Okay, right off the bat I'm going to apologize here. Before you even start reading. Because this is going to be [too] long, I already feel it. But try as I might, I just cannot say things as briefly as some [men, especially, who are known for being much more economical with words] would prefer. (I also have a justification for that, but I'll get to that later maybe.)
So I've just come off of a very intense afternoon on GAG which included three very heated discussions. First I will briefly discuss the two hour private message session with someone I know a little here. I wouldn't call us friends, but acquaintances, having crossed paths for a few months now. We were talking about a fairly neutral subject (he initially wanted my opinion about something regarding some next questions he was going to ask, etc.) but after dabbling in a few other topics, which I initiated (comedy, movies, health), I was fed up. Exasperated, I asked him a question, and I meant this sincerely, exactly as I phrased it, "Are you aware of how rude you can come off being?" To which he replied, "Do I care? Not really." And then adds the jab, "Liberalism is rude." Now just to be clear, we were barely talking about politics. I am well aware of the contentiousness of differing political ideologies today, and I pretty much never engage in discussions about this anymore, as I find moderates are few and far between right now. (I also wrote a question about 'us vs. them' mentalities and issues today.) But it crept into our discussion because of an off-hand comment about Priuses (yes, the car) being "Liberal." However, to be clear, this mytake is not about politics. It is about conversation, communication, and conflict. (I'm not crazy about alliterations, but there they are.)
So I'll start off by saying, men, I am not your enemy. I am not against you. Far from it. I actually sort of think that you have been both one of my greatest passions, and also perhaps yes sometimes greatest disappointments over the years, but that was then, I see it differently now in the rear view, and today I am not seeking new lovers and confidantes (as I am with a man who despite some obvious flaws - we all have them - has generally exceeded my expectations for having a partner who stimulates my mind and is also a best friend), so, my current goals and desires are more... attainable. Yet, I am tired. Why? Because I'm trying to do something here. And it's a lot of damn work. (I am speaking here to everyone, or rather anyone who's interested, but the men are far, far more engaging, forthcoming, impassioned, playful, combative, you name it. You run the entire gamut. The women, so I have concluded, are typically much more opposed to conflict, stating their opinions unless they feel strongly about something, and probably a little bored and a little disinterested perhaps, which is fine.)
The reason I was getting so irritated chatting with this user today was not because of minor differing opinions on the subjects we discussed (they really were inconsequential.) It was his communication style and method, I will call it. (The tl;dr is that he did have an alterior motive, and a penchant for quickly profiling, and has some health issues which are greatly affecting his behaviour, and this played a big part, though of course not all, in our interaction and resulting friction. But mental and physical health are just one aspect of this topic. As Homer Simpson once said, "No time for that now, the computer's starting!" Will he and I converse again? Half way through, I did not think so, but we both stuck it out, and I now, tentatively say, 'yes, probably.' And that's better than the alternative. At one point he even somewhat challenged me to block him, and that only lead to a deeper conversation down the rabbit hole. Ergo, this mytake.
I am not perfect. Far from it, and I am well aware of that. I am still figuring out the best way to go about things and where energy is best spent and exerted. Everything that is in my head right now is difficult to encapsulate. And with every word I use to attempt to say that, I am wasting words. So perhaps I should make a list of some of the ideas and concepts that I have been thinking about, as of late.
And they are:
* Aggression, both overt and passive
* Image vs. authenticity
* Ideologies vs. beliefs
* Trendy words like 'gender war', 'triggered', 'snowflake', 'free speech', SJW, incel, and basically all the -isms (sexism, sexuality, racism, and bigotry)
* Mental health
* The disenfranchised (I wrote a mytake about that too, 'The Joker')
I should probably stop there. That list could go on a long time. I've written some mytakes, and some questions, and maybe Area 51 and Google knows just how many comments about some of these subjects. And right now, it feels like it's all coming to a head. I'm pissed off. Some of you are pissed off. Some (okay, many) of you just want to relax and have fun on GAG (me too sometimes), but I honestly do not even know if it's possible or feasible to be on GAG, or to exist on the internet, without eventually (if not intermittently) coming to face these issues.
