#RichardArmitage’s lunchtime buzzkill

Here’s the interview. Wow, Richard Armitage, I’m glad you’re such a virtuous fellow. What a relief.

I’ve said before that I’m not willing to limit my social media speech to things I would have said to my mother (or your mum). That doesn’t make me, or anyone else who recognizes that there are different locations for different kinds of speech, unkind. I also said things in the classroom I wouldn’t have said to my mother.

Of this interview, I ask:

  • What is the difference between critical speech and cyberabuse? You don’t really say.
  • Is there no place for humor?
  • And ceterum censeo — WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?

None of my questions have been answered, but I did get yet another sermon on positivity.

~ by Servetus on June 4, 2015.

128 Responses to “#RichardArmitage’s lunchtime buzzkill”

  1. He’s not creating waves, but I’ve gleaned that’s part of Richard’s public persona. I did appreciate the ‘we can agree to disagree and still breathe the same air.’ which is something I’ve espoused for years.

    We can also put people on block and ignore and pretend they don’t exist. I’m rather fond of that option.

    Ah, now where is the cheesecake? I’ve shot my wad (blood sugar) already today, might as well go for stroke.

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    • Perhaps I’ve been around too long, but I doubt that is what fans will take away from this interview. I would be delighted to be wrong about that, however.

      The issue for me isn’t the matter of being bullied, or bullying, although fascinatingly he defined neither of those terms. Reading something about yourself online that makes you unhappy does not constitute being bullied, for instance, something i think a lot of his fans are confused about. The issue for me is, “what does he think his fans should be free to say?”

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      • See, I can’t answer that for anyone else. There are people who accept being blunt and honest for being what it is. blunt and honest. Some people can handle Constructive Criticism. Others can’t handle the fact that someone disagrees with them. Disagree with someone doesn’t make someone a bully. it simply means you disagree. (Or in my case it means I’m not going to blow sunshine up one’s bahootie to make that person feel good.) I think (and this is just me) that he’s saying in a Richardy sort of way, that we should be aware that people are different and we need to accept that and not make mountains out of mole hills.

        I would have liked to see a more definitive, clear-cut answer to that and perhaps we will from him. Maybe. Who knows. Again, this, to me, just seems to be part of Richard making a statement without making waves. Beating around the bush.

        Of course, I could be way off base and simply should just go eat lunch. The last time I was blunt and honest, I was accused of saying things I didn’t say and being something i’m not. Maybe I should have beat around the bush.

        Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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        • I think our own speech experiences shape our responses to things and obviously his (including bullying) shape his. But he’s not the only person on the planet who’s ever been bullied (although I will also predict — that statement will re-animate the whole “precious Armitage” trope again, uch) and the responses he proposes are not very helpful IMO.

          But yeah, he doesn’t want to offend. I can’t say I’m offended, since he didn’t say anything offensive, so much as frustrated. And aware that this means that the next time I say anything that anyone takes as not positive enough, the consequences will be escalated.

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          • You never know what’s going to offend someone. I offend people.

            Still trying to figure that out… I try to be careful. Obviously, there are those who don’t think I’m very good at it. obviously, it’s a very gray area. Like 50 shades of grey areas.

            Sorry. really bad pun. sorrysorrynotsorry.

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      • Les réponses qui transpirent seraient :
        – des louanges et des éloges ,
        – rien qui ne puisse écorner l’image idéale , qu’il veut donner au monde entier .

        C’est ce que nous tendons tous à obtenir dans la vie de tous les jours , sans jamais en être certain .

        Puisque la lecture des pensées d’autrui dans leurs écrits , ne peut – être que l’interprétation , à un moment donné , de ce qui a été transcrit sur papier ou internet par votre interlocuteur . Ceci se fait via le scrible de : leurs neurones , leur capacité à exprimer leur reflexion, leur humeur du moment et leur +/- honnêteté .

        Et je ne parle pas de la lecture directe dans le cerveau d’ autrui . Science fiction, qui apparemment deviendrait réalité, compte tenu des recherches actuelles en neurosciences .

        On peut toujours rechercher dans un regard, une moue , des tics, des mouvements inconscients , une signification , qui ne restera qu’ interprétation suggestive …

        Richard Armitage me fait penser à Gandhi , à un idéaliste ou un nouveau pélerin , qui prêche dans un monde impie .
        Fascinant ou terrifiant , je n’ose trancher . Mais par sa persévérance il ne peut qu’ interpeler notre conscience profondément .
        Good night or day

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        • “interpeller” sorry too late

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        • If he was Gandhi, perhaps I’d be more interested in his sermons (although even Gandhi did a few frighteningly horrid things in his life). This is the thing. I have a conscience. I don’t get why Richard Armitage should be a role model for me. But I am sure other people do.

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  2. I liked what he said. I agree with your criticisms of people who police others, but his message is to remind people to police themselves, which is different.

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    • Do you think that anyone who isn’t already policing themselves will start because of him? I’ve never seen any evidence that that is true.

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  3. I don’t know why but that interview made me cringe. It seems like he has a very personal reaction to the topic but… hasn’t really thought it through? The strategies he offers… “ask them to stop” and “don’t engage with them” – that seems a bit contradictory? And I don’t think he fully understands what role social media play in the life of young people nowadays (judging from his tweets he doesn’t fully understand the impact his twitter has on people either). I mean… of course he’s allowed an opinion on everything, but if he’s an AMBASSADOR I’d expect a bit more… research? Something more solid? It sounded like a gut reaction, nothing more.
    It also sounded very much like “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Hmmmmm. Is that really your rule to live by, Richard? No wonder then that everybody says he’s “such a nice guy”… I find that concept worrying. I get that he’s a people pleaser, but pleasing people is something I had to unlearn (and am still unlearning) so I’m a bit allergic to that.
    As always, I guess he means well. pats RA on the back

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    • I had a similar reaction when reading the interview. I have never been bullied but I have tried to please people for a long time. It was difficult to learn to accept that it’s sometimes necessary to have arguments (in a civilized way) and that there are people who think I am a bad person because I don’t agree with them and won’t I give in either. (Cyber)bullying is awful and dangerous. I appreciate any effort to help but I am not sure that the advice given is entirely helpful… Then again, he now has many very young fans too and if his encouragement only helps one or two to seek support it might be worth it? I don’t know…
      As I said, my reaction was similar to yours… :-/

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    • Allerwärmste Zustimmung!

