Results tagged “Don't read the comments”
Last week, my social media feed was buzzing over The Guardian's "Study restores link between tattoos and anger." And you can bet it made a lot of tattooed people angry.
The article looked at the brief research report "Are tattooed adults really more aggressive and rebellious than those without tattoos?" recently published in the journal Body Image. Here's how The Guardian wrote of the study: "[...] research has found that people with tattoos report higher levels of verbal aggression, anger and rebelliousness. And the more tattoos they have, it found, the more angry and rebellious they are." That's a cherry-picked tidbit and the article doesn't paint the full picture.
Here's what the abstract of the journal report said:
One stereotype of people with tattoos is that they are more aggressive and rebellious than people without tattoos. However, studies examining differences in these traits between tattooed and non-tattooed individuals are dated and have returned equivocal results. To re-examine this issue, we asked 378 adults from London, UK, to complete self-report measures of aggression and rebelliousness, and to report the number of tattoos they possessed. Of this sample, 25.7% possessed at least one tattoo, with no sex difference in the distribution of tattoo status. We found that tattooed adults had significantly higher reactive rebelliousness, anger, and verbal aggression than non-tattooed adults. However, effect sizes were small and there were also no significant between-group differences in terms of proactive rebelliousness, physical aggression, and hostility. These results suggest that, while stereotypes may contain a kernel of truth, they likely present an outmoded picture of tattooed adults.It's cute that The Guardian chose to spin the study in a stereotypical way. But that's what sells.
And articles that inflame the angry tattooed masses are what flood social media, get traction, and lead to more ad sales.
I'm to blame here too. There are probably tons of great press releases about art exhibits and tattoo events in my Inbox right now that I haven't checked, but this story keeps popping in front of my eyeballs, prompting me to address it, as everyone else has. This makes me angry at myself.
I agree that there's got to be a "kernel of truth" in the aggressive & hostile tattoo stereotypes, but it's probably not something we're born with.
Maybe it stems from the constant reading of babble of what tattooed people are like -- including bad mothers and anguished existentialists (or something like that).
Maybe it's because we're often forced to make up stories about what our tattoos mean to make those asking feel really uncomfortable ("I got this dandelion tattoo to mark the moment when I beat Irritable Bowel Syndrome").
Maybe it's because I'm a short Greek redheaded lawyer from Brooklyn who rides the subway during rush hour and would probably have the same hate in my heart if my skin were tattoo-free.
I say we stop fighting it, embrace the stereotype, and strike fear in the hearts of lazy journalists.
Image above from People against, "your tattoos make you a horrible mother" page.
There's been a great deal of outcry recently over a Facebook page called "Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother," with the description: "Have you ever seen a tattooed woman holding a baby and think, 'How in the heck is that child going to stay off drugs and out of jail?' So have we." It then goes on to say that a dude named Ron is researching "tattoo ink as a teratogen, which negatively affects child development both in and out of utero."
Sadly, this Facebook page (which I think is satire), has gotten people so riled up, it's even appeared in mainstream press.
As I've noted in prior posts, like "Never Read (or post) The Comments" and "Tattoo Like Farms," pages with inflammatory titles and statements, such as tattoos making bad moms, are designed to drag us in, make us angry with asinine writing, and provoke us to comment on the article, defending something that is personal and important to us -- all the while, collecting Likes, comments, hits, and even media attention that make the author and the site/page popular, and thereby, more marketable.
And so I just ignore them because, really, in the history of the Internet, not even the most thoughtful comment has changed the opinion of a dumbass, especially a troll.
So why post it on the blog today? Well, in just the past couple of weeks, many, many people have sent me the link to the Facebook page because of their concern over the "Fetal Ink Syndrome (FIS)" claim that tattoos can lead to autism, developmental abnormalities, etc. "Ron" claimed that "FIS" was written about in an October 2007 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article.
Thankfully, I didn't have to dig much further than Snopes.com to address those concerns, which notes: "No such article was posted in JAMA in 2007 (or at any other point), and the only mentions of "Fetal Ink Syndrome" that appear on the Internet originated primarily after the "Your Tattoos Make You a Horrible Mother" page gained attention. Snopes also thinks that the page is satirical, despite many taking it seriously.
The best way to deal with "Your Tattoos Make You A Horrible Mother" and other sites: pretend they don't exist and spend your time being being excellent rather than indignant. Don't feed the trolls.
The meteoric media attention to tattooing is making a lot of people, a lot of money. And many of those people don't have a single tattoo. When tattoo polls make claims like "one in five U.S. adults has at least one tattoo," that's a significant market to be tapped.
We are passionate about tattoos. We get excited to view beautiful work and pissed off when the art is denigrated. This passion = $$ in the eyes of those seeking "eyeballs" for their websites, TV shows, magazines, and sales outlets.
Back in October, we talked about tattoo "Like farms." Those are often the tattoo "fan" pages with the billion "Likes" on Facebook, where you'll find beautiful tattoos but without any information on the artist, photographer, or collector. The tattoos are used to draw us in and then throw ad links to merch, apps, and services.
The flip side to this is what I see as the "Dislike" hook: tricks like "click-baiting," with headlines such as "Tattoos are Corny and Degrading," designed to drag us in, make us angry with asinine writing, and provoke us to comment on the article, defending something that is personal and important to us. It brings more clicks, more time on the site, and more interactivity. Editors and advertisers just love how much we hate it.
Back in my early days of blogging (over 10 years ago), I used to call these articles out, and even comment on them in the hopes of trying to change someone's mind with, what I believed to be, rational thought. I no longer do that. Because, in the history of the Internet, no one has ever won in a comment war.
Which brings me to the old Internet adage: Never read the comments. We already know all the tattoo cliches that are out there, so we don't need to lose faith in humanity with a constant reminder. The Washington Post has a great article on getting rid of comments sections. Alexandra Petri writes:
"We have this mistaken idea that some things are up for debate that frankly are not actually up for debate. People may disagree on them, but the only reason that they disagree is that, well, some of these people are wrong. You do not have to give people who are objectively incorrect equal time."This is not only true for science articles, but for any article that entices small minded people and their prejudices to interrupt serious discourse within a community.
We got rid of the comments to this blog a while back and moved the discussion to our Facebook group and my Twitter feed, where there's less anonymity, and thus, greater civility. I love thoughtful debates and sharing of ideas, which is what makes social media so great. But let's keep it on our terms, and ignore the mass media comment forums and clickbait.
Screen cap above from the Don't Read the Comments Twitter feed.