So most of you probably have heard about the John Green events last week, but in case you haven't, in a nutshell, this is what happened:
A young woman on Tumblr Posted:
I bet John Green thinks people don't like him because he's a dork or a nerd or whatever, when in reality it's because he's a creep who panders to teenage girls so that he can amass some weird cult-like following. And it's always girls who feel misunderstood, you know, and he goes out of his way to make them feel important and desirable. Which is fucking weird. Also he has a social media presence that is equivalent to that dad of a kid in your friend group who always volunteers to 'supervise' the pool parties and scoots his lawn chair close to all the girls.
|Hard to find the guy not smiling. Honestly, he looks nice to me|
His entire response, btw, which included a note that he didn't want anyone sending hate to the OP:
"You want me to defend myself against the implication that I sexually abuse children?
Okay. I do not sexually abuse children.
Throwing that kind of accusation around is sick and libelous and most importantly damages the discourse around the actual sexual abuse of children. When you use accusations of pedophilia as a way of insulting people whose work you don’t like, you trivialize abuse.
I’m tired of seeing the language of social justice–important language doing important work–misused as a way to dehumanize others and treat them hatefully.
So we all seek (and seek to share) the jolt that accompanies outrage and anger. As studies have shown, the complicated dopamine rush that comes with righteous indignation is very powerful, and I’m indulging it simply by responding to the outrageous accusation that my work is somehow evidence of sexual abuse.
But the outrage cycle is exhausting, and while there are wonderful examples of outrage fueling long-term, productive responses to injustice–We Need Diverse Books and the UPLIFT both come to mind–too often the Internet moves from jolt to jolt, from hatred to hatred, ever more convinced of our own righteousness and the world’s evil. And getting caught up in that is very painful.
I realize that will seem privileged to many of you (and it is), or like an excuse (maybe it’s that too), or lacking in empathy (maybe so), and I’m sure there is plenty here to deconstruct and reveal my various shortcomings (which are legion).
But this stops being a productive place for me to be in conversations if I’m not allowed to be wrong, if my apologies are not acknowledged alongside my misdeeds, and if I’m not treated like a person.
I think at this point it’s impossible to continue to use tumblr in the way I’ve used it since 2011. My life is different (in ways that are both good and bad); this community is different (in ways that are both good and bad); the world is different (in ways that are both good and bad).
So if this blog begins to look more one-way, with more original content and less reblogging/commenting/answering asks/etc., that’s why.
I want to emphasize that I am ridiculously lucky to work on stuff I love, from Crash Course to The Art Assignment to writing books. And I trust that many nerdfighter communities–whether vlogbrothers or Dear Hank and John or the Wimbly Womblys or the kiva group–will continue to be open and collaborative and constructive. Also, I’m not angry or anything like that. I just need some distance for my well-being.
Thanks for reading. DFTBA.
EDIT: To be clear, sending hate to people who say this stuff is counter-productive and only continues the outrage cycle, so please don’t abuse anyone. Thanks."
And then he started getting a bad time about being insensitive to the poor girl and yelled at not to victimize her again...
So here is my assessment of all that (because I'm wise and all that):
A young woman perceives what she perceives and has a right to that. But there are things you say about people that fall into hurtful territory at least and slanderous at worst. So the girl DID deserve to have the effect of her words explained.
But see John is a video guy... he is used to his four minute platform, a chance to build up his audience and educate us. I think that training failed poor John here. See, his response WAS thoughtful and educational. By the third paragraph. He GOT to the kind lesson. But he was offended first and in the age of the tweet, THAT was what people responded to.
So here are some things that could have saved the pain:
REMEMBER we are in a 140 Character Age! That doesn't mean he couldn't post his whole response, but it makes the order critical. In fact ideally he gets in a full summary in the first sentence and THEN expands:
“I'm sorry your experiences make you feel people who care about young adults are creepy, but your hurtful words suggest something untrue.” (135 characters—took a little work)
|There is only the room there is...|
One of my first degrees is journalism and unlike ALL other forms of writing, journalism rules require you to start with the MOST important details and trickle from there. The reason was that made the guy formatting the paper's job easier—if he needed an extra inch, he could just chop the last inch of any article. But the reason it applies HERE is we've all developed such short attention spans. You never KNOW when a person is going to quit reading, but you better bet it is before the end. Front load the main message.
REMEMBER the Image You Want to Present!
Do you want to be the guy on the defensive? Or do you want to be the patient teacher? Are you the ranting loon or the author who rose above it all? A statement of compassion right up front buys a lot of good will.
So there you go. Now you're smarter. Or something... Anybody else have advice to add or cases where a fiasco might have been saved with a bit more thought?