Look at how little the actual contents/merit of ideas matters to the Tumblr peanut gallery

Humor me for a few short minutes and let’s conduct an experiment. Have a look at these two posts. You don’t have to read them thoroughly if you don’t want to, just scroll through and skim them quickly. In fact, it’s better if you wait to read the two posts too closely until the end. Okay, ready?

  1. The first post is: A Sneak Peek at Better Angels’ Buoy: the private, enhanced 9-1-1 for your personal community
  2. The second post is: Buoy (the first?) anti-policing community-based crisis response system, now available in Spanish

Both were cross-posted to Tumblr. (Post 1, Post 2.) Both posts describe the same exact thing, a software tool (an “app”) for community-based crisis response. Both posts describe how it can be used instead of police intervention. Both posts even end with similar post scripts. The first post ends with this hidden message in the post’s tags:

Did you notice how incredibly toned-down this post was?

And the second post ends with this P.S.:

P.S. Did you notice how this post has a different tone than my original post announcing Buoy’s prototype release? Guess which one expresses how I really feel.

Now, have a look at some early Tumblr responses to each post.

Here are some representative responses that one of the posts got within 5 days of its publication:

  • From salchristina:

    This is great! Right now I’m working with some psychiatric survivors in Vermont to start an SMS crisis-support hotline so people can safely/easily contact a group of likeminded people, and hopefully have less interaction with crisis service / cops.

  • From limnrix:

    I kind of want to see if it’s possible to connect this to a volunteer medic system (and be one of those medics, although it doesn’t look like I’ll be renewing my certification)

Now, here’s a representative response that the other post got within 5 minutes of its publication:

  • From brazenautomaton:

    I don’t think someone whose views are this skewed can be trusted with… pretty much anything involving personal safety or protection from harm. […] American police, much like America as a whole, are terrible awful bad evil worst, until you compare them to any of the other things they can be compared to. The police are corrupt and need reform, don’t get me wrong. But saying that since they are corrupt, a better option is to cut them out altogether, is one of the worst ideas a person could ever have. […] And my personal heuristic is that any anarchists who are this smug about it cannot correctly assess anything and their perceptions cannot be trusted to any extent.

Quite a stark difference. Remember, these responses are both coming from relatively Left-leaning people who have never been exposed to Buoy before. The only difference is in which post about it they read first. And again, remember that the posts themselves contain relatively similar content relating to the software itself; both describe how the tool works, what its capabilities are, etc. Both posts explicitly discuss the potential for responding to crisis incidents without police getting involved. Both posts contain screenshots or videos showing the software in action.

Now go back and have another, more thorough read of the two posts themselves. Notice anything different about them? I’m sure you do. So, pop quiz: can you connect the dots and figure out which post the people having these reactions saw first?

Same ideas. Identical app. Different tone.

That is what tone policing looks like, people. The biggest strategic failure of so-called Left politics in this country is that so-called Leftists attack people who push politics to the Left literally within seconds of such speech being uttered. I mean, who needs to worry about the Religious Right when you have a political Left that does the Right’s job for them? And then these same leftists often wonder why politics is dominated by right-wing fanatics.


Maybe y’all should be asking yourselves questions like, “Why is it that all it takes to radically swing my position from supporting something to being against that same thing is the tone with which it was presented and not the merits or the contents of the thing itself?” And, if you do that, maybe you’ll find an answer that explains why other people, such as those who work for advertisers and PR agencies, are able to manipulate and control everything about you with such ease, from the way you vote to the way you think to what you are even capable of imagining is possible.

Just saying.

Or, y’know, you could just keep scrolling through your dash. That’s probably just as good. Probably.