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    • You’ve hit on a lot of what bothered me about the interview. I also think the victims are more apt to be reading his words than the people bullying. Who is he talking to exactly? I like some things he said and I strongly disagree with others. I agree with what you said “if he’s an AMBASSADOR I’d expect a bit more…” I am also a recovering people pleaser.

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    • Yeah — this is something i said a while back — it’s not a fruitful strategy IMO to always be focused on pleasing people. (I’m just going to state that here in agreement with everyone who said something similar so i can focus more on individual comments below. It’s in fact dangerous to people who are being abused, as several commentators say below.

      I don’t fault him for trying. I don’t fault him for trying to redress childhood trauma of some kind (aren’t we all?). I fault him for being so uninformed about what he is saying.

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  4. Clean Shaved or Bearded 😀 everything is valid . LOL! I really really really really really really like him!

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  5. The last paragraph: “Finally, know that the majority of people are kind and are brought up to take care of each others feelings. Be one of those people. Find and seek out the company of those people. Learn tolerance but most of all Forgiveness.”

    I sincerely doubt the validity of the first statement. I’m not sure how you would go about proving it. The last statement is IMO dangerous. I was tolerant and forgiving toward someone abusive IRL and I almost lost myself. Seven years later I am still recovering. Tree

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  6. I took from the interview that Cybersmile is where youth who are bullied turn to for support and advice, and that was the main target of his comments, for people like them (and himself when he was younger from what I gather and many many others). He seems to have strong empathy for others and I respect that with his celebrity he understands and embraces being held to a higher standard as a role model and I think a lot of were drawn to that in him after we googled ‘who was that hot guy in North and South (or The Hobbit)’. I think The Hobbit brought him a lot of children as fans and it may weigh on his conscience a bit regarding what kind of things they are exposed to when the google ‘Thorin’ or ‘Richard Armitage’. Lol. Lost innocence is lost forever…you can’t undo what little eyes see (or read). He believes in decency and nothing wrong with that. My site my rules…I have read this on many blogger sites — why should he not be afforded the same human rights. Sure, it may sound as if he is pontificating. Maybe so. I have no real problem with it. I try to be a good person as well but my true nature seems to get the better of me as I am sure it does for him. And if he still likes Martin Freeman after a year and a half of working with him, I don’t think Mr. A. is really that much of a fuddy duddy. Spread a little love.

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    • in regards to his role as Ambassador…”A representative or promoter of a specified activity”. I don’t think his role is to come up with solutions and policies and solve the problems of the world, but to represent and promote the ideal. Gotta walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk. It is something he supports, specifically online bullying, as he does a few other worthwhile charities. My view it is not about censorship, but targeted bullying.

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      • no, but if his core message is “don’t bully people” then I want to know what it is I am not supposed to do. You’d think he could get that message out. The problem is, of course, that the Foundation’s definition is also weak around the edges.

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    • If he wants to block people, he should. I have yet to see that he’s actually blocked anyone, though. It’s really not in his marketing interest to do that. But telling people to behave on the quintessential free speech forum in the entire world is …. well, we’ve been over this territory. If he had a website, he could absolutely control what people published on it.

      See this is the thing — “spread a little love.” I disagreed with him. Am I obligated to spread love wherever I go?

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  7. Hmm! First, I can only approve of what RA says. I’ve commented on this previously, i.e. walk away from controversy, do not engage, and prevent providing oxygen to the fire.

    However, as you write, there’s something missing. His answers just scratch the surface. How does he define bullying? Then, on the other hand, perhaps it’s too much to ask of him. We’ve got platforms of researchers at my university who continuously investigate into precisely this issue involving communication on social media. He’s an actor with a message.

    Second, there’s an air of naivety about this interview, and I wonder if this isn’t my attraction to him; that I’m equally naive. I determined as much in a comment some time ago. Is it a cultural thing? Do Danes and Brits really culturally resemble each other that much…

    What I do like, nevertheless, is what zeesmuse writes above: “We can agree to disagree and still breathe the same air.”

    In the end, the thing that got to me with this interview, however, was that he was the subject of bullying in his youth. He didn’t say childhood, but bullying can last for any number of years. I suspected this to be his fuel. I recognize it. Here, it was confirmed.

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    • I don’t read his words as “avoid humour”. People being funny on other’s behalf. That’s not humour.

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    • Really, walk away from controversy? I think there are times to walk away from it, and times to stick it out. For instance, once of my jobs at work is to advocate for students who feel victimized at my campus. If I told them to walk away, I would not be doing my job. Sometimes fires need oxygen, if they are to burn down dangerous buildings, for example.

      If I thought he meant we could agree to disagree that would be one thing, but the burden of the comments are, IMO, be silent if you don’t have something nice to say.

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  8. “Remain silent” – such dangerous advice to give anyone especially when talking about being abused, be it through cyberspace or otherwise. I appreciate that the probable meaning is to not react to the perpetrator but the words used are very unfortunate in my opinion and something I vehemently disagree with in principle. Yes, engaging with the perpetrator is generally unhelpful as this is what tends to fuel them but never remain silent. Tell someone, tell anyone. Never suffer in silence.

    I always try to be kind and try to treat others as I hope to be treated but I am a realist so therefore I know I, like everyone I’ve ever known, have limits. We are human after all. And … I swear, like a trooper, and on Twitter although I try not to do it directly to people I don’t know. One of life’s great pleasures is swearing. It helps to stop me punching things! 😉 I don’t swear in front of my parents or grandma because I know it offends them, but it’s not my responsibility to protect them from social media so if they happen to come across my Twitter account I will make no apologies and I don’t think they’d expect me to.

    Anyway, I love that Mr Armitage cares even if I don’t personally appreciate it. I am quite sure his intentions are nothing but good…I’m just not sure the message is quite right. It’s not a subject where I believe one size fits all. Everyone has different experiences and needs different solutions.

