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Ref: #147
Mikaela Suomalainen 10 months ago
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layout: post
title: "Who is we?"
category: [english]
tags: [english, life]

*This is a question that has been bothering me for a week or so and now the
time is ripe for blogging, even if I have no answers.*

I am typing and backspacing this line, I don't know how to properly begin
and format my message, or if my message can be understood. I think I will
begin by listing what events have lead me to think of the question, who is

* * * * *

Case redacted

I feel anxious returning to thinking about this case which I have removed
from my blog even if git remembers, I appreciate if you don't start digging
for more of that story. I don't even remember how it went.

There was a project and there was drama. I was "given permission"
(how exactly?) to talk as "we", I think it's simple to say it went to my
head and bad things happened.

* * * * *

Case matrix-appservice-irc

*I am not affiliated with New Vector or and neither are the
people I am going to describe, it's just easy to pick the name of the
project based on where this happened. I guess the people may not even
remember this incident, unless they are harbouring similar thoughts and
going to write their versions of this post.*

I am not sure how to talk about this either, but after having told about
*redacted* I feel less anxious as this happened after my worst mental health

There is a group of people. There is someone others don't get along with
well and another one whom people get along with a bit better.

The first person asks whether "we" should do something (funnily I have no
memory of what, but it's irrelevant to this post as this could have happened
anywhere) and I think what happened was the second person starting to
challenge the first one asking who are they to talk about "we". Can you
guess what happens next?

I still don't remember what exactly happened, but within the same
discussion the second person starts talking similar things as "we". I think
this time I am the one challenging them, asking how does their "we" differ
from the "we" of the first person or why are they allowed to say "we" while
the first one cannot.

I think there were hurt feelings and I faintly remember talking about it
with a third person, who I think agreed that there wasn't difference between
those "we"s and maybe even said that it was good that I pointed it out? I
don't remember, but I might regardless be typing this post and I have at
least two more cases.

* * * * *

Cases PrivacyTools.IO

This is an interesting case, because I guess I am supposedly part of the
"we" or at least a team member (unless I have gotten "fired" during the time
I am typing this) and I have criticized PTIO before finding myself in the
team. I am not sure or the case being interesting is why I again have
difficulties finding words while the previous case felt easy to get out. Or
maybe the problem is that this is actually cases in plural.

PTIO attempts to list tools that preferably anyone can use to protect their
privacy. There are GitHub issues (where I am active), Discourse Forum (which
I read thanks to mailing list mode) and a subReddit which I see at times
when Reddit decides to give me a web push notification. PTIO is also hosting
some services.

Now I look at the previous paragraph and wonder... What I am asking is
"who is we", but I could similarly ask who is PTIO, are they also a person
who happens to be hosting many services and list tools for privacy? Or is it
a inanimate website which just happens to have a founder and contributions
by many people on GitHub? And are the websites hosted by PTIO or Barung and
Jonah who are the service department?

At this point on line 87 this question starts seeming silly, but I am not
finished yet. Maybe "we" deserves the defence on whether it makes more sense
to ask whether "we should list X" or whether "X should be listed on PTIO",
I think I prefer the later form as it doesn't refer to the "we" and thus it
doesn't bring to existence the others.

I have been reading books by [Jaron Lanier]( recently, beginning from
_Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now_,
_Who Owns The Future_ and currently I am reading _You Are Not a Gadget_.
I may be using weird books as I read the first and the last in Finnish while
I am typing in English so I know the English to Finnish translation of
Kirsimarja Tielinen and am translating it back to English and it wouldn't be
very surprising if I ended up to a different translation than the original

Anyway especially in the first book he mentions a "pack switch" in peoples
heads and how social media (I wish I knew what was the original name of
"SUMUTIN") attempts to turn it into the pack position instead of the
individual postition. I think this and references to it in the other books
are inspiration for me to be typing this (on line 106 in Neovim) as I have
been seeing examples of this.

* A Finnish article on how a [YLE reporter met a man who wished for death of his family](
* The reporter had written request [From reporter: don't do a favour to terrorists - don't distribute hate on social media](
which apparently wasn't very liked on a certain imageboard where
horrible things were said and this person was sued and met in
arbitration and I see this as a case of us-vs-them.
* Another recent case happened after I had already left Facebook\*, it goes
too close to people I know and associations I have responsibility in so I
am afraid of bringing the subject up again, so I will just say that there
was kind of a manhunt on Facebook and I was afraid that the next day I
would be hearing about how the situation escalated into a manhunt and a
murder. Luckily that didn't happen and the last I heard was that the
police got involved and the situation ended well.

Within this text editor I have gotten sidetracked for one screenful of text,
I have said that being "we" went badly for me in the past and that there is
ambiguosity between "PTIO"/"we", referred to books and Finnish events, so
I should be getting back to the subject.

While PTIO is not a imageboard, I still wonder who is that "we", because if
there is a "we", there must be those "others" and if there are "others",
doesn't pack mentality require "them" to be hated and maybe also feared? Who
are those others? Is it perhaps another privacy site like [PRISM BREAK](
or people who aren't as privacy concious? Who are privacy concious if I use
GMail and have Google Play Services on my phone, am I not part of us then? I
keep removing this sentence as the obvious continuation would be stereotypes
making me the target.

