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Thread: How did we do it before the internet...

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Well, that perception seems not to have reached the UK.
    Years ago, I saw a few surveys which found that Brits generally weren't incorporating the internet, or at least specific aspects of it like forums, into their lives as much as Americans. I never heard of the subject again after that, but, even if that holds in general, the bigger factor in this case might be that different policies make it seem more dangerous in one country than in another.

    For example, with most kinds of bad behavior an employee can engage in at work, most employers here have policies that give the employee a few warnings as chances to straighten out and avoid getting fired for doing it too many times. I've had bosses complain that the process for firing crappy employees is too long & difficult because it lets them get away with too much too many times. But if what you're accused of is called "sexual harassment" you're gone immediately; the mandated series of verbal warnings & written warnings after the first few occurrences for all other non-violent misbehaviors doesn't exist. And that label can be applied to practically anything that allows somebody else to even think you might have been expressing any sexual attraction, or were even aware of what genders your co-workers are. In the last few years, I've had one co-worker who'd previously been fired because he'd habitually called men "buddy" and women "sweetie", and another who suddenly vanished over a single bad joke on a sexually-related subject that his "victim" had brought up herself in the first place. Most people's reaction might be that they should have known better, but the fact that this can happen so easily is the reason why they should have known better... and knowing better consists of realizing that anything & everything that comes anywhere near the subject in any way can be misconstrued into "harassment" so the only way to be safe is to give nobody anything to even misconstrue.

    Also in the last several years, I've known of another case in which one of my co-workers made a false accusation against another, which was proven false by our video cameras. That might make some people say that means everything's fine, but video cameras wouldn't help with most cases, and the reason why she figured she lived & worked in an environment where she could get someone fired with an accusation was because the last guy she had made a sexual-harassment accusation about had been fired. And there were, of course, no consequences for her from the proven-false accusation, so no incentive not to try it again (at most, maybe an incentive to make the next round video-camera-proof). In an environment where that's how this works, the safety threshold is lowered from merely "give nobody anything to misconstrue even if they try" to "somehow prevent anybody from even thinking of the idea of making something up".

    Those were all at work, so they can't happen with somebody who isn't a co-worker or customer or contractor. And most colleges & universities here have similar policies, essentially "one accusation and you're expelled; guilty until prov... na just guilty that's all", so again, safety there requires not only not actually doing anything wrong but also not even doing/saying anything innocent that might result in a paranoid misconstrual or a false accusation. I saw an article a year or two ago that some colleges/universities were beginning to reconsider those policies because they sometimes destroy the lives of people who are later proven innocent, but heard no follow-up that anything has actually changed since then.

    Maybe in other cultures with other laws & rules about firings & expulsions, it isn't so easy to have your life ruined over the mistake of letting somebody find out that you're not a completely asexual robot or even somehow letting them think of the idea of making something up about you along those lines. But here, I've seen more examples of it every year or two lately, just within the limited sample consisting of people I've met, and that would be enough for me and most other men I've heard from about this. (Also, go to an article/blogpost/video about trying to date co-workers and check its responses; it'll mostly be full of people talking about what a mistake that would be, no matter how positive the original article/blogpost/video tried to be about it.)

    And "no co-workers, customers, or contractors" plus "nobody at college/university" eliminates how most adults meet other adults. You can't get fired or expelled for flirting with or asking out somebody you just met in line while getting lunch, but that person's even more of a stranger than one you met online, once you've taken more than a few minutes to get to know the online person. (And really, in the same culture that makes firings & expulsions so easy over this kind of thing, the random stranger you meet in person is also fairly likely to have a pretty hateful & hostile response, either to your face or later when she complains about you to her friends, so that's no fun... but hey, at least you don't get fired/expelled!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    I'll put one line here that explains why people resort to meeting a brand-new stranger for getting into a solid relationship. "I don't want to risk our friendship by turning it into a relationship".
    I've never met anyone who said that or had it said to him/her in real life that I know of; I've only heard of it as an abstraction. (Maybe it's used a lot in TV shows & movies that I haven't watched.) But, to whatever extent it ever does show up in the real world, I have no doubt that it's just an excuse, to use when the speaker is referring to friends (s)he just doesn't want to date, not something that would really get in the way if (s)he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Got my last three jobs dating back to 2005 through the internet. Got my last job before that by calling the company and asking if I could join. Got my last job before that by seeing an Army enlistment officer.

