The Internet Can Be a Very Unsafe Place — Update

I’m really upset about something that happened yesterday on The Winger, a big dance website for anyone who might not know, and just have to talk about it since no one there is. Basically, I got caught up in cross-fire between two contributors, both of whom I like very much. One of them, a young dancer, used a term that I’ve never heard of before and the other told him some of his fans, such as I, would be offended because it was a sexist and racist term and he shouldn’t use it. Since I’d been drawn into the argument, I searched the internet to try to figure out what the term meant. When I realized it was being used, at least these days, to refer to just about anyone, I wrote in saying I wasn’t offended by it but thanking the other contributor for his sensitivity. Another person, who I’ve never seen on The Winger before then got involved attacking the young dancer for being racist and sexist, and eventually, after I defended him, hurling nasty personal insults at me for not being offended and being stupid enough to not know about this term. I can’t believe I actually spent time on this and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I took time out of my day to even engage in this battle, but I asked some of my youngish co-workers if they’d ever heard the term and no one had. We are public defenders in NYC after all; we have heard a lot. Anyway, the whole thing escalated completely out of control, and in the end, I felt very vulnerable, upset, and even threatened.

I did receive a personal apology from one of the contributors, who brought me into the debate, and I’m very thankful for that. I also received some personal messages of support from one very nice commenter. But I feel like now it is being brushed under the rug and I don’t know exactly what I want, but I feel like more should be said. I realize that dancers, and anyone really — definitely me– can become emotional over something and can be fragile, and get easily upset over something that to no one else may seem to be a big deal. And I know I didn’t have to get involved and definitely felt like there was something more going on between these two contributors than I knew about or could control, but I liked them both a lot and felt the need to say something, especially given that my name was mentioned. In the end I felt like I was somewhat taken advantage of and now the two contributors seem to be trying to make amends with each other, but I am left feeling vulnerable and weakened. I felt like The Winger was a safe place, and now it is not.

I’ve also received some emails through the blog that have upset me, and am trying to deal with it all. Some of my friends have told me they think blogging and commenting on blogs is dangerous, which used to make me laugh. Now I’m seeing their point. I don’t know why I’m writing this exactly, I don’t know exactly what I want other than an assurance that people are sorry and will be more careful not to let things get so out of control. I am still really upset while I’m writing this, but writing it does make me feel a little bit better, and hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll be a little less bummed. It’s nice weather out (at least in NYC); everyone should enjoy their weekend.

Update: Just wanted to say, as per my post following this one, everything is good now! Thanks, people, for being so nice :) I was going to take this post down, but decided to leave it up and just say, in one commenter’s words, “don’t let other people make their anger your own.” Sometimes if someone who’s not a friend and whom you’ve never met before is attacking you unfairly, it’s best not to respond at all, and if you feel like you need to, you can just say that it wasn’t meant the way they are taking it. Period. It’s just not worth having so many unnecessary battles! Anyway, thanks :)

5 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, I had no idea all of this was going on! :-( I hope you feel better soon.

  2. Tonya,

    I have no idea what argument you are referring to on the Winger. Maybe it was removed so that is why no one is talking about it. Sorry to hear about it though.

  3. Thanks, you guys :) Yeah Chimene, Kristin took all the bad comments off. Hopefully not too many people saw it since it was on a Friday afternoon anyway… Hopefully everything is okay now and it won’t happen again! Anyway, I’m very thankful for all my friends:)

  4. hey tonya,

    I guess the removal was my idea. I don’t know if you saw my comment (as it was taken down in the purge obviously as it was an attempt to rationally end the debate), but I hope you understand I was in no way criticizing you for getting caught up in that mess. It really was just all so stupid and ugly!

    In general I don’t advocate removing offensive stuff, however it seemed so horribly inappropriate in a post that was about the poor guy trying to recover from a serious injury!! It should have been about support not criticism.

    Glad you are feeling better about it now.

  5. Thanks Delirium! Actually, I asked Kristin to remove them too — at least my own toward the end when it got so out of control. She said she’d try to figure out what to do. Poor thing, she was home for all of an hour on Friday only to be bombarded with that mess! I think there was a lot going on that we didn’t know about because I found the whole thing really confusing. But you’re right, it did get far far too ugly. I did see your comment and there was one after yours, by GM saying not to let other people make their anger your own and also assuring E he was very well liked. I’m glad you and GM said something in the end because I was worried about him. I totally understand what you meant, and you were completely right! Hopefully it’s all over now.

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