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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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meta: tl;dr because this is what I *do*
children of dune - leto 1
So I finished putting together the thing I want to do a challenge for, because I feel my interaction with the community should be a.) more than stories about cheese building and b.) rentboy John fic, As a sideline, I came to the horrified realization I have now officially written about someone prostituting themselves enough to add that as an actual interest.

And I don't even like rentboy fic.

The question will never be "Jenn, are you a hypocrite?" We are now at the enviable stage where "But no one beat them! ....until part sixteen." I don't even know where I set the bar anymore. I keep getting freaked out by my del.icio.us tags.

This Is a World of Women

Challenge, right. As soon as we have all recovered sufficiently from Election Drama and WisCon, which for the first time I want to attend, because any group of women who can walk away from the kind of shit that was thrown are pretty much the epitome of what we should try to be.

See A Response to Hate by purplefrog26:
So not only do you face the challenges of dealing with society but you tell yourself that you are ugly, worthless and disgusting. So it becomes a radical act when you choose to live your life and love yourself despite the negativity that we swim thorough every day.

I’m not sure what this person’s objective was in posting these pathetic attempts at humor. But I know that they did not change my commitment to living my life joyfully and abundantly. And I prefer pictures to include my face.

And this fantastic response at Fatshionista:
Do it. Take it. Take my picture and eviscerate me online. It’s just a public, out-loud, communal version of what people do to me inside their heads every single day. It’s happened to me before, online and off. It’ll happen again. It’ll happen every day I leave the house, for the rest of my life.

I am still fat, and I am still not sorry. And nothing you can say, nothing you can post, nothing you can do will change that. No matter how many times you try to humiliate me. No matter how much you want me to hate myself. Because it’s my fucking body. And I don’t owe you a damn thing.


And This Is Community Standards

It's odd; the idiotic open source molestation for fun and profit, the backup project, the election, WisCon hit each after the other. I don't think there's less drama, believe it or not; I'm not even sure it's that I'm noticing it more. I just didn't pay attention.

There are a lot of parents on my flist. I'll take even odds half of us will have a child turned troll. I'll say the percentage is higher for boys, but as we have seen, the girls are catching up.

My son's a white male, relatively attractive, and going to a school that specializes in science and math with a mother who pays for the fastest internet access she can get without a government permit and studying for a degree in computer science with a kink for new technology. He's been web-enabled since his first birthday and can generally google for what he wants to know. He's started simple scripting with robot games and he likes things that blow up and horror movies and very large snakes.

I have about three years, maybe four if I'm lucky and I can keep his computer hobbled (you'd be surprised how much you can do with the registry and a few days of free time). Then goatse and two girls one cup and the myriad split penises will be everywhere all over again, because it's all new for him and my cache will never be the same. And it's not that I won't watch him. It's just the places he'll go for that after the first time won't be places I can follow.

Child's a potential of SA and it's not the first time I realized that or understood the inevitability there will come a moment where I will trace his cache and find something that I can't accept. What I didn't know is what to do about it. I'd like to thank UFB for this one; I would have avoided this train of thought until he hit puberty at least.

We didn't cover this. We didn't. We know what to do when it's slash, a flamewar, a convention fight over a pairing, what to do when the racism debates reach critical levels, when misogyny gets so hot everyone's eyeing the flist with trepidation. We know to go to metafandom to see what people are saying and to go to fandon-wank to see what they are talking about and to combine them to decide what people mean. We even have a hazy idea of what to do when RL breakups fracture an flist or long term friendships turn sour (hint: hide. Really).

Child is second generation fen; he'll know the culture by proxy, by the friends I introduce him to, by the world I expose to him. Who the hell knows where he'll end up; it could be anywhere. He watches anime and Dr. Who and wants to clone dinosaurs; wherever he goes, he'll take what I teach him in netiquette and the standards I apply to my online life and choose to accept them or reject him.

(He might become a conservative banker. I expect a pony if that happens. I'll need it.)

And one day, I might get an email from a friend with a link to an account that I didn't know existed and behavior I cannot condone with the silent question of whether community standards apply.

(Someone better sure as fuck email me, by the way. That part had better be community standards for minors; if it's not, can I declare it now?)

Rachel Moss wasn't a test case. And to tell the truth, she wasn't even the first. She's just the opening salvo of what we had to know what was coming, and she's not the worst. And I can say without fear of contradiction, one day it'll be one that is our own the way she wasn't and couldn't ever be. That will be our test case.

