a “her”) some sort of crusader going into battle against the great Sphinx, and to believe that I will surely flee from the light of Divine Wisdom as revealed to her by the Holy Polaris Project or the Prophet Melissa.  But since I refuse to take anything on faith or to accept arguments from authority, and they never have any actual facts, they enter these battles of wits only half-armed at best.  I still start out polite, but as they continue to reply with nothing other than the equivalents of “nuh uh,” “sez you,” “my mommy says so” or “you’re going to make Baby Jesus cry,” I tend to get a lot more ruthless…

busy womanIf, on the other hand, you mean I seem less patient with readers and questioners, I’d have to say that I certainly hope it’s just your perception; I feel as though I’m just as patient and considerate of readers as I ever was, and that I answer questions just as thoroughly as I always have.  The increasing constraints on my time have required me to spend proportionately less of it in direct responses to reader comments, but I’d like to think it hasn’t affected my manner any.  If there is an area where I’m less patient, I would have to say it’s in my responses to people on Twitter who, though they are by no means trolls, are also unfamiliar with the body of my work; even if they’re very polite, I find it difficult to justify spending a lot of time interacting with only one person in such an ephemeral medium.  In those cases I’m always a bit relieved when someone else takes over the discussion, freeing me to do other things and perhaps throw in my 2¢ later; I’d like it even better, though, if they’d come here and enter into the lively discussions in the comment threads.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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