My last nerve has been inflamed, so today I’m going to address the way we treat one another in cyberspace. Perhaps you’ll recognize these situations, or perhaps you have some of your own.
1. I founded and run the International Encaustic Conference, an annual forum for artists who work in the medium of pigmented wax. It’s the only international conference of its kind, and the best of the few (regional) others out there. Recently I made the decision to limit my speakers and demonstrators to those who have not presented at those other events and will not, per contractual agreement. In addition to ensuring the uniqueness of my event, which draws 250 artists from North America, Latin America, Europe and as far away as New Zealand, my decision will allow me to develop ongoing relationships with the speakers, a kind of rotating senior staff, if you will. There will be plenty of room for new presenters, but I want to establish a place where presenters, many of whom teach in university art departments, have some freedom to develop new ideas and offerings. I could have said nothing about my business decision and quietly turned down anyone who had presented elsewhere, but I chose to be upfront so that potential presenters could choose where and how they wished to focus their energies.
One artist has been loudly decrying my business decision, so much so that in almost any mention of The Conference in a certain Facebook group, she sours the discussion. And on another, she initiates conversation with thinly veiled references to me. I have what Italians call a faccia tosta (in Yiddish: chutzpah), so I don't don't find it hurtful, just annoying. Responding honestly just seems to fan her flames. The participants in those discussion groups are sick of it, and so am I. I have backed out of any discussion with her or her cronies and defriended the offending parties, or been defriended by them. But the lingering residue (I call it a chalky undertaste) remains.
, The Artblog, a respected cyber magazine run by Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof, two dedicated artists with bona fide writing credentials, has been mercilessly satirized on an anonymously written impostor blog. Actually, “satirized” is the wrong word, because that implies wit and humor, and the offending impostor is sophomoric and mean spirited. The impostor, an artist, started out a couple of years ago with a mildly amusing play on the names of the real blog and its authors but immediately descended into unrelenting cascades of rage, sexism, ageism, and bouts of cyber bullying–bitterness that has turned in on itself to the point of what I would call pathology. And it’s not just the authors of the real blog who are targeted. Almost any Philadelphia artist who has achieved some measure of visibility or success has been verbally attacked. Galleries, teaching institutions, museums, publications and other art writers have been targeted, too. Philadelphia
I don’t know
art politics but I can read. The impostor site is disgusting and offensive. Philadelphians know who the impostor is, so he has effectively excluded himself from the possibility of any presence in Philly under his own name. Check it out so you know what I’m talking about, but then for your own good mental health, stay away. Philadelphia
3. On the Edward Winkleman blog, run by the eponymous
art dealer, politics and art are on the menu. Most of the time the discourse is lively, and disagreement is not discouraged; indeed, it can fuel interesting discussions. But occasionally comments directed at the blog author are so offensive as to take my breath away. Ed dispatches them smartly, but I have to wonder at the thinking of disrespectful commenters. Would you go to someone’s home for dinner and then insult them? Worse, try to pull the tablecloth, laden with the meal, off the table? Chelsea
I know, I know, absent facial expressions and body language, irony can be easily mistaken. But the regulars on that blog, or any other, establish their personalities verbally early on, so when a comment lands upside the head, you know that’s where it was intended.
There's more, but I think I've made my point. Respectfully. Now, over to you:
. What are your thoughts on cyber disrespect?
. How do you deal with it when it’s directed toward you?
. Have you disrespected someone online? What happened?
I will accept anonymous comments if they further the discussion, but if you have something negative to say to me or to anyone, own up to it please.
Tomorrow: Critical Mass. Part 3, An Opening and a Closing