    Sorry about the essay! Essentially, I agree with you Serv!

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    • Not at all. I think the point about “different spaces for different speech” is essential — which is why I keep underlining it.

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  9. I think the big problem with quantifying what bullying is stems from what one person defines as bullying another may not and visa versa. I know this as the mother of a child who has been ridiculed and name called all her life both face to face on line. She is now 23 and it still goes on both on line and at college. It seems to me that all to often it is dismissed as name calling. I’m glad he wants to support a group that’s aim is to stop bullying and aims to empower the victim by giving them strategies on how to deal with it.

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    • OK — so then he can define what it is and we can agree with him.

      I have to stress, I have never met a person who is pro-bullying. NEVER. Even bullies are against bullying.

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      • We have had a number of high-profile incidents in North America where young people committed suicide due to online harassment. Were they abused according to some precise definition of bullying? No. It is what they perceived. So, where does a definition get us? Isn’t it what is in the mind of the individual that’s important? It is horrifying to me that youngsters feel so harassed that they take their own lives. So, I applaud Richard for the effort.

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        • Look, no one is in favor of teens killing themselves. My goodness. But “how the addressee perceives it” is an impossible standard. One basic step would be to say, for instance, that cyberbullying is repeated and persistent. You might want to go back to the discussion on the definition (one post down) where people have started to talk about this.

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  10. Wow. Weaksauce, Richie. I get the whole “be nice to people” vibe generally, but man oh man! The nanny finger-wagging makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. DL Hughley is one of my favourite comedians. He had a bit in his 2012 show ‘Reset’ where he talked about bullying & recited the line ‘Sticks & stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’ I agree with that. I also agree with his follow-up “He can say whatever he wants about you. But if he ever put his hands on you, you pick up a stick and beat the f*** out of him.” Lots of people talk (and write) shit. You pick where your line is & that’s where you say “That’s too far.” Then speak your piece.
    You can be a confident and assertive person and a nice, pleasant person — the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
    I guess I can appreciate what RA is trying to encourage here, but it’s a bit Pollyanna. And it doesn’t even touch the more serious stuff that comes out of cyberbullying. Take a stroll thru some of that Gamergate crap & tell me you don’t feel like showering in bleach afterwards.

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    • It’s precisely the power of certain kinds of humor and satire to challenge social boundaries that makes them precious, and this is why most nations in the West protect them as part of free speech.

      I’m glad you bring up Gamergate. Should those women have simply suffered in silence? Or should they have not raised the issues they raised, being able to suspect that they’d be bullied on line and in real life?

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      • Well, I’m sure they didn’t expect their reasonable requests for fairness & rational discourse to light-speed spiral into doxxing, harassment, and threats. And it’s still going on. In the deep dark of the webs there be monsters, Matey. But a lot of them don’t look, sound, or write like monsters, so they’re tough to spot. I’m kind of spinning off into a side-bar area, I think. I guess my general feeling on this whole thing is it’s kind of preachy & unrealistic. Most people aren’t pricks. Better to give some solid coping strategies to kids who need help dealing with a situation than throwing out a blanket generic Holly Hobby-ish ‘Start Each Day In A Happy Way!’ admonition.

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  11. I appreciate his good intentions and positivity, but I also am underwhelmed by the interview. It states the obvious, but maybe the obvious needs to be trotted out once in a while to remind people to be civil and respect others’ opinions. I don’t know, it’s the “preaching to the choir” thing again. Would a cyber bully be inspired to reform, not likely. Would it help victims of bullying? Hope so. It is a serious problem for vulnerable young people. Is abusive vulgar language rise to the level of bullying or only threatening words? A verbal assault is unpreventable. Once the words are out there, the only choices are how to react to them. It is regrettable that children are exposed to inappropriate language, but I think it is impossible to make social media g-rated, unfortunately. I agree with you Serv, that a definition for cyber bullying needs work. Is cyber abuse the same as cyber bullying, or is it a more severe form of bullying? And as far as humor goes, yikes! We do not all laugh at the same jokes. Therefore please refrain from being funny. If you are trying to be amusing, make sure you give notice to readers. Warning: the following is an attempt at humor. Do not take seriously.

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    • If you’re worried about the speech on Twitter (try to) keep your kids off of it. I also think alcohol is not good for small children and I don’t take my nieces to bars. This is a parental responsibility. I am not writing for children. I post things that I think I wouldn’t necessarily want kids reading in a way that keeps them from being searchable or googleable, but I also want adults to be able to read them.

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  12. aaaaaaaaaaand it already happened: one fan trying to shut up another fan by sending an anon message saying she should read Richard’s interview and learn from it. (she obviously chose the wrong fan though, this one won’t shut up 🙂

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  13. I don’t mind his sermon so much (I haven’t been to church in a while). His advice doesn’t have to impede free speech, including the use of curse words or trigger words that push people’s buttons. To me, the concept of cyberbullying has more to do with malice behind the words than it does with the words themselves. Character assassination can be concocted without using any foul language. In vulnerable individuals, this sometimes produces tragic consequences, as I’m sure we all know by now. I suspect this is the impetus behind Cybersmiles.
    There’s no downside to trying to stem the tide of careless commentary. On the other hand, most of us probably don’t see the need for having everything we write reviewed for young-age appropriateness (including me—expecting Twitter comments to be G-rated at all times is not realistic…). Hardcore trolls/bullies won’t care what he says and will continue to write online what they would be too cowardly to say in person.
    So let Richard be an ambassador for diverse opinions expressed respectfully, if not agreeably. Some people might be encouraged to change a little bit. Meanwhile, the trolls/bullies will carry on, and we will do what we can to make them insignificant.

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    • I’m also for diverse opinions expressed respectfully, and maybe I read the interview differently, but that was not what I took away as the main point from the interview.

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  14. Ich habe leider nicht alles wirklich verstanden, aber die Welt und das Internet sind nicht schwarz-weiß. Wie Du schon sagtest,wo bleibt der Humor? Wo die (konstruktive) Kritik? Was ist noch erlaubt was nicht? Ist es schon bullying die Farbe der Socken oder ein selfie zu beurteilen?

