A Vital Note On Lon Con And Jonathan Ross

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Many in the sci-fi community are horrified by the way their fan-reaction to Jonathan Ross’s aborted emceeing of the Hugos is being presented, now that it’s making national newspaper stories in Britain.  “They’re missing vital context!” people are crying.  “They’re omitting vital facts!  They’re taking a biased view, and skewing things!”
Now.
Apply that same criterion to every story that has ever gotten you upset, and ponder how that distortion may also apply before you rush to an easy judgment.
I’ve been at the center of some internet controversy-storms before, and I can tell you: facts always get omitted, contexts always get slurred, opinions always override actual content.  Maybe there is a skeleton of truth, teetering around the center of the storm somewhere, but wherever there’s blog-frenzies of reactions, there’s inevitably a lot of cherry-picking.  Things get distorted, and villains get made because people love villains.
And people love to feel superior.  That’s what the villains are for.
If this is your first time at the rodeo and you’re all like, “…but these people are making judgments upon people I admire without having all the facts!”, then ponder all the times you read a single article from a single person, decided that their story was the full truth of it, and decided to blast it out into the world with the air of “this is what happened” as opposed to “this is one person’s take on events, what I hear disturbs me, and I’m wondering what happened here.”
Because this distortion field is what happens.  It’s what always happens.  And if you’re offended by the skewed way your community is being presented right now, then remember it the next time you see someone else’s foibles being picked apart, and think, maybe this isn’t the full truthMaybe I’m missing something.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t post that link.  Sometimes, people acting badly are… actually acting badly.  Just aim that cannon of your personal PR with the recognition that things are usually more complex than presented, and things tend to congeal very quickly into camps of right and wrong, and the truth is usually floating somewhere in the middle – close enough for both sides to brush fingers against but not quite tight enough for either to hug.
Monkey-brains love simplicity.  Despite millions of years of evolution, we have monkey-brains.  And simplicity is often the enemy.
(And yes, the same critique could be applied to both the reaction to Jonathan Ross himself, and the reaction to the reaction to Jonathan Ross.  That’s rather my point.)
(And yes, I’ve been guilty of this in the past as well.  I try not to be.  But even trying, I often fail.  That is also rather my point.)

1 Comment

  1. Marc
    Mar 5, 2014

    Honestly the more I look into it the more the community looks terrible.
    http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/03/jonathan-ross-and-hugo-awards-why-was-he-forced-out-science-fictions-self-appointed
    And on a related note, the whole concept of the “twitterverse” sounds more terrible each passing day. The whole storm lasted 7 hours and although I’m sure that the adepts of what I like to call “The hivemind” will object to this, I don’t believe that this whole rage is in any way shape or form representative of the fandom. it’s a textbook case on how confirmation bias could take a cherry picked list of distorted quotes and create a monster with little relation to reality.
    Or at least I don’t feel it represent me.
    Sorry for the ranting.

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