It's hard to predict what we will do, but it may be something like what happened the first time the girl came home with the phrase: "he's so gay!" as a pejorative term she picked up in...

wait for it...


"He's so WHAT?"


In this situation, MY STANDARDS applied. There was a long talk, with pictures and movies, and discussions of what is love and not love and what we think in our house and what we share about that with those in our very conservative, rural, redneck community.

Now, we discuss manga - which ones she can read, which ones she can't, and why. We discuss Yaoi, romance and who knows what - and I wait for the day she discovers chat rooms. We discuss how you never put your address online, and never give your name, and never take e-mails from strangers.

And I wait for that e-mail from a friend. The one with the unacceptable site. And I only hope it happens while she's young enough that I can directly impact her actions with my reaction.

The kids may both end up as bankers, but you know? I kind of doubt it.

Yes, yes, yes. All of that.

And I wait for that e-mail from a friend. The one with the unacceptable site. And I only hope it happens while she's young enough that I can directly impact her actions with my reaction.

I'm comforted by the knowledge that even after he's a minor, I can still disassemble his chip assembly and trash his hard drive if I find out he's doing destructive internet shenanigans.

WisCon is an amazing experience. People bring their children to WisCon, also.

From everything I read, it sounds amazing. I added it to my list for next year as a potential.

Hey, I didn't see you expand on that, so instead of speculating and extrapolating from my own motives, I'll just to ask you why you think you write John prostituting himself when you hate(d?) rentboy fics?

Because it freaks me out so badly, I think. It's hard to write something I can't see happening, and harder to write it to the point I *can* believe it. It could be partially desensitization, and partially trying to understand the reasons, and partially to find out if there is a way I can see it as possible.

I - can never quite understand what you are (and will) go through with your son since I don't have children (and at this stage of my life, don't intend to). But I think I can sympathise a little with what you see in the future. My eldest nephew is 8 this year and because of me he's been exposed to that core of fandom: sci-fi, anime, fantasy, gaming and anime.

He's been on the internet playing on sites since he was old enough to figure out how to read and found a mouse small enough to fit his hand on. We watched and there's security and filters everywhere, and, where I can, I try and explain to his parents what they might want to watch out for (Bionicles and Pokemon, fine and he'll eventually mostly out grow - Magic the Gathering, not so much).

But he's going to be in fandom one day - and he's going to be a teenager out there. Maybe there should be an amnesty for those of us who were trolls when we were young - stupidity, youth and all that. But - I don't want him to go there, don't want him to cause that sort of hurt. And in all our family I'm the only one who knows what it's like out there (or is that 'in here').

I'm not sure what to do - he's not even my son (!). But I wish that community standards for minors really did exist - though a part of me remembers the amount of adults who wanted to monitor what I was doing on the internet or reading at a library and finds myself trying to walk that line between what would be censorship and what I hope is something like passing on cultural mores to the next internet generation.

What I've tried to do, when I can, is to teach him the things that you can use on or off the internet: from not using words like "gay" as an insult (god, they start so frickin' young - 8 years old! Where the heck do they pick this up?) to not seeing girls as in any way lesser (that one is easy, he's got six aunts-by-blood, five of them on his mother's side), to not insulting people because of the way they act or dress or talk or walk or behave. And hope that at the end I never find him trolling or doing things just for the 'luls' (which by the way was the reason why I disliked Jameth - things for the 'luls'? When it HURTS people? WTF).

And also of course, hope that his parents don't think I'm interfering (thus far they don't mind since it's mostly story books, cartoons and discussions over superheroes [Batman over Superman but Bionicles wins] and building things that can climb up and down the stairs [not yet but I have hope for all those gears]).

I think when it comes to community standards, we'd be better off saying that we (in the singular, rather that *I*) will uphold a basic code of behaviour or ethics. If a large enough group of us follow that code, it will become the basis for correct behaviour in fandom - a part of fandom's cultural mores. After all, on the internet, as it exists now, there is no way to police a community standard. Rather, if it can exist, it'll have to be done the old fashion way: per person.

I dont know that it will help, but sometimes trusting your kid and having faith your ability to handle most of what he throws at you is a big help, even if it is mostly delusional:). The child on the internet is a scary thing since we dont see most of it, but in my experience, it is not all that different that spending time with friends, away from you.

