I came to the Hive in August 2016. @aunt_sue was the first person to welcome me. I promptly and haplessly stepped into the raging war between the Clinton and Sanders supporters here. Scalded, unused to the fury that can too easily be directed at someone whose name no one here knows, whose face no one here is seeing, whose life no one here knows much of anything about, I announced that I’d leave the contestants to their battle. Our late friend @halcyan (who I seem to recall also played an instrumental role in changing the way @stephen_maturin presented himself here) wrote me a note.
I would be sorry if you left. So I hope you don’t. I don’t really know what else to say at this point. But I wanted you to know that I would miss you.
I’d been here only a few weeks — what kind of person does that? Well, obviously, a good person, a kind person.
@yoopertj and I got into a kind of scrape early on. I’d posted something about the need to distinguish Trumpsters from Trump himself. He teased me a bit, all in good fun, but I got defensive and took it personally, all too typical of me. He then wrote me a long note telling me about himself and offering friendship. Which I happily reciprocated.
I could tell other such stories. The Hive is in so many ways a tight-knit, good community of people who like to discuss and argue about politics. Many of you regular commenters, perhaps even most at this point, have been “together” for years. The Hive may not be a perfect substitute for the long table in the back of the diner, but in some ways it’s even better. It allows for reflection before spouting off; for argument that so often goes far, far beyond ranted opinions divorced from supporting facts; and of course for engagement with one another at any time that suits the people involved.
And so I’ve been distressed to see in exchanges over the past few days a new tone in the threads. Maybe not new, but new to me. There’s a harshness, a bullying tone for which, without any ability to prove my case, I blame one person. We all know who that is, because he’s all we’ve been talking about that monster nonstop for the past three years.
If you’re reading this and any of it resonates with you, I hope you will recommit yourself (if needed and appropriate) to the example set by @halcyan in her note to me. (A couple or three of you may well be thinking that I am quite the hypocrite to be calling for civility. You know who you are, and all I can say to you is that I’m sorry if and when I crossed a line with you.)
The Hive has great potential and sometimes it lives up to it. I’ve had a few disappointments: I was sorry to see us give lukewarm support at best to TPM’s efforts to bring some awesome people here to answer our questions and discuss issues with us. (Historian and Twitter god Kevin Kruse was just incredible). I have simultaneously admired what Maturin has created in the WaR threads and regretted that they have to some degree siphoned off energy that might be given to non-Trump topics. And it’s too bad that we often end up with multiple threads on the exact same topic, inasmuch as it tends to make it harder to carry on the conversation.
In any case, 1775 replies and 33 topics and almost 1700 likes awarded by me to others — that’s enough. The software used here has a slight addictive effect — it’s not just the notifications of responses and likes, but also the allure of being able to “publish” a mini-essay knowing that it will have at least a few readers — and so I need to draw a line under this and get on with my life.
Best wishes to all. Fingers crossed as we move forward to November 20. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like. And if you’ve been appreciating some of my commentary over the past three years, if you have an intellectual bent, and above all if you’re a glutton for excruciating punishment, you can find at Amazon a memoir of mine that came out last year from a small university press (which will never sell enough copies to generate royalties for me, so don’t take this the wrong way. )