I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I’ve seen recently that when people make mistakes on the internet, and especially on tumblr, people tend to jump on them without much civility. I’ve seen this ESPECIALLY in LGBTQIA+ spaces here. These are sensitive topics which are prone to angering people, but we want to encourage activism and speaking out, and when people are brutally shut down here, it just makes them want to stay silent forever.
I know what this feels like, I’ve made a few mistakes here, and when people responded to me civilly, I realized my mistakes and did my best to correct them. However, when people jumped on me, I wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there forever. I have good intentions but sometimes I phrase things wrong, and sometimes I am just plain wrong.
When we are civil to each other we learn from our mistakes. When we are not, we come across as vicious and unforgiving. We want people to speak out, and that includes messing up from time to time. It’s not perfect, but nothing really is. We’re all just trying our best here, and when dealing with the internet, I think that it’s a good idea (within reason) to assume good intent.
The thing about the internet is that there’s no context- you don’t really know what that person thinks or who they are, all you have of them is their bio and what they just posted. They could be literally anyone. Ad hominem attacks that insult someone’s character really don’t make sense, so why do it?
Vehemently bigoted behavior with obvious bad intention should absolutely be shut down. But slip ups that aren’t in that category shouldn’t be treated as such, if we want that person to learn from their mistakes.