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    • That’s the thing. I was told I was bullying because I said I didn’t like Marlise Boland’s interviews. Fans were accused of bullying yesterday who didn’t like his selfie. I want a definition.

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  15. No wonder he enjoys exploring the dark side in so many roles; it must be a relief from the pressure he puts on himself everyday to be virtuous.

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  16. I’m of about six minds about both interviews. Still thinking.

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  17. Does digital abuse equal cyberbullying? No one asked him to define cyberbullying here, or digital abuse for that matter. The target audience for his responses seems to me to be youth. And I see nothing in the interview that could be seen generally as bad advice for anybody. Am I missing something? Most of the responses to this post seem angry. Or am I misreading them, too? Help!

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    • I think it’s summed up pretty well by the commentators above, in absolutely clear language, so I’m not going to restate what others have said very well.

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  18. I’m guessing this is what Richard Armitage wanted his fans to do: https://twitter.com/armitagetrash/status/606518168765526016?s=07

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  19. I think he’s showing his age! He’s the same age as me but clearly doesn’t have a real understanding of how younger people use the Internet and specifically social media. He said he thinks it will end. Yeah right, I can see that happening. Social media, as people engaging on here will understand, is not some odd little recent experiment that sits outside of real life. It is how many younger people live their lives, and connect with their friends and the broader community, and do engage in political debate, and blog about their feelings, and access information, not to mention shop, bank, study, read, work (!) And it’s not recent either. I’ve been on chat forums since the 1990s. I have many ‘real’ friends I met online and know people who met their husband or wife online. I think he’s living in a bubble if he thinks the internet is some nasty little place he can police. It’s actually just real life in all its complexity.

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    • Someone said to me yesterday that it’s weird that they’d pick as their Ambassador someone who’s been tweeting for nine months. (or at least, tweeting in the open.)

      You know, with his own Twitter — I was never in the camp of people who cared if he tweeted or not, and If he left Twitter, that would be his decision. I might miss the selfies but not much else since all he does lately is advertise himself. The thing is that there are people who absolutely hang on his average word, so it’s more or less predictable what will happen if he does quit Twitter — “oh it was fans who behaved badly to him.” Unless he’s getting bullied by a fan — but then I’d like to know exactly what bullying is so I could judge.

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      • I also thought it was odd that he was chosen to be the “ambassador” fpr a cause that focuses on young people in cyberspace. I know he supports Young Minds and he is being consistent by supporting this cause, but wouldn’t a younger, hipper guy have been a better choice? Someone like Justin B or one of One Direction guys that kids relate to? With all due respect to him, is this a legit topic or am I just being negative? He did a really nice thing by involving himself in a worthy cause and he should get props for that. I hope he gets lots of them. As for twitter, I thought it was a marketing tool to get him “out there” in a win/win way. He could raise his “star power” and please his fans at the same time. I hope it’s working out the way he wanted. I don’t go there, so I have no idea.

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        • That was my read — if he had really wanted to be Tweeting he’d have done it earlier; he didn’t want to be, he said all along he was worried he’d give away something he wasn’t supposed to share and as recently as just over a year ago he said he didn’t see why he needed to do it. So my read was that it was solely and totally a marketing move but that if he was going to do it he needed to build up some superstructure around the decision, i.e., he couldn’t say, I’m being told to market myself and I am complying, because that would contradict his “I don’t talk myself up” rule.

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    • Thank you for bringing up one of the things that really hit me between the eyes …. I’m having trouble wrapping my head around what he could possibly mean. I’m (ahem) a little older than he is & was shocked by the apparent casual dismissal of the online world…. it’s just not going away. This genie’s out of the bottle. I applaud his reminder of the need for balance, online addiction is a real thing. But how can he be a cyber ambassador if he doesn’t stay online??

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      • I think he doesn’t realize just how “online” the world is getting. We are in a place already educationally where students in the same class would never ever have to be in the same place physically and it’s just escalating.

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        • Absolutely. It’s changing everything. I’m sure I’ll be able to take well over half my graduate courses online, possibly more, never needing to set foot on campus. Whether I will or not is another question, but having options and flexibility is a godsend when a person works fulltime. There are a lot of positive things about the digital world, which is not to dismiss that lousy things happen there too.

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  20. Good read: https://buajai.wordpress.com/2015/06/04/really-mr-armitage/

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  21. Sorry, a bunch of stuff went to spam for reasons not clear to me.

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  22. So yeaaahhh . . .

    I managed to avoid rolling my eyes out of my sockets by repeating “this interview is not for you, it’s not for adults, it’s for kids.” But even with that, there are 2 things he says that I think could be really damaging:

    forgiveness: I realize he’s been raised in a faith that prioritizes forgiveness (or at least giving it lip-service), but far, far too often bullied and abused kids are told they have to forgive their abuser and let it go. That’s not healthy; it’s used as a cudgel to beat the victims with if they don’t put their heads down and shut up. Way too many folks would prefer that victims keep quiet and let everyone pretend that everything’s fine than actually take steps to stop abuse.
    “regulations aren’t really going to work:” certainly it’s important to teach empathy and be mindful, but this is some bullshit. It’s part of my #1 problem, too. There need to be consequences to bullying and abuse (properly defined; not “someone disagreed with me on the internet!”). Good people can be as empathetic as they like; they can gather ’round the flagpole and sing the damn Barney song every morning – but it’s not going to stop bullying. Some motherfuckers need punishment.

    Sorry; on this issue I start channeling Argus Filch.

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    • Filch: I sympathize.

      This is the thing — people who embrace the “forgiveness” position toward their bullies and people who embrace the “speak up, speak out, don’t tread on me position” (or every point on the spectrum in between) do so as a consequence of what has worked for them and their life experiences. I find it problematic, if not arrogant, to tell people to forgive others if you haven’t been in their exact position and felt what they have felt. I spend a lot of time with Jews and twenty years ago there were a lot of Holocaust survivors still alive. It would have been ridiculous for me to tell those people who they should forgive (or not forgive). I simply don’t have the capacity to walk in their shoes. I think most people who live long enough work out best on their own how to deal with abuse and its aftermath.

      re: regulations — I agree with you at least in part. As zero tolerance happy as US high schools are, they are very lenient on social media (perhaps they acknowledge that some things are beyond their control). And these things absolutely go on side by side — empathy training and bullying. When I was a sophomore in high school, there was a peer counselor in my school who commonly acknowledged by other students to be one of the worst bullies in school.

