27th November 2020
I’ve decided to give up on the architecture forums I have spent literally 20 years lurking on. A couple of weeks ago someone posted on there about how giving up on Facebook was one of the best things he’d ever done for peace of mind and getting on with life. This coincided with an article, perhaps algorithmically sent my way, about how a new study revealed the same predication among Facebook users having a negative mood for their day after using it. I barely use social media anymore, but on dallying back again on FB have realised how much of a political debate everything is these days, beneath the blizzards of likes and pictures of babies and kittens, and glasses of wine by the sea. Statement after statement.
I realise this is the same addiction I get on the forums. That although the intent is well, architecture, one gets waylaid by what everyone else fucking thinks all the time and chirps to all and sundry to what they think everyone should think all the time. Everything is Twitter these days.
I first got onto the ‘architecture’ forums after being entranced about skyscrapers and buildings at a young age. Here finally I could get updates on the latest going up, big sidelines in all other types of new building, threads on classic styles and increasingly urban planning, cities, history, and humanity at large, from photos of people’s trips around the world to -of course -current events and political discourse. By 2008 one of these forums -back when strangers chatting was a big thing -became the largest in the world. All this also coincided with the rise of China, aka The Great Motherfuckerland, which sent me into frissons of delight at everything being built, but also apoplectic with the usual trolls, racism, underlying bias -a neverending battle in which I’ve spent a good chunk of my life working for free as a teacher/ journo/ hack writing online posts that are very much like articles. Such a fucking waste.
One such thread came up yesterday that’s sealed the deal. A retrospective look on if having been on the site has changed our outlook on any countries. Many mentioned their experiences on cutting fresh eyes through the usual BS media tropes, but others on how their experiences actually marred their outlook on certain countries, after running into obnoxious forumers.
There are the good and bad. I think we all know in our heart of hearts that you get nice people and nasty people in every culture, not to mention all the usual gamut of personality types. We only need to remember any of our school days, and the personalities, tribes, cliques and loners that inhabited them, then transpose that state to any schoolyard anywhere, everywhere. It’s just quite astounding that so many people don’t admit it to themselves, that the media keeps categorising and portraying peoples as one and the same while we lap it up -and with some still striving to reinforce the status quo. It’s weird we trust media interpretations more than our real life experiences.
Let me titillate you on the exotic, rare flowers I have encountered over the years. In Attenborough’s dulcit tones, just imagine these as the be all and end all of your classroom:
A: A self-confessed Brazilian sociopath living in the Netherlands, who is a university lecturer (pity those students), turning up at every disaster story to blame the country it befell. His pathological urge in life being to rid the world of all dangerous animals, of anything that can conceivably harm humans, with the rest living in zoos and farms. The Amazon needs to go too, for better land usage.
B: A lovely, sweet gentle Spanish guy who loves SE Asia. He also loves SE Asian girls -as in children. He includes shots of charming holidays in his hotel room with an assembled collection of local Cambodian 12 year olds, and comments in how he’s helping out the Khmer ‘dark one’ as they’re not considered pretty. Yes, he’s paying them for sex, and showing off he can.
C: A White supremacist from Finland, very nerdy, things changed after he went to SE Asia, picked up a girlfriend willing to see through his bullshit/ stupid enough to take him on, and left the forums with lingering shots of him with a whole woman on jungle piers in Thailand. Likely murdered her, or her him.
D: A breath of fresh air, an Australian ecologist defending everyone from the usual trolls with calm, empirical evidence and high EQ. Much of her days are spent out in the Australian bush, rescuing cute things and plants and doing a lot of science. Very anti-China, but canyer blame her?
E: Brazilian gay Stormfront member, very likely on the spectrum and undiagnosed. Wanted to travel but refused to set foot in a list of northern states in his own country due to a certain ratio of the Black population. Spent years dodging bans by politely arguing for endless pages in an underhand manner, changing the goalposts whenever anyone called him out on his racism. Final straw came after the Airmax crashes (where Boeing’s typos would send the aircraft into a nosedive whenever anyone tried to correct it). He spent weeks trying to convince everyone the planes had obviously gone down due to pilot error, the irrefutable logic being the pilots were dark skinned, the airlines were run by uncivilised darkies (just look at their history) and Boeing was from a White American, First World country with flushing toilets and everything. Admitted to doing a hit and run in his Mercedes -running because the woman on her bike he hit was Black and he would have been in danger.
