Echo Chamber

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I feel like this isn’t my strongest poem, but I think that’s in part because it’s less of a poem and more of a reflection on my reasoning behind turning the comments off on my YouTube channel after receiving harassment from an MRA. I got a little wrapped up in making sure that I wasn’t doing it out of a desire to never be challenged, and I decided that I wanted to share that process of reasoning and so I wrote this up. It’s formatted like a poem, but in many ways I almost don’t want to think of it as a poem because it’s not particularly artful in anyway.

Nonetheless, I still wanted to share the thought process. 🙂

I worry when they accuse me of shaping for myself
An Echo Chamber.
Let me explain:
The Echo Chamber being a place
In which only your own thoughts, beliefs
Politics and values are expressed.
These same things parroted back at you
While you parrot it back at the limited circle
Which exists in your Echo Chamber.
The Echo Chamber does not allow
For disagreement or dissent.
It does not permit personal growth
Or evolution.
The purpose of the Echo Chamber
Is to protect yourself from all
Which you disagree with
So that you never have to look at it
And find it disagreeable.
The Echo Chamber is
The death of learning.

I am very anti-Echo Chamber
So I meditated long and hard
Before turning off comments on a social media site
In the wake of misogynistic harassment.
Did I secretly long for an Echo Chamber?
Is this what I was fashioning for myself?
Was I simply unwilling
To hear the opposing side?
No
I came to realize
I am simply unwilling
To permit space for belittling
Demeaning and bigotry
Where I long for conscientious discussion
Respect and education.
And a comments section is not the place to find those things—
I don’t know if you’ve frequented comments sections of late
But they are populated almost exclusively by trolls and troglodytes
With the rare and exceptional flowers that are those people
Continuing to seek respect and fruitful dialogue.

I am not a fan of the Echo Chamber
And I do not seek to fashion one for myself.
I welcome dissent
So long as it’s neither cruel nor demeaning
And I have learned much in the past
From disagreements I may have found uncomfortable.
I like to learn—I want to learn from my fellow humans
If you can frame a reasonable argument that makes me pause to consider
The nuances of what you have to say and how it fits or does not fit
Into my world view and philosophy
And if you can cite the sources which shaped your mind into this pattern of thought
So I may review and consider them independently
Potentially reshape myself into something wiser and better
Than I was this morning
And if you are willing to hear out my arguments
And consider my citations
With the same courtesy and due with which I have heard you
We could even be friends.

I love making friends
I love learning
I cherish education
But I disdain the Echo Chamber
With almost as much insistence
As I disdain the bullying that happens in those comment sections
Though at least those pitiful interactions
Inspired me on this page and this stage.
The Echo Chamber inspires nothing.
Which is why I am grateful
That I have other corners of the internet to retreat to
To find my respectful dissent
Sometimes backed with intelligence and education
Sometimes not.
Sometimes changing minds and elevating understanding
Though often times not.
Sometimes forming new connections
Out of the gentle turmoil of thoughtfully worded disagreement
And sometimes not.
But the comments section is not the place for that.
So fuck this comments section—I’m out
And it has nothing to do with a desire
For an Echo Chamber.

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