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September 29, 2012
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.... why I try not to comment about people's weight.

I used to attend a particular conference on an annual basis, and so I got to (casually) know the other "regulars" who also used to be there. Every year, more or less, I'd see the same group of people at the speakers' dinner, and we could catch up on the usual "what are you up to these days?" kind of stuff. One of the guys I used to see fairly often was a tall heavy-set fellow (some might call him "fat" or "obese") he'd always been tall, bearded, and big, to me. But one year, he showed up and he had lost a lot of weight. It took me a second to recognize him, and I said, "Hey, Rich! You look great! You've lost a lot of weight!" and he looked at me and deadpanned, "Yeah, pancreatic cancer will do that."

Do I need to belabor the point? I will. First off, I set myself up for a massive head-fuck, by making assumptions about what was going on in someone else's life, and - even though I was being friendly about it - I was horribly wrong. He later mentioned that he wouldn't have replied the way he did if there had been anyone else standing around, because then it would have been potentially publicly embarrassing for me. He'd known me for years and knew I had a pretty "take no prisoners" attitude, and thought he'd reply the way he did, just to see how I reacted.

In fact, I responded, "I'm sorry; that was terribly rude of me, wasn't it?"

I mention all of this because I recently posted a few shots which (predictably) garnered a few comments about the model's weight and appearance.

#304 - Holding a Fall by mjranum

And, as usual, I had to issue a few gentle slappings.

Here's another photo of mine:

Falling Angel by mjranum

Someone who reads the caption under the photo might make the mistake of thinking I was referring to the model's weight. Actually, it's got nothing to do with that - it has to do with some other things the model told me about her health and some other body-related stuff. I was impressed by her even coming out to pose for me, all things considered.

I'm constantly fascinated by how the internet era has encouraged people to leap to all kinds of assumptions about other people, and to jam their feet into their own mouths on a regular basis. Sometimes when they're called on it, they apologize, but often they retreat into postmodernism by claiming it's "merely" a matter of opinion. I've said all I need to say about that, here:

Just My Opinion by mjranum

It seems to me that secular humanist notions of "morality" rely on positive arguments for why people should do the "right" thing but ignore far too much the social value of retaliation. The internet, in a sense, is a great big experiment in what kind of society you wind up with when there is virtually no chance that someone you annoy can bring that annoyance back home to you. That, by the way, is one of the reasons I am pretty careful to always "internet" in my true name, and publish my home address and GPS coordinates - for those who have JDAMs - so that I cannot be accused of running away from my own words. If I ever offend someone so much that they want to show up on my doorstep, I'll deal with the consequences at that time. I used to wonder if the people who made derisive or rude comments about some of the models in my photos would deal with it if the model's husband/boyfriend/girlfriend were to call them to account for their words. I admit there are times I think "I'd pay for tickets to see that."