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  23. As someone who smilingly refers to herself as “closer to the end of her life than she is to the beginning of it”, I must confess that I do not understand the fuss. His displaying virtuous behavior or ideas is something to scoff at? If he has chosen to help others (especially youth, who often do not have the emotional tools and/or resources to deal with bullying) by offering his own insights (based on experience) on the subject, why is that something to criticize? Do you think it is some veiled message to the fans? (If so, it is not so veiled, I think.). I am definitely on the outside looking in as I am new to all this, and I have a lot of respect for those who frequent this site (and much for Servetus, with whom I feel a bit of a spirit kindred-ness). But I think Richard’s perspective is wider than he is being given credit for. As one who has tread a difficult path myself, I have made a point to mark the way and build the necessary bridges for those coming behind me, expressly so that they will learn from my mistakes as well as my successes, and go farther than I am able to go in my life. This effort of his may hit closer to him personally than any of us will ever know. It is a kindness he does, and he is remarkably consistent in his stance. I have seen much strength displayed in the individuals who post here, as well as much warmth, humor, and support for each other. And kindness. This man brings out much good in those around him. Perhaps he was born for such a time (and audience) as this?

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    • I don’t think anyone is scoffing. I was sarcastic at the top of the post, but in order to get the joke you’d probably have to have been a fan, or reading this blog, for quite a while. I also don’t think there’s a fuss. The opinions that are being expressed in this comment strand are probably more or less in the minority in the fandom. I wouldn’t say it’s a tiny minority, but I wouldn’t call it significant, either.

      I reiterate, no one opposes him helping youth. I want to know, however, what behavior it is, exactly, that he finds unacceptable.

      I guess — yeah, there are two or three things in there that are probably directed at fans. Which points out that he’s probably not exactly telling the truth if he says he doesn’t read about himself online. “Dog vs cat” was the big fan drama of the middle of November 2013. “Bearded vs Clean Shaven” is something that fans fight about constantly, some of them tooth and nail. Those are the obvious things that struck me but others may find other references.

      I guess I don’t really get where he’s telling people how to deal with this based on his own experiences. He’s saying, I was bullied and it sucks to be bullied. In the other interview I seem to remember him saying that he avoided it by reading and listening to music. So he tells us his own experiences, but he actually doesn’t tell people how to deal with it, except, as someone noted above, to give contradictory advice. No one’s not giving him credit for his own experience. We’re just saying that there are plenty of situations in our experience where his insights are problematic. Including in this fandom, and including on this blog. That is another obvious background text to this for a lot of us — the many bullying incidents that the fandom has witnessed in the last five years and his comments in December about joining twitter because of the “vicious competition” between fans.

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  24. Thank you, Servetus. 😊 💛

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  25. I just realized what bothers me most about the Cybersmile Website: their choice of colors 😦
    I don’t favorite the increasing amounts of gender specific toys in these colors in shops and their (not-so-)subtle social/political statement either.
    In my world (anybody else is free to disagree) they reflect just the cliché world of good girls & boys behind white picket fences. Imho they leave no room for people who don’t follow this particular path … I highly doubt that any bullied e.g. LGTB kids or teens would feel attracted to or understood by this place.
    Pink & Blue – for me – is just Black & White’s early stage. I don’t ship 50 shades of grey (lol) but a world full of very different colors.
    Seriously – if he would get an advisor on social media activities that might pay off better than the one for shopping his clothes in the long run.
    If he and militant positive fans like armitagetrash (seriously?) continues like that, he will be considering “pulling the plug” very soon.
    But I hope he does realize, when he really quits twitter, this would lead to Arm(it)ageddon 😉

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    • Yeah — if he quits no one will understand it as his decision. it will be put on the backs of people who didn’t agree with every single word he said.

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  26. Like with anything, I found I took away both positive vibes and troubling vibes from this interview. On the negative end of the spectrum, it troubled me that he said he had a feeling it [social media] would end, likened it to sugar which we all know is “bad for us” at least in the absence of moderation, and that it could be “toxic, trippy”. It wasn’t that I completely disagreed with that analogy, or that I immediately feared we’d no longer have our imaginary “access” to him, but what troubled me was that it felt a bit like something he was holding over the fandom’s collective heads… like if we don’t clean up our act, he’s going to take down his account. This obviously gives powerful ammunition, which has already been used speculatively on numerous occasions by fandom policing individuals, and he’s just basically confirmed it for everyone. It felt like an ominous cloud on the fandom horizon… the day his Twitter account disappears. What a dark day that will be, and not just because we won’t hear from Richard (I admit, not all his tweets are interesting/entertaining, but some of them really are, or they once were.) No, that will be a dark day of infighting and browbeating between members of the fandom, and it fills me with dread.

    On the positive side, I liked some of the insights he gave when he spoke about what happens when someone approaches him with gossip. Also when he shared that he was exposed to hurtful words in his youth and shared how he was able to grow from it by vowing to himself that in his own interactions with others, this is NOT the way to make them feel, and how he incorporates that into his daily life by remembering that “if ever I’m in the position to treat people well, to make them feel good, I will do exactly that.” When you look at the number of times he’s tweeted some compliment to a colleague, the number of times he showed up, exhausted, at that stage door so as not to disappoint the many admirers who wanted to “meet” him, the number of rave reviews about the sort of person he is from those who have worked with him, you know that he does believe this statement, and tries to live by it. I liked his advice to be decent, kind and thoughtful, to take into consideration the feelings of others and at least think twice about heated words before you post them. It’s sound advice. And, given the target audience of young people seeking refuge from cyberbullying, I liked his reminder that even when you’re under fire, and it’s tempting to believe the whole world sucks, that actually there are people out there who love you and have your back, and it’s those people you should turn to, seek out, and spend your time with. Most especially, I agreed with his comments about the importance of civilized debate, live and let live, agree to disagree, and differing opinions are valid.

