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The Importance of Having Your Pain Be Legible (status451.com)
114 points by plattegrond 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments

Leaving aside how poorly written this is ("spergonaut"? really?), I don't really see its claims about flagging borne out. Heavily political articles are often flagged regardless of which side of the aisle they come from. Certainly in the case of articles like this, which are more or less the definition of "more heat than light."

>I don't really see its claims about flagging borne out

I think the posts disappear from the frontpage when they get flagged, so it's hard to verify. But I've seen it. I'll come to discussion that I think are interesting and reload an hour or so later and find it's been flagged.

A recent example for me seems to support the “both sides get it” theory:

I noticed a comment touting worn out conservative talking points had been flagged: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17432814

I vouched for it, since it was well formed, if ignorant.

I then responded, with what I consider a well formed SJW position: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17432902 but I was voted down to zero, thus semi-hidden.

So there’s some degree of balance playing out there.

I do think the solution, for anyone who thinks reasonable but ignorant positions are getting flagged, is to vouch for them.

I would agree that there exists a distinct and mostly disjoint set of people: flaggers vs debaters, to use the OP's terminology. I don't see that tension going away. It's certainly a long-standing tension online.

I disagree fairly comprehensively with everything after that first point, and I'll leave it at that to avoid the flamewar. :-)

The notion that affective empathy is present in any complete way in text-only communication is misguided at best. Affective empathy gets communicated f2f via voice quality, body posture, tonus et al. The lack of a medium for affective information is a primary reason why text-only discussions go off the rails so quickly.

> The lack of a medium for affective information is a primary reason why text-only discussions go off the rails so quickly.

I don't agree with that. As someone who has communicated primarily online since childhood, I feel as though I am much more attenuated to some group of people's emotional state through text, whereas in person, I feel like my emotions are obvious to everyone besides me, which makes them feel like they are much more able to be subject to manipulation. I as well feel as though my own 'truthful understanding' is concrete in real life, but online, it is easily manipulated in the attempt to see eye to eye.

Style develops - humor, sensitivity, all this is information depending on who you associate with and whether you are reflective of another intuitively, or whether it requires gradual understanding and a developed awareness / sensitivity, coupled together with time and observation.

I find that text discussions go off the rails because people aren't trying to see eye to eye. They either latch onto a specific point (irony) or a key phrase that doesn't jive appropriately with their perspective, and that constructs the direction of the discussion. People can have whole conversations without actually understanding another, and you can actually examine these arguments and decompose them into parts that once again, become mostly linear.

Part of that I think is because, a conversation sequence can actually be composed of many people, which can make it seem like a dialogue, but a dialogue it is often not. This can also happen to individuals, I can see in myself, I consistently contradict myself in a most convoluted way, through the attempt to balance multiple perspectives of awareness - perhaps in the attempt to coalesce those perspectives into some understanding that resonates as true to myself. But I find that to be a problem with no solution, because as soon as resonance seems to be found, the understanding escapes me through repetition - a sort of semantic satiation of concepts. So care must be taken.

The problems(?) of life.

I'm trying to understand the first part of your argument... it sounds like you are saying that it is much easier to understand people's emotions face to face, even too easy, but this is exactly what the parent comment was claiming with the term "affective empathy" (although it's worth discussing the difference between cognitive and affective empathy).

> They either latch onto a specific point (irony) or a key phrase that doesn't jive appropriately with their perspective, and that constructs the direction of the discussion.

This is a good way of putting it. If you are trying to make some kind of point or to say something, then you don't want me to mechanically react to some word you used or a particular choice of phrasing or example. What you do want is for me to:

1. Understand what you are trying to communicate, what you had in mind rather than the particulars of how you express it, and

2. React appropriately.

This is not too far from a textbook definition of "affective empathy".

I'm sorry to hear that you feel you are manipulated in face-to-face discussions. For a long time I tried to maintain a neutral affect to avoid similar kinds of things. These days I consider a consistently neutral affect in the face of changing internal emotional states to be more of a liability and an unhealthy habit than anything else. The reason that we express our emotions so strongly in our body language is because our ancestors that did so were more likely to survive than our ancestors that didn't, in spite of the fact that this made them easier to manipulate. The fact that you feel like this makes you vulnerable to manipulation may either be a completely rational response to an unhealthy environment or a maladaptive response to a normal environment.

> The fact that you feel like this makes you vulnerable to manipulation may either be a completely rational response to an unhealthy environment or a maladaptive response to a normal environment.