    RESULT: I'd better use the internet these days.
    There was an extremely irritating overlap of over a decade, right when I was doing lots of job-hunting, when most companies had started doing online applications but hadn't dropped the paper ones yet. So I'd apply online, get an interview, show up for the interview... and be given a paper application for the job I'd already applied for online and was there to interview for. This was so routine at so many places that the general practice among managers in all kinds of different businesses must have been to have two different times in mind for every interview they scheduled: one to tell the applicant to show up but not really be interviewed yet, and another later to actually do the interview once the applicant was done doing all that extra writing first.

    At first, I had no idea that was coming, so I didn't take all of the needed information with me, and each time that happened, they told me it didn't matter because they weren't going to use the paper form for anything anyway; they just needed to have it to stick it in a folder that would never be opened again. Well, I didn't want my "folder that will never be opened again" to look like I didn't know how to fill in a form, so I started taking all my job-application information with me to make sure I could do it "right". After enough years, they finally quit bothering to have applicants apply for the same job twice.

    That somehow just reminded me of a brief period in which some online job applications would let the applicant upload a résumé instead of filling in all of the fields of an online application form. But instead of just saving the uploaded file, the website would try to copy the information from it into the website's own internal database fields as if you'd typed it in their online form anyway, except that they always put most of it in the wrong places. For a while I tried changing my format so these things would put information in the right fields, but the websites soon gave up on that method anyway. Now employers that I'm aware of seem to have drifted away from the idea of résumés in general; the last couple of times I looked for jobs, the only way to apply was an online form, and there was no place to send/upload a résumé. I've even overheard my co-workers who do the hiring, telling people who'd sent résumés or asked where to send/upload a résumé that they just need to do the online application form because we don't take résumés.

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Pre-internet hospital patients' notes used to get bulky really quickly... a sort of Venetian blind that we could riffle through to track changes... I remember a woman who'd been in ICU for 99 days departing in two wheelchairs--one for her, and one for her seven bulging notes folders.
    Now that the information at medical facilities is mostly digital, it's funny what little bits of the Pre-Digital Age are still left over. Where I work now, any time there's an alarm on one of the plasmaphersis machines, it gets recorded digitally, except for certain kinds of alarms which produce a burst of obscure numerical codes about the machines' internal processes. The digital system isn't set up to receive those codes, so our phlebotomists are required to write them on paper forms. But nobody ever looks at those forms to assess anything about the machines or their alarms. They just get checked for mistakes in how they were filled in like forgetting to cross out an unused box or writing yesterday's date, then filed away never to be seen again. Also, I was trained in radiography entirely with digital equipment, but we were warned several times that it was still possible to get hired someplace that still used film. There were still a couple of film-developing machines left, one at each of two of the five facilities I did my clinicals at, and at least one of them had been preserved like a historical artifact for no other purpose but to show us students how things had once been. The other was still actually used, but only for teeth & jaws. Other than that one use, which lingered because film is flexible but was probably near its end too, I'm not sure any of us really believed there was any place out there still really using these things. But, seemingly ironically but I guess maybe not for an old-timer who's still using one of the hypothetical last few film systems still out there somewhere, the sources for required continuing education for radiographers always includes a few options on this mysterious newfangled "digital" stuff (as if it weren't significantly easier to work with than film).

