Why I Often Consider Ending This Blog

We live in a strange age.  When I first started writing this blog, I wanted to have a chronicle of all my thoughts over time, good and bad.  I wanted people to see me as I really am, not as some fake personality.  I wanted to be understood.  I wanted to connect to like minded people, find others who may resonate with my thoughts, and maybe even share worthwhile ideas on significant topics.  I wanted to have a trail which people could follow, that if they were interested enough, they could read through all my posts and understand who I am, why I think the way I do, and how I got to where I am today.

With each passing day, I find myself ever more terrified to leave this blog up.  I encourage you all to watch this TED talk, and after watching it, I think you’ll understand why I feel this way.

You’ll hear about a woman who made an offhand joke to some of her coworkers on Twitter.  It was retweeted and retweeted until eventually she became the internet’s next target of ridicule.  She was completely destroyed.  Her career was demolished.  He life was thrown into disarray.  She became suicidal, couldn’t sleep, and still hasn’t recovered.

I’ve been going to university now for a long time, studying Physics.  I’ll very soon have a PhD in Physics and who knows, I may end up a professor someplace.  This blog has been up for so long, and I’m sure it contains all sorts of things which people could dig up and use against me.  My life and career aspirations could be totally destroyed.  And for what?  So a few people can read my thoughts on things?

All it would take is a single angry student over a bad grade, a single student sitting in a class, offended by some offhand comment I make, wanting to get me fired.  It could be some random person stumbling across my blog, literally looking for someone to destroy.  The better my career and position, the more at risk I am.

Jon Ronson makes an interesting point in his talk.  He says, “We’re creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is going back to being voiceless.”  He’s exactly right.  There are faceless mobs of people on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets, and their greatest joy in life is to destroy other people’s lives.  Ronson actually interviewed these folks who retweeted the woman’s tweets and he asked them how they felt as they retweeted the woman’s joke, destroying her life.  They said it felt, “delicious.”

They’re not going to look into your life and who you are.  They’re not going to try to get to know you or understand you.  They’re not going to care what happens to you or whether or not you deserve the onslaught of hate and everything else which takes place.  To them, destroying your life is just a simple manner of retweeting a tweet, which they got from somebody else, which they got from somebody else, all while they sit on their tablet on the couch during a commercial break from their favorite television show.  As they decimate your life and career, they’ll feel this small sense of self-satisfaction, like they’re making the world a better place in their own small way.  They’re doing their part.

Let’s say I go to MIT, became a great physicist and am featured in a science documentary about the universe or something.  The second I become someone these social justice warriors feel has a “voice”, who they feel has “power” in some way, they’re going to dig through this blog and mine out something I’ve said and completely destroy my life.  It’ll be retweeted, and retweeted, and I can see it now, “MIT Physicist said so and so…”  Everyone will act appalled, insulted, and will all be out for blood.  Then everything I’ve worked for, everything I’ve striven for over the past decade, it will be wiped out in an instant.

There is no justice to the social justice movement.  They don’t think in terms of real justice or offer any method to acquire forgiveness.  They won’t care if it’s an old view I grew out of ages ago, or whether I’m willing to change my mind and reconsider.  I’m an open-minded individual, and if you give me a good argument, and point out the flaws in my thinking, I’ll probably change my mind; it happens to me all the time these days.  But these social warriors won’t be satisfied.  They’re a strange, chaotic power, the very opposite of every principle of democracy.

I’ve seen them destroy Nobel prize winning scientists, leaving them without jobs, getting them kicked out of their labs, all for saying a tiny joke which they thought was slightly sexist.  They will get you fired for wearing a t-shirt they don’t like.  If you criticize religion, you’re racist, and they go after you with everything they’ve got.  Even if you hold conservative political views, which I often do in many areas, they hate you.  There’s no room for dissent.  No room for a different point of view.  They talk about safe spaces all while making the internet a firestorm of hate and vitriol, a place closed off from discussion and sharing ideas, destroying anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable or shares ideas they don’t like or agree with.

