Thursday, September 5, 2013

Opinions, online etiquette and Autistic safe space

There has been very little "drama" on this blog and its Facebook Page in the 18 months or so that it has been here. I love that!

I am noticing a shift in the way people interact on blogs and Facebook Pages, though. I am seeing a lot of arguing, accusing and just straight out poor behaviour (not on this page!). People seem to feel that they should come onto a blog or page and make sure that things are "democratic" and that "free speech" is upheld. It seems to me, however, that these things are code for "I disagree with you and I want to be able to do that loudly and rudely on your blog/page without you asking me not to". And I would disagree that that is what blogs are for.

The fact is that it is impossible for a blog to actually be a democracy. It is not even possible for a blog to be unbiased. A blog is a collection of thoughts and opinions put together by a person who has put time and effort into deciding what they think, believe and value. In my experience a LOT of time and effort goes into this.

In my social circle, and throughout my life, I and the people I have interacted with have worked on the assumption that it would be rude to walk into someones house and start to criticise them or what you think you know about them.

I feel it is the same with interactions on blogs and on Facebook. A blog is like someones house. I would not go to visit a blog that I can see holds different values and opinions than I do and expect them to welcome me if I begin attacking them or the things they have written on their blog.

Likewise, if I post something here I would hope that people would recognise that this is my blog, where I post things I agree with, value and support. I would hope that people would respect that and refrain from being rude, or aggressive about their disagreement.

In the past I have purposely avoided posting on topics that I know can be divisive. This has been because I have not felt up to the task of having to moderate the blog heavily.

These days I am learning a lot about how important it is to be up front about what I believe. I am learning about the importance of there being places that are safe for Autistics to visit online. I want these places to exist for my kids when they are older.

To this end, you will start to see more open discussion of hard topics on this blog. You will notice me intentionally opposing some view points. I am working towards creating a space where it is safe for Autistic people to come- where they do not have to worry about seeing comments that make them feel they are seen as anything other than wonderful just the way they are.

It will be a work in progress. I am still learning. I am listening to Autistic adults. I am listening to  my children. I am figuring out where I may have contributed to hurt in the past and endeavouring not to do that again.

I hope that you will want to come on this journey with me.

Of course, if you find that you disagree with me and you are no longer comfortable here, that is fine. All our journeys are different. I will not be upset or offended if you decide to unlike the page and stop visiting the blog. I am not here to be popular or to chase after "likes". I am just here learning and documenting the journey.


  1. I love what you said about going into someone else's home -- how the unspoken rule is that you do not (and would not ever, hopefully) consider criticizing the homeowner or be otherwise belligerent and rude.

    That is such a great analogy.

    In my day, when I was in journalism school, newspapers were supposed to be unbiased. Of course, back then most people who had access to a mass-distributed public platform had some sort of training and the influence of other professionals to keep them in line. These days, the with burgeoning media types and access, the concept of 'unbiased' is embraced less and less.

    Note here that I understand there is no such thing as a complete lack of bias - but trying to keep bias in check is the old-school journalistic ethic. It did serve a purpose.

    These days, however, even the formal news outlets obviously if not openly cast this standard aside. They play to their audiences in whatever ways will expand their reach and wallet. So if even the traditional news organizations are openly biased, why do people think that a personal blog or FB page must cater to others' opinions and endure their attacks? A personal blog has the goal of whatever the owner wants it to. Period. (If you so violently dislike my purple walls or bathroom tile, feel free to go to someone else's house.)

    Though public, blog and FB space is personal in origin. It is indeed like someone's home. Or even someone's office. Or car. In any of these personal areas, if you come into my space to insult, assault, or otherwise make trouble, I will have you removed. DELETE! Bbye!

    Delete away, Michelle. We have to trust you that you are being judicious in doing so-- that our unspoken contract with you holds - fair and open communication within the bounds of civility and sense. If we can't trust you to do that--and if we can't do it ourselves---well, why come here in the first place?

    Keira Thrasher
    (I don't have any of those accounts listed. I found you through a FB group. I understand if you delete me and I will create a user profile of some kind before I type out another long message to you again. :-)

    1. It is indeed strange that many people are happy for their news sources to be biased, but not a personal blog! And I agree with you that we do make an unspoken agreement with each other. Similarly to when we drive cars- we trust that people will take care and no one will intentionally cause harm with their driving, even though we pass within metres of each other at high speeds- when I make myself vulnerable and express my opinion I trust you to take care when responding. And if people disagree with me and they say so politely, they are trusting that I will respond in kind. It is important that we uphold this contract so that people feel safe in our online community. If I choose to delete it is because I have made a judgement that the comment is either deliberately provoking me and others or will be hurtful to more people than just myself. I generally won't engage in any conversation with the person who makes such a comment either, because I'd rather delete and ignore than get involved in a slinging match!
      I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for your comment Keira.


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