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Storing electrons is certainly more convenient than paper. But pity the poor Sumerians and their clay slabs! Office workers had to also be weightlifters.
    The difference makes one of archeology's more chilling/haunting episodes equivalent to something we'd hardly even notice anymore. There was a city where we can read both sides of diplomatic conversations back & forth with its allies, because not only did they keep the tablets they received, but also, each time the king sent a letter out to an allied king, he had a copy made and kept one. The chain ends with an outbound letter asking for help against new enemies suddenly appearing & attacking from all sides. After that there's no response, only destruction.

    Today our email & chat systems are full of dropped response-chains that go nowhere, and nobody ever stares at the last one, gets lost in imagination of what it must have been like there at the end, and says "Wow, why was there no answer? What could have happened to these people to prevent it?".

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
    For example, with most kinds of bad behavior an employee can engage in at work, most employers here have policies that give the employee a few warnings as chances to straighten out and avoid getting fired for doing it too many times. I've had bosses complain that the process for firing crappy employees is too long & difficult because it lets them get away with too much too many times. But if what you're accused of is called "sexual harassment" you're gone immediately; the mandated series of verbal warnings & written warnings after the first few occurrences for all other non-violent misbehaviors doesn't exist. And that label can be applied to practically anything that allows somebody else to even think you might have been expressing any sexual attraction, or were even aware of what genders your co-workers are. In the last few years, I've had one co-worker who'd previously been fired because he'd habitually called men "buddy" and women "sweetie", and another who suddenly vanished over a single bad joke on a sexually-related subject that his "victim" had brought up herself in the first place. Most people's reaction might be that they should have known better, but the fact that this can happen so easily is the reason why they should have known better... and knowing better consists of realizing that anything & everything that comes anywhere near the subject in any way can be misconstrued into "harassment" so the only way to be safe is to give nobody anything to even misconstrue.

    Also in the last several years, I've known of another case in which one of my co-workers made a false accusation against another, which was proven false by our video cameras. That might make some people say that means everything's fine, but video cameras wouldn't help with most cases, and the reason why she figured she lived & worked in an environment where she could get someone fired with an accusation was because the last guy she had made a sexual-harassment accusation about had been fired. And there were, of course, no consequences for her from the proven-false accusation, so no incentive not to try it again (at most, maybe an incentive to make the next round video-camera-proof). In an environment where that's how this works, the safety threshold is lowered from merely "give nobody anything to misconstrue even if they try" to "somehow prevent anybody from even thinking of the idea of making something up".

    Those were all at work, so they can't happen with somebody who isn't a co-worker or customer or contractor. And most colleges & universities here have similar policies, essentially "one accusation and you're expelled; guilty until prov... na just guilty that's all", so again, safety there requires not only not actually doing anything wrong but also not even doing/saying anything innocent that might result in a paranoid misconstrual or a false accusation. I saw an article a year or two ago that some colleges/universities were beginning to reconsider those policies because they sometimes destroy the lives of people who are later proven innocent, but heard no follow-up that anything has actually changed since then.

    Maybe in other cultures with other laws & rules about firings & expulsions, it isn't so easy to have your life ruined over the mistake of letting somebody find out that you're not a completely asexual robot or even somehow letting them think of the idea of making something up about you along those lines. But here, I've seen more examples of it every year or two lately, just within the limited sample consisting of people I've met, and that would be enough for me and most other men I've heard from about this. (Also, go to an article/blogpost/video about trying to date co-workers and check its responses; it'll mostly be full of people talking about what a mistake that would be, no matter how positive the original article/blogpost/video tried to be about it.)

    And "no co-workers, customers, or contractors" plus "nobody at college/university" eliminates how most adults meet other adults. You can't get fired or expelled for flirting with or asking out somebody you just met in line while getting lunch, but that person's even more of a stranger than one you met online, once you've taken more than a few minutes to get to know the online person. (And really, in the same culture that makes firings & expulsions so easy over this kind of thing, the random stranger you meet in person is also fairly likely to have a pretty hateful & hostile response, either to your face or later when she complains about you to her friends, so that's no fun... but hey, at least you don't get fired/expelled!)
    Well, if a person fears being on the receiving end of a sexual harassment accusation every time they seek to enter into a relationship, I'd guess they need to address some complex personal issues relating to that. It's not a good starting point, for all sorts of reasons.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2021-Jan-24 at 02:11 AM.

