brillando: ([Star Trek] spock is intrigued)
Bri ([personal profile] brillando) wrote2011-09-06 03:12 am

I think my language nerdiness is coming out again...

Hello again, flist! I know it's weird to see me post again so soon lol, but I've just had an interesting discussion with [ profile] arrowwhiskers, and it's made me curious on something that I had just assumed as fact for the entirety of my fandom life:

What does "wank" (and also, "flaming/flamewars") specifically mean to you? Can you use it to describe drama and arguments that occur offline, or is it an online-only phenomenon?

More specifically, we're wondering whether characters in a fic can "wank" (and no, I'm not talking about masturbation... perverts :P), and if the tons of bullshit found in rl politics/political campaigns and such could also qualify as "wank".

To explain my own thoughts on the matter, I'm just going to copy and paste the conversation we had:

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:28 am
do you not know the term "wank"...? thought that would've made it pretty clear lol

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:29 am
well you can also write about wank. I think the confusing bit is because I started out with the qualifier "batshit insane" and when you say "fandom" I guess I was thinking about the material they produce, not the actual people, which is how I tend to read it I think, unless given massive contextual evidence of otherwise o.O;

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:30 am
oh, sorry. for me "fandom" means both the material and the people, interchangeably (like, constantly interchangeably, lol)

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:30 am
and the concept of reading drama between rl strangers is sort of foreign to me, though now that I have the idea in my mind I'm not sure why it's such a foreign concept xD

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:32 am
also - you can write about wank? what? are you talking about masturbation or something? because the main definition of "wank" in a fandom setting is very much about the people (aka the flamewars/arguments/drama that erupts between people)

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:33 am
I've really not heard the word very much, I only know its definition as "quabbles/drama", which, I mean, that's what lots of fic is about o.O;

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:34 am
ohhhh no, it has a very specific meaning, it could never be used to describe what happens in a fic (unless the fic is about people wanking about stuff in fandom... which would be a very weird meta fic... lol)

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:34 am
I guess the way I interpreted it is pretty outlandish, but it was the only sense I could get from what you said at the time. xD probably cause I was thinking of crazy/random fanfic
really? you can't be like "and then Ron gets jealous of Harry. and the predictable wank ensues" or something?
o.O *learns something new*

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:35 am
nope, reading that makes me think they're totally different - like, you're saying someone wrote Ron getting jealous of Harry in a fic, and for some reason this has caused wank in the fandom

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:36 am
o.O hahah that's so strange
I'm looking on urbandictionary but only the masturbate meaning is coming up at all

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:38 am
really? I find that really odd, because while its usage started in fandom, and is still largely a fandom term, it's also used in other contexts (like political communities, which, granted, are filled with a lot of fandomy people on LJ)
but yeah, if you want to read about the most epic wank ever (imo), read this: it'll give you an idea of the crazy in fandom

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:40 am
yeah, no, I've heard it in those contexts too. though never in any way that would lead me to believe that it wasn't a fairly general term for 'squabbles'. like, fighting and drama, with the implication that it is petty.
hmmm, I think I might pass haha

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:40 am
thanks for the link though :o

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:40 am
but reading wank is so entertaining!! lol
but really? I find that really odd to me too, to the point that even the thought of using "wank" in the way you thought it meant is like, extremely cringeworthy to me. like it's just unequivocally wrong. lol

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:42 am
hahah that's funny. I mean, I'm not sure, obviously. It's not really a word I would probably ever use myself

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:42 am
a broader definition, I suppose, would be that it's very much an internet-only word. so the thought of applying it to real life interaction - or what would be real life interaction, if fanfic were real - is just weird, lol

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:43 am
hmmm. that's also odd to me, though the idea of internet-only words has become way more ephemeral ever since it's become publically acceptable to spell out "W-T-F"

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:45 am
well, no. hmph. explanation fail. something like "wtf" is just internet slang, but "wank" is specifically an internet phenomenon. you can transpose internet slang to real life, but you can't transpose an internet phenomenon to... real life. if that makes any sense

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:46 am
hmm, yeah that makes sense ish, though even in the sense of like, flame wars, petty arguments, drama drama drama, etc, that happens in rl situations too--like political campaigns. is there not rl political wank?

