We Felt Pretty Confident, But It Turned Out We Just Hadn’t Understood The Question
To an outsider it’d probably look like I’d been brainwashed by a social justice agenda, and was hypocritically turning my back on my ideology to try and… I don’t know, I guess curry favour with the people who hold the least power in our society for… some reason?
But what actually happened is that on re-reading, a lot of it was just dumb.
And honestly, if I’ve seemed to change my focus or perspective on the world to others, from my perspective I haven’t changed at all. I still don’t follow leaders. I watch the parking meters. I don’t believe in heroes. And I try not to be too ignorant.
My more political or ideological friends literally did try to brainwash me, and it never worked. I realised a long time ago that there’s very little I can learn from other straight white dudes who do more lecturing than they do sharing. I’m responsive to people being open about their shit, not to them trying to tell me shit. It’s very hard for a basic white dude to show me anything I haven’t already considered.
Accidentally Overhearing Other Voices Can Be Annoying, But Listen Harder
It was starting to hear other voices that broadened my horizons, and made me realise that while what I thought was rational based on the data I had, a lot of those opinions and assumptions fell apart in the face of more data.
And I can’t take credit for this shift in my parameters. Those voices were always there, if I wanted to seek them out, but I didn’t. White perspectives, male perspectives, CIS perspectives were the easiest to find and the ones given prominence, and I’m lazy so I didn’t look further. I had friends from different backgrounds and groups, and they knew a lot of this stuff, but for various reasons they weren’t enabled to speak it out loud where I could hear.
It was social media that changed things for me. Entirely. A combination of two things, really:
- More democratic platforms allowing marginalised groups to speak to themselves and each other, where I could see them. I remember one specific call to women to “share this tweet if you’ve ever been sexually assaulted”, and seeing so many women I knew and respected retweeting it. Increased visibility of police murders of unarmed black people also changed things.
- The increasingly public and unfiltered behaviour of predominantly white, male groups emboldened by so many different situations – opposition to Obama, the way mass media covered stuff like the above-mentioned visible inequality, Gamergate, and on and on – put things in pretty sharp focus, too. I can’t get comfortable with the idea of heroes, but I know damn well what a wanker looks like.
I Know An Idiot When I See One (Except When He’s In The Mirror)
It became pretty clear in the last few years that a culture war was either coming or was already being fought, and if I’m honest it’s been much more immediately clear to me who I oppose than who I support. I should thank the alt-right and assorted other conservative types, I suppose, because I’m pretty disconnected – had they not become such openly screaming monsters, I might have ignored them forever.
Anyway, that’s one of the reasons I’ve opted for a clear break from past content.
The other is I wanted to start again, and I wanted somewhere to put a couple of bits of writing I’ve not yet found another home for, and I couldn’t get my head round trying to fit it in with the hundreds of posts I’d done here before. It was paralysing me.
I closed up Elephant Words a few years ago, but more recently I’ve been in a writing group at work that has had me writing odd little bits. It’s weird for me, not sharing those. I only have a handful of things I want to share that aren’t already tied up somewhere else, but this is the best place to share them, I think. Tidy. Out of the way. Not hidden like they would be in a mailing list, but not lost to the endless grind of Facebook or Tumblr, either.
Hopefully at some point in the future I’ll have some good news to share about my writing, too! But we’ll see.