Whether I have PTSD or aspergers, etc whatever. This is always a hard problem to know for certain, the things that keep me grounded are 'maintain interest in pure mathematics and computation' and 'be aware of reality as reality actually is'. Not getting caught up in the imagination of the way things could get interpreted and what that implies as to how things can unfold. Present minded.

> What you do want is for me to:

I believe you have the right idea in general, but my advice from experience is, don't get caught up in the minutia of conversation having to be perfect. There is no perfect so long as there are more things to discover and know. I'm not sure why most people come onto hacker news, but I mainly come here to learn. I find myself getting pulled into conversations of which I believe I have some wisdom about (or perhaps I'm just humoring myself), sometimes it hurts, sometimes it helps. On the whole though, I work to stay positive, progress oriented, stuff, life, ebbs and flows. Shrug.

> I don't agree with that. As someone who has communicated primarily online since childhood, I feel as though I > am much more attenuated to some group of people's emotional state through text, whereas in person, I fee > like my emotions are obvious to everyone besides me, which makes them feel like they are much more able to be > subject to manipulation.

Interesting. Thanks for saying this. I didn't communicate online until relatively late in life (it wasn't an option when I was young). My own sense of what you are describing though - 'my emotions are obvious to everyone besides me' is what I'm thinking of in my original statement. The-in-the-moment experience is in public view. This may be uncomfortable, or you may not like the ensuing dynamics (yes, being manipulated sucks), but the irony or humor or hurt or whatever we are feeling that people might miss in text is somewhat more noticed in person via tone of voice et al.

> but the irony or humor or hurt or whatever we are feeling that people might miss in text is somewhat more noticed in person via tone of voice et al

My point is just that, not everyone is good at processing this kind of information. I tend to learn people's vocal intonations as I retain relationships with them. They don't map from person to person for me, specifically. They are unique and individual. It's a magical thing I can manage to understand comedians, but humor has always been much more of an intellectual thing for me, as are most emotions. I can see an emotion on a face, body language, but that data must be aggregated with listening to a person, and not trying to predict how that person feels dependent on previous interactions with different people.

When people are socialized in relatively 'static' environments, it is easy to take all of this stuff for granted because people tend to develop habits that are reflective and resonate of another - thus perpetually reinforcing, convergent - the appearance of 'known constants'. If you've grown up with and have lived a lifestyle where you are constantly moving, interacting with different people, always in different places, always open to what is new - then these things are much more variant. But that also has to map back to some base foundation of socialization you have, because that's where you get the 'reflection' of understanding that continues to enforce a sense of consistency and stability.

I look at all components of a social system to be aware of this, coupled with the modular/analytical/functional mentality of a computer scientist. I'd rather people call it aspergers than anything else, I personally have had far too many labels applied to me in the past, labels that continue to be heavily stigmatized.

Invisible pain, humor, irony...

> My point is just that, not everyone is good at processing this kind of information.

It's a really good point. One of the things that concerns me as I hear about people (not necessarily you) who have grown up with cell phones and are spending less time f2f is that the f2f skills will diminish.

I personally found it very difficult over the course of my career to interact with people who disagreed with my point of view. Often got angry inside and had to back away from the discussions in order to stay professional.

If I find myself dramatically diverging from someone's perspective, I make it a point to internalize exactly what they are saying to the point it makes sense to me.

The worst that can happen is the next time we disagree, I understand both sides. It's sometimes emotionally destabilizing to do such a thing, but it sure is nice to understand almost every person no matter what walk of life they come from.

I've picked up on doing this from some very smart people, and the hilarious thing is, when you get used to it, it's like you can't recognize people from 'that tribe' of thinking directly.

I miss socializing, I feel lonely often. But the level I understand people, shrug. Sparse connections between people. Sparse, but very strong ones.

It's very easy to assume the worst about someone if they're not seated across from you and you don't have those other cues.

In fact, if we don't share that person's viewpoint, I'll wager it's our default to assume the worst.

It shouldn't need to be said that the distinction between the community of use, (and how users consent to be engaged) and the provider of the forum, (and how they consent to have the forum used) is always present.

HN is not present in my mind, when I write things here. What people do, flagging me up or down, voting, responding, ignoring, is what I consider to be community engagement.

If somebody working (paid or unpaid) in a meta-god-like state in HN technology can remove me, or my writing, thats distinct from the disdain others have for what I chose to say.

I take the community rebukes as I find them. Sometimes, they hurt, sometimes, they feel valid. Sometimes, they hurt because they are valid.

Shadowbanning is possibly kinder? But none the less, something has to be done to keep a tone. Thats what editorial is.