  3. #63
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    You'd have a point if your behaviour was repeatedly interpreted as harrassment by honest people. But I don't think there is much to be addressed about yourself when you're in an environment where others are allowed to invent accusations out of thin air. Other than, maybe, change your environment.

    The internet might come in helpful here, as people who are dishonest enough to make false accusations often are stupid enough to spill the beans online too...Which brings me to a lighter subject: before the internet, we (well, some of us) didn't document our random actions so extensively. Sometimes that's a pity, sometimes that's a good thing. I'm not active on the traditional social media so nobody reminds me of that stupid thing I said or did 12 years ago, but others seem to like having that happen to them on a daily basis.
    With sufficient thrust, water towers fly just fine.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    You'd have a point if your behaviour was repeatedly interpreted as harrassment by honest people. But I don't think there is much to be addressed about yourself when you're in an environment where others are allowed to invent accusations out of thin air. Other than, maybe, change your environment.
    This assumption of people inventing accusations out of thin air is exactly what I was talking about, however.
    If you look at someone as a prospective romantic partner while simultaneously fearing that they'll accuse you of fictitious harassment if the relationship ever goes sour, then you have some personal issues to deal with, right there--this is not a good foundation for a long-term relationship. In any case, it's born of a misperception about the frequency of such fictitious complaints.
    More common is the person who won't accept "no thanks" or "it's over", and who then harasses the other party by continued inappropriate approaches. And again, if you're the sort of person who is likely to do that sort of thing, then you need to sort yourself out; if you're constantly afraid that the object of your affections will do such a thing, it's not a good starting point for a relationship.

    Grant Hutchison

  5. #65
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    The internet has certainly opened up new ways of harassing other people, should one be so inclined--doxing and revenge porn, for instance.

    And back in my school days, I could expect to be bullied for only about eight hours a day on weekdays. I sincerely believe that I would not have survived as a psychologically intact individual if I had been subjected to the constant 24/7 bullying now available through social media. And it's not just schoolkids, god help them--workplace bullying can also continue once you get home.

    Grant Hutchison

  6. #66
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    Yes, that's one of the reall ugly things. And you don't even have to be on social media yourself to be a victim of bullying on social media.
    With sufficient thrust, water towers fly just fine.

  7. #67
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    To be sure, people have to learn different strategies when using social media, and many just haven’t. I am constantly astonished at the number of people that say very risky things using their real name, or do even more, and then seem surprised when there are consequences. I wouldn’t do much more than post cat pictures under my real name on social media these days. It isn’t that I have anything to be particularly concerned about, but it doesn’t take much to set off one mob or another - which often have mutually exclusive beliefs, so trying to appease one will tick off another.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

    I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?

    The Leif Ericson Cruiser

  8. #68
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    I remember getting a call many years ago, when I first started working nights, from Robert Forward, who returned my call.
    I was half asleep, so don’t remember much...

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The internet has certainly opened up new ways of harassing other people, should one be so inclined--doxing and revenge porn, for instance.
    Yes. The anonymity of the Internet emboldens uninhibited and emotional behavior. Keyboard Commandoes think that because they can say anything, they should have no moral limits. And they can always filter out or attack any voice that does not enthusiastically support their actions. This attitude of rules-free conduct has bled out into real life, leading to plenty of nasty and dangerous fallout. So far away from the initial rosy visions of how an open, interactive communication medium would free our minds and unite people worldwide.

    And that's not mentioning deliberate mass manipulation campaigns, as foreseen by Orson Scott Card in Ender's Game; propaganda is as old as the hills, but with the selective reality and emotional impact of social media it can create the illusion of popularity for an idea, amplifying easily-debunked fringe ideas and woo into the mainstream. Anti-vaxxers are a case in point.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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