Tuesday, January 4, 2022

"Oh, Didn't You Know I'd Been Cancelled?" Said She

Corey Robin linked to and praised this recent New York Times piece.  While it sounds interesting, it's behind a paywall, so I don't know if I'll read it.  It's evidently an attack on what the author calls Diet Culture and its harmful effects.  I'm sympathetic to that stance, but what concerns me right now is a symptomatic exchange in the comments under the author's tweet about the essay.

Someone called Satori posted a comment occupying what they presumably thought was a middle ground: "The key is to slowly, gently change your lifestyle, forever. No need to be chronically hungry, cranky & write soppy op-eds," followed by specific recommendations. Someone appropriately called Smartipants, retorted, "what part of her essay made you think she wanted your advice on weight loss? Keep it to yourself."

I have no interest in weighing in on the moisture content of an op-ed I haven't read, or on Satori's intervention. (I bet Satori hasn't read it either.)  I just want to make a general point: If you publish something in the New York Times (!) or other elite media, if you promote it on Twitter or other social media, then you are inviting comment and even advice.  You don't have to follow it, you don't have to like it, you can certainly ignore it, but if you don't want it, don't publish or post in the first place.  Publication, to say nothing of posting on Twitter, amounts to throwing red meat into a pit of starving feral dogs.

If you're lucky.  As someone once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about; and following Sturgeon's Law, ninety percent of all public discourse is crap.  (That includes Smartipants's comment.)  Then it occurred to me that Smartipants's remark is related to the ongoing performances of those who, from the well-lit vantage point of an elite media platform, wail that they're being silenced and nobody can say anything in public anymore because they'll be cancelled by the Woke Mob.

How many times I've encountered people like Smartipants on Facebook!  They believe that what they or their friends post publicly there is private, and that any disagreement or criticism of what they've written violates their freedom of speech. As I tell them, if you don't want your posts to be public, change your security settings so that only your bubble of friends will see them.  Once it turns up in my feed, it's my business, as well as the business of anyone else who can see it.