My child (girl) and I have made it through internet access since she was five, with the fastest connection available. She is 19 now. We have weathered MySpace and Facebook and chat rooms. We talked and kept the computer in a family space and I am sure there are things out there I dont want to know about, but the level of sense and awareness she had displayed has surprised me. The same seems to be true for the boys she is around. I never forbid her to read anything, or go to a site, or chat rooms, but we did talk about whatever material I found objectionable and why I though she should wait for a while. Sometimes she read or went anyway, but found that most of the time my judgment could be trusted, so sometimes it stuck. :)

I used to live in fear of the email from someone. The pervasiveness of it is something they seem to have absorbed on some level, but they also seem to "get" some of the behaviors expected as well. There are always kids that mess up, but now the audience is bigger. I checked up on her periodically, but never found anything other than typical teenage stuff, nothing more than resenting parents, stupid school etc. Just with bad language. :)

Re: It might be fine

*kept the computer in a family space*

I must emphasize how important this is, Jenn. No household wireless, if possible. Set things up so that the kid's screen is visible from the parent's work area, so you can see over their shoulder with a glance.

And talk, talk, talk. This week, I did talk to the Distant Future of Fandom about the LJ elections, about seizure-inducing icons, about posting pictures of people online, about sites where everyone seems to be encouraging each other to be jerks.

*considers* I would talk to fannish parents who've raised kids in contact with con-going fandom and that've come out the other side sane. (That would be, depressingly, not that many. I count myself among the few--and my parents mostly gafiated to raise me, with only occasional visits.) It's a different set of challenges and pitfalls but it's still probably relevant.

A lot of it will simply come down to raising your kids with good ethics and a strong moral compass. Unacceptable behaviour is unacceptable no matter where it occurs and someone with those attributes will avoid it no matter where it is.

Not that it isn't something you should be prepared for and have a response ready, should it come up. Just that I think it is less, hm, less a new parenting problem, but more another new facet on the old ones. You raise your kids right and--well, you did what you could. The rest is on the kid and you have to hope and trust that they'll take what you've taught and shown them and use it well.

True. It's not new-new, so much as--supplementary on the Golden Rule and Yes, Those Are Real People on the Internet.

All we can do is live the talk we talk and hope to God they soak up the example. Many times I had to drag Annie into another room with a hasty "Be right back, son, I need to talk to your Mom!" which was code for "Do NOT say anything here you cannot take back," because she'd open her mouth and I knew the words "Not while you're under our roof," were going to come out and our kid would've packed his drums and his underwear and his computer and hit the road.

He downloaded porn, he ended up sleeping with his girlfriend at a way too young age (in my opinion), he had friends who made us shudder...but we let him live, and kept the lines of communication open, and dealt with the crap one crisis at a time ("Mom? The good news is nobody was seriously injured! The bad news is I totaled the new car! Can you come to the back of beyond where I am not supposed to be and pick us up?"). Yet today he is gainfully employed, a genuinely nice man, a wonderful Dad, a good friend. Something must've stuck.

Child will be the same, he's got you.

Edited at 2008-06-01 12:18 am (UTC)

Also, this might be good to post at shakydismount.

I think the most important thing to emphasize here is that people, online, are real people, and there's a fine line between WTF? and sad or hurtful. I do believe that RL lessons will carry over. And like RL, yeah, there's going to be some times when he'll say or do stuff that isn't great, or go places that aren't great.

Like all parents, (and I'm talking out my rear, because I do not have children) there's an amount of prevention, and check-ins, and curfews that can be instituted, but in the end, it's up to the child.

I think that the kids that grow up with the Internet make it much more a part of their RL than we did. My little brother has had the Internet at home since he was 8, and he realises full well that everyone on the Internet is a Real Person. I think because everyone he knows in RL is on facebook / myspace, where you are encouraged to have a Real Person identity.

Basically, I think everything will be okay.

Here from metafandom, and this is a great deal of food for thought, all of it positive, for me. :) I have two kids, and I will ponder your points.

I'm a young teen who's been in fandom since shortly after reaching double-digits, and on the internet since the age of four. However, I didn't have parents in fandom. (At all. My parents, I love them, fit the conservative banker scene much better than they fit fandom.) I didn't have any idea what the rules were or what acceptable community standards might be. And I honestly didn't have anyone to ask.

I made mistakes when I was younger. Fortunately, my mistakes were not very public and not on a very large scale. But here's the thing: people let me know. Oh, how they let me know. And I wish I could go back and thank them for it. When I crossed a line (usually one I wasn't aware of), those around me simply told me that what I was doing or saying was not acceptable. And I learned. I learned things that have made me a better person, in fandom and out.

