Sparing Twitter The Conversation: Wuzza Wossy Loncon Hugo Whuh?

Was about to unleash a crackling tweetstorm on the Twitters — but as I started to prep the tweets it started to look like a Category 5. Too many tweets for your feeds to suffer. They’d buckle under the weight! SHE JUST CANNA HANDLE IT CAP’N.


Something-something Jonathan Ross, aka “Rossy,” aka, I don’t know who that is.

I woke up and people were all mad about him hosting the Hugos? HE’S SEXIST, they said.

And then I went to brunch and got out of brunch and he was no longer hosting the Hugos and now people were mad he wasn’t hosting the Hugos — HE’S NOT SEXIST, they cried, HE’S UTTERLY MILQUETOAST, and then people on both sides of the argument stopped being mad at Jonathan Ross and started being mad at each other, and I saw some particularly nasty chatter (and, mostly, backchannel chatter) on them there social medias that I just felt like backing away.

Outrage moves fast on the Internets. It’s like an electrical fire in a wig factory.

Here’s the thing: just be nice to each other. Even when you don’t agree. Because outrage against outrage only creates more of it, like Mogwai chucked in a hot tub. And then it gets ugly, as ugly feeds on ugly (and now our multiplying Mogwai are eating chicken wings and delivery pizza as they frolic and go mad in the frothing jacuzzi). And people being mean just doesn’t get anything done.

Assume that people who are outraged are sincere and earnest. You don’t have to think they’re right, mind you — nor do you need to appease and placate just because it’s outrage. But assume it’s real. Assume it comes from a place of hurt and not that it’s manufactured just for drama’s sake. Sure, sometimes it is. But you don’t know that and it’s very hard to tell unless you really know the heart of a person — how do you know that they’re just stirring shit because they like the smell and not because they’re actually upset? You don’t. Everyone should approach each other like they’re coming at common ground from different ends, not that they’re trying to burn the crops and salt the earth.

Really, be nice. Even when you don’t agree. Outrage is undercut and tempered by kindness — and kindness is also how compromise is found, how middles are met, how people come to understand each other’s POV. Ask questions even if they won’t ask the same of you. To be clear, I know I could learn this lesson sometimes.

Now, let’s all hug.

I mean, not inappropriately or anything. I’ll hug my monitor and you hug your — OH GOD THE COMPUTER IS FALLING OVER I MADE A TERRIBLE MISTA

W*&(%^TYfghghj /.,./



  • There were some valid concerns, but the dickishness of the comments flying about have made my thoroughly ashamed to be a sci fi author. That Ross had quietly and calmly stepped down just makes this whole craptastic thing considerably worse.

    • Well, he quietly and calmly stepped down after labeling one of his detractors on Twitter as “stupid” and then generalized about them being “small minded.”

      So maybe not so calm and quiet.

      • Generally, I find small minded people are typically stupid as well. If we want someone to host the Hugos who isn’t offensive, then I suggest they just program a fucking robot or something.

  • Well if it’s not inappropriate, there’s no point in trying to hug. *puts away lube and cat-o-nine-tails*

    Thank you for this, by the way. It gets so frustrating seeing argument after argument devolve into two sides screaming and attacking each other and never hearing a word anyone is trying to say.

  • Not everyone was being nasty. A lot of people were being kind and thoughtful about the situation. A lot of people objected to the guy being host and weren’t outraged — but still have people dismissing them as “internet outrage”.

  • I’d never heard of the guy, but when a whole bunch of people I respect went “Oh HELL NO!” I tend to listen.

    I thought Stross had an interesting point–if this guy gets followed around by tabloid journalists, that’s a lot of havoc to introduce to a con, regardless of what one thinks of his act.

    All very weird. ( I’ll tell you one thing, though, the cries of censorship are getting so goddamn old you can count their rings…)

  • David Gerrold posted a very nice post about it, and all the comments on it were actually very nice. I had to make sure I was awake, and actually connected to the internet, on social media. Weird.

  • I have no opinion on Jonathan Ross – I don’t know who he is, don’t know what his alleged damage is, etc. Some people I tend to listen to weren’t happy he was hosting, so I’ll defer to their judgement of the situation, but I don’t personally have a dog in that fight.

    In general, though, I’m SO tired of the outrage-fest that is Twitter. Not only is it exhausting on a personal level, but the constant stream of things I’m supposed to be angry about just leaves me feeling apathetic. Whenever someone posts a link and says “You should be upset about this!” my response isn’t to click that link, to educate myself, or even to care. It’s to tune that person out.

