Does it matter?

#1
Tim asked a question in the Victor Stenger thread (http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/victor-stenger.1232/) that got me thinking.

It doesn't matter what I say, what he said or what anyone said on an internet forum, does it ?
I think it does matter. Or rather: it should. I created a new thread in order to broaden this out from just the Stenger context to our online relationships generally.

The internet isn't a child any more. It has become integrated into our respective societies. Further, it has allowed the creation of new communities - not based on geography but communities of interest. The means of communication has shifted - but the community is real.

Typically, there has been a habit of many internet users to consider the internet to be "anonymous" and therefore many act terribly, saying things they would never say to another person face to face. I think it is naive to consider our online identities to not be "real" and for the consequences of our online actions to not be "real".

I think our online identifies are functionally every bit as real as offline identities. I'm not saying that they function exactly the same - clearly they don't. But as people I think our online identities are as much a part of us as our offline identities.

Sure there are parts of our offline lives that don't make it online, but don't forget that it is often the same in reverse! I don't have anything like the discussions I have here with the vast majority of people I know offline. I've divulged things on this forum that I would not divulge to many people I know in real life. The adoption of handles frees many of us up to pursue interests and relationships we might not otherwise feel comfortable pursuing offline. But that doesn't make it less real in terms of social interaction or relationship building - it's just a different form of it. Remember: the internet is simply the means of communication.

Many of the members of this forum have interacted with each other now for years. We've gotten to know each other. Sure, not everything about each other, but that doesn't happen offline either. Offline we have different types of relationships - we share different levels of information about ourselves with different people. Online relationships affect us similarly to offline ones. They can provide comfort and support. They can invoke interest and excitement, or provoke anger and cause hurt feelings. They can inspire or enrage, enthrall or bore.

Stop for a moment, folks, and just reflect on the nature of your online relationships and communities.

The internet has expanded our abilities to communicate with other human beings. It has made the world a much smaller place, and allowed for communities to develop that were previously impractical. It's time to recognise that these communities are just as much a part of us as our offline communities.

And that our words here do matter.
 
#2
I agree the internet has matured. A troll used to mean someone who abused their fellow posters. Now a troll can be someone who colonises a forum without taking on board any of the evidence around which it is based, who repeatedly diverts interesting threads into his favoured topics, or simply wants to change the nature of the debate from something objective to a chat about themselves. Trolls have learnt the danger of exposure, but by staying between the cracks they can inhabit an internet forum almost indefinitely.
 
#3
I'm not sure this is the right forum to demonstrate community building.

This forum is stuck between two sides who feel the other is deluded. You're misusing the world ' community ' here.
 
#4
Also, this feel-good essay shouldn't be coming from you. It should be coming from a neutral person that both sides mutually respect. There are a great many people who find you absolutely intolerable on this forum ( as there are people who find me intolerable ). This is really just going to serve to anger them more.
 
#5
I'm not sure this is the right forum to demonstrate community building.

This forum is stuck between two sides who feel the other is deluded. You're misusing the world ' community ' here.
I agree that most people don't tend to recognise an internet forum, or a collection of forums and sites, as a community. I'm making the argument that we should recognise these places as communities, and treat them - and the other members of it - as such.

Remember: there's nothing about a community that suggests that everyone agrees with each other. Geographical communities are filled with people who disagree with each other.
 
#6
Also, this feel-good essay shouldn't be coming from you. It should be coming from a neutral person that both sides mutually respect. There are a great many people who find you absolutely intolerable on this forum ( as there are people who find me intolerable ). This is really just going to serve to anger them more.
I would be thrilled if someone else took up this gauntlet!

That said: if someone finds something agreeable or disagreeable based solely on who writes it, they may want to examine whether why that is.
 
#7
I agree that most people don't tend to recognise an internet forum, or a collection of forums and sites, as a community. I'm making the argument that we should recognise these places as communities, and treat them - and the other members of it - as such.

