The Complete “WindKiller and the Drunken Pirate” Arc

Note: this post is from Jun ’07. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation.

WindKiller and the Drunken Pirate

WindKiller, one of my regular correspondents and readers, sent me a response to Drunken Pirates, Anyone? or "Interlife Realities 101". I called him up and talked with him about it, asking if I could use his response as a blog post. He agreed, so here we go…

As I did with my Conversations with the Past arc, WindKiller's comments will be in regular type, my responses will be in italics.

Howdy,
Read the posting of the drunken pirate teacher and I wholly disagree with you (and I know you were aching to learn my position on the matter).

I am, truth be told. I'm always fascinated by my readers' responses to my writings.

And I think you have more to say on the matter. You had 15 posts that dealt with what a person is saying about themselves when they sign their name and address, based on font size and shape. What does a person say about themselves when they post their own picture to the world with the appropriate caption "Drunken Pirate"?

Yes, and I used my own signature as the example there. The question "What does a person say about themselves when they post their own picture to the world with the appropriate caption 'Drunken Pirate'?" is too large a question to answer in this format, I think (unless people want to read a what might become a very long arc). Answering that question with any measure of validity requires sociology, social psychology, cultural anthropology, … It's an answerable question that could easily turn into a thesis or term-long class if it is to be answered with any hope of accuracy.

It at least suggests that this is how the person wants to be viewed (her interpretation of the picture may be someone who is fun and sociable and others may be someone who is of low moral character).

You touch on a core element in this discussion; how Ms. Snyder wants to be viewed versus how she and others are interpreting what they're viewing. My Drunken Pirates, Anyone? or "Interlife Realities 101" posting dealt more with how people are interpreting what they're viewing and how that interpretation will (probably) change over time.

Further, I believe myspace allows you to make your photos viewable by 'friends' only or by the public, and she chose the latter.

I don't know if MySpace allows this type of separation. If it does and if Ms. Snyder knew this and if she chose the latter, my question becomes "What did she hope to gain?"

(more to follow…)

WindKiller and the Drunken Pirate, Part 2

WindKiller, one of my regular correspondents and readers, sent me a response to Drunken Pirates, Anyone? or “Interlife Realities 101”. He’s agreed to let me respond in my blog, and this is part 2 of that resposne.

WindKiller called me to task for not responding to Ms. Snyder’s act in part 1, I think.

As I did with my Conversations with the Past arc, WindKiller’s comments will be in regular type, my responses will be in italics. Here we continue with WindKiller’s thoughts:

If I stood up in a restaurant tomorrow and proclaimed to those present that I contracted herpes from a 17-year old prostitute I hired last week, you better believe I’d be judged by everyone in earshot (despite the lack of veracity to the statement). There would be angrily looks, hostile comments, and I suspect most would make every effort to avoid me in the future when the opportunity presented itself. If I don’t want to face that judgment, all I have to do is not publish to that audience a statement that could result in harsh judgment.

My previous statement holds, “What do you hope to gain?” Peoples motivations are usually complex, rarely simple even when subtle. The response you’d get depends heavily on the restaurant you’re in, the patrons of that restaurant, how you made your proclimation. I don’t necessarily agree that the response you state is necessarily the response you’d get.

One of my teachers use to tell his class, “The meaning of the message is the response it elicits” and I was never comfortable with that because communication is almost never pure. Much later I studied deeper and learned “The meaning of the message is” because there are six degrees of separation (I know that seems like a pun or joke and it isn’t) between what someone conceptualizes as what they’re communicating and what another person conceptualizes as what was communicated.

I also admit a prejudice that shows up in NextStage’s Principles. People will form opinions regardless of information presented which supports or negates that opinion. It’s uncontrollable, so don’t concern yourself with other people’s opinions. Certain people, yes, of course. But all people? Those who don’t know you and form an opinion about you based on one item reported to them (hence a bias is added) and not directly observed by them?

It’s not worth your time.

That offered, I also should point out that one of NextStage’s principles, #6, is Take responsibility for your actions.. Of course, it’s closely followed by #7, Mistakes are just that; You can reach again.

(more to follow…)

WindKiller and the Drunken Pirate, Part 3

This is part 3 in a conversation arc. I’m responding to WindKiller, one of my regular correspondents and readers, who wrote me about my Drunken Pirates, Anyone? or “Interlife Realities 101” post. He’s agreed to let me respond in my blog, hence this arc.

WindKiller called me to task for not responding to the Ms. Snyder’s act in part 1, I think. Part 2 dealt with concern over people’s impressions of what you do, think or say.

As I did with my Conversations with the Past arc, WindKiller’s comments will be in regular type, my responses will be in italics. Here we continue with WindKiller’s thoughts:

And I love the freedom of speech angle. No one is restricting her right to publish her pictures, captions, statements, etc. But they will judge her based on her comments and that ability to judge has never been in conflict with the freedom of speech.

