I guess the one thing that Left and Right agree on, on the Internet, is that nobody likes strangers telling them what to do.

Twitter and Facebook, circa 2010, gave us exactly what I thought I wanted that the 2000s blog era wasn't giving me: a way for anyone anywhere to comment on anyone else's post stream. Just link it all together into a big global heap.

(they didn't give me search tools or persistence, though)

But now it turns out I guess I don't want that after all. I don't know what I want! But not that.


I guess part of the problem is a clash of metaphors:

Some people with a social media account think of their account, including replies, as 'their space'. They see anyone replying as guests, 'coming into their house', and so they should obey house rules. They want the right to boot unruly guests. Makes sense.

Other people think of their replies AS their space. They don't think they're 'coming into someone else's house' - they think they're speaking from THEIR house. How dare you silence me!

And adding in the idea that 'it's our moral/civic duty to puncture filter bubbles to prevent groupthink, which is bad' and the whole thing gets nasty.

Who owns a chunk of cyberspace when both sides have equal claims on it?

I feel like this whole thing got much worse in the post-blog era. In the blog era, everyone understood that 'my server, my house'. And was fine with it.

When everyone's 'house' isn't their server but just space on one big SV website, everyone feels much more exposed.

I think we need a metaphor that makes clear something like:

"You have the right to publish (subject to legal restrictions) your words in your space. But you don't have the right to force me to publish your words in my space."

You should have the right to reply to anyone online. But not the right to force them or their readers to read it.

@natecull That's called "owning your own blog". It's pretty great. I do allow comments on recent posts, but I delete some of them.

@mdhughes Yeah. Things are so much clearer and simpler in the blog world. Though commenting has always been a nightmare.

And I can understand why, eg, professional news people have just got sick of abusive comments in comments sections, because that's being published 'under their masthead' so they feel responsible; they're giving tacit agreement to anything said there. So the pushback does make sense.

It still reads as 'the professional elite don't care about we, the little people' though.

@natecull The little people can get some minimal technical education, then buy a $10/mo VPS and host their own shitty blogs.

Which is pretty much me in Château Versailles shouting down "Let them eat cake!"

@mdhughes they don't even have to do that! Just go to Wordpress.com and get a completely free blog!

But most people on mobile won't, I guess.

And maybe we're all better for not having comment sections on news articles?

It's just... the feel of it. The optics.

@natecull Doesn't help that the WP mobile apps are garbage.

And there's no constant validation from blogging, it's a slow, steady practice for yourself, which probably makes me an elitist for thinking isn't the easy TV-like experience many people want.

@mdhughes What I find interesting is that my brother both blogs and Facebooks, and describes his Mastodon experience as "shouting into a dark room" which is kind of how I feel about blogging.

@natecull @mdhughes funny, I precisely share that feeling for both, which is why I now “blog” on Facebook


Harvard Law Review, 1919:

"Each side takes the position of the man who was arrested for swinging his arms and hitting another in the nose, and asked the judge if he did not have a right to swing his arms in a free country. 'Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.'"

@natecull @alcinnz I see this as a problem of the space completely collapsing, at least in open social media like Twitter, such that everyone is at the same place at the same time. That’s probably not a sane way to build any kind of community. But I also don’t think Facebook can rise to the level of responsibility they have, even if they wanted to (and they don’t).

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