While I was conversing with this particular guy, I was seeing notifications come up and catching glimpses of the threads. So adding to this are these other things - conflict, heat, disagreement, and by god, resolution. I could tell you the story of how I publicly declared I unblocked everyone (okay, all but one) on my block list very recently. And so I'm seeing a lot of stuff I wouldn't have previously seen. One of those guys, I've labelled him in my mind 'the nightmare' for his absolute commitment to his cause (another political issue - no point talking about it), also had an exchange, but deciding it was futile to persist, I moved on. You may or may not believe me, but I have never been flippant about my decisions. That's probably my one and only dealbreaker when it comes to people in my life. When I have blocked, it was rarely because a person attacked me personally. I witnessed multiple instances of cruel and/or unreasonable behaviour, and I blocked. I've spoken about this before. No point repeating. Read my other mytakes etc if you're interested. But what I have changed is that I am facing all sorts of issues/people that I would have, at any other time in my 47 years, walked away from. For six months, I've been exploring GAG. I started out quietly, observed a bunch (that's my typical M.O. I guess), but slowly I have become more and more vocal. Why? Because I've figured some shit out and I am not feeling like there's any point in remaining silent anymore.
I like men. I think I always have. Now don't go jumping to all sorts of quick conclusions and deciding that I must have been burned - cheated on, abused, mistreated, taken advantage of... what have you. I would not use any of those terms to describe my life's experience. As I said, disappointed at times, seems to fit the bill the most. Undervalued? Underappreciated at times? Fought with? Broken up with? Yep, yep, yep, the 'ays' have it. But that's a given, right. Applies to everyone. So it's moot. Boring to talk about. Irrelevant.
What I'm talking about is the realization that there's a whole bunch of crap going on out there right now, and though in many, many ways and justifications, I should really give two shits about it, because I'm married, 20 years together as of this spring, I have returned to Canada (a veritable bastion of progressivism and inclusiveness) and I am, shall we say, somewhat insulated from the problems going on out there. But for some perhaps inexplicable reason, I feel the need, or desire, to look and watch and be engaged in what is going on. I've been through quite a few passions in my life. In full honesty, none of them really panned out, financially speaking (and this is a very real concern for me), but what it all seems to be amounting to is the fact that I now want to write about it - both what I now understand to be truth (perhaps, my truth, though I do think it is more than just an insular point of view), and how I see the connectedness of it all.
Well maybe it doesn't matter, my interpretation. Probably so. But how it manifests is that I am in some sort of strange, yet impassioned state where I am figuring this out here, on GAG. It has hit me like a tonne of bricks (yes, that's tonne.) We are all here, these sentient beings, brushing past one another, floating in the ether, as it were, and we all have the capability to make a difference, however small, in the lives of others. So it probably doesn't sound believable to you when I say that I am not here to change anyone's mind. I am, however, here to change society. There, I said it. Not sure if I'll leave that sentence in, or delete it. Ha. But what hit me is that each and every interaction (the ones which are teetering on the edge - you know the ones) have the capability to affect someone/people. Both myself (put me in a bad mood, make me angry, or potentially... inspire me, and give me hope that we're not all just fucked.)
I wrote about women and conflict. I did not expect men to be so up in arms, thinking that a rally to the majority silent girls on GAG was actually a carefully constructed backhand to men. I must be a closet feminist, apparently. Maybe she's thinks she's not, but she is. Ah, biases. I wrote about them too. Well at the very least, you can say that I posted a Harvard questionaire that listed several tests so that you can test your own implicit biases. The main point being, that we all have them, and I admitted to that myself, falling in line with the majority, on each category listed. Truth be told, I took the tests about four years ago or so, roughly (which also illustrates the extent of my interests on these matters), so I don't remember the specifics of the tests all that much, but I do remember I had biases. And yes, as argued with another user, biases can be both for and against. And they are not always following just exactly what you are, yourself (whites for whites, gays for gays, etc. etc.) And there are infinite degrees to them. They are on a sliding scale of... rigidity. This, I think, being key. And what irks me is not that someone would dare to proclaim that I, like all, do have them, but that I am not able to use my mind and detach myself, to a reasonable distance, so that I may also see another point of view, or angle, etc.
What's my point? My point is that I'm tired, and this isn't easy, and I'm not entirely sure if it's all worth it, tbh, but I will say again, for anyone who cares to bother reading this far down, that I am not speaking out of my ass when I am interacting with you. Sometimes I ask ridiculous questions, of absolutely no significance or importance, like 'which rabbit are you', and you can just pass those on by, of course, or maybe I want to marvel a little at some beautiful models and black&white photography, stuff like that, but for just about everything else I write on GAG, and even much of those in private message, I give a shit about what I am saying, what you are saying, and whether or not we both walk away from these conversations, or questions, or comments feeling either better, or worse, or the same. And I'll accept 'same.' That's fine. But I'm not trying to insult anyone, or kick you when you're down, and most of the time (yeah, most) I'm not trying to attack your character. I am working through something here... should I call it a social experiment?