I didn't have the opportunity to learn those lessons from family or friends. I just had to sink or swim in fandom, so to speak. Second generation fen know (to some degree) the world they're getting into, and what some of the rules are. But the day may come when they're on their own in fandom, and they have to make a choice about how they're going to behave. And even with knowledge and a support system, they're still going to have to sink or swim. They'll follow the advice of those who've been there, or they won't. But even if they won't, they'll learn. If we're doing our job, they'll learn. They'll learn what kind of behavior flies, and what behavior doesn't. It might not be fun, for the young fen or their parents. Some of us will fight the lessons more and take longer to learn them. Some of us may leave. But the majority of us will end up learning proper behavior through some combination of knowledge from advice and knowledge from experience.

Hopefully, some of us will even end up being the next generation to speak up in defense of community standards in fandom.


My internet-raising was almost ten years ago now, and while my dad was more conversant with online stuff than most people, being as he was in computer science with the local university, an online culture really had yet to develop.

I was lucky enough to be fandom-raised and online-raised by a wonderful e-mail list with very good community standards, so it was a shock getting out into the rest of the internet and discovering that not everybody made the effort to try and chill out heated discussions by discussing everyone's favorite pizza.

*Here from metafandom*

I've got two not so small anymore kids, and I've had to think about how they'll be on the internet. (Already up and defending one of them-- Barbie.com's bad-word filter told my daughter that her name is a naughty word and wouldn't let her use it to play one of their games. Needless to say phone calls and emails have been sent.)

Ultimately, though, I won't be able to step in anymore, to defend them or to stop them. They will be responsible for their own behavior. Best I can hope is that I gave them right and reasonable rules that they can use to guide themselves. I think I'll introduce them to some of the snarky spots so I can open up a discussion with them. The whole "maybe they won't find it themselves if I don't mention it" way of parenting seems to fail hard.

Barbie? Really? *frowns* I think my niece uses that one and the penguin one. Hmm.

I think I'll introduce them to some of the snarky spots so I can open up a discussion with them. The whole "maybe they won't find it themselves if I don't mention it" way of parenting seems to fail hard.

Ooh yeah. And it's guaranteed to look much cooler if it's something mom (or dad) potentially won't like. I think introducing him to those spots personally works so much better, especially when the parent can explain ethics alongside it.

So I'm not a parent, but I am living at home with my 13 year old sister (who is 13 years my junior) who has had internet access since she was probably 5 and her own computer since she was 9 or so. I was getting on the internet for the first time at the age she is now, and discovering fandom a year or so after that.
My parents pretty much let me run loose on the internet (which looking back, probably wasn't as bad then as it is now) and my sister at this point is pretty much in the same position, not a terrible lot of supervision, she's home alone for a few hours after school for a week at a time (depending on my mom's work schedule.)
Granted my parents have pretty strong morals, that seem to have stuck on the oldest 3 kids pretty well, and as far as I've been able to determine mostly my sister sticks to her games and fairly innocuous stuff.
I sort of stuck my head in the sand thinking that she wouldn't even find things like fandom, or SA, or those crazy parts of the internet that I avoid. The part that bugs me is I don't know that she'd talk to me about it even if she DID find those things. I know I'm a more likely target than my parents but I'm still something of a parental figure for her. I don't necessarily want to point things out to her at this age yet, but maybe I'm kidding myself and she's been there and done that already.
Uhg, I'm sort of terrified, and she's not even my kid.

I would like to speak to the parents who are concerned about what their kids might find online. (Note: I am so not trying to say you should never supervise! I'm not, I'm not, I'm NOT, please don't yell at me. That is not my place and I don't even think it's smart, because there are truly dangerous-to-life-and-limb sites out there, and just because I've always known when to run away as fast as I can doesn't mean that every kid will. This is only my own experience, and I am maybe not anything like your child, nor are all parents necessarily going to be like my parents.)