F: Swedish scientist with a contrary view on everything ever, piping up with scientific data to obfuscate his every claim and sweeping statement. Will heckle from the sides constantly anything beautiful or proud, will plant his views in the middle of anything that is slightly weak. Now recently married to a Chinese woman that gives him carte blanche -excuse the pun -to be racist to Chinese, and criticise how backwards we all are. Runs Youtube channels on his travels, and judges cultures on how much litter he can spot, however tiny. Admits people don’t much like him in real life; likely spent school getting punched in the face.
G: Another breath of fresh air, Brit who takes everything with a sensible outlook, high EQ, and lots of humour, including on how fat and nerdy he looks, and how twee his hometown of Fungus-on-Neath is. How bo-ring! But my hero on certain dark nights.
H: Ugandan American, Muslim SJW constantly making enemies by having the gall to defend the Third World, and every stereotype thrown their way. Never backs down, fiercely intelligent and wise despite his youth, all with a certain calm. Yet works in finance with fast cars and faster women, before he remembers to be all inclusive.
I: Dubayan dude, stupidly rich, well travelled and sweet (lots of pics of his new family) and the most polite, big-hearted forumer going, despite enduring years of abuse for being Muslim and living in the UAE, thus with a shariah knife over his head, hating women, tacky tastes and a terrorist. He is an annoying vision to the hecklers of everything the opposite.
J: Pakistani forumer moved to Canada who insults everyone all the time, in every post. Toxic. Literally cannot help it. High powered business job.
K: Pakistani forumer who is his nemesis, good natured, funny, intelligent, high EQ. They spend days arguing. He also does time, like any Third Worlder with the gall to hang out in the West, arguing against the hate and assumptions, though liable to suddenly get sentimental and send likes to everyone’s replies.
L: Indian forumer who bickers with both of them over India-Pakistan. Every chance he gets.
N: British forumer who believes all things modern is good, hates how everyone hates brutalism. Also believes how all things old is bad, wants all old buildings destroyed in London, celebrates when one does get bulldozed and argues to the teeth why. Very, very likely on a spectrum.
O: Turkish gay moderator, who spends each post insulting people on a personal level, and laughing at their cultures in a knee-jerk reaction. Hates Muslims, despite living in an Islamic society, thus a poster boy for Islamophobes. Became a mod due to his love of cats, which he thinks is endearing enough to get away with his crazed power plays, or that sociopathy itself must be loveable quip of character.
P: Odious far righter, despite being a decidedly non-White, ‘browntown’ ethnic minority. Makes one think either he’s completely in denial, or that far right is a pathology. Or perhaps his riches has made him buy into the mindset in order to keep it, and those are who he hangs around with all day.
Q: French guy who only talks in riddles, including odes to how shit Islam is. Weird, annoying, thinks himself enigmatic when all he does is troll and everyone ignores him anyway.
R: American old guy, Trumpist, banned under several guises for his constant racism against Black people and Chinese. Lives in San Francisco, where he constantly has to warn his visitors about ‘The Blacks’. Spends every other post on the coming economic downfall of China. Completely backs Xi Jinping’s mistreatment of Muslims though as, well, he hates them more.
S: New Zealander who spends every other post hating on women. Tries to portray everything as a gender war, and how men are being attacked, and that women are base creatures. A one-issue poster driven by a pathological hatred. Likely an Incel (Involuntarily Celebate) activist.
T: American consultant in a hospital -Trumpist, supremacist, racist with rambling, drug-addled (or just plain weird) diatribes on his support of the local strip joints and prostitutes. Oh and how Mila Kunis is White enough to be hawt (no, her East European ancestry has no thread of Judaism no, he’d made sure of it on Stormfront). And wants to find where she lives and how he’d be able to show her a good time as an older man wining and dining her, and she’d be afrenzy at his compliments and displays of wealth (because she can’t have that right?) and we’d all be jealous ha! Took a week off work during the election to ‘drink our tears’ over the coming Trump win.
