Monday, December 27, 2004

An Umbrella in the Shitstorm

I note that Juan has, today, commented on the "shitstorm" following his comments on the Martini Republic article, saying he should have made it clearer that he didn't endorse their views of the IraqtheModel weblog. Well, shoot, honestly it was pretty clear, to me anyway, what he was saying. The critics were basically putting every word from that article in Juan's mouth -- and really were going off the main point anyway, which was about the danger of manipulation in cyberspace. One of the features of that danger is that it is very difficult to prove for sure who, and why the person is manipulating. Some people just enjoy shit-stirring and have no better reason than that, but there are a few that have a particular purpose in mind, and some of those probably have somebody behind the scenes backing them. Another problem is that paranoia can take over in a tense situation (I'm talking mostly about forums now, which is where my cyberspace experience is) and people are looking for agents provocateurs everywhere and accusing the innocent.

It's a bit early to see much feedback yet, although I expect that anything less than a snivelling apology will be painted as trying to weasel out. Well, that's cyberspace -- I've seen many a post get twisted around into something a person never said. Sometimes it's honest misunderstanding; sometimes it is a deliberate skewering of an opponent. You really have no control over what is said about you out here, and after one good effort to make yourself understood, you might as well forget it unless you want to spend all your time repetitively defending yourself from people who will never believe your defense anyway.

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