Aral Balkan @aral

The Web is the Problem

So I’m giving an online talk to the whole Web Foundation team on Thursday and this is the opening slide…

· Web · 15 · 26

@phryk Not sure – it’s their internal meeting. I’ll let you know.

@aral that sounds like it'll be cool but how about maybe a less ableist word than "idiot"?

@ghost I’m not sure if there’s a synonym for “useful idiot” (see – if there’s a phrase that means that same thing, I’m open to using it.

@bob @aral oooo i like unwitting accomplice! alternately, there's "pawn" but that might be even more hostile than "idiot." :)

incidentally i'd never heard the specific phrase "useful idiot" before, and now that i know the meaning, i'm even more opposed to the use of "idiot" in that context.

@ghost @aral unwitting accomplice is perhaps less likely to insult anyone - especially if you are trying to convince them.

@ghost @aral you should be determined _not_ to use the term "idiot" regardless 😒

@aral @ghost the wiki article you linked earlier mentions two synonymous terms with historical precedent: "useful fool" and "useful innocent" (the latter seems more descriptive and less pejorative).

anyway this looks like a cool talk, hope you can post the slides later

@Shotagonist @aral thinking on it more, I'm even more into pawn than before. It's not offensive to any specific groups and is more of a call to action for the audience. Like "hey I'm not a pawn! How can I not be a pawn?"

@ghost @aral it also perfectly captures what a "useful idiot" is at the bottom of the line.

@ghost @Shotagonist I ended up using useful fools. Pawn is even better. Thanks for the feedback :)

@aral thank you for ditching the ableist phrase. That's awesome. And "useful fool" is a great choice, too. @Shotagonist

@ghost Useful idiot is the less loaded version. We used to call them "Pawns".

@beardyunixer @aral at least pawns are generic and can apply to anyone from any minority or majority group. "idiot" pretty hostile specifically towards people with disabilities:

@aral I'm interested, will you put up the whole presentation once you give it?

@aral yeah there was a spider in my kitchen today. It's web was in the way, surely that's a problem

@aral My only nit with this is that the people who are being useful idiots are, generally, not the people who see a problem and want to fix it, i.e. not the people who will be viewing your talk.

I'd go so far as to say we have pretty terrible lines of communication with the people who are the problem... and that's part of the problem.