When good forums go bad
I've been pretty active in the political web forum world the past few years, and what I've learned is that just about any web forum, no matter how benign its purpose or uncontroversial its subject matter, can turn ugly if negative or hostile or aggressively stupid members are allowed to dominate the conversation unchecked. When that happens you have three choices: you can ignore it, you can fight back, or you can leave. In this case I found it hard to ignore, because the hostility was hitting pretty close to home: a lot of snide remarks about academia, a lot of juvenile stereotyping of academics, a lot of chest-puffing anti-intellectualism of the Limbaugh variety (it was even suggested that I'd been "brainwashed by academia"—echoes of Horowitz, ferfuckinchrissakes). I don't really have the time or energy to engage it—too many papers to grade, little kids, copy edits due in two weeks—plus, after a year or so on crimespace I realize that such attitudes are pretty deeply ingrained: literary fiction writers get all the girls, or something. I did post a long, impassioned rant in which I said as clearly as I could that I took such attacks personally, since my wife, my father and most of my closest friends are artists, poets, lit-fic writers and/or academics, but the poo continued to fly. After another round or two, I left. It's possible that I'll sign up again when the new book is a little closer to its release date. Or, you know, not.