Thursday, February 20, 2014

How not to talk to Fat people on the internet.

Lately when I read an article by a fat person, regardless of what they are talking about people feel the need to do certain things that I feel are inappropriate and frankly ill advised,

So I will be your fat ambassador today and explain you some things.

Scenerio #1

You are perusing your sites of choice and see an article about finding the best doodads for small living spaces. You like doodads, you live in a small space so you click. You read through the article and find some great tips, you scroll down to add in your six cents and BOOM the author photo is a fat person.

You recommend getting a shiny doodad at bargain basement prices and then you go on to tell all about how you went on the Unicorn Pee and Wombat poop diet and lost eleventy forty seven pounds and are SO MUCH BETTER AND HAPPIER NOW THAN EVER.

Stop.

Slap your own hand. This was not appropriate.

In this case there are things to think about. Number one, nobody is talking diets. It is like walking into a conversation about buying shoes and proclaiming loudly that the only way to cure the world of an addiction to gatorade is to stop production of it. No I know this is absurd but think about it. How do you react when people say things completely out of left field in a conversation.

Is it annoying to you when you are talking about a subject and someone starts talking about something entirely different because their opinion is SO important on the thing they are talking about, everyone has to do what they say?

Yes it is.

So don't.

The thing is, fat people know they are fat. Fat people talk abut things other than being fat and they don't really need you to try and force the conversation onto their body because you don't like their body or assume they hate their body. So don't. It's rude.

Scnerio #2

Fat person is talking about the trials and tribulations of buying pants. Maybe a group of fat people are exchanging ideas about where to go, how the fit is at one store vs another, whether or not a store has plus size in store etc.

You barge in saying CLOTHES ARE HARD FOR EVERYONE I AM IMPORTANT LISTEN TO WHAT I AM SAYING.

...........

So no don't.

If you are not contributing and you have nothing of substance to say about where to get fat people pants, make a separate post, tell your teddy bear about how hard it is for everyone to buy pants but keep it out of the original conversation. If you continue to yell about -everyone- because your Mommy or Daddy or whomever told you that your hiney is very special and everyone needs to know, people are not going to respond well. Your butt might be special but if in this context it is not a fat butt, keep your butt to yourself.

Scenerio #3

Someone fat writes an article about the negative impact of fat stereotypes and the tradition of using fat bodies to represent evil and to be the butt of every joke.

You decide to recommend diets because obviously if nobody is fat the problem would go away right?

No.

Stop.

Close the tab.

Heres the thing. Regardless of how a body actually looks, this problem is not because people are fat it is because people believe that based on physical appearance it is okay to shame or otherwise denigrate people. That is not okay. Your advice is not needed. Nobody is trying to hear what you have to say.

Here is the big point.

Not everything in the world needs to be an experience or issue you have a personal connection with. You can engage with a person on the basis of the actual content they have produced rather than whatever you want to lecture them about.

Here's the problem.

When on the internet you skip the content that someone worked hard on, you are essentially saying to that person: I don't care that you wrote a kickass article I hate your (insert your problem here) and I AM RIGHT BECAUSE FREE SPEECH.

And naturally that is not how free speech works.

You are of course welcome to have your opinions. The important thing is that not everyone needs or wants your opinion. Especially if you are coming out of the gate without being or engaging with the subject matter at hand.

If you've been internetting for a while, this type of behavior falls under Derailing.

And yes it counts even if you aren't doing it on purpose. So many people (acceptable bodied, able bodied, White, Cis etc) people are conditioned to believe that their word is always the base truth. That what they have to say about anything and everything should be listened to because they are entitled to be listened to and assumed to be right.

What happens when those people come up against someone like me who says, no this is not for you or about you, that entitlement turns into hurt feelings which turns into anger and pouting and relegating anyone different from themselves as big ole meany heads who hate freedom.

Now if you find yourself falling down the I am a picked on victim of the marginalized people who's space I invaded rabbit hole, grab your shorts and hold on.

You don't -have- to do that.

Yes it is hard to unlearn that behavior but you can do it. Look at you, you are on the freaking internet, you can move around, you can wipe your own butt you can do this.

This is where lessons you learned in third grade come in handy.

Don't interrupt, don't be rude, listen.

Remember that even if you are going to comment to tell some fat ass to lose their fat ass, you an actually control yourself. You can close the tab, you can into your own space and write a big ole long screed about how if only the fatty would lose weight you might listen to what they have to say about doodads for small living spaces.

You don't have to be an interloper. You don't have to be an Internet Tough Guy. You don't have to troll and you don't have to be that asshole.

I have faith in you.

You can even level up.

You can be one of those people who when you see those inappropriate, off topic and often mean comments who says, hey that is not cool cut it out.

One of the awesome things about the internet is that we can as a community decide if we don't want to put up with certain behavior in our spaces.

So let's do this.

And if you are one of the people I've been talking about, get on the road to not being a douche bag. You can do it.

Homo Out.

OH PS
Book homie I got your note and I will get back to you soon. I"m kind of swamped by life and things so I'm slower than usual.
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4 comments:

Mad Gastronomer said...

Hey, mind if I quote Scenario #2 on TITP? Credit and link, of course!

Shannon Barber said...

You totally can. Anytime you like.

Jill said...

And the award for Best Use of the Word 'Hiney' in a Serious Blog Post goes to...

(I almost laughed my fat hiney off)

Buttercup Rocks said...

Your writing is so sparse and so brilliantly structured and so bang on the fucking money.

I read xojane because it's pretty much the only place I can read Lesley and Marianne's writing, but the constant, "Whatever you're talking about it would all be better if you just lost weight. P.S Whatever happened to Personal Responsibility?!!" drives me absolutely batshit.

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