My days lately, and Tumblr anger

The majority of my life is undocumented now. It would look like: me in front of my laptop or reading, or cooking, or baking, in suspiciously pajama-like clothes. Or me driving to class and then sitting in the back row next to the window in half-lotus, rolling my eyes ferociously and making unrelated notes. (Our rather poor excuse for a teacher tried to force me to let her see them today. Excuse ME. No, I did say, "Excuse me? No, I am not doing work for another class. I do not have any other classes.")

I think for some of us the problem with being alone too much is not being sad, but being bereft of the moderating influence of others. Ideas and impulses and moods are amplified when they are only bouncing off the inside of one's own skull. Agree/disagree?

The parts we do have pictures of:








Odessa, who lent me her disposable to take the picture below.


Burned the backs of my thighs yesterday on a "read and eat cherries in the sun" escape with her to Crissy Field. Cleared a whole bunch of books off my shelf to try to sell (oh I am broke as a joke thanks to backing out of Uganda...).

I got a rather vicious message on Tumblr, which leaves a lingering bad taste in my mouth even though I don't take it personally or even seriously. Yuck. I think I'm always willing to talk, but some people can't hear; there's no point. They hold their agenda too tightly.

I'm tired — so very tired — of witnessing the "FUCK YOU" reaction from people who've read something they don't like. I think such vitriolic reactions are not a sign that we believe deeply in our ideas, but rather that we are identifying too closely with our ideas and opinions, that we have to attack whoever threatens them rather than engaging the problematic ideas. (I have done it too, mind.) Because if the urgency were about the real issues, we would do something that was actually effective. Please, believing things deeply doesn't excuse us from our duty to treat each other well — it is so easy to hurt, and there's too much yelling already.

[Random comments always welcome; below comment space however is especially reserved for reflections/experiences with ugly online stranger-anger in case you would like to unburden some bad flavor.]

13 comments:

Julia 7/05/2011 2:04 PM  

'I think such vitriolic reactions are not a sign that we believe deeply in our ideas, but rather that we are identifying too closely with our ideas and opinions, that we have to attack whoever threatens them rather than engaging the problematic ideas.'

Most accurate thing I've hard in a very long time.

anilee 7/05/2011 2:26 PM  

It's so much faster to just insult the person than to write a thoughtful response that explains your opinion. Since the person is a stranger and the internet is (mostly) anonymous, why should we have to respect anyone that we disagree with and don't know? How is that "fuck you" going to come back to us? And who's going to care in fifteen minutes because how long can the words of one internet user really bother you? It's just so much easier to be insulting, although really, I think it's just as easy to type out something angry and then hit backspace. You vent and no one has to read ugly words. It's a win-win situation. Especially since no one cares about your anonymous, poorly expressed opinion; you might as well not even share it. Hitting "enter" is not going to make you any more important in this world. Actually, it just kind of makes you a jerk. And okay, you're the only one who has to live with that knowledge, and it's probably not even going to last long, so why say anything anyway? Silence is golden. Unless you're interested in an actual exchange, in which case, why aren't you taking the time to write something thoughtful again?

anilee 7/05/2011 2:35 PM  

And oh yes, I agree with you that such responses are not a sign of deeply held beliefs but too closely identifying with them.

Although I don't see this as necessarily being a bad thing. We do identify ourselves by our opinions; they make us us. So depending on what exactly the person is saying...you might truly feel like they are attacking YOU and not your opinion. I think the thing is finding the balance; in most cases, the person doesn't mean to say something insulting. They don't mean to attack you; they're just expressing themselves and perhaps not in the most rational manner, but why should they need to? We ought to be able to give people some room to vent and understand that they are.

But the thing is, we never really know how important something is to someone else. You might think a comment is okay, but to someone else, it isn't okay because the subject means much more.

I guess I think that anger IS sign of deeply held convictions, but angry, insulting responses that say nothing about the actual issue are only a sign of immaturity and an unwillingness to listen.

Q 7/05/2011 3:38 PM  

Agree. I mean, just think: the inside of your skull is concave, which means that the thoughts will bounce off of it and focus unless they get out of your skull and expand because of the convexness...

The last fight I had on the internet actually turned out to be a very good thing for me: it helped me become less confrontational because it helped me understand my own intellectual limitations. It prepared me to leave the homogeneous society of my home by teaching me that not everyone is or should be like me. It just took me a few years to realize that.

sui 7/05/2011 8:51 PM  

"I think for some of us the problem with alone too much is not being sad, but being bereft of the moderating influence of others. Ideas and impulses and moods are amplified when they are only bouncing off the inside of one's own skull. Agree/disagree?"
Agree.
But of course, also, learning to be with yourself, be present, not depend on others' company for happiness...