    Just my two cents! I see why some are frustrated because much of it was vague, and some of it felt like either a reprimand or a warning directed at the fandom. I also I see why others reading the same interview are just more in love than ever with this man who is not only gorgeous and talented, but tries to be kind and considerate, and is willing to put himself out there and assume the mantle of ambassadorship for a very noble cause.

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    • I guess, you know, I don’t think of Richard Armitage as a moral role model, and I don’t feel he has gained the right for me to take him seriously on that particular topic. Maybe some child might, but in most cases I doubt it that is going to happen, and to be honest, if he wanted to take the approach of talking in depth about how to support oneself when one is targeted as a teen — that would have been useful and I could have applauded that with fewer reservations. To be honest, there are much bigger problems in the world than whether or how people gossip, and gossip isn’t in my estimation the real problem on social media — gossip has existed forever. That’s why I am asking about cyberbullying specifically as opposed to just general bullying which has also gone on since the beginning of time. The problem IMO and why cyberbullying is worse, and a different animal, is the speed with which communications get transferred and the fact that it can suddenly be visible to the entire world (as with the woman who made the tasteless joke about her trip to South Africa and got off the plane to learn she’d been fired over it) and that, if you’re on a lot of platforms, it can come at you in five directions at once. There’s also the problem that a lot of teens live singificantly important parts of their emotional lives online so they are more vulnerable there than they would be in “real life.”

      FWIW I would describe myself as a moderate gossiper; there are some things I will gossip about and others that I will not; there are some people with whom I will gossip and some with whom I will not. I occasionally make mistakes in evaluating those lines, and like most people, I have occasionally said something in gossip that I wish I hadn’t said. That portion of the interview was one of the ones that hit me most negatively. In my RL social media I block people who brag about their morals. I acknowledge that there are cultural factors at work here, however, in both the transmission and the reception of the message.

      To me, the statements about the value of free disagreement are contradicted by his express advice that you shouldn’t say what you are thinking.

      re: whether Armitage is a nice guy or not, I don’t know that there’s any doubt about that, or at least, we haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary so far.

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      • “To me, the statements about the value of free disagreement are contradicted by his express advice that you shouldn’t say what you are thinking.”
        Wow, great point….Could there be some deep British cultural more’s going on here too?

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        • I totally think there is the British cultural element in a lot of what he says. However, I didn’t read what he says in exactly that way… (ie, you should never say what you’re really thinking)… I read it more as, if what you’re thinking is something along the lines of “Why don’t you go jump off a bridge” then it’s wise to have a second thought before you post it on social media.

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          • I agree, except that most cases are not that clear cut. If I say, “I wish you would die” to or about the woman in the office next to mine, or to or about a fellow fan, that’s one thing. If I say, “I wish you would die” to or about the North Korean president (to cite an extreme example), that might be different. The words are the same, but the contexts and the meanings of the statements are different. I personally am very hesitant to make any restrictions on political speech at all, and it can be very hard to know exactly where the boundaries of political speech are.

            This is why it’s very hard for me to get on board with telling fans not say repellent things and why I limit myself to “don’t say them to me or you will be blocked” or “don’t say them in the comments or you will be blocked.” I find many things fans say on Twitter either shocking or repellent or worse. The statement about wanting to line up the fans against the wall and shoot them truly dropped my jaw and I’ve read a lot of nastiness in this fandom. They shocked me not because there was any credible threat (and I’ve occasionally said to a student when I’ve given a paper back, “reading this made me want to strangle you” — making clear that I was exaggerating for the sake of making a point, and that I didn’t really want to strangle them), but because if that isn’t a joke — and it is hard to tell on twitter at times — the notion that someone would have that reaction to fans not liking a picture is a bit stunning. That said, if I say, well, don’t say things like that, then I am prohibiting one kind of disagreement in order to uphold the right to another kind of disagreement, and it simply makes no sense.

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            • I agree. I think all I can take away from his statement is he wishes people would think twice before making the kind of statement which implies the wish to do violence to someone or that they do violence to themselves. It’s pointless to try to prohibit it, but it’s not pointless to express the wish that people evaluate what they’re about to say before they say something damaging. And BTW, I didn’t say so but I do agree with you about wishing there was a better definition of cyber-bullying in this interview. I don’t personally think there needs to be a credible, tangible threat for cyber-bullying to be cyber-bullying, as often the recipient’s own reaction is enough to cause them to do harm to themselves in one way or another, whether turning to substance abuse, cutting, or even attempting suicide- someone who’s engaging in these types of bullying doesn’t actually have to be planning a physical attack for a verbal attack to be damaging. Even the ugly statement you mentioned above (line them up and shoot them) I’m not sure if that qualifies as cyber-bullying though I do think it’s a disturbing thing to say and I’m glad I missed it because it would have bothered the hell out of me. It’s certainly an ugly thing to say, and if it was repeatedly directed at someone in particular, I think it would qualify… but perhaps just blowing off steam with an ugly sentiment is just blowing off steam and not really bullying. What do you think? Are inter-fandom ugly remarks directed at a group of people (ie shippers, or beard naysayers, or people who dislike the selfie) cyber-bullying?

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              • I think a one-time statement clearly wishing certain fellow fans were off the planet, & especially the one wishing to help execute them, qualify as cyberbullying. Especially if the fan who makes them is rather influential. Repetitive abuse or harassment definitely qualifies, when it’s of the mindless/namecalling variety, not dealing w/substance.

                I’ve also seen an example of tweets to the effect of “if you’re with this person that I hate, I can’t be with you”. Boy, does that hit my buttons. And I don’t even follow the person they were talking about. So I believe attempting to “force sides” is also bullying.

                Both these cases – and I’d guess, most wars in our fandom- were based on hatred because of things people had said to or about Richard. “About” is one thing, “to” is another, imho… in tweetworld, “at” tagging him = “to” him (and probably hashtagging him too). So again, caution in tagging is our friend. Otherwise we can be accused of having “driven” him toward his next or latest unpopular decision. Sigh.

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                • No credible threat, no clear addressee, though.