Recently there was another specific case on PTIO Reddit, someone asked about
DNS over HTTPS which is one of the issues I have thought the most about:

> [Should we add these settings as recommended hardening on the firefox about:config hardening page?](

There we (haha) have the "we" again, I felt a bit annoyed when Reddit web
push notification sent me to that page as I was hungry and tired and the
discussion was had in Reddit instead of at GitHub in [ 💬 Discussion | Firefox eSNI / DoH/TRR #785 ]( where I and four other people had discussed it
previously. There was one nice question on [why everyone just doesn't run their own DNS server]( which
indeed would resolve at least my concerns, but... OK, now I am actually
getting beside the point.

I think the point is that I wish to provoke you, whoever is reading this,
into thinking who is that "we" in these scenarios that could happen anywhere.

If I finish up talking about PTIO, I don't know how many people there are
commenting at GitHub, Discourse, Reddit, Matrix, and whether they are the
same people everywhere or different and at the risk of sounding stupid or
elitist, I will say that I have no idea who the person opening the Reddit
thread is, they are not a member of the GitHub organization nor a moderator
at Reddit. As I have said previously, I am not active at Reddit, so I don't
know if they were e.g. the most active poster/commenter there. Who is we?
Maybe it was the PTIO Reddit users?

I don't like how the previous paragraph turned out, I am bad with words. I
do hope everyone keeps doing what they like and is welcoming to everyone, I
hope I made it clear earlier that my argument (if you can get it) undermines
itself while I said that there probably isn't that much difference in
"should we do X" or "should PTIO do X". PTIO can only be a sum of everyone
who contributes into it and if no one contributes, there can be no PTIO.

I still have two cases I intent to touch.

* * * * *

Case *Notes on privacy and data collection of*

*If you ask Maxidorius or other The Grid protocol community members about
this, they likely have no idea what I talk about as as with case
matrix-appservice-irc it's easier to take the name of where or what caused
the discussion, especially in this case as I don't want to promote the
quiet channel where this happened.*

The setting is a bit quiet IRC channel where many users happen to be from
Matrix. Due to the [Notes on privacy and data collection of](Notes on privacy and data collection of
and me being a founder, I was asked if "we should ban Matrix so the users will
be more safe".

I haven't yet addressed the question who is "I", which my original question
"who is we" begs, I originally planned to not involve it, but it seems like
I have to at least in a few words. I think it should be enough to say that
I am not perfect or handle everything well (I have decided to throw this
post into the drafts directory after I reach the end so I can ask at least
some PTIO people to comment and why not people from this case too)...

I wasn't my best self at that time either and as this post had been
demanding to be written for days I started asking who that "we" is. And
whether everyone who cannot prove running a IRC client at home should be
banned as while I agree that Matrix is bad in this regard, I at least have
some sort of idea what it is doing, while I cannot know what are IRCCloud
and big shells doing (legally secrecy of correspondence would at least
prevent them from reading what happens in the channel and same applies to
Matrix, but I cannot know how long anything else is storing data).

Skipping several lines I asked the most active Matrix users (and everyone
else) what would they do if "the mysterious 'we' decided to ban Matrix users"
and one response was that they wouldn't bother just for one channel. I also
said that I wouldn't want to lose anyone.

No one told me who is the "we". I guess having undermined my argument that
the "we" is people on the channel or at least the most active chatters and
the not-operator asking the question wishes that the op/user distinction
to not be that big and the users may also take part on running the channel,
which I do think is a good idea, but as I said before, the "we" brings the
idea that there are also the "others" and I don't know who are the others
either. Are they the Matrix users other than the most active ones? Are they
those who don't say anything often? Are they those who chat when I am sleeping
and whom I never chat with directly for that reason?

* * * * *

Case I

LGBT\* circles have the right of self-definition and the right to not define
self. I wonder if I should take the later right to get out of that difficult
question, but it doesn't feel right to me, even if I originally didn't plan
to type this.

I am myself and many things, I may seem to be a different person in a group
where I feel safe or in a large group of people where I don't know the
people around. My communication can be very different when I am happy or
hungry. I am getting sidetracked, am I not?

For the purpose of this post, I am someone who has recovered from mental
health problems and started attempting to communicate nonviolently. I try
to be myself, "I", instead of "we" (whoever that was again). I try to make
clear what are my thoughts and feelings instead of communicating them as
thoughts/feelings of someone else, be that the mysterious "we" or a project
that has no life in itself.

I admit that I fail often, I guess that is to be a human, and if you and me
meet somewhere either in the internet or offline, I am going to fail
regardless of the language. I wonder if trying can also be thought as the
learning progress which is part of the journey and the journey is as
important as the destination.

With these words it's good time to end typing this post and commit this in
the drafts directory for spamming around for feedback on whether this is
ready for release in the blog or if there are suggestions how I should change
specific paragraphs or anything.