I have also written about confidence. Confidence is over-rated, over-emphasized, in my opinion (yep, there's a mytake about that.) But I am [okay, confident] that I am a pretty reasonable person, with a decent head sitting up there, and even with my implicit biases, I am a lot less judgmental than I thought (everything is relative though, right.) So here it is, the crux of it - if you're reasonable, sensible, have half a brain (I'd prefer a full one, chock-a-block full in fact - and secretly I kind of relish a little chaos), and are interested in stimulating conversation, exposing me to some views I may not have thought of, and are willing [and happy] to do it in a mature, open, and logical way (and you can add some emotion and feeling in there too), then I may be interested to chat (public at first, then if we mesh, pm.) There are thousands upon thousands of questions on GAG, and as you may notice, I'm trying to snuff out the deeper or more complex ones. I don't know everything, and I don't expect you to either. I don't want to fight, or debate, and I don't have a mission to change your mind. Come at me peaceably, with an honest, earnest heart and intention, and who knows what could happen (variety is the spice of life, right.)
Some of you have no interest in this type of stuff (if you feel that way I'm sure you are not reading this still), and if you want to sext and do all that other stuff here, have at it, go for it. I, personally, see a fair bit of boredom here, and some disillusionment, some anger, and quite a few backs up. But each and every day that I have yet another conflict, or tense back-and-forth, or private messaging with someone, and we stick with it, and turn that sucker around... I think hallefuckinlujah. Success. Andd that was my day today, 2/3 ain't bad. And over these months, I have received quite a few apologies and I have made quite a few concessions, and I am more than happy to use key phrases such as, "I understand that...", "I take responsibility for...", "I am sorry that...", "I agree with you on...", "You are right that..." It's not that difficult.
It is not that I want to constantly be in a state of battle, or distress, or conflict... definitely not (and I can't stress that enough.) There is a big difference between a completely closed mind, unwilling to concede on any points, and one that is willing to slow down, take a beat, read carefully the words in front of them, and look for the kernel of goodness, an innocent mistake in a choice of words, a display of common sense, or to find compassion for what the other person may have intended but with too much brevity, did not accomplish. (In that vein, thank you to @LightEnd @msc545 and @roland77 for your reasonableness and understanding and commitment to find a resolution. I am impressed with and respect you all for how you handled that.) Finding common ground, on which many of us stand, is always better than focusing on only the differences.
Since opening up my account (well, I was never Private, but you get the gist), seeing all comments (some of them still suck, admittedly, and I really don't enjoy being reminded of some of the anger and hatred in the world), and engaging when I would have previously written people off, I have now seen, time and time again, that we can mend these fences, we can clarify the misunderstandings, we can improve our language and writing skills, and we can tell someone when we disagree, but in a calm and reasonable manner... and they do, quite often, appreciate this. A famous person says (I'll keep their name to myself, because of, cough cough, you know, biases), after interviewing countless people, both great thinkers and average Joes, that they all have one thing in common. Just one. And that is, they all want to be heard. Secondarily, they also wanted to know, "Did I do okay?" So I'm here to tell you, the moderate majority, I know you are out there, I know you are decent human beings, I know you have been through things, that each journey is unique, and I know you just want to believe that people (especially anyone who you think is probably opposing you), have heard you, understand where you're coming from, and are willing to consider another's point of view, even if just for a moment. And I'm telling you, I hear you loud and clear. Your words matter. Not all of them, not all of mine, not all the time, but this forum has an amazing potential to make things better, or to make one individual feel a little better, and if I know one thing about life it is that - change starts with one. Day by day by day, I am refining my ability to listen better, and to at least consider an alternative. I'm not sure if we actually owe each other anything, us strangers around the ether. Maybe we don't. But I know I do want to feel that all this time that we have on Earth is not futile, completely meaningless (admittedly, sometimes I think just that), and at the very least, can be more enjoyable than it is painful, builds us up rather than destroys us or our spirits, and makes us want to stay another day. Let's hang out, think, talk, share, and remember we have far more in common than our differences. If you respect me, I will respect you. It's really that simple. We all have things we can learn from one another. I do believe that.
So, see you around the water cooler?