Fucking chill the lot of you.

Learn from people that have had a real fight. https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1...

I was actually just thinking earlier today that HN's great strength is its focus on quality of discourse, and it would be great if it leaned into that even more. I would love if it were made extremely clear at signup and whenever possible afterward guidelines such as,

1) Comments should be well thought-out, politely written, and supported by facts 2) Down-votes should be used for comments that are uncivil or unproductive; even if you disagree with the point made, a comment has value if a good-faith effort has been made to engage in constructive conversation.

These are similar to the existing guidelines—and I'm sure they could be fleshed out and worded better—but I feel the site would really benefit from even more emphasis on points like these. At signup, and then at convenient parts later on—when the user's karma unlocks the downvote capability for instance. There could even be a sort of "self-moderation" triggered by things like excessive down-voting or flagging, where it would remind the user of the guidelines and show them several of their votes, then just ask them to review and make sure they're using the buttons appropriately. Another possibility would be, whenever a user down-votes, require them to choose one of several categories of justification, like with a flag. That would quickly make it clear that the down-vote is for poor comments, rather than ones you personally disagree with. It might even be useful to have a similar—but probably optional—choice for up-votes; one nice options would be something like, "I disagree with this, but it's well argued." That kind of thing would give the ranking algorithms more variables to play with, hopefully improving results over time. Those are just some possibilities, and I'm sure there are many other options including by moderators when necessary.

The main thing though would be to make the guidelines very clear. My hope would be that a focus on quality of discourse, rather than on the types of content that are allowed, would allow more controversial topics to be discussed productively, as well as prevent unpopular opinions (when presented productively) from being drowned out. Ideally, the specific "off-topic" subjects could even be removed from the guidelines, since there are intellectually interesting discussions to be had on many different topics. Of course we wouldn't want to be overwhelmed with political topics to the extent that nothing else makes it to the homepage, but if that were to happen perhaps a dedicated subsection could be used, rather than an outright ban. Perhaps that would be preferable regardless, since many HN'ers come here to enjoy stimulating content and discussion outside strongly polarizing topics. Regardless though, I feel the site should double down on its focus on rationality and civility, and take every opportunity to influence new and existing users in that direction.

This guy seems to veer out of the way of the natural conclusion near the end:

> The term “woman-child” lacks teeth, because damseling and self-infantilization are acceptable for women.

He seems to think that the fact that women are infantilized is a bonus, as if the 'pity points' accrued are the utility function of the game being played. This completely ignores the -actual advantages- that have been accruing for thousands of years from -massive, systemic violence-.

The author seems to have trouble realizing just how pervasive the misogyny goes. It's not some tit-for-tat twitter debate about who pays for dinner (this is what PUA forums try to pretend). The attempt is to pull ourselves out of the hole of human ignorance, despite our cultural foundations being pretty incredibly problematic. Taking a look at the history of the 'west' makes it pretty clear: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_the_Sabine_Women

75% of women survived the Titanic, compared with 19% of men. (http://www.icyousee.org/titanic.html)

At the massacre of Katyn, an estimated ~22,000 men and exactly 1 woman were executed by the Soviets.

The West has undeniably patriarchal elements of its history. But trying to spin this into a narrative of pervasive misogyny ignores the very real value that society places on the well-being of women. Even in your own example, the men angrily avenge the treatment of the women by outsiders.

I'd guess this has something to do with if a bunch of men die in the tribe it doesn't matter too much, but if a bunch of the women die in the tribe that's the end of the tribe.

Men are pretty expendable when it comes to what's required to reproduce - that mixed with fighting for status/high risk behavior being attractive probably complicates things.

The idea that its a privilege to be viewed as "pretty expendable" is to me a rather odd. In any war where a minority group is used as an expendable meat shield, I have never seen anyone argue that its proof that that minority group holds power and carries "-actual advantages-" in society. In contrast, when some individuals of a category holds power while others are viewed as expendable it indicate that that categorization (ie, this one based on being male) is a poor predictor for privilege.

That isn’t my view?

I just suspect it’s a component of why cultures tend to protect women in disasters.

This is a group selection based argument.

Excuse the obvious plug. Here is my article on why I disagree with Pinker's attack on group selection. http://darkcephas.blogspot.com/2018/01/on-group-selection.ht...

It seems that altruism can be explained without resorting to group selection. Statistically speaking over history, your group is overwhelmingly likely to be your kin. So gene selection / kin selection seems sufficient explanation for the evolution of group-altruistic behavior.

