Feeling superior does not help with anything.

I witnessed a bunch of troublesome ‘discussions’ this past week. Not on crafthaus and not directed at me personally, but troublesome nevertheless. They also weren’t real discussions either, as in: a respectful exchange of opinions where one side hears the other out. It was more of a mud-slinging contest taking place on facebook where people seemed to be hellbent to go at each other with full force. Using foul language, making hurtful and disparaging remarks for no other purpose than aiming to signal to the rest of the audience that the critic alone knew what was right and that their goal in life was to set everybody else straight.

Really? Who died and made you Elvis? Why is it ok for you to piss on (pardon my French) someone else in the field who is not there to defend himself? How does that serve any purpose other than intimidation and making you feel superior? How is this helpful to you, the person criticized, or our craft field overall in any way? The worst part was that the offending parties had no insight into their counterproductive behavior, they seemed to feel entirely justified because they were ‘only telling the truth which needed to be said.’ What a complete disregard for other peoples' efforts and for where they are on their creative paths.

There's plenty of blame to go around here and this really cuts both ways as the academics and the traditional makers in all craft fields seem to have made it a habit to go after each other as if there’s no tomorrow. Please keep in mind: there’s really much more out there that unites us in the craft world than what divides us, we are all shooting ourselves in the foot if we allow behavior like this to happen.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the unmerciful, self-anointed experts on either end of the spectrum who think nothing of dragging someone else down publicly and having their buddies cheer them on to boot. This is called bullying in my book and it really has to stop! I encourage you all to take a stand when you encounter hurtful commentary online. Tell the bullies that their behavior is unacceptable. Let’s agree that at the very least everybody, no matter what kind of work they make deserves a modicum of respect and tolerance - whether the work is to our taste or not is really not the question. If all else fails, the old adage still holds true: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say - just shut the hell up.’ (I am paraphrasing.)

This certainly doesn’t mean that ‘everything is ok’ and that we now have to applaud all work no matter how mediocre. It just means that we should give fellow artists and makers a break every now and then, just let them be. If your intent really is to be helpful, by all means send a private message to the artist and offer constructive suggestions. Lastly also: whatever happened to civilized discourse? Agreeing to disagreeing? Are we not all adults who left High School behind a long time ago?

As always, feel free to disagree with me in your commentary, but please, let’s keep it civil. Thanks.

Yours truly.

Image: Chamber pot with head of Napoleon - Britain, ca. 1805.

Views: 413

Tags: Feeling, academics, art, artist, artists, craft, crafthaus, critique, makers, online, More…opinion, superior


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Comment by Harriete Estel Berman on December 7, 2013 at 4:38pm

Victoria, and everyone, I only realized recently (within the past year at most) that if I started a post that I could delete the post, and or a comment so don't feel bad.

Going back to Victoira's comment about shunning: My daughter recently showed me how to block a "bully" on Facebook. It took about 2 minutes or less. Now the bully person can no longer see anything I post, or comment. Even though this was a last resort, it felt so good not to be under attack.  Harriete

Comment by Victoria Woollen-Danner on December 7, 2013 at 4:26pm
To address One of Harriet's comments about deleting the original post to bring a quick end to the tirade, I didn't know one could! If there is an incident, where I started the post, I'll do just that. I was mistakenly under the impression the administrator only had the power to delete posts. Also, I HAVE made comments about mean spirited remarks and found it only fanned the flames. Somebody who wants to bully, intimidate or whatever you want to call it, feels totally justified for being a jerk and there is no changing that mind set. I do,however, think shunning can be very effective, after all, a lot of the nasty behavior comes from needing attention, IMHO.
Comment by Harriete Estel Berman on December 7, 2013 at 3:57pm

The point that I would like to make clear is that we can ALL take responsibility for action.

Even though MU or any other site has administrators, if you started a discussion you can delete the discussion or an individual post. You have the power of the CLICK.

The other option is to ask a person to modify or delete their comment if if came on too strong. 
Perhaps they didn't realize how offensive it may have been.
We can all be a voice of moderation.

We can all take responsibility for action instead of assuming it is someone else's job.

No need to blame anyone else. While bully behavior and rudeness are not excusable, if you are a witness to inappropriate behavior learn to step in as a voice of reason. 


 I have done both.

Comment by John Lunn on December 7, 2013 at 1:18pm

Sometimes admin can be overly protective but with these kind of outbursts it's better to be safe than destructive.

Comment by 2Roses on December 7, 2013 at 12:00pm

The incident everyone is demurring about happened on the Facebook site Metalsmith's Unite. Not sure why we are so circumspect in just saying this out loud. MU grew in size and notoriety rapidly and was a hot bed of bad online behavior, marked by repeated outburst of egregious attacks on members from a small core of repeat offenders.

This was certainly not the vision or intent of the originator who struggled continually with the problem. In between the outbursts there was a lot of great information shared on the site.

To Harriete's point, the group did put Admins in place to provide more stringent moderation and did bounce members on occasion. Probably not stridently enough measured by the outcome. The site has been shut down by the Admins out of sheer frustration.

The type of behavior exhibited on MU has a long history on the Internet and there are more than a few studies that examine the phenomenon in an attempt to understand the causes. As has been pointed out in the previous comments, online "flaming", "bullying" "personal attacks"  is really driven by a combination of individual personality and group behavior/response.

Both of these factors are exacerbated by the perpetrator's feeling of safety by distance. Most  would NEVER engage in the same type of behavior with anyone face to face.

This kind of behavior is curbed here on Crafthaus, because it is clear that the consequences would be both swift and certain. As it should be.

Comment by Kimberly Nogueira on December 6, 2013 at 10:24pm

I'm pretty sure I know the online incident you are referring to Brigitte, it really shocked me too.  Like Peggy, I enjoyed the technical discussions and information exchanged, but was always very confused by the odd and rather constant bullying/ ganging up that went on.  Your words make me realize why I love crafthaus so much!

Comment by Harriete Estel Berman on December 6, 2013 at 6:18pm

Everyone listening to this post by Brigitte also has the power to make the change they want to see. If you see a comment that you think might be misunderstood, you could ask for clarification or correction from the writer.

If a post your started has comments that are out of control remember that YOU HAVE CONTROL as a moderator. If one comment crosses a boundary of civility, you can actually delete the comment. Click it is gone.

If the discussion looses moderation, as the moderator, you can delete the entire post.

While deleting the entire post is rare, it may be necessary. I have done this on a couple of occasions when there was no other option.
Be the change you want to see. 

Comment by Harriete Estel Berman on December 6, 2013 at 5:57pm

I did not see the post that Brigitte (and some others) have referred to, but have noticed this phenomena on several  discussion forums. It is very unfortunate that this situation seems to repeatedly happen. There are discussion forums that I will no longer participate in, or post content for this exact reason.

While I wear my "rhinoceros hide" at all times, it still hurts our entire craft community to witness these problems and the impact.


Comment by Peggy Potts on December 6, 2013 at 3:55pm

Hmmm...pretty sure I know which donnybrook inspired this post.  While I lurked there for the valuable information, I often found the commentary divisive, so I never participated.  Why is it so difficult for some people to practice common courtesy?  Thanks for addressing this...

Comment by Erika Uzmann on December 6, 2013 at 3:04pm

Really happy to see this post Brigitte.  Coming from a 'recent student' perspective, it is incredibly harsh to have 'professionals' in the field (who you generally admire) be unsupportive of the new craftsmen.  We have all been the new person, the unskilled craftsman who is incredibly excited by their first success.  As professionals who want to see our field grow and succeed we should be supportive of that.  

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