Friday, July 15, 2011

No Comment

"You're not an easy person to talk to."
This really originated as a response to some recent activity on my Tumblr (where a surprising number of people acted as if they paid for some type of strict gaming/art microblog without doing two seconds of work to figure out that I post everything from nudity to highly-offensive opinions and jokes), but before the backlash gets out of hand here as well, I thought I’d at least make one post explaining why comments are no longer enabled on my blog. Most of my readers HERE have just been expressing a bit of confusion on whether I don’t ‘allow’ them anymore, or it’s just their browser acting funny. Those actual readers do deserve an explanation in that regard, but people with some axe to grind on this topic can READ my two cents as well (especially given that the latter is really who this blog is aimed towards).

I’m not going to waste my time offering any academic muscle/backing for why I will no longer entertain feedback (and even calling it ‘feedback’ at this juncture is somewhat of a problem).  Such work would be a waste on the ears that are likely to contest it on any ground inconvenient to their perception, so I’m not going to waste my time simply humoring the dense. I’m just going to address what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard and what I’ve gathered in response to not only my recent decision, but a conversation that went down earlier this year at Critical Distance.[1]

First of all, not everyone wants or needs feedback as much as others (and even then, not in exactly the same way). This also applies towards how all blogs handle comments as well, which should be enough for the intelligent mind to settle at but obviously it isn’t. Many have begun working the pro-comment stance off that assumption alone, and it’s just as inherently flawed as any accusation made with it. This blog and its predecessors have pretty much just been 80% me expressing myself in regards to thoughts on various gaming topics. Occasionally, I did ask for feedback---sometimes my wording was even specifically geared to provoke it, but the structure of my writing style often called for a comprehensive understanding of one’s own individual dynamism, which would be better suited to a blog in itself (which I’d always gladly read when notified or if I found it on my own). Occasionally, people actually would e-mail their commentary to me anyway, as they felt odd publishing it on the post itself. I can even recall one quoting my blog here on Tumblr and offering her own commentary under the blockquotes.

"Personally, however, I feel this marks the beginning
of a new era of despair. What's your opinion?"
There’s also the reductionist accusation of this action being an ego problem. EVERYBODY HAS A DAMN EGO PROBLEM, but people who accuse others of ego problems generally are those with far more troubling self-image issues themselves that they're trying to conceal behind weak opinions and pseudo-true accusations, so the whole ‘ego-trip call-out’ is a wild shot in the dark against anyone who’s taken a similar route with their postings (the reason behind which could range from a sense of comfort and confidence in one’s own writing to overwhelming distaste for the ‘noise’ which the Internet is so effective at facilitating). If you have a need to assert an opinion towards the ‘originator’ of some kind of concept or idea, THAT in itself is an ego problem. The neurotic need to be ‘heard’ on the Internet is one that many people have given into, and announcing slavishly that others be branded with a similar mockup is borderline counterproductive to all of the arguments I’ve seen in favor of comments---or more specifically, in criticisms of the option to not allow any.

Anyone who has entered into my illusive circles of friends is always free to use any of the ever-growing list of social linkups to engage a discussion with me.[2] That’s not what this is about. I’m not against comments, not at all. I’m against my ideas being challenged, questioned and engaged in a very particular fashion, as my idea of what that information will mean when it is will cause its value to degrade in my eyes. That’s it. One could make the statement that it’s simply too cumbersome to ‘go out of their way’ to offer their thoughts to me elsewhere, but I’m fine with that thought just being lost if the person is too busy, too apathetic, or outright too lazy to convey it (e.g. if you’re too lazy to sit on your ass and click open an e-mail to throw me your opinion, then I don’t really care either). The Internet has become an overbearing collection of noise and filtering it out for myself is my goddamn right these days. Manipulating the negative space is the forte of any competent crafter and that’s what a lack of comments represents to me (to offer an analogy to aid that metaphor, I very rarely take photographs of people for a somewhat related reason). I don’t necessarily operate off the assumption that I am actively encouraging conversation to happen elsewhere, but lo’ and behold I have an option that says put up or shut up’---at least enough to say that ‘I’d rather it be that way and this is the step I’ve taken to make it so’.

If you happen to be one of those people who just ‘shuts up’, an idea will be lost, but the world will NOT end. Get the fuck over it.

True enough that once a post is made public, it doesn’t necessarily belong solely to the author anymore. In effect however, disallowing comments allows the author to ‘vanish’ in sense. Such a sense has most commonly been described as liberating (with which I agree with). There’s also the assumption that the vanishing author (in terms of simply not engaging with his/her readers in comments) is not an action in itself---not only that but that such an action isn’t equal or possibly of more value than allowing comments/engaging. Asserting so is a dangerously short-sighted stance in favor of an (AT BEST) optimistic lure of debate and discussion which have more immediately tangible (and increasingly more often redundant) ‘results’.

