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Monday, October 17, 2005

Otherness & Alienation

So, DLA's, i've been conducting a rather unscientific experiment into the effects of the perception of 'otherness' on two unsuspecting constituencies of individuals whom one might normally expect to have a healthy, openminded attitude toward what they perceive as different from themselves. A bit mean perhaps, however, as it turns out, certainly not uncalled for and definitely instructive.
The method was simple: on September 29th 2005, i began posting on two internet forums using dark red text, like this, rather than the usual black. In all other ways I simply wrote as i would normally. I agreed with the gist of some threads, disagreed with others and offered my own experience and opinions where i thought they might add something to the debate. The Forums were MTCP.co.uk Forums and UKNA Message Boards. i had originally planned to run the experiment for a month.
The results showed a clear delineation having been reached after merely 18 days however, so i see no need to carry on. It is true that i roundly abused a member of the former for obvious bigotry however, not in language uncommon for an unmoderated site and indeed, reflecting the strength of feeling often encoutered there about just such subjects. This is one difference between the forums though, personal abuse is not tolerated on the latter, however, bearing this in mind, i did make several posts & elaborated upon them in Private Messages in something of a high handed tone there and suggested to several vocal posters that their use of the english language could be improved, to even up the balance, whilst using the scary looking picture at the top of this blog as an avatar. As i say, not scientific, but the best i could be arsed with...
It was clear after a few days that the denizens of MTCP.co.uk were taking offence at the red font and many questioned and/or persecuted me for it's use. I do have a slight visual impairment which makes it easier for me to read red text on a light blue background, (the unalterable default background of the forum) because i have to wear tinted specs, so i exaggerated this ailment to see if i would get any sympathy... my arse did i! On UKNA, i merely received two polite PM's asking me about it. The tone being set, i further undermined the 'scientific rigour', cross-pollinating by inviting some NA members onto a MTCP thread to see if a little support for my cause would make any difference... again, my arse!
I did end up posting more on NA eventually, 88 vs. 69, mainly because a lot of what i wrote on MTCP was self-defence, it got tiring... so i'm packing the red text in there.
Oh, i know, it's too late now, they hate my guts, but hey, i've already drawn your attention to my brass neck and it hasn't miraculously become any more tender!

So, what has any of this got to do with an excess of right thinking? Follow the title link & find out... In conclusion, it seems that, as a rough guide, one can expect more tolerance from those who have experienced a large degree of intolerence themselves. Shame this doesn't seem to hold true in Israel though, eh?

Professor Richard Sennet LSE

The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity & City Life

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