There has been a big hulabaloo lately about "mean people" on Dkos.  It's not the first time.  It's not the second time.  Hell is not even the umpteenth time.  It's a tale as old as Dailykos itself.  It seems every week there is a plethera of diaries about all the assholes that frequent our fine community.  And at least once a month are portents of doom about big orange falling to the opressive force of the angry mob and the obligatory "can't we all just get along" diaries.  It is a self perpetuating cycle and I am tired of both sides dragging it out way longer than it has to be and blowing it up way larger than it has to be.

Please, for the love of Kos, stop the cycle!

Clarification below,

Now, I'm not dissing anyone's right to say what they want.  Really I'm not.  My main purpose for this diary is not to chastise anyone, it is to highlight this overpowering negative meta-cycle that comes through here as predictably as a full moon and possibly explore some ways we can stop the cycle before it goes too far.

What the heck am I talking about?

The phenomenon that I am reffering to here on Dkos is called a "negativity sink".  A Negativity sink is a workplace term used to describe a clearly defined cycle of negative attitude and actions in a workplace environment that inhibits productivity and creates interpersonal tension. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that will worsen and worsen over time and can be difficult to escape once it's formed.  Kinda sounds like us huh?
So what causes this cycle?

There is not one action or comment that will cause a negativity sink to form.  It is usually the culmination of many people and many experiences that coalesce and builds slowly until it reaches a self perpetuating level, but it is such a common phenomenon around here you could set a watch to it:

               SUGGESTION TO SHUT THE FUCK UP              
                         IMPLICATION OF TROLL-NESS

And this happens on and on and on until someone writes a "why mean people are destroying Dkos" diary, which starts off a cachaphony of "can't we all just get along" diaries.

At Dkos, this cycle usually has 2 sides that feed off each other.  You have the "mean people" side and the "why is everyone so mean?" side.  They bounce back and forth continuing tensions and conflict between them until people get fed up for the time being or leave the site entirely.

How do you fight negativity on Dkos?

Here's the kicker, you don't fight negativity.  Fighting only produces more negativity and tension.  I call it Newton's Third SOCIAL law:  Every action has an equal an opposite reaction.  By confronting the negativity head on, or in some cases the negative person head on, you are only subjecting yourself to an ever continuing series of volleys of negativity allowing it to build more and more.  And that negativity doesn't just build for YOU, but for everyone who has to read your very public and drawn out argument.  Negativity makes people uncomfortable and it is very contagious.

So what's to be done?

Just becuase you can't FIGHT negativity doesn't mean there is no solution to the problem of negativity. But we first have to recognize that how we react in the face of negativity that makes the difference.  You can't control what other people say or do around here, but you can control how you react to it.  

  1. When faced with an asshole, just ignore them.  If you see a poster or diarist insult someone or respond in an overly negative fashion, there's no rule that says you have to engage.  There are people around here who do go around picking fights. They come onto a diary and insult the diarist or namecall or what-have-you. They want people to engage them.  They want to raise tensions.  But you can't have a fight with just one person.  Let them be.  They're only dangerous if you feed them.
  1. If you must say something.  Make it short, make it count, and walk away.  There are going to be times when you feel you need to respond, but a lot of people get in the "last word" trap in those situations. I know I have many times.  Each side feels they HAVE to get the last word in, as if the entire argument were nothing more than a contest of stamina and whoever flinches first loses.  Make your stand, word it very carfully and deliberately, and don't respond to anyone who responds to you.
  1. Learn to avoid the garbage.  At least 50% of the diaries on this blog are garbage.  There is no reason to subject yourself to garbage.  Learn to tell the gold from the garbage in the first 3 sentences, if it's garbage, just don't finish it.  If you see comments that are getting a bit hot and flamey, skip them.
  1. Avoid your hot-spots.  If there is a particular topic or person who ignites anger or negativity in you, avoid them.  You're not going to get anything from it so why torture yourself and everyone else by walking into a situation where the only outcome is you being pissed off?
  1. Add a positive to counteract the negative.  Instead of writing that "why mean people suck" diary (which in their own way can be as negative as hostile comments/diaries), write a positive diary.  Or at the very least a constructive one.  Instead of telling people to come together or be nice to each other, create a space to bring people together to laugh and smile.  Such diaries are as important to the aspect of this blog as the serious political or policy diaries.  Who doesn't love Phillygal's pooties or Buhdy's ponies?  I'm not saying you have to grin and bear it, I'm saying when things get too heavy it is better to lighten them up then make them even more heavy.  (and yes the irony is not lost on me that this is in fact a heavy diary.  I'm sorry.  I'll throw a cute cat picture in here somewhere.)
  1. It's never as bad as you think.  There are over 100k users on this blog.  If even one percent of them were utter and absolute bastards, that is still 1000 people who run amok sowing negativity and it always seems worse than it really is.  But do not dispair.  We are not doomed and we are not falling to mean-ness.

Anyway, maybe it's futile, maybe nothing will come of this.  I'm just tired of watching this play over and over and over and people think it's the end of the world because there are (gasp) mean people at Dkos.  And people devote days and sometimes weeks to the discussion of how bad the mean people are and how it's bringing them down and continuing the cycle further.

You know what?  Mean people suck.  Why torment yourself belaboring it over and over and over again.  

Please, just please, can we just stop the cycle?

Originally posted to DawnG on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 03:44 PM PST.


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