Well, yesterday was a fun one for me on WordPress. Innocently enough, I’d posted the pattern for my Fireside Wrap on Ravelry (the popular fiber arts community website), thinking someone else might like to make one. I thought no more about it, and spent most of the day watching clouds.
Then, I started getting notices that my stats were booming. Hmm, I didn’t think the post about the chicken palace was THAT interesting. So, I checked out what was happening. Oh, of course. The pattern.
I’d forgotten that new patterns go into a little featured area, where people can look through them. People were obviously looking (drawn by the photo of Penney, no doubt). I monitored the posts all day long, figuring I’d have more hits than usual, but not all that many more. I underestimated how many people look at the Ravelry site on any given day. Lots.
I never had more than 200 views per day, as far as I can remember. This is not a hugely popular blog (and that’s fine with me; I write it for me, my friends, and nice other people who happen to find it). Thus, 558 blew me away. It certainly makes the rest of the week look sad, right? I’ve already got 78 this morning (written around 10:15 am), which is more usual for a normal day or a medium-popular post or posts.
As expected, the two posts about the wrap/blanket accounted for most of the hits. Still, even without the surge, there were 146 views, more than usual. I think what’s happened is that I hit the magic number of followers that gets the blog picked up by WordPress to display under certain keywords, so my tagging has done its job.
Actually, I noticed that since I hit 400 WordPress followers, I’ve gotten new follows at a much higher rate. I’ve gotten 50 followers since December 4. Also, more and more people are “liking” past posts, which means they got displayed somewhere, because certainly no one is searching for them! Algorithms are pretty interesting, even for people who don’t blog JUST to attract hits and followers.
I’m glad I’m doing something right, and I’m glad that a few people might make a simple, yet pretty wrap like I made. It’s good to give back to the community in a small way. I’ll never be the fancy pattern designer I’d hoped to be, back when I was trying to be a part of the cool kids in the knitting community, but I’m there, and that’s what counts.
I’ve written before about how human cultures cannot resist creating in-groups and out-groups, us vs. them, and all that. The Behave book I read recently had a whole chapter about it. It talked about how half the humans are “wired” to react to life in one way and the other half in another, roughly corresponding to conservative and liberal points of view (called different things in different circumstances). In this, we ARE literally born that way, though our life experiences can certainly have an effect.
In my naively over-educated way, I keep hoping that there are at least some parts of life where we can come together and enjoy each other’s company or deal with important issues while leaving our artificial differences aside. But no.
I’m truly disappointed that we’ve now degenerated into partisan camps about whether to take precautions against spreading the COVID19 virus. For goodness sake, it’s not stay at home and quake versus run around in big groups hug constantly. People need to take the precautions they find prudent, which may differ depending on their underlying health or risk aversion trait. And some people need to work to survive, so why can’t they do so and take precautions reasonable for them? None of this has anything to do with what color your state is or who you voted for in the last election. Sigh.
What actually got me going on how ridiculous our drive to make ourselves partisan and despise the other side is something I knew about, but didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Even our beloved fiber arts have become divided. When the Ravelry fiber arts community site enforced their long-standing rule about not having hate speech in its groups (which applies to all members and topics), a sizable group of people left in a huff, so that they could go express their partisan hatred elsewhere. And as they did, they compiled a list of vendors and stores where they would not shop and teachers from whom they would not take classes.
This all made for fodder for analysis and raised interesting questions, for which I don’t have all the answers. Were their knitting patterns hate speech? Were the patterns produced in response hate speech? Hmm.
But the infighting in one of the internet’s most niche communities is about more than just politics and knitting. It’s a glimpse of how otherwise ignored populations—here, predominantly older women—are using online platforms to organize and make their voices heard. And the Ravelry falling-out highlights questions other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have tiptoed around: What constitutes hate speech, and how should censorship work online?
Technology Review, March 2020
Okay, they had a right to leave and to be pissed off, just as others had a right to be pissed off at them. However, it was over a year ago. Some of these folks are still trying to bully teachers and others with whom they disagree, and in a turn that seems eerily familiar, they started denying they ever had a list and accusing people of making it up. What? Aren’t they aware of the concept of “screenshots?” Honestly, if I felt censored, I could see why I’d still be upset, but I’d figure going after people who disagree would not be a great way to further my cause.
Why can’t we knit and crochet (and needlepoint, cross stitch and weave, etc.) and share our love of those things with others without dividing ourselves up into warring factions? If someone makes a nice sweater, it’s a nice sweater. If someone’s cross stitch with the F-word on it offends you, don’t make one for yourself. And if you want to make tributes to your favorite president, feel free to do so without engaging in hate speech as well.
I have a relative whose politics aren’t the same as mine. So what. I still think she is an amazingly talented needlepointer. I still like her. If we get together in the future, we’ll probably talk about family matters and crafts, not politics. That’s not so hard.
Honestly, I don’t want to hate or fear others, and it really looks to me like we are being encouraged to do so, so that we don’t focus on actual issues we all have in common, like the need for adequate health care, enough money to feed out families, and a wide variety of educational opportunities for all.
When I find myself feeling a little afraid to go shopping wearing a mask, I need to tell myself that no, most of the people not wearing masks are NOT going to yell at me. I’d also like to be able to go into a craft store and not feel judged for buying rainbow yarn, a Franklin Habit book, or something ridiculous like that.
I’m gonna stubbornly care about everybody, even if I get puzzled by choices some people make or beliefs they hold. Even, gasp, if they hold logically inconsistent beliefs. I want to live in peace with my neighbors and enjoy what we have in common, not get all worked up about differences.
So there. It’s sad, not funny that we can’t cut each other some slack and not call each other horrible names.
I can see why so many people I know are staying away from online communities, even though they provide such great ways to stay in touch, make new friends, and feel less isolated. It just seems IMPOSSIBLE to create a community where people treat each other with respect and dignity. Name calling and blaming seem to be the rule rather than the exception in today’s society in this country.
Case in point
I’m a member of a fiber arts community called Ravelry, which was founded in 2007. Back when I spent much of my time knitting, teaching knitting, and designing patterns, this was like a second home to me. I’m sure many of you readers feel the same, since I have so many knitting friends (before Ravelry we had some wonderful email lists, and some grumpy ones).
I’ve been very proud of the founders and their team, who have truly created a wonderful resource for fiber artists, and have continued to add features and branch out. It’s like Facebook, but with a focus…and generally with more kindness.