And here’s a quote concerning the author who sparked such an action (no matter how unrelated it may or may not be to my particular related actions here).[3]
“Ben Abraham is famous not only for having a very clever blog, but for having a blog at which it is impossible to comment.  A little while back, Ben produced a post that prompted a good deal of controversy and discussion but because Ben’s site does not allow comments, it is now incredibly difficult to find out what was said.  In a round-table discussion recorded for Critical Distance, Ben defends his decision to not allow comments and there ensues quite an intriguing chat about the value of different forms of online communication.  Does not allowing comments encourage ‘the conversation’ by forcing people to write their own blog posts and argue on twitter or is it reducing something worth preserving to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trend on Twitter?  You decide (Please RT, comment and pay attention to meee!)”
"Yes, it was because of that I became a vanishing mediator."
Comments such as this one make a valid point and further throw darts at certain problems in the sphere of game-blogging in particular. Obviously from this paragraph I’m referring to Twitter. Anybody that does follow me can easily note that in the past six months my style-usage for Twitter has transferred mostly to my Tumblr, which has taken its own monstrous form[4]. There’s a reason for this. Twitter is a horrible medium for any type of realistic discussion/debate, so in essence that was the first move I made towards ‘vanishing’. Anytime a concise point CAN be made, the perspective can consistently be shown to reveal a facile and willfully-ignorant assault on the complexities of any given situation, all under the guise of being succinct.  Given that this blog is about a relatively young medium that most of the populous is still growing up with, the pains of such a social structure (based profoundly on personal and biased viewpoints) that’s in itself built on the foundation of malleable digital information is dubious at best.

A comment is useless to me on numerous levels given that vast majority of the time as it's either:

A)  Simply sympathetic towards my point.
B)  A reactionary contrarian situated atop some nonsensical or irrational argument.
C) A troll looking for provocation.
D) A sparse critical look in which the basic foundations (or some irrelevant minutiae) of my ideas are questioned.
E) A comment without an exact goal or ‘message’, but a mere expression of stance/opinion as a reaction to my own (these are typically very long comments that deserve to be explored in posts in their own right). These are what usually get e-mailed to me.

Now does this mean that most of the comments I’ve received up until this point are 'worthless' (i.e. 'worth less') in the terms most relevant to this particular post? In regards to the criteria I just mentioned---yes. Are they the incentive for the lockout? Not---necessarily. Hell, 'E' is what I'm after most of the time (with a bit of D sprinkled in). Mostly it’s just a minimal factor in why I decided to do it. My negative and positive experiences with comments overall is irrelevant because my conception of what ‘negative’ or ‘positive’ even means is subject to debate in itself.

It has nothing to do with privacy. If I didn't want anybody to read or engage with my idea, I wouldn't have posted it at all, especially not on the vicious and cacophonous cesspool of opinion that is the Internet anyway...

It's about distance. It’s about my weariness with the ludicrousness of syntax and semantics that so many arguments these days are based on (gaming-related and not). I'd rather the discussion (if there's any to be had) take place away from me for a countless number of reasons both personal and logical; and even if it’s in my reach, I want the option continually open for myself where I’m not simply obligated to launch a response towards someone that may not see a certain discussion in the same light as me. This is especially in regard to people I'm not already familiar with and doubly so for arguments I’ve repeatedly come across in my years of posting about games.

"As your captive audience, I've listened to your words,
now I have a few for you----"
It’s not about me not caring what someone has to say, it’s about allowing the audience to make up its own damn mind and not waste its time trying to fruitlessly and gradually proselytize me towards their own viewpoint. By all means engage with my thoughts and ideas, but don’t you ever assume that you’re entitled to engage with ME on them. Quote me, praise me, eviscerate my entire posts piece by piece, or simply call me an idiot, but don’t expect to do it here. Forced attempts to do so have already seen me tossing all cordiality out the window and acting as troll and/or malicious manipulator (and anybody who knows me beyond a superficial level will instantly attest to this, as I’m notorious for purposefully manipulating information for various ends) to provoke people in fashions that most likely will be more affective towards communicating any idea I deem necessary.

It sure as hell isn’t about controlling conversation. Well---it is controlling towards conversation with me specifically, but if you knock on my door I have no obligation to answer (something else plenty of people will attest to concerning me). People saying the existence of the door does actually obligate me to answer is tickling. People saying they have the constitutional right to stand on a soapbox in the face of any author on the merits/demerits of their work is downright hilarious. Hell, it’s actually leaving the door open (though it may not be as encouraging as I’d like it to be) for a more tangible sense of ‘free’ conversation to blossom.

Ironically though, where my reclusion has kicked in on written expression, it has receded in visual (i.e. my two-year-long ban on the likes of future commissions and finished illustrations/paintings being posted here from now on).

The Internet along with too much recent Ghost in the Shell re-viewings/readings has given birth to a newfound contempt for discussion that is pointless in cyberspace. Welcome to it manifesting on Misanthropic Gamer.
“DARN IT! THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE POINT OF WORD-USE IN THE LEAST! THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF INFORMATION THAT OUT TO BE RELAYED ELECTRONICALLY! WHY DID THEY WASTE TIME WRITING OUT A NOTE JUST TO TELL ME THAT!? THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WORDS ISN’T THE SUPERFICIAL ABILITY TO CONVEY FACTS, BUT RATHER TO STRUCTURE THE SELF-PROGRAMMING QUALITY THAT’S INHERENT IN LANGUAGE ITSELF!!! THEY DON’T GET IT!!!”[5]
Thank you, and good day.

1. Critical Distance Podcast, Episode 7 [http://www.critical-distance.com/2011/02/10/episode-7-a-post-comment-world]
2. Misanthropic Gamer, Hypocrisy Tab [http://snakelinksonic.blogspot.com/p/hypocrisy.html]
3. On Magazines and Conversations [http://ruthlessculture.com/2011/02/24/on-magazines-and-conversations/]
4. My Tumblr [http://snakelinksonic.tumblr.com/]
5. Tachikoma, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Episode #2, ‘TESTATION’ [http://ghostintheshell.wikia.com/wiki/Runaway_Evidence]