The Stream of Invective, a Price Well Paid

Wikipedian Brandon Harris takes to Quora to talk about how he felt being the subject of a lot of Internet derision during his famous banner appearances throughout Wikipedia’s fundraising drive. His words were, to say the least, helpful.

None of it is real.

There is a stream of invective from people saying that I look like a child molester or a methamphetamine dealer. It’s awful. But it’s not real. I’m none of those things and moreover: none of these people know me. But for every one of those comments, there’s one saying how “hot” I am, or something else equally positive but also shallow. None of those statements are real, either. And it’s important to keep that in mind . . .

I have a passion for the Mission and if a handful of high-schoolers talking shit about me grants me the ability to have real conversations with adults about the Mission, it’s a price well paid.

The abuse and derision I’ve been subject to online in recent weeks has been alarming to me, and as I’ve mentioned, upset the wasp’s nest of my battered psyche somewhat. But Harris’s response reminds me that I believe in what I write, despite all my personal doubts, and that it matters that the message of my posts about how we humans treat each other is heard (coming from me or the many, many others who do the same).

The tone and substance of the crap hurled at me should be valued for what it is: crap. These are dumbasses on the Internet who really think it’s crucial that they put a stop to things like expressions of compassion, empathy, and generosity of spirit. I’m going to try to remember that.

5 thoughts on “The Stream of Invective, a Price Well Paid”

  1. Kudos for your attitude, Paul, but the constancy of it can wear down even the most determined.
    (Her pugnacious perseverance is but one reason I admire people such as Ophelia Benson; may I admire you for this too in years to come)


  2. Paul, I hope you succeed in remebering that. I recently came across your blog and exactly for those two entries you linked I decided to regularly follow your writings.For what you have written touched me. It inspires me, gives me insights with which I -hopefully- will be able to understand -and maybe even help- other people better. And that… is very real!


  3. I hope it gets easier for you. I’ve been an FtB reader since it started (followed Ed and PZ over on ScienceBlogs, initially), but just started reading your work recently and it’s quickly become one of my favorite reads on the network.


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