the power of obligation

Last month, I was contacted by three people I would rather not have engaged with, but I did so anyway. Why?

 

An obligation, I suppose you could say. All three of these people were folks I’d had a habit of chatting with quite frequently and excitedly at some point in the past. At a later date, all three made me feel not OK in major ways for reasons that I’ll refrain from getting into detail here.

Somehow, I felt that I would or could make things worse by not saying anything in response to their contact, in case they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be contacted (even though I communicated to each of them what was amiss). Our past interactions inspired me to respond, too.

 

 

There’s a sense of finality in breaking ties with people, whether it’s speaking to them less, or going your own way, online, offline or both. It can make things uncomfortable if you have friends in common, and/or frequent similar social circles. It can cast a shadow over anyone’s day.

Untitledexcite

Not breaking ties is tempting. It’s an ‘engage anyway’ button that a good chunk of folks tend to push perhaps without fully realising it, and it almost always comes at a cost to the one pushing it.

 

 

When folks do something wrong, there can be an assumption in play that we should just carry on as though nothing has happened, and move on. That it’s not worth the bother. I’m trying fiercely to break this habit, at least in the sense that I don’t speak up when something’s not quite right.

Part of moving on for me involves dealing with the thing, if it’s within my ability to. At the very least, I want those around me to acknowledge they’re aware of it. I would want to know if I mucked something up so I could fix it, if possible. (I am very aware not everyone shares this feeling.)

At best, the problem lies within a simple miscommunication that can be smoothed out if and when all parties involved are receptive to talking about it. At worst, one side shuts down when such news is being relayed, which usually leads to resentment, questioning safety, and other negatives.

 

 

Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it should make better in a number of cases.

It’s rough finding ways to let people know you’re not OK, especially if you’re seen by others as a person who is relatively strong of will and/or are used to going a lot of things alone. Keep this in mind: even strong people can break when you think that they’re merely bending.

Untitledbw

August ’07, Indianapolis

Please consider being receptive to constructive criticism, even if it’s just to allow the person giving the criticism space, and to give you space to mull the information over awhile. Even if they’re parting words, and even if it hurts. Within that hurt is the opportunity to learn. We’re works in progress, and it’d be foolhardy to assume we’ve got it all figured out.

Please also tell yourself – maybe more than once – that it’s alright to disengage when you feel it necessary, nostalgia be damned. Holding onto memories of the good times serves little purpose if it’s being invoked during repeats of harmful behaviour, whether said behaviour is intended or not.

 

One obligation we have and often forget is the obligation to ourselves, to our hearts and to our well-being. Those obligations are simply not possible to fulfill if we keep offensive actions in our lives.

Part III in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

Part II: https://kungfulasers.com/2014/04/03/possession/

Advertisements

lolcats and ink splats

‘If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.’

Lately I’ve noticed folks taking variations of this quote and using it on their journey to go barrel rolling round the internet at 11.

I’ve had an issue with this quote (which is very likely misquoted) for a while for the above reason and much more, and haven’t felt strong enough to voice it until now.

I seem to have developed some sort of fear of expressing myself online as often as I used to due to this rise in ‘with us or against us’ culture, and also perhaps because of feeling guilty that I am slowly losing the time and energy to actively contribute to any possible stated ‘solution’, vague or not.

This leaves me confused and out of the loop, sometimes unable to get on board with things due to simply lacking the information. Am I now problematic?

 

 

On another side of things, for those who do have the time and energy to familiarize themselves, it is very true that people can be resistant to change, and even outright refuse because it means more work to do what is widely seen as right, or simply commonly accepted. This lot can certainly be encouraged, but ultimately it’s their job/choice to take the steps.

 

However, speaking in absolutes where someone else’s feelings are concerned without substantial evidence runs the risk of being eerily impertinent.

Fall ’05, Los Angeles.

 

Does one misstep count as being anti-x? How mild or severe must the mistake be to rule someone completely out as being in your corner? How do we tell what a true apology is, and what a ‘fauxpology’ is when someone is in the wrong? Can we dialogue with those undecided on positions, or is it not worth it?

 

 

In hopes of finding some of these answers, I have been quieter and more observant of exchanges online, where possible.

