Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Why I'm done with Maplewood Online:

A week or so ago, Brian O'Leary was being personally attacked on MOL in response to official actions of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education, of which he's a member. He responded this way:
On a personal note, what is going on in Maplewood/South Orange when I'm posting under my own name and taking responsibility for my actions, and anonymous posters are using hearsay and conjecture to claim that I acted irresponsibly in performance of a duty I take quite seriously?

I know the feeling well - in the last couple of months, on MOL, I've been variously (and always anonymously) accused of being a socialist, a communist, a radical anti-American, and a danger to our communities' children. This seems to be the state of MOL today, at least in the Education and Soapbox areas. It's become a haven for the haters and belittlers who, I fear, reign supreme in much of the rest of the country. Their anonymity and vitriol put me in mind of guys in white sheets and pointy white hoods.

I've had it with posting on MOL. I used to think Drew Dix was being silly when he insisted that posters should always use their real names ... but I've come 'round to his way of thinking. Unfortunately it's way too late for it to make a difference.

MOL proprietor Dave Ross and his good buddy "Sbenois/Upireporter" (and dozens of other screen names) have, in the guise of fun-and-games, so demeaned the level of discourse (in my opinion) that any useful discussions have become impossible. While "Sbenois" only occasionally indulges in ad-hominem attacks (especially against anyone who doesn't agree with his fervor for war), Dave's tolerance for anything and everything Sbenois comes up with has lowered the bar for everyone else - there's no longer any meaningful oversight on MOL, since Dave would have to reign this nonsense in if he started to enforce his own rules against all the other yahoos. If you don't believe it, see how many times the MOL poster "Strawberry" has been kicked off (supposedly) permanently for gross incivility but is always let back on when a few of the more rabid posters start to complain. It's clear that Dave LIKES the attacks - he thinks they're funny and entertaining, and increase readership. Dave, like so many of todays "journalists," seems to have decided that the fireworks of distortion and character assassination play better than useful information, dialogue, or even rational thought.

Dave and I have been friends, and I hope we will remain so, though this may well piss him off. I've spoken about this with him several times but, unfortunately, he seems to want it both ways - MOL as important community resource and MOL as playground for the immature, the sophomoric, and the hateful - he just doesn't get that it's a problem. Hey, it's his bat and ball, and if we don't like it we don't have to play. I don't know what else to do at this point but leave the field to those who don't mind stepping in the messes, and search for another game.

If this sounds like sour grapes about local politics, or about Sbenois' eloquent but nonsensical war-fervor, or a fit of pique, be assured that it's my failure as a writer, not my intent. While we rarely agree, and have occasionally gotten testy with each other, posters like Marie and Michael Stratechuk, Ed May, and Art Christiansen at least always let you know what they think, what they're concerned about, what they think should be done, and who they are. Even now there are still some nuggets of what was best on MOL, but they're growing fewer and farther between. This is really offered more in sorrow than in anger. Maplewood Online was a great place once. Too bad it's becoming such a cesspool...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?