    I have no idea if you’ve been following conversations in online feminist circles about callout culture and Twitter, but it’s been pretty instructive in how disagreement on the internet can quickly become memetic and obscure the root issue. There’s a wave of articles about how Twitter is ruining feminism, followed by a wave of articles about how people who think Twitter is ruining feminism are the real problem, and it’s just…completely route. I know everything an essay is going to say just by looking at the title/byline. And then I close the tab and go about my day and don’t read the essay, because it’s one more thing I’m supposed to be angry about and I just. Can’t. It’s too much, and I have my own problems. I struggle with depression and anxiety, and the constant negativity can really do damage to my mental health. There are people whose opinions and work I really respect that I’ve had to stop following on Twitter/Tumblr as part of my mental wellness plan.

    I know everyone hates the “tone argument.” And yes, if you are hurt, if you are experiencing oppression, you should never be told to “tone it down” or “we’ll only listen to you if you say it nicely.” You have every right to be outraged, to broadcast that outrage, and to try to make others care about your outrage. No one should ever try to make you feel bad for being angry.

    But you should be aware of the fact that if you’re ALWAYS ANGRY, people stop listening after a while. And that’s not them being privileged or whatnot, that’s them acting on the basic instinct of human self-preservation. Your yelling is the equivalent of a rattlesnake’s…rattle. (That’s not the greatest analogy.) It’s the universal sign of “I am about the sink my poisonous fangs into something and it might be you so WATCH OUT.” Who’s going to stick around to get bitten?

    Giving people the benefit of the doubt costs you nothing. Kindness costs you nothing. Really. Take it from someone who used to be a tightly wound bag of angry crazy, to borrow a phrase. I used to get mad at every little thing that garnered my notice, and for what? I made myself sick and miserable, and I ensured that the people around me were pretty miserable, too. I put people off and made it so that whenever I talked about a cause I believed in, people were looking at ME, not the issues at hand. It was counterproductive, to say the least.

    Now, I let most things roll off my back. If I’m mad about something, before I broadcast my anger I ask myself “is this really a battle I want to have? and will me getting mad actually solve anything?” and the vast majority of the time, the answer is “no fucking way.” On the rare chance that I DO engage, I do it with an eye to educate, to reach out, and to try to find common ground. I learned the hard way that nine times out of ten what a person chalks up to as malice is actually the result of ignorance. I no longer assume that a person is intentionally being offensive or cruel. Instead, I ask questions. I listen. I try to understand.

    I don’t do pre-emptive strikes. Those NEVER work out well.

    Maybe that makes me a bad feminist, but fuck that. It makes me a happy human being. That’s really the most important thing.

  • It’s actually Jonathon Woss, at least that’s how he pronounces. He’s a UK chat show host who got very big and then after leaving some messages on a burlesque artist’s answerphone taking the piss (or was it her famous dad, not sure) he slightly shot the dog.

    I really don’t have time to be outraged by the internet. I am far to apathetic and anyway, The Improbable Girl up there has pretty much said it all for me.

    I just don’t have the time and energy for bile right now. People are people, living breathing humans. We should just love one another… and ting.



    • Wossy, along with his mate Russell Brand left an offensive message on Andrew Sachs phone. Sachs, who played the hapless waiter in Fawlty Towers back in the dark ages of tv, has a granddaughter who happens to be a burlesque dancer and a sexual conquest of Brand.
      Out come: Brand was fired by the BBC and Ross lost his show for three months. Ross would ultimately leave the BBC and jump ship to ITV. Both have apologised, some would say genuinely, others, not so much.
      Ross loves the comic book industry. He has a massive personal collection and has been known to pen material as well. He regularly drops things into conversation that show a deep knowledge of sci-fi going back to his childhood, and would undoubtedly have considered hosting the Hugos a huge honour.

      • There was an interview with Andrew Sachs in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. 6 years on, his relationship with both his daughter and granddaughter hasn’t recovered from that prank. They may have been totally genuine in their apologies, and it still wouldn’t make things better.

        • There are at least two very separate issues here. One is Mr Sachs relationship with his daughter and granddaughter. Regardless of what the pair did, (Brand and Ross) which was absolutely despicable imo and shamed them both, they are not responsible for that relationship. Mr Sachs and the two ladies in question are. This undoubtedly affected said relationship but they need to work through it. I am a father and grandfather to daughters and granddaughters and nothing would come between me and them, I simply love them too much and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to maintain those relationships.
          The second issue is punishment and rehabilitation. Both were punished, and rightly so, but having been punished and attempting to put things right through apologising, which Ross has done regularly since the prank took place, at what point is he considered rehabilitated? When Sachs has repaired his relationship with his family? Is that not a little…harsh? Especially as it’s something he has no control over, and isn’t in his power to correct. Ross was monumentally stupid, and acted pathetically and weakly in an effort to impress Brand, which is a sin I believe most of us men have committed at some point in our lives, I know that I have. There surely comes a point though when you say that enough is enough, I cannot do anymore and Ross has reached that point.

  • You had me @ wig factory….the social network is at best, it’s own worst enemy. Too bad we all just can’t pick a mood and stick with it LOL!

  • I spent yesterday out and about with the wife, so I guess I missed the whole thing.