Sometimes I do not even actively participate in them, save to learn terms that may be foreign/otherwise inaccessible to me, what not to say or do within certain circles to maintain that I respect people and would also like to be respected in turn.

 

Education is often an ongoing lifetime process as people and times change (and hopefully grow).

I don’t always succeed, but I try to exercise empathy for the folks who are going to 11, and to exercise patience for the ones who don’t yet understand something I’ve only just learned.

 

 

In a funny sort way, this rise of ‘barrel roll to 11’ culture has been a good thing for me, as it pushes me to engage in more exchanges offline, moderate exchanges I control online, and seek out one-on-one exchanges in general to further understanding.

 

I am not of the opinion that sharing is impossible in the face of difficulty (even where there are disagreements). 

I feel confident in my determination to create space for myself and others in which to safely speak and dissect, as well as call out where necessary. That in itself takes work, so perhaps I am doing some good, though it might not be observed by all.

 

Part II in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

Part I: https://kungfulasers.com/2013/08/01/emotion/

emotion of the ocean

People on their own tend to find time and space with which to form opinions.

In a gathering, people can perhaps present opinions developed by themselves, but there seems to be a need lately to come to a forced consensus in group settings in the name of winning or being declared indisputably right.

What does that mean?

Imagine you’re at a party and someone says something off-base, or simply unexpected. The actions of just one other person can determine the reaction of others, or the party as a whole. The tone may shift as a reaction to the something.

Imagine also that there are 2 individuals in that party of what we’ll assume is 30 people whose body language or attitude becomes negative as a response to the reaction.

One person says, ‘hey, that thing wasn’t actually cool, because X, Y and Z.’

Another responds to this by suggesting they’re talking out of their arse, consciously or subconsciously preserving the overall tone of the party. This is what some call a derail.

1338681347907_8187608

The internet can be a lot like that.

How often have you witnessed a thread on a forum or social networks where one idea forms and from there, through others, begins to take off?

Largely due to the internet, we live in a world where instant gratification is prevalent and is something to be expected, even in some of our daily lives in offline aspects.

Two people who say A is equal to B while another says no you silly persons, A is clearly equal to C hold more power than the one who is presenting an argument by themselves. This behaviour suggests that ‘hey, you’re only one person, no one here agrees with you, how could you possibly know anything of value?’

Granting audience to dissenting opinions is discouraged in certain places, as that takes extra time and energy, drifting apart from the flow of a crowd interaction. We may end up with That Thing, an accord about a behaviour/attitude for the sake of brevity and moving on, which leaves some feeling lost, confused and hurt.

elenawin

Why the urge to gang up on one or few?

There could be a number of factors for this. Many people are reticent to acknowledge or accept change, and so resistance to much outside their comfort zones may seem natural to them. Might be as simple as having a bad day.

Justifications seem insufficient for shutting people out of dialogue simply for views being new and strange. It may take practice, and all involved may not agree, but taking a moment to consider another perspective may be worthwhile to the masses.

A great deal of internet arguments are emotionally charged. Competition appears almost immediately, and with it the desire to one-up each other to declare superiority.

shoot

It’s a destructive cycle of attack or be attacked that has gained popularity in shared spaces, but no one really wins anything for that brand of effort long-term.

Folks do have the stuff to collectively decide on something in a productive manner, but there appears to be a rise online of people having knee-jerk sort of reactions to unpopular opinions, and thus thrusting their One Twue Magnanimous Way forth.

Arguments don’t always have to mean that people are enemies, or that one side is absolutely correct while the other has erred. Keep that in mind for the next time you participate in any kind of heated debate, whether on the computer or off.

 

Part I in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

steady breathing

Florida is a very strange state. As far as I know, the MSM doesn’t do much to prove otherwise, with what I read of bizarre crimes and even more puzzling methods of state government.

I have taken several trips to Florida, as north as Fort Lauderdale and as south as Key West, with a main focus in Miami. Due to an intensely passionate long-term relationship, it got to a point where Miami crossed my mind when I considered a place to move to from Los Angeles.

I ended up with my first choice of Washington state, and in the process broke the strong ties I had binding me to Florida in any way. I was really quite firm in thinking I would not return.

