Archive for the ‘Social Sciences’ Category
Almost two hours ago, I deleted my LiveJournal. User rfmcdpei is no longer active on this site.
I do allow for the possibility that I might change my mind. Maybe I will bring it back temporarily, so as to convert it to some kind of personal docment via BlogBooker, or perhaps I will restore it in the name of minimizing link rot on the Internet and to continue to be able to read what few (ever fewer) people still write only on LiveJournal. This post, however, is the first post that I will not be crossposting from Dreamwidth over to LiveJournal, and no other post shall follow.
I did join the rush on account of the new user agreement unleashed earlier this week, of course.
Any number of news sources, like the Daily Dot and Boing Boing and Gizmodo and Charlie Stross at Autopope, have written at great length about the new terms of service agreement. That this agreement is not available, not in a legally binding form and not in a well-translated form, in the English language made the exodus inevitable.
Russia, as a classical dictatorship, wants to be able to restrict what people write about within its sphere, to do away with anonymity and to limit the range of permissible subject matter. LiveJournal, which happens to be based in Russia as a consequence of a long series of business decisions (bad decisions, I would argue, ones which kept LiveJournal from emerging as a lasting social network of worldwide scope), is subject. Therefore, anyone who is not dependent on LiveJournal is leaving a social network that appears to be fatally compromised.
(What is the opposite of soft power?)
I have long had alternatives ready. Back in October 2012, I blogged about how I had moved away from LiveJournal as a primary blog, towards Dreamwidth for LiveJournal-like social networking and to WordPress for the more blog-like functions. I am losing nothing as a consequence of this. My regrets about this are not especially profound ones, characterized much more by wistfulness and nostalgia than by serious regret.
rfmcdpei has been around for a month short of fifteen years. It’s amazing.
LiveJournal was always been there for me. I remember reading Tom’s LiveJournal, and the LiveJournals of others, back in early 2002 when I was so desperate to connect with anyone. I remember how excited I was when I got an invite code from Darren back in June of 2002. I remember writing an online diary of my life there, and then, first slowly then with speed, transforming this diary into a blog. I know that I met all sorts of people who I know nd like even know there, came to learn all kinds of things there, helped other people learn through LiveJournal. In my life, LiveJournal was a huge net positive.
And now it’s over. It’s an era that was bound to end, I know, and what an era it was. Thank you, LiveJournalers and LiveJournal founders, too, for making this so good and fun.
This weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about Michael Hobbes‘ very recent Huffington Post article “Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness”. I know I’m not alone in this, having seen this article shared by several other friends and in at least one other discussion group.
Hobbes’ question is simple: Why, despite significant legal progress in the past decades, are the lives of young gay men (probably generalizable to young queer men) still marked by so many signs of trauma?
[T]he rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades. Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our “chosen families,” gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told researchers: “It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving.”
I’m not going to pretend to be objective about any of this. I’m a perpetually single gay guy who was raised in a bright blue city by PFLAG parents. I’ve never known anyone who died of AIDS, I’ve never experienced direct discrimination and I came out of the closet into a world where marriage, a picket fence and a golden retriever were not just feasible, but expected. I’ve also been in and out of therapy more times than I’ve downloaded and deleted Grindr.
“Marriage equality and the changes in legal status were an improvement for some gay men,” says Christopher Stults, a researcher at New York University who studies the differences in mental health between gay and straight men. “But for a lot of other people, it was a letdown. Like, we have this legal status, and yet there’s still something unfulfilled.”
This feeling of emptiness, it turns out, is not just an American phenomenon. In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.
All of these unbearable statistics lead to the same conclusion: It is still dangerously alienating to go through life as a man attracted to other men. The good news, though, is that epidemiologists and social scientists are closer than ever to understanding all the reasons why.
Hobbes’ answer, that young people are traumatized firstly by the stresses of growing up in the closet in often very difficult circumstances then by entering a gay community that insensitively allows the imposition of new restrictions and rules, all without much recognition of these psychological shocks never mind treatment of said, is one that convinces me. I have say that I think I recognize some of the symptoms in my own life, certainly in the sort of cultivation of emotional distance from any potential stressors Hobbes describes towards the end.
What do you think? Have you read this article? What are your opinions on the issues it describes?
The Toronto Star‘s Jesse Winter reports on how linguist Ryan DeCaire, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, is taking part in an ambitious revival of the Mohawk language.
When Ryan DeCaire was a kid, he couldn’t speak his own language.
Growing up in the Wahta Mohawk Territory near Bala, Ont., he’d often hear his elders speaking the mysterious tongue, but he never knew what they were saying.
“You’d hear it spoken sometimes, and you always wonder ‘oh, that’s my language but I can’t speak it,’ ” he says.
Now 29, DeCaire has not only learned to speak Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — but he’s leading a revival of it in the heart of downtown Toronto.
In July, DeCaire joined the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and the linguistics department as an assistant professor. He’s teaching the first-ever Mohawk language classes at the university, and helping to revive a language that eight years ago he feared might die out forever.