Is there symmetry?

There’s always been conflict in the email space between those that manage filters and those that send mail. The folks who manage filters are aggressively courted and friended by those that send mail. I described it this morning as creepy and dehumanizing, which made me start thinking that the reactions of the filter managers is like the reaction of the token X in discussions about sensitive areas be it sexism, racism, ableism or any of the other areas where there’s a dominant culture and a minority one.

I realized it’s a very similar dynamic. People who run filters are significantly outnumbered by the people who send mail. The people who send mail feel entitled to the thoughts, opinions and attention of the people who run filters. And they act like it.

The mail senders then get all annoyed and unhappy because they’re only trying to HELP! They’re only trying to be NICE! Why can’t the filter runners see that? Why do the filterers get all upset when the only thing the mail senders want to talk about is how those filters are affecting them? Don’t they know that they owe the mail senders information? And how dare they get tired of being treated like mechanical information dispensers?

Steve labeled the senders most like this “frat boys.” It always seemed an apt label, but it was only recently I started figuring out how effectively the label captured the entitlement complex.

Oddly enough, I got caught by someone recently who called me up and believed he was totally entitled to demand an explanation of my business. He also felt entitled to lecture me about how HE didn’t think our software was needed. I’ve never met this person before, and he’s making judgements and pronouncements about what I do and how I do it. Yes, actually, it did make me feel very defensive. And then aggressive because I just wanted to get off the freaking phone and escape this incredibly judgmental conversation. The person on the other end of the phone stated his approach to abuse is superior and implied mine is meaningless.

Totally similar dynamic. And, yeah, makes me want to avoid him in the future. Just like most of the filter runners want to avoid senders that demand answers, justifications and information.

Funny story about that call. I was over on IRC talking about it, and Al says “hey, sounds just like X.” I laughed and said it was X. He had to confirm I wasn’t just messing with him. Yeah, so I don’t think I was actually exaggerating the attitude and statements.


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