    (Makes note: Spend more time with wife.)

  • I just wrote a blog post about starting to be kind of scared of the Internet because of this sort of thing. I know nothing about the Ross controversy, but it certainly would be nice if we could remember that we’re all human and we all screw up now and then. It’s amazing to me how, when someone gets called out on the Net, everyone reacts as if nobody else ever acts badly or makes a mistake…it’s just THAT guy. The rest of us are perfect, right? Human nature…always ickier online.

  • I feel so out of touch. I have no idea who Jonathan Ross actually is, though I suspect I’ll learn soon enough now 🙁

    You definitely pegged it, though. The web is great for focusing, amplifying and multiplying outrage.

  • How’s this!? I don’t do facebook. I don’t do twitter. I do a modicum of e-mail. I read books (all kinds) and try to write. I go to a weekly anything goes writing group, a monthly poetry group and sing in a choir. I keep a couple of diaries—two completely different subjects. Cadence. Coda: I pay attention to this blog and two others (one of which is mine). I talk to my husband. Double bar. Put down baton. Close score. Leave podium. Peace.

  • As a UKer I know Jonathon Ross (not personally of course, but with regards to being ‘familiar with his work,’ as they say.) Yeah, he can be controversial sometimes. He can be cocky (show me a successful chat show host who isn’t?) And oh hell yeah, he’s done some dumb things in his career – which he has subsequently apologised for. But when it comes to whether or not he’s qualified to host a sci-fi awards ceremony… he’s a massive comic book fan, and knows his stuff when it comes to sci-fi. He wouldn’t have been phoning it in; he’d have been presenting it from a position of considerable knowledge and interest. Okay, he might not have been the Dream Choice… but jeez, they could’ve easily picked a hell of a lot worse.

    Must be an awful lot of people with not very much going on in their lives to have got so steamed up over something like this. Y’know, there’s civil wars in Ukraine and stuff going on right now, people..?

    • I don’t know a thing about Ross or the controversy either, but comments like this really illustrate Wendig’s point. “It could have been worse!” “Don’t you people have MORE IMPORTANT things to fuss about, have you nothing better in your life?” are pretty classic shutdown tactics. (And rather transparent ones; there’s always someone who could have been worse, there’s always something more important or more serious than whatever’s being talked about. Ukraine? Have you SEEN what’s going on in the Central African Republic, Mr/Ms Frivolous Discussion-Topic?

      The problem is people shifting their anger from the subject matter to being mad at each other and assuming disagreement = evil. Eye-rolling about how stupid those people are in the first place for caring is putting yourself smack dab in the middle of the problem you decry.

      • You know what, I didn’t actually read Wendy’s go away line at the end, I rarely do to be honest. People care about what people care about I guess. Personally, I don’t consider this a particularly frivolous topic, mainly due to the underlying issues of sexism, rehabilitation and free speech. None of which are as important as the situation in Ukraine, or the CAR but still carry weight. It’s funny though, as without that go away line at the end, you wouldn’t have felt any need to reply, while I was drawn too by the beginning. Just a thought.

  • Wot Esselle said – and on this particular controversy, also wot Wendy said.

    It’s good that people care about stuff. It’s just a shame we often can’t challenge that care into stuff that really matters.

  • Well said, sir. Some days everyone seems so angry that they have forgotten what they were angry about. Or maybe they’re just hungry.


    Sometimes people just need to have a cheese sandwich.

    And then get angry about the big stuff.

    And then hug.

    With more cheese.

  • I know I’m late to the party but here’s the thing, Chuck. YOU DON’T HAVE BRUNCH ON A SATURDAY! OK?

    IT. ISN’T. DONE.

    Brunch is a SUNDAY ONLY event. I feel very strongly about this, to the point of OUTRAGE. And the fact that we’re going to get another foot of snow on Sunday, DOES NOT give you the right to have brunch on Saturday! There, I’ve said it. SNOW! MORE OF IT! And I really don’t care about your feelings in this regard because I’m only concerned about myself.

  • There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than I have time and energy to care about. Or even to know about. They say “pick your battles.” They say, “ask if this hill is the one you want to die on.” I don’t want to die on a hill, and certainly not right now. There are fights worth having that don’t need me in them, and there are fights I need to have that nobody needs to know about.

    And ’round about the 10th, it’s supposed to be 50 degrees in Wisconsin, for the first time in seven months.

  • I once made a grammatical error in a post about writing on Reddit. Big mistake.

    Same thing happened there. When they were done putting me down, they turned on eachother.

    It’s just plain ugly out there.

  • I certainly hope that we will soon enter an era when comedy and comedians are as inoffensive as a glass of tepid water. Then we will finally have arrived as a species.

    • & I hope we will enter an era when we’ll understand we are all one, stop killing each other, stop hating each other, stop taking the piss and make love instead. 🙂 Then we would have finally evolved as a species.

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