Friday, 5 August 2011

Expat Hell and Blogs Bullied into Silence, discussed at Bobster's House

A writer whom I respect a lot, The Bobster, wrote a piece a little while ago called "The Curious Case of Jake, In Korea" (Part 1, and Part 2)

Jake shut down his former blog, "The Prestige," and at the time, I wrote a half-baked post about netizen bullies and defensive nationalists, making the unfounded assumption that it had been netizen bullies that shut him down. I later took that post down (something I almost never do). Because it was half-baked, and simply incorrect.

The Bobster interviewed Jake, and in part two, added some great thoughts about the myth of anonymity on the internet,  and the fact we own what we write on the internet, anonymously or otherwise. I'll be honest, and say that as a guy who writes under his real name, who has a family in Korea, sometimes I wonder how far I ought to venture into controversial territory... but then again, even if I don't aim for controversy, you never know when somebody will misunderstand a joke or an idiom, or just decide they don't like something about me. That's why, look around, and you'll notice I never put the name of my school or my current workplace on the blog, and have put a grand total of two or three pictures up where my wife's face can be discerned... because it would bother me a lot if my blog garnered any kind of unwanted attention for my wife.

You don't know this, but I did once have netizen who didn't like some comments I made on another page, publish the location and time where s/he or one of his/her friends had spotted me in public. They took it down a few hours later, before I could grab a screenshot, but yeah. That happened.

Anyway, my favorite line in Bobster's write-up:
"Steering clear of controversy because the topics don’t move you is different from avoiding them because we are afraid evil people will jump at us from the shadows. Most of the time there is nothing there in the dark, or what is there is, is very small and doesn’t want to do more than say boo."

I'm sad that so far, Bobster's two-part piece has garnered only one comment altogether, and I'd be really happy to see a lively discussion there. So, brace yourself, Bobster.

So go, read. Begin with part one. and then read part two.


thebobster said...

Thanks for the attention, Rob, but I gotta say, looking at your headline up there, one might get the impression (just from the grammar, you know) that Bobster’s House is the SOURCE of whatever bullying is taking place – and haha, I hope we can clarify that somewhat.

I think part of my thesis was that anonymity does not really protect you, but rather it provides the very first objective in whatever campaign or series of battles that people will use against you should they decide to make themselves your adversaries. And I don’t think exposing a person’s online persona by itself constitutes bullying, unless it’s accompanied by threats, explicit or implied.

I do think it’s probably a wise course of action to keep details circumspect regarding those people in our lives we care about most – a lot of bloggers do that and it’s the only prudent course, unless we want to make a conscious effort NEVER to say ANYthing that absolutely ANYone might possibly take offense at. If we make that choice, the bastards have won without a shot being fired.

Beyond that, we need to be ready to stand up and stand firm – and I think we also need to be ready to go the aid of anyone around us who is being made a target of in that way.

And, Rob, if anything like that happened to you, I hope you know I’d be at the front of likely a very long line of people saying, “Don’t worry, I got your back, dude.”

Rob-o-SE-yo said...

thanks, Bobster.

I'll adjust the title to be clearer as well.