I have made the internet a large part of my RL, even now that I guess I'm approaching Adult Fan status. (Oh god.) I haven't always had internet at my house, but I've been using computers since I was tiny and the internet since I was nine. (I'm a couple months shy of nineteen now, which isn't grown-up, but still. I'm also not nine anymore.) I've never thought the people I talked to were anything but real people, so I've always been as careful as I can be not to do anything that might harm them. Also--not that I'm liberally dispensing my personal information to everyone on the planet or anything--I have a few select internet-friends who by all intents and purposes are now RL friends, too. (By the way, I'm using "internet friend" to mean people that I only know online, versus "RL friend" to mean people I have communicated with in some form other than online. I don't mean to imply that internet friends are of lesser status, because they aren't.) We talk on the phone (or on internet phone like Gizmo or Skype if we don't want to trade real phone numbers), we're on each other's Facebooks, we send each other snail mail, things like that. That makes it quite simple to understand that I am talking to actual people. I would recommend not a blanket ban on ever handing out an address, but instead a carefully supervised setting-up of a pen pal relationship, if the opportunity arises. It's easy to realise that these are real people if you are receiving handwritten letters from them on occasion, or if you hear their voice on the phone.

My parents, however, have been almost completely uninvolved with my internet life. All they really know is that I'm on the computer frequently and that I sometimes get mail from Australia or Canada or other random places in the world. I paid for my own laptop and my own internet, and I'm the one in my household who knows the most about computers. And yeah, I did take advantage of that--let a fifteen-year-old (how old I was when I first got internet in my house) have a laptop in their bedroom and never, ever ask what they're doing, and that kid is...not always going to stay on happy fluffy sites. I would like to think that I still turned out okay, though. I knew how to keep myself safe, I knew how to tell when people were absolute creeps, and overall my experience with the internet has been extremely positive. I have learned how to communicate effectively with people all over the world, from many different cultures, who speak many different languages. I have learned not to care about other people's differences.

Okay, I'm going to attempt to explain my take on a touchy subject: explicit sexual images and writing on the internet. I don't know how well this will go, but I'm going to try. I would like to note that my parents are very, very strict fundamentalist Christians, and I promise I do not mean to slam Christianity; it's just that the fact is, the way I grew up was that you did not talk about sex. Ever. And if you did, you definitely didn't talk about how to have it safely, because the whole point was to get married and then have kids. Sex didn't have to be fun, it was just something people did to have kids and for no other reason. Also, gay people chose their lifestyles and God hated them. I believed all of this quite strongly until I was about twelve, which was when I discovered slash for the very first time. I am purely self- and friends-taught about sexuality, because I had no other recourse to learn about something that, yeah, greatly interested me. I'm still fascinated by it in a psychological sense, because I am a geek like that. You need to talk to your kids about sex. It will be uncomfortable. They are going to hate you for it. But they need to know about it, because they are going to find some very weird things on the internet, and it's better if they have a way to deal with it mentally when that happens. Just don't close off the lines of communication like my parents did. Let them know that they can talk to you about what they run into. I can't talk to mine, so I talk to my friends. I'm extremely lucky to have good and wise friends, but not all people's friends are going to be good and wise. I have my half-siblings' friends as a sort of anti-role model to prove that.

So in regards to some of the sites I visited when I was, um, too young to be visting them, I learned that there were people in the world who didn't think that two men kissing was such a great and terrible sin as my parents did. I would not even try to say that all children should be allowed to visit every site they want, but in my case, I am glad I found some of the things I did while I was still young enough to change my mind about certain things my parents had told me. The internet was truly the only resource I possessed to teach me about diversity, which is kind of terrifying to think about, but in the end I turned out to be a caring person with a good head on her shoulders who wants to be a high school librarian so she can ask how students' days are going--largely because of growing up with the internet.

I guess what I'm trying to say is--in my opinion, kids need to know how to deal with what they find even more than they need to know how to avoid finding it. Someday it will appear in a pop-up ad, or someone will email it to them, or they will simply go looking for it. They need to know how to react to it when that happens. The same goes for when they discover trolling. Some kids will be like me and think, "That looks stupid and hurtful. I'm not going to try it or condone it." Some kids will think it looks fun. Teach them ethics before they run into the dark side of the internet, and hopefully they will be able to handle it maturely when they do find it.

I made a few fuckups when I was younger. I will probably continue to make them now that I am older, but perhaps they will be fewer and less dramatic. The thing was, my mistakes never stayed hidden. My internet communities found me out every time, made my mistakes embarrassingly public, and explained in minute detail exactly where I had gone wrong and how not to do it again. You better believe I never did it again. So even if your kid ignores everything you say about correct online behaviour, the internet will do its damnedest to teach them itself.

I have a three-year-old nephew, he knows how to use the computer, and I hope to hell I can teach him some of this stuff, because I know more about computers than his mom does. Oh, how my fingers are crossed I can get through to him. I don't know whether he'll ever be in fandom or not, but I guess we'll see what happens. [/end]