I've given this a lot of thought over the last month or so. Initially this was going to be a heated rant about how awful the minority experience on Interpersonal Skills is, and how that's the reason I'm leaving, but if I'm really honest with myself, there's a lot more to it than that.
That's not to say that the minority experience here isn't pretty awful. At first I was shocked that I was seeing the sort of blatant hate speech and general nastiness on a Stack Exchange site, I really thought that SE was above that sort of thing. But it's not. Sure people try to do their part and flag the worst of it, but it doesn't really change much for the people that those answers and comments are directed at, pings are nearly always faster than flags.
Being told to "flag and walk away" or "take a break" or "you're jumping at shadows, it's not really that bad" just kinda salts the wound when you've been worked over by the worst the network has to offer. At a point I got increasingly bitter and angry about the situation.
For those that have the privilege of not being a member of a minority group that gets routinely targeted for abuse, well, I'm not sure if I can adequately describe the feeling that the near daily abusive comments and answers invoke. For me they led to a mixture of rage and disgust, but the worst part is that they reminded me of all the times I've had to face similar situations in real life. That stuff has a way of cutting to your core, and worse, accumulating.
Granted that's not entirely "the community's" fault. That stuff brings out the very worst in me, and for that I apologise. The hate I feel for the people who feel the need to go around being abusive is probably very comparable to the hate that leads them to do it in the first place. And that's my failing.
Part of me still feels justified in fighting back. They started it, they're judging others based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or what have you; and I'm judging them based on their actions and the content of their character. Whole lotta "they deserve it" and self justification for bad behavior going on there. I sank to their level. They hit, and I hit back harder, which nearly always escalated the situation. Again I'm sorry for that.
My hope was that by hitting back I could give them a small taste of what it feels like to be one of the people they went after. And hopefully drive them away from the site. Obviously it doesn't work out that way.
On the other hand... I won't apologize for stepping in when I saw others being abused. I know I often did it poorly, that I apologise for, but... Well, when you're being worked over by a bunch of bigots, it means an awful lot to know that someone has your back. Those few times when I intervened and drew the abuse away from someone else, or at least showed some solidarity and support... Sorry, but I'm not sorry for that.
The situation got so bad that I'd end up getting into it with people on the site and carrying that anger throughout the day, and it started affecting my relationships in the real world. Nobody wants to be around the guy who's always pissed off, regardless of how good his reasons for being pissed off are.
I posted my most recent question on main, deliberately to incite. It was a lightning-rod that I put up to try to show how bad things really are... Unfortunately it worked a little too well, it drew all the fire I expected and more. I wanted people to really see what I've been seeing on IPS since the beginning. I didn't realize that most people were aware, they just weren't as vocally pissed off as I was. I hoped that making the situation unavoidably visible would force people to do something more about it, but I ended up just adding a lot of fuel to the fire. Sorry about that.
I guess the TL;DR is that Stack Exchange has a culture problem, the experience for minorities who dare to talk about the minority experience is often pretty terrible. I don't really know how to stop fighting when presented with those situations, so untill the situation improves, or I learn to better deal with it, I shouldn't be participating here.
Damn... Still hate picking my battles... But this is one I have to step away from, for my own sanity, and for the sanity of the site.
So long and thanks for all the fish.