[Air-L] (What have I started?) Re: trolls and Aspergian "sufferers"

Charlie Breindahl charlie.breindahl at gmail.com
Tue Aug 7 23:17:12 PDT 2012

Hi list,

I think this has been very interesting and productive in allowing us
to see ourselves as a body of people passionately interested in the
internet and the whole array of ethical issues that change with it.
Thank you, everyone!

To me, the most interesting part is the statement that the lack of
non-verbal clues in internet communication necessarily diminishes the
empathy felt by participants. Logically, I think it corresponds
closely to the statement that standing behind a closed door and
shouting would result in a lack of empathy in communication. Why?
Would it not, on the contrary, serve to activate our empathy?
Communication is always based on inference - we always lack some
clues, be they verbal or non-verbal. Empathy helps us fill out the

In my view, internet communication is not clue-less in any sense of
the word. I'm not alone here. This point has been made many times by
members of this association. Why do we keep repeating the same process
of discovering the empathy inherent in our conversations with each

Just my .05 euro.

Sent from Anaïs, my iPhone

On 07/08/2012, at 21.58, Michael Scarce <scarce at mac.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> I began the initial thread of this ongoing and surprisingly long-lived conversation. As a new member to the Association, I  felt compelled to challenge statements that I found offensive, inappropriate, disrespectful, and unprofessional on the listserv. Even academic freedom has certain boundaries and constraints. It had a chilling effect on me. Rather than simply disengage and abandon the group, which seems largely self-moderated, I took a significant risk.
> I have not continued to weigh in since my original post, but I have carefully observed the group's dynamics, including how far and wide the discussion has traversed, individuals' highly personal and impressive disclosures in relation to their work, and passionate struggles surrounding ethical relativism and interdisciplinary pluralism.
> I have received many personal emails of encouragement, gratitude, organizational apology, and even outrage. The messages included far more than compassionate outreach, empathy and care-taking, however.  Interestingly, I did not receive any emails of disagreement, healthy (or unhealthy) criticism, debate, and so on. This signifies something to me, which I have yet to sort out.
> My original post was meant to convey: "You've got to be kidding me. Suffferers?  Wow. Really?"
> Forgoing traditional scientific use of third-person claim-staking, for me, it boils down to:
> *  the notion that science can and should be held accountable for the ways in which it influences society (conceding an artificial distinction between the two as mutually exclusive). I was taken aback by some of the absolutist and elitist entrenchment, and most especially the cautionary tale of "Tread lightly in your disagreement with me, young Jedi. What you express could render you jobless."
> *  certain forms of 'disability' or others forms of 'difference" as constituting cultures deserving of the kind of respect described by this organization's own Internet ethics document (even if it is ten years old)
> * and an awareness of how the research subjects of which we speak are also researchers themselves, as evidenced by a few members' thinly veiled descriptions of each other as trolls within a context of conducting research on trolls.
> I'm aware the focus of the listserv is not about organizational recruitment and retention. However, the abundance of self-irony alone is enough to keep me coming back.
> Michael Scarce
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