I have a great deal of idle time at work. Not that I’m not working, but it’s the kind of work that keeps the hands busy and lets the mind drift. So I’ve had the leisure of considering why, every time there’s a Gallente Federation thread on the IGS, people who would likely be happier pretending our home doesn’t exist spend gratuitous hours pulling its topic away from the original post and more towards a discussion about why home shouldn’t exist - and, tangentially, why people who should understand such a discussion is destructive continue to engage them rather than focus on the actual topic.
It’s a pointless question, because for all the window dressing, it really is just: why do people post on the IGS? I don’t think anyone’s unique in this regard - people post as performance. It’s not really a place for discussion. If a person wanted that, they’d connect to the faster paced conversational fluid routers or strike up a chat with a friend, where a clumsily executed sentence will be judged on intent rather than ripped up for game points. That’s not to say that the IGS forums are pointless, or they don’t have an informal system of rules; people really do behave differently in threads about the Federation, because the rules here are different. But they also behave differently in threads about every faction, because those rules are different, too.
Here, certain parties are advertising. They don’t, won’t, maybe can’t care that there are other people here for other reasons, and their behaviour makes the pursuit of those goals harder to reach. They use our attempts to critically examine ourselves and what we want as a platform to declare that we’re invalid, that we shouldn’t exist and are undeserving of common courtesy by virtue of our investment in the Federation, so that other people with similar sentiments will know that they are safe to engage them about the furthering of that. So they don’t care that they’re off topic and they won’t listen when you ask them to take their offtopic discussion elsewhere, no matter how politely you ask. And if you’re not polite, if you at all get upset - a reasonable reaction, all things considered - then they pat themselves on the back for “winning.” I wonder if that actually feels good. Watching it just makes me feel gross.
Which, you know, whatever.
You’ll notice Aedre never bothered to post again, and he won’t. I had to spend a few days convincing him to try in the first place, and we had a conversation that’s much the same as this. It is hard to be vulnerable in the same space as people who don’t see you as human and won’t treat you as such. It’s much easier to withdraw. And they’ll count that surrender as a “win” too— because that’s one less advocate for the dreaded Federation, thus growing ever-closer to its destruction. Like, good luck with that. It’s not how I would fight a war (if I were ever so inclined) and it seems both time consuming and ineffective but, like, good luck.
If you surrender your dignity long enough to give up on the actual topic and engage them on their replacement flawed, pointless premise that the Federation shouldn’t exist (an impulse I’ve acted on myself a time or two,) they will concede nothing, but they advance their goals to the detriment of yours. They don’t really care about the Federation or its merits or its flaws, and they certainly don’t, won’t care about you - any evidence you cite comes second to what they need to think the Federation is, to justify their worldview, their behaviour, their attitude, and nothing you can offer will meaningfully change that. But it can change you, because you’re listening. Because you understand a democracy only functions when its participants are willing to listen. (And I care, and I hate seeing how it makes a person more cynical, more bitter. Probably another reason why I don’t look at this hellsite as much as I used to.)
For them, your engagement is an opportunity to supplant other constructive and meaningful discussion, it’s continued advertisement. They don’t even have to read posts you might have invested with thought and energy to accomplish what they want to accomplish. You are being used as a means to an ugly end. That’s mostly why I’m confused that people who I respect (you know who you are!) indulge them like that. They must be getting something out of it that I can’t see. Cloning fixed my shite eyesight but maybe not as well as I thought.
Oh well. Otherwise, it’s such a wonderful time to care about the Federation and be a member of our interstellar community. I smile every time I see a new name - so many new ones, lately! - and Bellaron’s proposal is, joy, gaining traction! It’s seemed like, in recent decades, our treaties have stagnated. It’s such a pleasure to see them, maybe, move forward once again.
Edit: Hi, all the usual suspects. In case someone’s struggling with how to evaluate whether one should engage with someone about a topic one cares about, here’s some questions to ask:
Has the person demonstrated that they believe subject (here, the Federation) should exist? If not, then any conversation that assumes such a belief in its premise will go nowhere.
And this is the hard one, does the person seem to believe there is value in participating in subject especially with regard to the way you participate?
Usually the first question is easy to identify because a person will openly declare it, and the second is more nuanced. If a person believes the only legitimate participation in subject is for its destruction or detriment, then they do not see you as someone who participates for its betterment as legitimate and will not listen to you. It brings me no joy to say a number of smart, otherwise civil and well-regarded people might pass the first and fail the second test — they’re still fine to engage on other topics, but this one, so dear to me (and maybe you too) is better avoided. You might be able to practice by reading posts in this thread and trying to answer those questions on a case-by-case basis. The answers might surprise you.
Advanced lesson: before posting in a topic, ask yourself these questions of yourself!