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I know you've been here before: You're talking to a friend about her long-term, borderline abusive relationship. He hasn't really done anything illegal, but he just has this tendency to be hurtful, controlling, making himself out to be the victim in any argument, making her into the bad guy with the kids and otherwise being manipulative, mendacious, etc., etc... You believe he's cheating on her and you don't want to say so because it would just add one more thing to her long list of worries about him. So you let her talk and get it off her chest, and give some advice about setting boundaries, and eventually, she goes back home feeling a little better, a little more confident and assertive...

...until the next week when she's back on your couch again doing the same thing. This goes on and on for years, until it finally dawns on you that... YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM. If you weren't there to let her blow steam and talk it out and have a bit of a cry and so on... She would have dumped that asshole years ago. You're just enabling her to maintain a crappy relationship, and not only is it wasting her life, but she's wasting yours with this codependency bullshit.

After a while, you even start to tally the hours and the pots of tea and the going out to the pub that you've been doing to make her feel better, and you see that it's costing you money, not just time. And there's all those lost opportunities that you have because you were at home on the weekend consoling her rather than getting to know people and do interesting things. And all this builds up into a huge festering pile of resentment. Eventually, you stop seeing this friend of yours, you cut her off, you let her sleep in the bed she made.

Is that being a friend? I don't think so.

But what can you do?

I realize, perhaps while thinking about the period twenty to ten years ago, that I've spent the decade between ten years ago and now doing this social networking thing. I've been both the woman with the abusive relationship and the longsuffering friend through all this time, and I'm thinking.... This is not working. Not for either of us.

What kind of brought it to a head is YET ONE MORE BULLSHIT EVENT FROM THE SFWA.

It's not a particularly bad one. Some bigots rallied around a bigot and got him some votes. Happens every election in every European democracy. There's always the token skinhead member of parliament, and most everyone seethes to see him there, and the minority rejoice to get one up on the system.

But here's the thing: I've begun to notice how much time I devote to this codependency. I'm beginning to see how there's this one country, and this one country has these serious problems with equality. Race, gender, and economic equality. And this broken relationship it has with equality manages to inveigle itself into every. single. online. issue. ever.

I'm also noticing this because someone (I won't say who, because she'd resent me for bringing her into this petty argument) said that one thing you need to know about Americans is that "we assume everyone is just like us." And it's true. I know because I was raised American and it took twenty years of marriage to a non-American for me to get a full grasp of the enormity of how this is true. We Americans (and possibly all humans, but being raised American biases me) try to put all things into our own context rather than try to understand someone else's.

To the point where we actually have the fucking gall to tell other people how to run their societies, when we're so abysmally bad at running our own. The hypocricy is STAGGERING. [But that's my own bugbear. Being raised as a Foreign Service brat makes me put everything into the context of international relations. See? AMERICAN!]

So I am going to try (AGAIN, because I've tried before, and even closed down an earier LJ account to prevent myself from sucking at this bilious teat) to stop enabling this relationship. Now... back to pretty flowers.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:18 pm (UTC)
I want to argue with *everything* here, the premises, the conclusions, the side stories--I am Ms Argumentative today, I guess. But friendly-argumentative. Well, except for this: when people say "Damn it; all this social media drama is a waste of my time; I'm gonna QUIT. Well nearly. But just wait. Soon I'm gonna QUIT"--I take it personally. I feel like you (and not just you; there've been others) are walking out on me, personally. And I know, logically, that you're not, but it's a visceral, non-logical reaction. In part it comes from this: *this* space (LJ, and specifically, your own journal) is not a place where I see a helluva lot of LJ drama. Frankly, I'm like one of about five commenters here. And I like talking about thoughts and ideas, and it doesn't feel so very drama-y to me, and so why do you announce to me, and folks like me, that you're going to pack up and leave? I feel like you're swinging your fist at the wrong faces.

barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:25 pm (UTC)
What? You don't like my pretty flowers? Now I'm hurt.