I don't like to lie to make someone feel bad. (Usually the truth serves better!) But I wonder what kind of reactions I'd have gotten on some of the comments about Jenna's body if I had replied, "she looks that way because she's undergoing chemotherapy and wanted to do one final photo-shoot before she dies!"  After my gaffe with Rich I'm a lot more careful and tend to stick to "what's up with you?"
  • Mood: Joy
  • Listening to: LAX airport loudspeaker
  • Watching: my laptop
  • Playing: at being human
  • Eating: as little as possible
  • Drinking: tea
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:iconturbosuo:
turbosuo Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014
I know what you are talking about.  Its the internet tough guy.  I think of it of more to do with a "mask effect" (no pun was intended there) where people's courage and self righteousness is increased proportional to how much of them you can see.  If they are wearing a mask over their face they can be pretty bold, and judgmental.  Put them on the internet, where everything about them, even the inflection they use in their words are completely obscured and it seems to strip away all sense of inhibition, decency and tact.  Its more than just having their "humanity" stipped, they would be cold, brutally honest and such.  No, they go out of their way to pass judgement, to hurt sometimes.  That's ego, which also seems to be inflated by the lack of identity.  Which is ultimately lack responsibility and accountability.  When you verbally pimp slap them, they go whining because you called them out, which you arent supposed to be able to do.  Truth hurts, and it hurts more the bigger the ego you have.  I applaud you and the brave models that are so strong in character that they are willing to take the pictures that they do.  Don't stop being bold dude, not enough people like you out there.
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:iconechoedlight:
EchoedLight Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
I'm not sure it is rude to notice when someone you know casually or better has a drastic change in appearance. I think it would be awkward not to comment on someone you know who weighed 350lbs last time you saw them and now weighs 125lbs. The crazy part of that is it would also be awkward to see someone you know who went from 125lbs to 350lbs since you saw them last but would be considered rude to comment on it. Of course if it's someone I know and love then I would probably ask what the hell is up in the case of putting on serious pounds. I guess the lesson here is don't expect me to just sit and talk about the newest zombie ammo if you suddenly gain 150lbs. First thing I'ld ask is if it's health related since my mom gained 50lbs with Graves Disease so I would be concerned about your health. Then if it wasn't health related I would tell you to knock it off, get on a diet and exercise. Having wasted all that space - I am a really poor example on how people should, or do, act and relate.
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:iconseductivebyatch:
SeductiveByatch Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012
I have had many positive comments on my body size and shape and i have also received many that really hurt me, the worst i ever got was someone who said "you should be dead in a ditch with your children for posting nudes of yourself online" that was the worst thing not because they thought i should be dead for posting.. but because they brought my CHILDREN into it.. where they never should have been included.
One time i did ask a commenter how he would feel if someone had made the rude and disrespectful comment to his mother, sister, aunt, or other female family member that he had said to me on one of my images(fully clothed) or how he would have felt if he found out that his comment had caused the model to harm herself? So many women have such low self esteem that it is hard to hear those harsh words and they will decide to hurt themselves or never be seen nude by another person again. He said he never thought of that and then decided to think a bit more before he made any comments on a persons weight. people really need to stop and think how they words they use whether online or in person can hurt as well as help.
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:iconchef-chuck:
Chef-Chuck Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012   Traditional Artist
As always, your conduct is that of a gentleman and scholar, and I wish you the respect you are due.
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:iconwobelong:
wobelong Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012
and this is why I love reading your stuff :P haha! The no builshit, no skirting the way it is! <3
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:iconavacery:
Avacery Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012
There is a German politician, who left her party (and politic life even), because of comments on the internet like "If you get your nose corrected, I might vote you." and so on.
In an interview later she stated the internet is behaving like a toddler who just learned to speak. It can talk, scream even, but now it needs time to learn when to shut the f* up. (freely citated)

In her estimation that might take about another 30 years.
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:iconmjranum:
mjranum Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012
I theorize it will never happen because there is no social control on the downside.

In fact there is an upside to being crazy and shocking (hence the current US Republican candidates) and, in some cases, a downside for telling the truth. How's that going to work out?
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:iconavacery:
Avacery Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012
It wasn't really my theory, but the direction European politics are heading about internet rights, there might be some kind of forced on social control.
Forced use of real names everywhere and for everything on the net, IP-records and so forth, might help in a way to suppress stupid behaviour, when it actually is possible to face repercussions for your online actions.

And although usually I'm more of a human-rights guy on topics about free speech and anonymity, the sheer mass of what would be considered real crimes outside the internet (mobbing, insulting, harassment) makes me think about whether or not some restrictions might be right.
Even the fact that I am starting to think about it this way already makes me sad.
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:iconjambe:
jambe Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2012
Simple ignorance of the guy's terrible cancer wasn't rude, nor was your complimenting his physical form (knowledge of the cancer shouldn't be expected if you weren't close and the compliment was just a coincidental faux pas). It just seems there was just some sensitivity involved from both sides. Mind you, I'm not judging; he'd understandably be stressed and you were taken off-guard and embarrassed, and these both lead to heightened sensitivity. It was just one of countless possible weird circumstances that well-adjusted adults take in their strides.

There are some reasonable, broad rules of thumb in there: that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover and that one probably shouldn't strike up conversation from a health angle unless one knows the other party fairly well or they offer up the topic. *shrug*
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:iconhoviemon:
hoviemon Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
so to reference a terrible movie, (kind of on a side note to the point of your post) Jay and Silent Bob strike back. in the end when they get their money and seek out all of their internet haters, and visit them at their homes.
I remember when i was introduced to email in 1992 and thought at the time how odd it was that people would write the things they did. things that were far more inflammatory than they would ever in person, likely because of the lack of immediate consequence. the kinds of statements that people would rarely write down on paper, not because of the lack of immediate consequence but the perception of posterity in printed words. the digital medium provided distance and perceived impermanence that allowed a lot of people to pop off with flippant vitriolic words that they would likely never have used before.
that was what i was thinking at the time, and the current culture of the internet on social networks has just brought that kind of behavior to maturity.
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