U: Loveliest, inclusive, accepting Brazilian woman, of Filipino heritage. Very kind to all, and the ambassador’s wife at the ball, pretty much everyone loves her to bits. Don’t think she actually contributes anything on urban discussions come to think of it, she just floats around being gentle and supportive.
V: Filipino guy who posts endless articles on the Philippines at every drop of a panama hat, as we are of course all dying to know the detailed history of the last Royal Family of Luzon when talking about mass transit sytems. Is obsessed by how much Spanish lineage, history and culture there is in every aspect of the country, and trying very, very hard to convince everyone it is a White country of mestizos, and thus highly cultured, respectable and relevant. Is under the impression we walk around all day thinking about the Philippines.
W: Hong Kong supernerd who has written over 240,000 posts on every wheedling aspect of Chinese urban projects -and made any development in the region disappear under an avalanche of smalltown newstories. On councils appointing a new secretary, the wonders of legislature by-law changes in Fuzhou, new rubbish collection routines, tax bracket amendments, that someone planted a tree, a sewage pipe got a new turn and that big vote on whether a stretch of highway to Shitzou village should be expanded. Single-handedly vanquished all forum visitors to the region with adversely the most development. Very much on the spectrum.
X: American old guy, became a mod. Very wise and fair as a moderator, but when he writes his own posts the stylus scratch. ‘Applauds’ whenever a Black person is unlawfully killed (even over a photo of the grieving mother at a funeral), defends every cop or perpetrator no matter what, constantly posting crime figures and correlations to the ethnic minorities. Went doolally during BLM.
Y: Romanian American leftie campaigner, pretty aggressive but never gets banned, will argue endlessly over any little thing and peppers it all with insults, sweeping accusations or dismissals, and sudden turns to the Right. Is on about the 300th page of coronavirus and why it is a scam. I suspect someone who’s only there to argue, regardless of the subject.
Z: Literally a Russian bot, who will send blizzards of likes to literally hundreds of posts from a decade ago, to people asking a question about signs in Moldavian, or personal messages in an inbox. Then will snap out of it and be real again. We reckon a mix of the two -quite a nice person when the human takes over.
OK, I’ll stop there. I could go on for days, literally. But you get the gist -this is just a damn architecture forum. And you can imagine the comments that are hard to ignore day in day out. Your fingers itching for the keyboard as someone celebrates the Amazon burning, or how it’s Haiti’s fault 300,000 just died in an earthquake (due to them being the first country created when slaves fought off their masters).
But overall, I think in any tranche of people you have to look out for elements that mar the rest, and that a huge amount of society has been set up to handle just this toxic minority, sometimes negatively:
1. sociopaths/ psychopaths -the toxic avengers, manipulative, enjoying the ‘power’ over insulting others, cannot help but prey on the weak or signs of weakness -say, put up a story on Africa and wait for them to arrive. Also why people from Developing countries will hesitate to portray their countries negatively in the world forums, as it attracts these usual commentators like flies to shit. The ones who can’t help but insult on literally every post, anywhere, even if you are talking about the weather.
2. small cock syndrome -people with low worth/ unheard who want to take down others, to make themselves feel better. Bullies. Or just plain, everyday jealousy.
3. pathologically on a spectrum (find it hard to understand others viewpoints or feelings unless heavily pointed out). This isn’t their fault, it’s not out of animosity and it’s part of our social contract to accommodate and educate them.
4. Personal prejudice -mostly talking about racists on here, many of whom can be tied to all of the above. Or normal people but buying into media tropes/ a bad personal experience, due to a lack of critical thinking.
In short these kinds of people or comments aren’t a norm among societies. Yet they are so vocal they start to dominate despite being the minority. Classic Dunning-Kruger effect, in which those with low EQ shout about their ignorance and are proud of it, while those with high EQ politely listen and give them their batshit crazy platform.
I think at the end of the day, just get the fuck away from it all, regardless. Hell is other people. We feed them by listening, and as a great woman said, when one argues with an idiot, no one can tell you apart. Society has always been an exercise in granting trolls the attention they crave, thus giving them the power. Tell a lie often enough and it becomes a truth.
Have I just lost? Am I not the great idiot alongside?
Who cares. Fuckem.