The problem is that there is a conflation between misogyny and genuine inquiry about social justice and the methods employed to achieve it.

I was so disappointed to see how many people didn't even read Damore's article before admonishing it as misogynist.

Damore never denied the existence of misogyny nor did he deny that it was systemic! If anything, his essay identified that Google was created by men and the operational part of the business was still poisoned by predominantly male ideas. It amounted to saying, "hey just setting the bar lower is not working." People took it to mean that he thought women did a worse job than men, so things had to be "simplified" for them. I took it to mean that he thought it was the wrong approach to the problem and that there was a better way. No, that's not what he meant. Ok, that's not what he meant, but what if it's a good point - what if it is the wrong approach? Yet, bringing that up would mean admitting you're a misogynist and so no productive discussion could be had.

Even more disappointing was how any genuine discussion to ask why he was wrong was met with the same talking points: he's a misogynist, he's wrong (why?), I'm not going to google for you (googling, mind you, would just bring you back to the same talking points). It's the most intellectually lazy way to address something that is so important! I just can't come to terms with how someone can simultaneously claim the importance of equality and then try to shut down any approach toward trying to have a better understanding of equality. Toward better ideas about it.

It turns out that, maybe, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider and girls endeavor to use their stronger synthesis of equally strong math skills and superior social skills to make the world a better place. [0] And yet had I never read Damore's paper, I may have never come across this article. Maybe men have just made some fields too boring and women want a better challenge? A more meaningful one.

It seemed like no one wanted to admit that Damore was bringing new ideas that, even if they were scientifically inaccurate, may have been asking good, new, pondering questions. And even if Damore's ideas were hateful (were they really though?), they led me to a conclusion about equality that no one here was willing to even talk about! A bunch of equality posers who wear the equality shirt but don't know the lyrics of equality.

So even if Damore is wrong (I'm not saying he's right, just that no one offered very compelling arguments that he was wrong), why not appropriate his ideas into something that is right? What's so scary about that?

My final take away was that someone had attacked a core tenet of the fundamentalist religion of Google and the fundamentalist Google zealots were out to defend their honor. Damore may have been a virus that the Google organism finally eradicated, but don't forget that viruses have played an evolutionary role in making us who we are.

[0]: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/201707...

This was when I stopped reading:

* When you keep rewarding people for becoming injured, they self-modify to become injured more easily. Once this fragility is enacted, it is difficult to reverse, because there is an enormous amount of perceived harm associated with not prioritizing their concerns. This eclipses the actual harm done in general, creating a negative utility monster. *

I think he is actually trying to explain what most of us know as superficiality or dishonesty, but because he fails to recognize it as such, he came up with this disgusting theory. Or maybe it’s just manipulative.

For anyone having their mind blown by his claim, one way to develop a better understanding of the many nuances of experience, motivation and intention, reading history makes it surprisingly accessible. You will find bits of your experiences in the struggles of past lives, but entirely reconfigured! It’s important to realize because it grants humility and exposes value of too easily making judgements of others.

Glad to be able to upvote an article like this.

The prevalence of articles about things that aren't software or hardware hacking, combined with the site's increased popularity lowering the bar for technical content to be considered worthwhile, and its occupancy of a critical position in the cultural namespace ("hacker news" is a really good name but not descriptive of the actual focus of the site--the hacker ethic is anticapitalist rather than neoliberal), make HN a really tragic institution these days.

"Glad to be able to upvote an article like this."

"The prevalence of articles about things that aren't software or hardware hacking"


What's your point?

I think he is saying that he original comment is hypocritical.

The person is glad to upvote this particle non technical article.

But they think its tragic that non technical articles are bring down the quality of the site.

Yep. I think the site is in a tragic place, but it's not for a lack of technical articles (or I'd submit them) but instead for cultural reasons (the majority of the userbase doesn't want HN to be a purely technical forum). Changing the culture has to be done via concerted effort in that direction, not by simply voting for the things I want to see in the end. Second-order effects and so on.

HN has never been a purely technical forum. Its DNA is in the overlap between "anything that gratifies intellectual curiosity" and "anything that good hackers would find interesting": https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. The word 'anything' appears twice in the 'On-Topic' section. HN's early years amounted to "anything that pg would find interesting", and he finds a lot of things interesting. So when I read your comment, what I hear is that HN is staying true to its original mission. That doesn't seem like a tragic place for the site, nor a new one.

For example, people sometimes have the perception that HN has grown more political over time. The opposite is true, as I tried to show here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17014869. Such perceptions are externalities that exist for other reasons.

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