Remember: there's nothing about a community that suggests that everyone agrees with each other. Geographical communities are filled with people who disagree with each other.
I'm not saying forums don't make good breeding grounds for healthy communities. I'm a part of multiple forums with very robust and tight communities who even meet up every so often. The picture on my avatar was taken at such meeting. There are obviously disagreements all the time. But because of the tight community we're involved in, we can disagree and still enjoy each other's company.

On this forum, you skeptics represent a group of people who perform public shaming tactics to push your agenda. Even if you yourself don't partake in that, people will hate you and resent you for that. That's why this forum will never build a community around it as long as you and your kind are here.
 
#8
Sometimes I tell my friends and family that I am on this website where science and religion "collide". I thought that was what we were doing here? Like I've said before, there are a lot of smart people here, on both sides. If this is a community, it is a community of very intelligent people with opposing points of view. This place is a philosophical-cosmic-battleground. We are glowing beings of celestial light firing laser bolts back and forth among the vaporous clouds and pink sky in the twilight between realms of existence.
 
#9
I don't understand what the forum's resident skeptics get out of it. Maybe it's a kind of masochistic pleasure, or perhaps they're sadists who think their role is to continually poke people who believe they've arrived at a workable answer. If someone turned up on a model aircraft forum to tell everyone how much better model railways are, then stuck around for five years to repeat the message, most people might find that a little weird. I've joined forums I thought could be useful, only to find the group mindset was so contrary to mine that my contributions were indistinguishable from trolling (at least to the regular users), but I wouldn't dream of sticking around once I'd said my piece. The issue is our skeptics are unable to tell the difference between applied skepticism - the application of new data to change the balance of a discussion - and lifestyle skepticism of generalised nay-saying and armchair debunking. They may believe that activity adds to the mix, and anchors the more egregious flights of fancy, but the forum's proponents don't strike me as a particularly fanciful bunch on the whole.

Skeptics here set themselves absurdly low standards, most of which they fail to live up to. Even answering this thread feels like indulging someone who wants to distract from what I perceive as useful discussions.
 
#10
I'm not saying forums don't make good breeding grounds for healthy communities. I'm a part of multiple forums with very robust and tight communities who even meet up every so often. The picture on my avatar was taken at such meeting. There are obviously disagreements all the time. But because of the tight community we're involved in, we can disagree and still enjoy each other's company.
Two things:

1) Again: you're implying there is something more "real" about the community that meets in person. I'm making the argument that online communities are just as real in that they perform a similar role.

2) You're presupposing that we can't disagree here and still enjoy each other's company. That is precisely what I hope to achieve from discussions such as this.

In offline communities we don't tend to go around calling people idiots and insulting them even when we disagree with them. I'm suggesting that we should be applying the same social contract conventions in our online communities.

On this forum, you skeptics represent a group of people who perform public shaming tactics to push your agenda. Even if you yourself don't partake in that, people will hate you and resent you for that. That's why this forum will never build a community around it as long as you and your kind are here.
I'm not arguing that we should build a community on this forum. I'm arguing that it already is one.
 
#11
Interesting post, Arouet. I would add that your actions in an online community also impact your who you are as a person offline, and matter for that reason.

Linda
 
#12
Two things:

1) Again: you're implying there is something more "real" about the community that meets in person. I'm making the argument that online communities are just as real in that they perform a similar role.
No I'm not. I'm saying that the community got so tight knit that we decided to do regular meet-ups.

2) You're presupposing that we can't disagree here and still enjoy each other's company. That is precisely what I hope to achieve from discussions such as this.
We certainly can disagree and still enjoy each other's company. Just not on this forum about these topics. It's too mired in the bullshit tactics used by media skeptics.

In offline communities we don't tend to go around calling people idiots and insulting them even when we disagree with them.
But in general, skeptics do this to proponents in public. That's my point.

I'm suggesting that we should be applying the same social contract conventions in our online communities.
This isn't applicable when offline skeptic communities call people idiots and insult people.

I'm not arguing that we should build a community on this forum. I'm arguing that it already is one.
No, you're arguing you don't like the community here at Skeptiko. Rather, you don't like how both sides of the community treat each other. Like I said, it's the symptom of an ailment that your side created.
 