Three years plus later, here I am, doing some remarkable stuff. I got over my negative mentality enough to book a flight and see people I value more than letting the past prevail.

Someone I’ve been online friends with for several years met me in Pensacola, spent the entire day with me and another gal of note I’d not seen for at least most of those aforementioned several years. It was an effortless sort of day, one you get to desiring after a long, difficult stretch. In our own different ways, we each needed to be able to laugh and be so carefree.

Summer ’12, Lake Lorraine, Florida

I’m not going to sit here and type this and pretend that my friendships have been all hunky dory, because that would be a lie. There are still a few I can think of off the top of my head that are in dire need of repair. I will mention that coming back after a while to talk about the goings on between myself and one of these women made a significant effect on me being here.

One point that really burns about rifts in friendships is that lingering lack of closure. It’s not necessary for the other person or people involved to give that closure to you, especially depending on how things went down. The best one can do is admit faults, and try to keep a cool head when receiving criticisms/hearing alternate sides of the story. I’ve got work to do.

My trip and experiences here thus far have taught me to keep trying, and that it’s okay to enjoy myself every once in a while without thinking too hard about what it might mean in the future.

export/import

The consensus lately amongst folks who take time to zero in is this: I’m tired.


Those folks happen to be right. I’m tired emotionally, often tired physically, and my spirit suffers. I’m considering my options, and actively seeking correction for each offense.






Some backstory. I would consider myself to be a bit of a caretaking sort with people I get to know on a deep personal level, be it friendship or otherwise. I believe it’s something I inherited from my late gran, and chose to keep around in my behaviour.


While we may not be able to help in ways that matter to modern society (read: material items we crave), we offer help in ways that people need but cannot or do not typically voice. A shoulder to lean on, a sympathetic but non-coddling ear, warm words, a hug. A genuine many-volted smile. These gestures are extensions of our very core, things that we do for the sake of furthering someone’s well-being.






I may never know, but I do wonder if my gran grew weary of this sort of routine at certain intervals. To give, you must take out of yourself, being fully aware that you may never see those portions return. 


Investing in others is risky business, though that is not always obvious. Hindsight burns, and we begin to doubt. Our idea of ‘wise choice’ becomes skewed, compromised. We blame ourselves for bad situations.

July ’11, Trout Lake, Vancouver, British Columbia


Reflection is vital. Survival is good temporarily, but in the long run we must find something better to sustain us. Living, giving and not losing too much of our identity, spirit, and ambition must endure.

sticks & stones

It goes without saying that in social circles, reputation can be very important.
It’s pleasing to be able to offer references to others (if deemed necessary) when coming into their world to reassure them that you’re good people, whether it’s for public or private events, business or casual. It’s even better when you don’t have to do it yourself, because mutual acquaintances and/or friends are so excited at the prospect of getting so much positive energy into a single space.
What do you do if you’ve had one not so rosy experience with a person, though? Two? Three? 
Would references work the converse way, where you’d warn friends about said person/people? Would it depend on the severity of the experience(s)?

Luckily, I haven’t had very many bad experiences to speak of. 
If I have issues with someone directly, it may take me a moment to vocalize, but I usually attempt to sort them out with the person involved. While I don’t see the harm in kvetching occasionally, I tend not to mention more benign things to friends that aren’t involved unless asked, or unless they build up over time.
However, if I feel that folks I care about could be in danger as a result of interaction with Person X, I’d be inclined to tap them lightly on the shoulder, share my story, and let them draw their own conclusion.
That last bit is vital: let them draw their own conclusion.
It is absolutely not my intention to come across as a pushover of my own agenda, or to make it seem as though my friends can’t take my words with a grain of salt. 
It’s essential, as someone who knows me, that you make use of your own common sense.
My experiences may not be your own. That’s the big hope, actually — your experiences should not mirror my own, especially if mine were negative.

It’s a delicate process, talking about people in general. 
It’s increasingly fragile ground if your primary outlet in which to do so is the internet, which leads to loads of conjecture.
Comments spread like wildfire, so be careful about the matches you choose to ignite, when and where you throw them. The damage is oftentimes irreversible.