Monday, September 21, 2015

Microaggression and the scale modeler

Have you heard the term microaggression? I hadn’t either until a few weeks ago until I ran across this article on Vox.

The term goes back to 1970 when a Harvard professor used it to describe the insults that white people made toward African Americans. A psychologist later expanded use of the term to include insults toward other marginalized groups and defined microaggressions as "brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.”

For example, a white person might say to a wealthy African American, “You’re a credit to your race.” Or when you learn that the Asian high schooler who lives next to you won a math competition, you might respond with, “I’m not surprised." These comments aren't intended to be insulting, but to the group they're directed at, they are.

I write about this here because we see microaggressions in the scale modeling community as well. They’re the subtle jibes at other modelers and companies that often result in a discussion quickly going downhill. Here are a few that I noticed over the last few months:

"There is a correct way of doing things, then there is the Kitty Hawk way.”

“Prepare for the criticisms of this kit and your commentary from the usual suspects."

Anyone who refers to eBay as Evilbay.

And from your’s truly, my periodic contribution to the scourge of microaggression, “Very nice painting and weathering. It’s nice to see armor that’s not over-weathered for a change.”

These comments are not overtly aggressive, but they’re expressed with a tone that can trigger a more aggressive response from someone else. And that response can subsequently prompt another, and so on until a discussion thread is locked, deleted, or its participants banned. It’s all very silly given the context of what we modelers talk about, but it’s a reality in our community.

I can’t tell you not to be a jerk. Haters gonna hate, as they say, but for those of you who are reasonable, level-headed members of this community, I can only suggest that you look carefully at how you express your opinions, and when confronted with a microaggression (or an all-out aggressive remark) from someone else, that you choose the high road by simply not responding. Don't feed the trolls, as they also say.

If you're interested a deeper look into microaggressions and how to deal with them (particularly if you're a moderator on any of the forums), be sure to read this article.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you pointed out the option not to respond. This is one of the reasons I can never stick with online forums and always drop out of posting on them.

    On the other hand, I kind of see this as further encroaching political correctness, the type of thing that always makes me wonder where the "other" person's responsibility lies. Seeing as it now appears that we're all supposed to tiptoe so carefully avoid ruffling anyone's feelings in so many contexts, it seems the onus is always on "you" to step lightly, while the person on the other end can feel free to let fly since there is nothing being said about "their" responsibility to just not respond, remain within the bounds of reasonable behaviour, etc. Aren't we all required to "manage" our anger these days?

    I suppose there's not really a good answer to this but I do see a double standard at work here.