With all this in mind, I don’t know what to do.  I worry that there are archival websites out there which have every post I’ve ever written saved in them, so the damage is probably already done.  I may already be screwed.

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5 Responses to Why I Often Consider Ending This Blog

  1. MattC says:

    I hear you. I think trying to convince you would probably be more in my benefit than yours. Your blog has historically been a good starting point for me to think about new ideas. That being said, I’m still going to try and convince you.

    1) like you said, if someone really wanted to destroy you, it might already be too late

    2) no matter what you do, no matter how careful you are about being politically correct, if someone really wants to take you down, they’ll try (and might succeed) even if they have to completely lie and fabricate or stretch the truth to make it happen. Being extra cautious might prove to make no difference in the end.

    3) part of spending a lot of time trying to reason or understand about whatever it is your thinking is being able to discuss and share it with other people. are you willing to give up that benefit?

    4) you might just be having MUBS (monster under the bed syndrome). You read of one particular story, perhaps it was sensatilized by the media because that’s what they do, but in reality of the entire population only an extremely small subset of them actually realizes the consequences you are fearing. The odds of it actually happening may be so small that it’s worth the risk.

    5) by hiding or giving up or shutting down, they win. We should never let them win, it’s the principle of the matter.

    6) part of sharing these ideas is because we want to see change. If people hide their thoughts or aren’t outspoken about them, we’ll never see the change we desire to see. Part of making that change happening is exposing people to new ideas. It’s not always easy to express a minority idea.

    7) a big benefit of sharing your thoughts is that maybe you are wrong, but how can you learn that unless you share your ideas and have someone read them and point out the flaw in your line of reason

    8) you shouldn’t care what other people think. If say you are a professor and they fire you because they (the institution) couldn’t see past the fact that some people are failures in their own lives and are envious of others with success or are so politically correct that it’s impossible to do or say anything of substance or challenging, then maybe it’s for the best that you aren’t associated with them anyways.

    These are just off the top of my head, I’m sure I could come up with more. Hopefully it’s enough. Apologize in advance for spelling etc typos, I’m on a tablet and I admit to being too lazy to fix.

    Ps try out The Witness if you haven’t already, I think it’s right up your alley.

  2. MattC says:

    Oh yea, felt compelled to add 1 more:

    9) maybe instead of something terrible happening, something really good will come of it. Maybe it’ll help land the job or position you really want, or connect you with someone important, or prove super beneficial in some other non obvious way

  3. Erwin Moller says:

    We are all screwed in the current “store-all” situation.
    Fight back, and say what you think, like you have been doing for years now, please.

    I like your blog.

  4. Maggie says:

    I would totally testify that you’re a great person. I mean, I can’t even for the life of me comprehend how anyone can hate someone who seems really sensible and cool. I really like you. I think many people will like you too.

    I don’t really care if you make jokes once in a while. Smart people can understand high-class humor and won’t take it seriously.

    You know what, I don’t really think people who disagree with you will publicize their hate on you. Especially since your manner of speaking and your views are worthy of respect (they are sound and backed up by references), regardless if people have their own personal views.

    Keep your chin up. You are worthy of respect.

  5. J says:

    If people want to screw other people, they will find a way to do it even without online blog posts to dig into. Think about it, even if you never had a blog, everything tongue in cheek you could say during a lecture might be mis-interpreted and potentially recorded by some phone as well and potentially put on Youtube, wouldn’t be the first time.

    As you can see, unless you plan on never making a joke in public in your life, there’s no way such kind of worry can be removed completely.

    You aren’t the only scientist voicing opinions in a public blog and I hope you won’t stop doing that because your words cheered me up and gave me a different perspective since many years now.

    Lets face it, every human is going to die eventually, no matter how far we extend our lifespans. Do you want to come and go without sharing your thoughts? I personally would love if more people did what you are doing without being afraid of ‘the internet’, since restricting your life out of fears is quite sad.

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