I know that if I write about feminism and anti-oppression stuff–well, if I write about anything, but a lot of this is controversial, sadly–many people will not like me.
I expect MRAs and enthusiastic bigots to hate me. I expect “moderates” to not like me.
I worry though about the day that radicals hate me too.
There are a lot of social justice environments that are really encouraging of discarding other people. And when those environments are online, the effects can be really far reaching and include a lot of people.
I keep thinking it’s silly or distracting from “real” issues to talk about this.
But, that’s ridiculous. Not everything written about has to be the biggest issue in the world. And people feeling important, safe, loved in their immediate communities is important. People should have communities that are real communities. Communities shouldn’t be inviting only as long as you can be perfect.
I saw a post today about a hollywood director who abuses actresses…and someone commented “yeah what a piece of shit” and I’m used to cringing at that–but, wait, this is actually appropriate. This is what that mechanism is actually for.
That “hey everyone watch out” alarm is for people who are abusive, who’ve assaulted others, for people who are truly and/or consistently toxic, not for people who were wrong one time.
I think it’s totally valid when someone has a following for people to bring up things they’ve said that might be harmful. I think it’s fair to call out friends (calling out shouldn’t be something you wouldn’t “do to” your friends). I don’t think it’s fair to turn that stuff into social threats.
I don’t think “I’m blocking everyone who doesn’t block this one person who said a bad thing” is community. I don’t think trying to stop people from ever being listened to again because they said one thing that’s harmful (or sometimes is only arguably harmful) is community, or social justice.
I don’t know, I keep wondering if I can handle writing and publishing. Well, I think I can, but I don’t know if I want to, if it’s healthy for me, if it’s worth it.
What I want is for things to be better. And I know that this happens all the time, it’s not just modern online activist communities–toxic patterns and people hurting others for social gain happens in many, many different activist environments, across many time periods.
This is just how things are I guess, how humans are. But I think we have a responsibility to make our own communities better, because that can happen. And I guess for now I’m writing about that, while I work out what else I am comfortable or even capable of writing on. What feels worth putting stuff out there for.
The disturbing thing is I think this comes from two kind of opposite places (though I’m sure they overlap sometimes).
One is people purposefully trying to benefit socially from tearing down other people. The other is people who truly believe that “safe community” means “weeding out everyone who doesn’t meet Standards of Non-Problematic”.
No one will ever meet those standards.
I guess my issue comes down to 2 things
1. I can handle people who disagree with me hating me. I don’t know how to deal with people who share my values deciding I don’t share my values, and using social influence to harm me. This hasn’t happened, but, it could. It happens all the time. I’m kind of always waiting.
2. I hate that I saw a post about someone truly being a piece of shit (abusing people in various ways) and seeing the same reaction as when someone “said something problematic 2 years ago”.
I don’t want to exist in that world of activism, of writing, of social media/socializing in general.
So what do I do about it?
1. I could write about things that are less controversial, I could write things that won’t threaten me so much. I don’t think I want that. Nor do I honestly think it’ll make a lot of difference–I’m sure people can be assholes about anything.
2. I could stop writing. I definitely don’t want that.
3. I can write *about this*. I think I need to. I hope it helps. I want to write things to validate people–and some of that has to be about individual and community abuse as well as oppression.
4. I can write what I think and learn to deal with the fact that people are going to hate me, people are going to try to tear me down. Be ready to be wrong, and learn to be okay with thinking I’m write when others think I’m wrong. Manage my time and my mental health as best I can. I think I have to do this too.
I worry that my writing isn’t worth it–that I’m not doing enough good to warrant the risks to my mental health.
But I don’t think that’s true. I think I’m doing good in the world, and that there are ways I can balance my life better rather than cutting out this part that is hard but that I have chosen. If life is going to be hard, I want to choose some of the obstacles. I think I need to choose dealing with the bullshit that comes with putting art/information out there. Maybe I can even make those obstacles less painful, for me and for others. I think I have to, because this, this writing, is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do this much.