But no, I have no problem with social media per sé. But all this preaching to the choir instead of confronting the devil is getting to me.
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:51 pm (UTC)
*is mollified*

Yeah, I see it as a (sometimes/often childish) game that people play, and game playing ranges from harmless entertainment to dangerous distraction, I guess.

As *you* know, being a person who's actually confronted some devils now and then, if you wander into the battlefield where the devils are, the situation turns out to be confused and messy. It's hard to know where to lay your hands, and no action is untainted.

asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
(I do like your flowers, very much)
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I feel better now. I suppose I should get off your couch and go back to the abusive boyfriend.
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:42 pm (UTC)
I've spent all this time writing and then deleting a long email about Hugos and things. Eughhh….
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:58 pm (UTC)
Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "'Come out of her, my people,' so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I ended up deciding that The Barenaked Ladies had said it best:

leahbobet
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
With regard to feeling personally walked out on, would this speak to any of that?
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:55 pm (UTC)
That's an excellent post, but actually, I wasn't so much trying to ensnare Barry in toxic conversations he's sick of having, but keep him around for the other, nontoxic, but interesting conversations that can happen online.

But I can see how for some people the whole phenomenon of online conversation could be ruined by the toxicity in certain areas, and how they'd want a break--and in that case, whining as I was *would* constitute trying to manipulate them into staying in a place they don't want to be. So that's food for thought!

Normally, when people want to leave a situation, I figure it's best to let them go. Somehow this morning, though, the opposite mood overtook me!
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yes, I understand, and appreciate it.
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 03:02 pm (UTC)
(and wow, reading that essay more carefully, it's both scary and applicable to so many situations)
leahbobet
Apr. 23rd, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)
Isn't it, though? :/
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, that essay... really reminds me of what it was like working for certain NGOs. My first boss in particular.

But it just happened to me again. I interviewed for a position at a really big NGO. It would have been a huge disruption to my life, so Cara Sposa and I really discussed it thoroughly before the interview. I went into it, willing to make that particular sacrifice because it's one of the NGOs I have a lot of respect for. Their work, that is.

But part of the interview was this test that involved several problems; two or three of them were rather tricky to solve. I answered them as best as I could in the day or so I got to answer them...

Then I waited...

And waited...

Asked if they had filled the position. Was told "no".

Waited some more....

No answer.

Then I read this article and realized what had happened. They just gamed me for free consultant advice. This, an NGO that can afford to pay its CEO $700K a year.

Boggling. And yes, the NGO world, like the private company world, as you said recently, is full of creeps, and that article pretty much describes my first five years of working for one. That's not to say it should always be avoided, but when you find the toxic ones... STAY AWAY!
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:37 pm (UTC)
That is *terrible*
sartorias
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:27 pm (UTC)
If you are talking about the latest Hugo flap, it has nothing to do with SFWA. The Hugo culture overlaps a bit, but really are two separate animals. . . overlap in the way that warty rhino, say, and a wild boar are mammals.
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:40 pm (UTC)
A good point and thank you, but with SFWA sales being a prerequisite for the Campbell's, and the rarity of a Hugo going to a non-SFWA-member, and a particular person being involved in the SFWA newsletter... It's really just part of the same broccoli plant to me.

Also, I've been recently wondering aloud if some of the problem is that the SFWA represents the world, but the A is not "Association". It's a little ga(u)lling.
sartorias
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that about the Campbells. I have to admit that the award culture has little interest for me--they all are too much like third grade popularity contests, I mean "classroom elections." I know we humans love our hierarchies; this particular subset seems to run itself along axes that don't include my interests.
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC)
I aspire to that level of indifference, but I'm secretly not there yet.

I think part of my problem is that I actually qualify for the Campbell award this year, know that I could have made a real crack at it, but haven't done so, so I'm probably subconsciously pressing sour grapes over the whole affair.

