Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shame shame

How do you shame a bully?

Last week I came across a new Portland blog, and I've been trying to figure out how to address it ever since.  Monument Square Has Eyes the new-ish (since February of this year) blog of a person whose office overlooks Monument Square.  "Brusox" snaps photos of people and happenings in the square and, for the most part, snarks about them.

The thing that bothers me isn't that s/he posts pictures of unsuspecting people online: they're in a public place, and it's therefore legal to take photos of them.  Unethical maybe, but legal.  Although I suppose if you see a photo of yourself and/or libelous remarks on the blog and want Brusox to remove it, you would be within your rights to ask.

Now y'all know I'm not opposed to a little snark.  I appreciate clever, cynical commentary, especially when it's directed at people who have social power and have chosen to live their lives in the public eye.  Ahem.

1. Brusox's commentary isn't especially clever, so it comes off as mean rather than funny.
2. The focus of the blog tends to be mocking the severely mentally ill people in and around the Square.  They clearly can't help themselves, which makes the commentary about them not humor, but just bullying.

I suspect there isn't any good way to address this.  The writer of the blog is totally within his/her rights to post on whatever they see fit, and if they think this stuff is funny I'm sure there isn't anything I can say that will change their mind. In fact, the bullying behavior demonstrated on the blog makes me a little afraid to post my thoughts, because I don't especially want that focus on me.

But more importantly, I know that there are folks being targeted on that site who can't defend themselves, and that really pisses me off.  What do you think?  What's the best way to address this behavior?


Kate. said...

While I just browsed through the first 10 entries- I didn't see anything particularly snarky (maybe they're just bad at snark). Definitely an air of pretension and condescension, but the best way to respond to hateful internet stuff is to ignore it. And certainly don't change what you write on your blog in fear of it!

j said...

I wonder what this person does for work. They seem to take a lot of energy and effort into documenting the (mostly mundane) goings-on of the square.

Zack said...

Given that it looks like they probably work in the Time and Temp building and have an office that is in the front right half of the building, if you are looking at it from the Square, and given that you can probably guess they work less than halfway up the building, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out the employer. Just saying.

Jen said...

Thanks, all, for your feedback. Kate: you're right, I think it's bad snark. It's just not funny.

J and Zack: I'm probably not going to interfere with this person's job or work, because I think anyone should be able to write what they want, even if it's mean and I don't like it.

I just really, genuinely, don't understand this kind of general hostility to the world. It makes me sad for the blogger, too.

My ideal outcome would be a change of heart--a change of worldview? a cynicism-ectomy?-- for the writer, and I just know that's not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think their intent is to hurt anyone... it is supposed to celebrate the uniqueness of Portland residents. None of you have ever people-watched before? Now the blog has been privatized and no posts are visible. Now who's the bully?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first Anonymous poster - I happen to know that the blog that you claim is "bullying" the mentally ill has helped promote locally run small businesses through food reviews, they have brought deserved attention to the second floor of the Public Market House, and they are equal-opportunity humorists - finding humor in the very mundane world of Monument Square, regardless of the subject. I also happen to know that it was Jen's "blog" post about the other blog that was mean enough and had comments that were threatening enough that the blog was privatized. YOU folks destroyed it. If you didn't like it, you didn't have to read it - but now, none of us will be able to read it again because of your out-of-control political correctness. Lighten up and go get a cupcake at the Public Market House like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

sorry - meant to say that the blog post was self-riteous and mean - NOW I've got it right.

Jen said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments... I didn't actually expect anything to happen as a result of this post, although I should remember, as someone who writes for the general public on the internet that people might have opinions and reactions about what I say.

As far as I'm concerned, making the blog private is a satisfactory resolution. There is a difference between sharing observations between a chosen group of friends/followers and sharing them with the general public. I still think it's meanhearted, but it doesn't bother me the same way because it's private.

So, Brusox, if you read this: I didn't mean to cause you distress, but I'm glad that I've caused some awareness of audience.

Anonymous said...


"Why I Blog: Because I must be ZERO fun in real life"

Go listen to NPR and leave us alone.

Anonymous said...

As a fan of the blog, I have to comment here. Of all of the hateful, disgusting, horrible things on the internet to bitch about, Monument Square Has Eyes was what you picked? Not a website or blog that promotes hatred towards gays, or people of different races, or contains child pornography, or shows cruelty to animals, or anything that is truly offensive? If you had really looked at the blog, if you had read every post and watched every video, then maybe you would have seen that this was a funny blog, and that it had 105 fans on Facebook. Who are you to define what is funny? Just because it isn't your cup of tea doesn't make it wrong. And like I said, to find THIS blog offensive in the face of all of the vile content on the internet IS hilarious to me. So thanks for making me laugh.