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#13
Also, this feel-good essay shouldn't be coming from you. It should be coming from a neutral person that both sides mutually respect. There are a great many people who find you absolutely intolerable on this forum ( as there are people who find me intolerable ). This is really just going to serve to anger them more.
Two sides? Depends where you draw the line. I see about 8 'true believers' and everyone else (agnostics).
 
#15
...you don't like how both sides of the community treat each other. Like I said, it's the symptom of an ailment that your side created.
I think this is so instructive in terms of appreciating some of the more confrontational proponents here. I can only imagine how it would feel to know in your heart and your mind that something is true, have that something basically hold up under scientific scrutiny, and yet still be treated as delusional, wishful and/or deceitful by a large swath of academia and public intellectuals as a result.
 
#16
No I'm not. I'm saying that the community got so tight knit that we decided to do regular meet-ups.


We certainly can disagree and still enjoy each other's company. Just not on this forum about these topics. It's too mired in the bullshit tactics used by media skeptics.

But in general, skeptics do this to proponents in public. That's my point.

This isn't applicable when offline skeptic communities call people idiots and insult people.

No, you're arguing you don't like the community here at Skeptiko. Rather, you don't like how both sides of the community treat each other. Like I said, it's the symptom of an ailment that your side created.

My kids bug each other all the time - nothing unusual, regular stuff for three kids aged 4-8. It'll go back and forth to varying degrees until one of them goes too far and I have to intervene. They'll all usually be sqwaking about how it was the others fault. A big bone of contention tends to be "who started it." Now, usually it will have been one of the them who started it but by the time it gets to me they've each gotten in their share of jabs. So I'll say something like "It doesn't matter who started it! One started it, the other continued it! You've each bugged the other, now apologise and give each other a hug and a kiss and tell each other how much you love them!"
 
#17
There are plenty of podcasts where atheists routinely bash believers as being stupid and incapable of scientific contribution because the "believe in God". The truth is that the Creationists are making massive headway in biology with evidence of Intelligent Design. By comparison, theoretical physics hasn't made a contribution to humanity in ten years.
 
#18
My kids bug each other all the time - nothing unusual, regular stuff for three kids aged 4-8. It'll go back and forth to varying degrees until one of them goes too far and I have to intervene. They'll all usually be sqwaking about how it was the others fault. A big bone of contention tends to be "who started it." Now, usually it will have been one of the them who started it but by the time it gets to me they've each gotten in their share of jabs. So I'll say something like "It doesn't matter who started it! One started it, the other continued it! You've each bugged the other, now apologise and give each other a hug and a kiss and tell each other how much you love them!"
And see, now you've just insinuated that it's the proponent and skeptic side that are acting like children, and you're the voice of reason.

At least, this is how people who have a strong distaste for you will see it. I feel that you feel you're sounding and acting reasonable, but you're really insulting people through a veil of neutrality. This is why I always point out to you guys your subtle bullshit.
 
#19
My kids bug each other all the time - nothing unusual, regular stuff for three kids aged 4-8. It'll go back and forth to varying degrees until one of them goes too far and I have to intervene. They'll all usually be sqwaking about how it was the others fault. A big bone of contention tends to be "who started it." Now, usually it will have been one of the them who started it but by the time it gets to me they've each gotten in their share of jabs. So I'll say something like "It doesn't matter who started it! One started it, the other continued it! You've each bugged the other, now apologise and give each other a hug and a kiss and tell each other how much you love them!"
Arouet, it's really not you or the people here. It's spill over from Dawkins, and about 20 atheist podcasts, and just this negative attitude that accompanies atheist/skeptics in general.

If science knows for an indisputable fact that there is no God and no afterlife, then present the evidence. But since you don't know, then how about a little hope and a little faith and a little positivity? Huh? But skeptic-atheists are not about that. They're about negativity, cynicism, pessimism, nihilism and fatalism. Am I wrong?
 
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