                  I don’t believe attempting to force sides is bullying either, although I also don’t care for it. That’s a pretty standard piece of political action / political speech (something i said a good while back — certain aspects of bullying bear strong resemblance to things like boycotts which many of us might support).

                  I’ve never tweeted him directly and would guess that if he has noticed my Twitter at all, he has it on mute.

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              • I think a one time tweet stating that certain fans’ words make you want to kill them does not qualify as cyberbullying. It’s horrid and of course when I read that (in this case even though I actually liked the selfie), it affects me. But it’s not part of a repeated behavior behind which stands malicious intent. I think wanting to protect a realm for free speech means that one occasionally has to protect a realm for speech that disturbs. Hannibal is a good example of that. For me, it’s chiefly disturbing with occasionally moments of being intriguing. However, we can’t judge it solely based on my reaction to it and if we prohibit it because it disturbs, then we are missing out on the possibility of seeing all the other things that disturb but might have more to say.

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      • Leaving aside whether you or I think of him as a moral role model, I feel that when he agreed to take this “job title” as an “ambassador” for the cybersmile/anti-cyber-bullying initiative, it’s implied that he is going to be set up as a role model, if not for the whole world, then at least for the target audience. I think it’s part of the job description in that sense. Obviously they want to choose someone for that role who can understand the place the target audience is in, and he fits that criteria because he himself was treated unkindly or bullied as a youth. They want to choose a celebrity who has a good track record of kindness and cares about the problem, and he fits the bill. Whether we, as individual members of the fandom, want to embrace Armitage as a role model is a separate subject for me.

        Re: gossip. I didn’t really say what I thought about his comments on gossip and for me to say I never gossip would be completely false. I just said I liked the insight he gave on what happens when someone approaches him with gossip: “You’re talking to the wrong man” or whatever it was he said. I think that’s actually valuable insight on his interactions with others and I’m always interested in that sort of information. Also, in some ways I can admire that, because if true, it means he does hold to his convictions that gossip is unhealthy. Note I didn’t say I think all gossip is unhealthy- again, that would be hypocritical because I occasionally gossip. It does, however, take some level of courage to make a statement like that, because I think most people, myself included, when approached with gossip, prefer to engage or at least listen, even if it makes them uncomfortable, and it’s not often that someone will actually stop a gossiping person and tell them to take it elsewhere. So, it was an interesting insight about Richard and his worldview, but in no way am I saying that because he turns away gossip that it would ever stop me from gossiping on occasion. That said, if some future gossip episode should ever become really nasty and make me uncomfortable, it’s not inconceivable that I MIGHT actually take a page from RA’s book and tell someone they’re telling it to the wrong person. Who knows?

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    • I love how you expressed this, Jennifer, and pretty much agree with every word. When I consider the beauty of how he himself lives and relates to others (what I know, anyway) I can’t help but love him even more… the way he expressed himself here, though, leaves me more confused rather than less.The implied threat of leaving together w/the vagueness is what I find most disturbing. How can we clean up our act without knowing which behaviors/incidents he has found disturbing? There’s difference of opinion, so I’m not going to assume I know. The directive ”would I say this to; my Mum?….my child?….my best friend?….my loved one?….” is about what I have to go on.
      Seriously- #1: each of those are COMPLETELY different relationships from one another, and most of them HAVE required my “tough love” at some point over the years. The right/wrong thing to say is completely different from one person to the other, and one time to the other
      #2: I do know what he means, but my online friends don’t fill that role in my life. I don’t believe I’ve been unkind to any, & hope I’ve actually been supportive. I do think online friends can be supportive in a way that my closest peeps sometimes can’t- simply because they are not as close to the situation. I prefer to simply remind myself that each person is dear to someone, and it could be someone I actually know, in this small world.
      The main thing I wish everyone would take away from this is that clearly he (or someone) does read/monitor his notifications & mentions, if there was any doubt. So everyone really needs to think before they actually tag him. I don’t mean that in a prescriptive or imperative way though, so I won’t tweet it.
      And I also hope everyone might focus as much on his paragraph beginning, “Debate is great, and being right or wrong isn’t the point.” as on the scary parts about him possibly pulling the plug, and watching to see whose fault it might be.

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      • “being right or wrong isn’t the point” if we’re debating dog vs. cat. But I can think of thousands of cases in which it really matters a lot. If we’re debating the death penalty, or how to put together a car engine so it doesn’t explode, or whether we should fund entitlement programs for disabled people, or whether we should treat a disease with this therapy or that one, or whether a business should market this product or that one … just a million things. It does matter who is right some in cases. Lives hang on it. One reason we teach students to practice constructive debate in universities is precisely that being right matters all the time.

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  27. It gets just better and better … now the chinese “nieces” are asking RA to unfollow the Dalai Lama – and they are “serious” about that, too.
    Poor poor man – maybe he really should pull the plug.

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    • Shortly after I retweetet it – it was deleted – good that I also retweetet it here, so the message is still there 😉

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    • I guess we have an answer to the “is he a man or is he a mouse” question. I hate the gendered version of that dilemma but it’s getting kind of hard to avoid it. Either you have the courage of your convictions (I can read and say what i want) or you don’t. I’m sorry that people are asking him to censor himself, but that is the road he put us all with this interview when he told people they should censor themselves in light of how other people might react.

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      • I believe the Chinese fans are special to him too, in some way. Not official favorites, but perhaps he felt great affinity to that culture while he was there. Just listening to my gut and wondering out loud.

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        • That could be. It could also be that they are the largest market on the planet. In which case he really should have thought about whether he wanted to admit any interest in the Dalai Lama at all.

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          • Freedom of speech issue!

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            • yeah, exactly. My position on that would be, say what you want. Have the courage of your convictions. However, all speech has consequences (he stumbles over this badly when he says on the one hand “right or wrong doesn’t matter in debate” while still insisting that words can harm people. Either arguments and debates can harm people, or they can’t. You can’t have it both ways. My own position would be that they can harm people but that that isn’t necessarily a reason not to speak). He was the one who said (paraphrasing) don’t say things that might hurt people. If a Chinese fan is hurt by the fact that he is interested in knowing what the Dalai Lama thinks about something, how does he deal with the fact that the fan feels hurt by that? According to his theory, he’s the one who’s responsible for the addressee’s feelings. This is my point when I say you can’t possibly correct for every possible reception of your own speech acts, only for ones you are willing to accept and/or think are reasonable.