But I'm also just tired, tired, tired of watching me and all my liberal friends and fellow lefties exhausting themselves online while the other side is taking over everything. I recognize I need to channel that energy into stories, not posts.

But posting is easier, and has immediate rewards.

Why, yes, I am reading The Shallows right now, why do you ask?
sartorias
Apr. 23rd, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC)
I was never eligible for the Campbells, which probably accelerated my "same old same old" feeling (I had sold nine work for hire novels under house names before my "first publication" which was YA, another strike against me in 1986.)

As for the rightwingnuts, hey, take the long view. First of all, that stuff never would have gotten on the ballot at all if there were very many nominations. Second, even if they try to raise votes by buying memberships, who is going to remember who won two years from now? Five? Who remembers Hugo winners of ten years ago? Is anyone reading them because they were Hugo winners?

I figure, let's put our energy into striving to write something that will reach the hearts and minds of ordinary people out there who have never heard of Worldcon or any of the rest of it.
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
Well said. Thanks, Sherwood.
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:36 pm (UTC)
Amen to this.
desperance
Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:56 pm (UTC)
Also, I've been recently wondering aloud if some of the problem is that the SFWA represents the world, but the A is not "Association". It's a little ga(u)lling.

It's ga(UK)lling too. Someone did convince me a few years back, when I was considering joining, that the A did indeed stand for Association; but indeed it does not, and I did learn better and step away again.

But now that I live here, I am trying the belonging thing. Mostly I buy into the argument that parts of it are so excellent and do so much good, while the rest is susceptible to change from within. Maybe. I hope.

And I do also line up with those who insist that it's not fair to tar SFWA with the Hugo brush. SFWA is tarry enough on its own account, and the overlap is really not that significant (especially in a year when WorldCon is in another country, so more-than-usual of the Hugo-voting membership will not be SFWA members or USian at all). There is all manner of problem with the Hugo management, but SFWA influence is a vanishingly small element in that.
barry_king
Apr. 24th, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
Yes, to be fair I am a great thrower-out-of-babies-with-bathwater and actually admire your willingness to adapt and thrive. I've felt no great desire to return, but then I never entirely felt at home either.

In Canada, we seem to absorb a great deal of U.S. culture in our pan-American method of watching TV. For example, people will use the term "Freedom of Information Act" when they mean the "Access to Information Act", and there are occasional bouts of gun-clingery that come through.

So perhaps I am a bit sensitized to the degree that U.S. politics shows up in our common dialogue, and was not happy to see it invading what I feel to be a more global space in the Hugos.

But yes, I see the different tar-brushes—thank you for chiming in on that, but I also see a root bit of unresolved political issues here that has a distinctly red-white-and-blue motif.
desperance
Apr. 24th, 2014 12:42 am (UTC)
I confess, I would love to see a regional breakdown of the nominating votes. We do have a tendency to assume that the rightwingnuts are generally American, but given the general observed dilution of US influence in Worldcons elsewhere, then either they swung a lot of their US fans into buying memberships expressly to vote, or there's a provokable subset of wingnuttery in fandom worldwide. And I would like to know which it is.
barry_king
Apr. 24th, 2014 01:04 am (UTC)
No, I think what you're seeing is the effect of ebooks on the process. It's arguably worth the expense to be a supporting member of WorldCon just to get the Hugo Voter Packet. This year, it's even being packed with the full Wheel of Time, which would be the price of supporting membership alone, let alone with all the other goodies therein.
bondo_ba
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
I have decided to abstain completely from the genre tempests in teapots. The "professionals" have shown themselves to be a bunch of adolescents who let politics run their lives.
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sad but true. But this seems to be true of much of academia as well, and, as I mention above, true of a lot of nongovernmental institutions as well. I'm wondering if it isn't part of the bubble effect of online life.
bondo_ba
Apr. 23rd, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
What all of those groups have in common is that they are sheltered from the real world. Hmm.
barry_king
Apr. 24th, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)
Well, there's no monopoly on that, at least.
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