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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 08:18 am (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 08:25 am (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 08:51 am (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 08:52 am (UTC)
(I do like your flowers, very much)
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:27 am (UTC) - Expand
leahbobet
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:47 am (UTC)
With regard to feeling personally walked out on, would this speak to any of that?
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:55 am (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!
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
asakiyume
Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
(and wow, reading that essay more carefully, it's both scary and applicable to so many situations)
(no subject) - leahbobet - Apr. 23rd, 2014 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 23rd, 2014 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
sartorias
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:27 am (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 09:40 am (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 09:43 am (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.
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sartorias - Apr. 23rd, 2014 11:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Apr. 23rd, 2014 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
desperance
Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:56 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.
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - desperance - Apr. 23rd, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barry_king - Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
bondo_ba
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:39 am (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 01:45 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 02:41 pm (UTC)
What all of those groups have in common is that they are sheltered from the real world. Hmm.
barry_king
Apr. 23rd, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
Well, there's no monopoly on that, at least.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )