(With apologies to James Dixon, wherever he may be.)
I suppose I need to write this for the Dixonians out there, as I expect you to come out of the woodwork in short order. I dislike typing the same thing over and over, so here’s a blanket statement to Dixonians:
I don’t engage in online tomfoolery. Over a quarter-century ago, I learned the futility of it. You see, I knew James Dixon. If you want to know the details of Dixon’s infamy, I point you to his section in my professional Web site’s The Hall Of Forgotten Fanac.
James Dixon was undeniably intelligent, knowledgeable and well-read. He was a fast typist, that much was certain.
These traits led Dixon to be banned from every online Star Trek forum that he ever joined, over a period of twenty years. He was last seen in 2010, when was perma-banned from TrekBBS.
One of Dixon’s tactics was to publicly shame anyone with whom he had a disagreement. He’d parse their words for quotes that could be taken out of context; or blown into something far larger than they were in reality. He’d engage in name-calling specifically designed to enrage his opponent.
The phrase, “agree to disagree,” was not in Dixon’s lexicon.
If you tried to table it, Dixon would continue goading. If you ignored him, he goaded more. If the moderators asked him to stop, he’d make accusations of the moderators. Dixon would not be placated short of public acknowledgement that he was the better man.
All this over minutia of Star Trek.
I’ve since coined a word for this increasingly-common online behavior:
Dixonianism got him banned. Dixonianism also taught me that responding to Dixonians is at best a pointless exercise in futility. Since then, I’ve considered responding so far beneath my dignity that it’s next to dinosaur bones.
Dixonianism is the stuff of fifteen-year-old schoolgirls.
I will not engage it. If you want to discuss a difference of opinion, that’s fine; provided you behave like an adult. When you resort to Dixonianism, all the nonsense you generate is only a mouse-click away from /dev/null. If you get too Dixonian, I can always throw you in the spam filter.
I’ve been doing this for forty years. I was doing online communications pre-Internet. I’ve observed Dixonianism so many times that I’m emotionally inured.
It’s one of the (many) reasons I detest those who complain of online trolling. Trolling? You’ve never been trolled by a professional, nor over the course of two decades. Get over yourself.
To my chagrin, Dixon was largely responsible for me being the writer that I am today. I learned to be as precise as possible, using language that’s difficult to parse (you can’t help it when Dixonians take you out of context). I learned to keep my head in the face of a torrent of insults. I learned to resort to emotional — and particularly curseword-laden — language only to make a point.
My long-held position on swearing is that I reserve cursewords for when I want to get someone’s attention or to make sure all listeners/readers understand me. Otherwise, you’ll see a lot of “fraks,” “gorrams,” and (in extreme circumstances), “belgium.”
My battle cry for the last quarter-century:
Remember the Dixon!