              That said — I agree that everyone has an interest at times in not saying everything that is on her mind. I certainly don’t and I would never give the advice that one should always say what one is thinking. (I seem to remember a Jim Carrey comedy film about that, no?) Given the way that the film industry is organized in China — limited number of foreign films allowed into the market every year, government that is engaged in a protracted struggle with dissidents as represented by the Dalai Lama — he has a financial and professional interest in not following the Dalai Lama, because it will inevitably be perceived as an endorsement no matter what he says. Now, if he unfollows the DL, a bunch of fans will be annoyed because he will seem to be making yet another political statement. That might be a reason not to say anything at all. He’s not ever going to win in this scenario, and he might indeed be best served by simply not saying anything ever about the Dalai Lama, which can be interpreted as lack of interest or non-endorsement.

              But it’s different to say, “you might have an interest in not saying anything about this” and “you shouldn’t say anything about this because people could be upset by what you say.”

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          • 🙂

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          • It’s not the best topic to discuss when one wakes up…I have to admit I don’t see any necessity in following someone just in order to read his opinion. What RA means I can get, but his move was raising something that may be out of his control, even faster than all the bullying issue.
            As for myself, I don’t exactly like or dislike DL. Our gov was constantly opposing them which is no surprise, and our generations were raised to think Tibet as part of the country. Yet when I grew up I prefer to regard this as political and ethnical dispute (hope I have a better expression) and left it alone. There are friends who like DL and think he’s a good man but step on the wrong side, also there are a lot more friends who dislike him and all the separatism idea.
            But media always talk about this as one of the criticism and I assume he’s stumbled on this topic again recently (you may google June 4) and decided to have a look.

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            • yeah, I was actually thinking of you when we got on this topic — my sole Chinese commentator. There are really people in the US who are interested in the DL only because of his spiritual views, and then there are people who are very invested in the Free Tibet thing. And then there are people who have no idea where Tibet even is or that the DL is associated with Tibet. I can imagine that Armitage was somewhat or even totally ignorant of the political issues involved, for instance. I can also imagine that if this was a sensitive point for a fan, I can see how it would be a problem — and I can imagine it might be a more important issue to some Chinese fans than it would be to someone like me. One of the problems with Twitter in particular is that it really does reduce complex issues into black / white issues, which this isn’t.

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              • Thanks for thinking of me, though I doubt I’m the only one here lol. I’ve decided to think better on this: RA did show an interest on something particular, if he’s ignorant then he could learn more (but not just from Twitter, Mr A!)

                I think I should begin writing my yearly [del]happy birthday[/del] book recommendation letter to him sooner this year 😉

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  28. A l ‘ heure des épreuves de philosophie de fin d’année (baccalauréat ) , je vois sortir de tous les commentaires , le sujet 2015 : “Raison versus Passion ” dans le ” Cyber – Harcelement ” .
    Jane Austen ou Elizabeth Gaskell ont des émules dans les fan fictions , comme en avaient les grands philosophes Platon, Socrate , Aristote , Rousseau , Kant … alors avec internet et les blogs ..

    At a time of year-end events philosophy (BA) I see out of all the comments, the subject 2015: “Reason versus Passion “in the” Cyber – Harcelement “.
    Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell emulated in fan fictions, as had the great philosophers Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant …so now with internet and blogs…

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    • 🙂

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      • Other topics with more serious reflection :

        freedom of expression in the “democracies” and its excesses versus ostrasisme of “dictatorships” through new media, and their consequences ,
        in this regard, where should begin and stop self-censorship and his sister censorship,
        what sort of sanctions can man think of with public cyberbullying , versus private cyber- harassment ,
        must stars take the risk of exposing themselves in other areas ,than those that confer their skills …

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    • D’autres sujets de rélexion plus sérieux :

      la liberté d’expression dans les “démocraties” et ses dérives versus l’ostrasisme des “dictatures” à travers les nouveaux médias ,

      dans cette optique , où commencent et doivent s’arrêter l’ autocensure et sa soeur la censure ,
      quelles sanctions envisager dans un cadre privé ou public pour le cyber – harcèlement ,
      les vedettes et stars doivent-ils prendre le risque de s’exposer dans d’autres domaines , que ceux que leur confèrent leurs compétences …

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  29. You’re right about something (well, many things but I won’t address them all), serv. I just think he can’t win. I really feel sorry for him. He didn’t ask for this fandom, and while I won’t deny that he benefits from it, I believe that it may be a double edged sword for him. While withdrawing from social media could be a wise choice at this point, I wonder if that choice would bring its own unfortunate consequences to him. Hindsight is certainly 20-20, and maybe staying out of social media altogether would have been a better decision

    I’ve tried to be very careful with my wording , serv, but if I have unwittingly violated one of the blog rules I apologize in advance

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    • I don’t think this violates any blog rules. You’re not attacking anyone. I agree, he didn’t ask for this fandom and it’s my impression he’s always felt somewhat ambivalent about it. That said, he’s also repeatedly benefited from it, so there it is.

      You know there are lots of ways that he could have been a fairly successful social media user. I assumed that when he started, because he listed some publicity people in his follows, that he was being advised, but maybe not.

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  30. Realmente um príncipe. Sempre gentil… Amo isso nele S2

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  31. […] Without a concrete definition either of “bullying” or “cyberbullying,” anyone can label any behavior or statement s/he finds distasteful as “bullying.” We […]

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  32. […] #RichardArmitage’s lunchtime buzzkill (June 4, 2015). Respond to Armitage’s first piece for Cybersmile.org. […]

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  33. […] ambassador on June 3. His initial Cybersmile piece is preserved here, and my initial response is here. After a week of uproar, Armitage took another opportunity to response to criticisms, which is […]

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  34. […] phase, and I’m experiencing manifestations of attraction that I haven’t felt since the Cybersmile nonsense disrupted my fantasy life in 2015. I’m suddenly much more smitten than I was even in 2014, […]

    Like

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