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:47 am
yes, there are rl political "flamewars" (though this too is an internet-only term for me, hence the quotes), petty arguments, and drama... it's just not called wank

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:47 am
interesting o.o
I'm kind of curious about this now lol, I'm gonna have to ask my fandom friends what they think of this word

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:48 am
I think I might have to as well... though the foundation of my entire world might be irrevocably shattered if they disagree... lol

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:49 am
one important difference to me, I think, is that real life drama/arguments happen between only a select group of people, and you can't like... link people to it
and part of what makes wank wank is that tons of people come across the inflammatory material and start responding to it
it's not something that really has a rl equivalent

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:50 am
yeah, I could easily believe that I'm just not involved in enough online community places where such things occur to understand the proper usage of the word, but that really does seem really strange to me. though to be fair, I also don't particularly see 'flamewars' as a solely internet thing--maybe it is a metaphor, that is related to the internet manifestation of a thing, but that can still be applied by means of allegory
yeah, that makes sense, ish

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:51 am
"flaming" and "flamewars" are terms I have only EVER heard in an internet context, same with "wank", which is why I find it very difficult to apply it to rl

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:51 am
and "ish"? ugh why am I failing so hard today. um. *tries to think of another way to explain it*

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:52 am
the thing is that I put "flamewars" in the same contextual bubble as "troll", and I use troll in real life alllllll the time
no no I see what you're saying, it's that I have a hard time feeling like even if that is what the word means, that it can't be extended to other things, I guess that's my hangup

[ profile] jetaimerai 2:52 am
oh "troll" is definitely a term that started online but is absolutely applicable to rl... lol that probably just confuses you further, but I find the definition of troll to not be so deeply tied to its being on the internet

[ profile] arrowwhiskers 2:53 am

And it just kinda abruptly ended there... lol. Who knew I had so many thoughts about internet terminology?! (Actually, knowing me, that's probably not so surprising... lol). So please, if you have any thoughts at all, please share. :D
lily_backup: (spn - geek mode)

[personal profile] lily_backup 2011-09-07 06:41 am (UTC)(link)

My immediate instinct is to agree with you, in terms of the idea of "wank" being solely for internet/fandom usage. But now I'm second guessing myself, because...well, for example, look at the case of Anthony Weiner. A well-known important figure, funny and smart and respected, slips up and does something seemingly completely out of character. He denies it! But then there's more evidence, more people coming forward, more insane things coming to the surface. It's all people can talk about on every single platform of news media in this country, it's hard to look away, it's a train wreck. It gets bigger and crazier until the country hates him, until his own people ask him to step down. He doesn't at first, but finally cedes to the pressure, and...disappears.

Pretend Anthony Weiner was a BNF in fandom. Can't you see that exact same thing happening? He's a BNF! People love him! But then he messes up, and people start coming out of the woodwork, bringing up this comment or that fic, and the kerfuffle around it becomes bigger than maybe it really should be, but you just keep following because WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT!! And then finally it culminates-- or something new and even crazier happens-- and it's left to the fandom wank wiki to archive, but mostly never cared about again.

And yet. I would never describe Weiner's situation as wank (er, well, not in this sense anyway har har SEE WHAT I DID THERE). Wank implies of a level of uselessness. The connection to masturbation is obvious, and people use the wanking hand motion when they want to disregard something as nonsense. Fandom wank, in my opinion, at least as terminology, is more-- accepting that no matter what the drama is about, it's stupid. It's like inherently acknowledging that the internet isn't srs bizness, even while the hysteria that goes along with it basically makes it a self-contained oxymoron.

I'm not sure what that implies, though. Some wank hurts people, some comes out of people being hurt. In calling it wank, are we lowering it to a level we shouldn't, just because it's on the internet? What about when it bleeds over into real life? The more epic fandom explosions often do. Is it still wank because of its origins? In this case, does the fact that it originated online/within fandom brand it as such forever?

We know all wank is temporary. When fandom flails over some offense or some drama or some idiocy, it's fun to watch for a while (again, trainwreck), but eventually, inevitably, people lose interest. Going back to Anthony Weiner, it's clear this fickle interest is more human nature than fandom related. But by calling fandom drama "wank", are we implicitly demeaning ourselves?

I seriously didn't intend to even write about that when I started this, it was something I realized around paragraph two, haha. So I don't know what my opinion is on that one way or another, I'll have to think about it more. But I'd love to know if I made any sense whatsoever!

Also, I think flamewars and trolling are entirely different matters, and I'm interested in rambling about that too, but I think this comment has gone on for long enough already!!