On Friday I shared the first part of the story of my plane side bag being misplaced. While it blows my mind that a plane side bag on a nonstop flight can be misplaced, I get that stuff like this happens if you fly enough.
To add insult to injury, I dealt with an exceedingly unhelpful supervisor. But what really pissed me off was when she accused me of taking a picture of her, which I didn’t do. When I denied it, she told me she could call law enforcement, and when I asked her to look at my camera roll, she walked away. There’s something really crappy about not only dealing with an unhelpful supervisor, but then having her accuse you of something without merit, and then threatening you further after you deny it.
Why I included the agent’s first name
When I posted the story, I shared the agent’s first name. Some people said it was unnecessary. Some people said it was racist.
I guess I didn’t put enough thought into it. Generally speaking I post as many first names of the people I interact with as possible. If you look at my trip reports, you’ll see that most of the time I include the names of the people I interact with onboard, in hotels, etc. To me posting a first name isn’t usually identifying.
So as is the norm when I write travel stories, I decided to post her first name. I didn’t think it would be identifying. I actually had her full name and Googled it before I made the post, and I couldn’t even find her online. So I figured posting her first name wouldn’t make her identifiable — it’s different than posting someone’s full name, picture, or employee number.
I don’t generally moderate comments
As a general rule of thumb I don’t moderate comments. I’ve permanently banned one commenter from the blog, and that’s because I literally received dozens upon dozens of requests for it because of how distracting he was.
I’m not trying to get off on a technicality here, but for me moderating comments is a very slippery slope. What’s that “line” that shouldn’t be crossed? Should calling someone an idiot be moderated? What about calling them a pig? Or a different slur?
Everyone has to make that decision on their own. I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years, and my general thought is that what an anonymous person says on the internet reflects their character more than it reflects that of the person they’re speaking about.
So that’s why I don’t generally moderate negative comments when they’re directed at me. I can take it — I have plenty of experience. But it’s different when they’re directed at someone else.
Some internet comments make me lose faith in humanity
The internet is an amazing place in many ways. I can’t imagine my life without it, because I’ve been able to pursue my passion full time thanks to it.
But if you go to the comments section of any major news story today, you can’t help but shake your head.
I appreciate that this blog is a community of sorts, and that the comments are consistently insightful. Then there’s some “noise” from people that love hiding behind the veil of internet anonymity, but they’re not the core of the community, the way I see it. I can spend my efforts trying to censor them, or we can all just accept that there are ridiculous people in the world and put our efforts towards being positive and constructive.
What I decided to do… and why
The comments in that previous post did cross the line. Someone managed to find the agent’s full name and picture based on her first name. Some called her names that made me shake my head. But just because I let a comment stand doesn’t mean I agree with it. After all, on this blog I get called a useless, entitled prick that has (apparently) never had a job on a daily basis. And you don’t see me deleting that. 😉
So while I let the comments calling me a prick stand, in this case I did delete some of the comments that crossed the line in what they called the agent, by my view.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have posted the agent’s first name either. If her name were “Sue” or “Mary” I guess it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But people made assumptions based on her name and perceived race. And equally bad on the other side, people made the assumption that my posting her name was racially charged, which wasn’t the case.
Like I said, it’s all a very slippery slope. Just because I deleted some comments doesn’t mean I condone all the comments that are still there. But I feel like I deleted the ones that most crossed the line.
This isn’t something I want to make a habit of. There are internet trolls, and I’m fine with that. But when people are trolling someone else rather than me, and when they’re doing so based on the name I posted, then I think it makes sense for me to take action.
I had intended to post part two earlier, but first wanted to put some thought into how to handle this situation. I know the solution isn’t perfect, though hopefully most of you at least get where I’m coming from. I regret posting the name of the agent, as I should have anticipated the potential outcome.
I won’t make a habit of moderating comments in the future, as I’d like you guys to be able to post whatever you’d like, whether I agree with it or not. That being said, I’ll try to be more proactive in making sure my posts in the future aren’t (inadvertently) written in a way that gives “ammo” to those looking to make slurs.
On a more positive note, happy weekend and happy holidays to everyone! This should be a jolly time, no? 😉