Two points:

  1. I disagree with "No one is restricting her right…" Someone has decided to punish her for her actions, therefore they are restricting her rights. The authority figure is saying "I won't tell you not to do some thing and if you do that thing I will penalize you." This is similar to the parent telling the child "It's your decision" then punishing the child for making a decision the parent doesn't like. This is called "crazy-making behavior" among therapists.
    Along these lines, I did read the school district's statement (thanks for the link). The word "advised" is used as in "…after being repeatedly advised…", "expressed" as in "…expressed to Ms. Snyder…" and things like that concern me. What I'd like to see is something like "We told her not to …" or "Ms. Snyder was told not to…". The bullet points in the statement indicate that Ms. Snyder wasn't as responsible a person as the environment she found herself in would dictate, so something stronger than advising and expressing would seem necessary.
    And yes, that was a careful choice of words, "…the environment she found herself in…". It's right up there with another one of NextStage's Principles: If you can't clearly say "No" then nobody will know when you're saying "Yes". Ms. Snyder (this is how I'm reading the material presented) wasn't capable of understanding the more sophisticated communicatives "advised" and "expressed" so make it real simple and plain old "tell" her.
  2. "…they will judge her…" I guess I spent too many years studying the Old Testament not to get concerned when someone "judges" someone else. I know it happens and wish it would happen less and less. "Judging" (in the sense that I think you write it) comes down to a question or "rightness" and "wrongness", which are questions of morality. I'm not qualified to determine someone else's morality, only whether or not I wish to be around their morality. I've often stated "Morals are how you want me to behave, ethics are how I want me to behave."

That offered, I don't think my original post defended or exonerated Ms. Snyder. My goal was to recognize that what happened makes news now and won't later. She'll go down in the history book as an internet pilgrim more than anything else, I think, and one of the requirements of being a pilgrim is ignoring if not violating accepted norms and rules. In the parlance of business, this is known as redefining best practices.

(more to follow…)

WindKiller and the Drunken Pirate, Finale

This post ends a conversation with WindKiller, one of my regular correspondents and readers, who wrote me about my Drunken Pirates, Anyone? or “Interlife Realities 101” post. He’s agreed to let me respond in my blog, hence this arc.

WindKiller called me to task for not responding to the Ms. Snyder’s act in part 1, I think. Part 2 dealt with concern over people’s impressions of what you do, think or say, and Part 3 concerned itself with some issues about communicating with people who aren’t capable of understanding the communication.

As I did with my Conversations with the Past arc, WindKiller’s comments will be in regular type, my responses will be in italics.

WindKiller continues:
I support the Ms. Snyder’s right to publish her photo and caption on myspace and I support her school’s right to judge her moral/ethical/professional aptitude for teacher certification based on her admissions/publications.

“Professional” I might go along with. “Moral/ethical”, as noted in yesterday’s post.

In particular, considering Ms. Snyder was teaching at a local high school as part of her degree requirement and encouraged her students to go to her myspace site. School authorities became aware of this, investigated the myspace site, and asked Ms. Snyder to stop advertising her myspace site or, in the alternative, to remove material they considered unprofessional for a teacher (particularly considering the problem many high schools have with underage drinking).

Again, “asked”. Part of the school’s obligation to Ms. Snyder was to train her in being professional, me thinks. I would have “told” her that what she was doing was going to work against her. I would have “told” her along the lines of “You won’t get a degree and you will have no future in education unless you …”. Also there’s the confused “level of intimacy” thing that is pervading the internet these days, as mentioned in More Thoughts on Blogging. Did Ms. Snyder act inappropriately? As stated previously, “…as the environment she found herself in would dictate…”. It’s for that environment to judge. Do I think Ms. Snyder is a heretic? In that environment, so it seems. I also believe in the adage “Crucify the heretic then accept the heresies.”

She refused on all accounts. Here is a statement from the school district where she taught: http://www.cvsd.k12.pa.us/DS/tempNews/snyderLawsuit05_07.pdf. If the student teaching is part of her degree, and she acted this unprofessionally, then she did not satisfy her degree requirements.

To me (emphasize, “to me”) she did not satisfy her degree requirements is a) she was capable of satisfying them in the first pace and b) assuming “a” that warnings were communicated to her in a way she was capable of internalizing and acting upon.

To me (again, “to me”) “a” and “b” are in question.

As a parent, I know I cannot keep these influences away from my kids, but I’d like to think the schools will keep these influences out of positions of authority.

Good thought. What tests do you suggest schools apply to those they’d place in authority?

The problem here is that the masses have been handed the keys to the fourth estate without so much as enrolling in a driver’s ed class and so accidents are to be expected. In this case, the lesson to be learned is to be aware of your whole audience. Or, if you don’t want to be treated like a drunken pirate, don’t tell people you are a drunken pirate.

LOL. Agreed and nicely put regarding your last statement. What I especially like, though, is embodied in your second statement; once again it comes down to understanding the target and intended audience.
Windkiller

Take note, I am developing a signature based on information I found on the Internet (although Outlook is giving me trouble hyperlinking cleanly to my name or the firm name).

as a further note, when WindKiller and I talked on the phone I made some suggestions for his signature.


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