I love the way you write in general, it carries this tone of authority that kind of intimidates me with its strength & power. In the very best of ways :)

"Please, believing things deeply doesn't excuse us from our duty to treat each other well — it is so easy to hurt, and there's too much yelling already."
Agree.

Dawn 7/05/2011 9:15 PM  

stranger anger ~ I had someone tell me that obviously I am not serious about recovery and that I need to get my act together if I want to truly pursue recovery. Someone who wouldn't even give me the courtesy of signing their name. Oh well, that was months ago and I realize that I'm the one who needs to be happy with me. My progress in this past year has been huge even though I am apparently not serious about getting better!

Holly 7/05/2011 10:23 PM  

Julia - And it is a challenge; like Anilee said, our ideas and opinions are very close to who we are...

Anilee - The Anilee Treatise. I believe we could formulate that as a proof. (Mark of an INTP?)

I do want to distinguish between identifying by and identifying with. Me, I think it's a rare opinion that is stable and transcendent enough to try to build an identity on, but I understand that's arguable. And yeah, for sure anger can signal conviction, but...here's the people growing up and learning to distance their emotional reactions from their actual actions, when necessary.

Q - Hmm, I can definitely see how that could be. What was the issue in question? Religion or...politics, I'm guessing.

Sui - Oh yes. This introvert will always be with you on that one. And thank you, so much. I saw your note about the guest post, btw; I will absolutely email you if/when I find the right post.

Dawn - Ahh. I've seen a couple instances of Anons being really judgmental of recovery bloggers. They reckon that because the blogger is so open about some personal things, they have enough information to judge, or...something -- that's my theory. In any case, kudos to you for continuing to be vulnerable -- blogging can be such a good exercise in that, no? -- and sharing your process.

Leonie Wise 7/05/2011 10:49 PM  

Thankfully I've never been attacked online. Sorry it happened to you. Always saddens me when people feel they need to be vicious oine, as if the person at the receiving end is somehow not so 'real'. I wonder of they would say the same things to someone's face...

Though I have an awareness that it's always about something going on in their life (and it seems you do too) I'm not sure there's ever any excuse for treating someone with anything but the kindness that everyone deserves.

I've seen people offered 'advice' though from someone who perhaps thought they were helping and wonder if we can ever know anyone else's life enough to be qualified to give it to anyone but ourselves.

Thanks for showing up.

red-handed 7/06/2011 6:32 AM  

Wow. You hit two nails that I've been hammering in my head for awhile ...

{a} You're dead-on about the trouble with being alone. I've framed it somewhat differently -- that being alone allows too much self-indulgence, and that you can fall into some very bad habits very quickly -- but really it's the same idea: that being active in the world helps us to gain perspective. On the flip side, being knee-deep in family life can sometimes feel like drowning.

{b} Forget the bad comments. They're meaningless. The people behind them literally have no relevance. They're the flimsiest kind of ghosts. And remember: there's no prize for making everyone happy.

What a lovely, thoughtful post.

Jenica 7/06/2011 10:35 PM  

You are so right. It's really easy to be sarcastic and even easier to respond in anger to someone else's vitriol. It's almost amusing in a sad way how spiteful people can be in a harmless, anonymous discussion. I recently posted a reply on an anti-God forum and the original poster responded but felt the need to throw in snide comments like, "I care about the truth, which clearly you don't." As if I would show my love of truth not by a polite, thoughtful discussion of the issue but by instantly bowing down to their argument.

kaitembird 7/07/2011 3:59 PM  

I just saw the comment you left on my post back on June 6th, sorry! The lighthouse was at Pigeon Point (I think that's what it's called...) in California, it was an "older" photo from my trip to Cali in January.
:)

Q 7/07/2011 9:47 PM  

Politics. It also taught me to not talk about politics in public because I really don't feel like dealing with it.

But this was an intelligent conversation, if a heated one. Words like that are not useful.

Holly 7/08/2011 1:55 PM  

Leonie - Hm, that is a good question -- whether we should have the right to advise people whom we don't have the right to criticize. Hmm. A very good question.

red-handed - I'm thinking that can happen in a different way/to a lesser degree in a small residential (e.g. my) college, because sometimes a short break home has felt so, yes, perspective-restoring. "there's no prize for making everyone happy." I like that a lot. I'm going to remember it.

Jenica - Hmmm yes sounds like they were just gratifying themselves...your last sentence: good reminder for me.

Kait - It was beautiful. I see it's not too far from here, and yet I've never been. I should.

Q - Ah. Yes, I remember you saying that before (that you don't discuss politics in public).

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