I’ll warn this is a very personal post. If you just want to consume my writing and enjoy it, the following words are not required reading. No harm, no foul.
This week has been rough on me. But not me, personally, no. The world hasn’t directed any venom and ire in my specific direction, so technically speaking I should be sitting pretty on top of a pile of good vibes right now. And yet… I’m not. The only reason we have any story for you to read tomorrow at all is because I was able to pull myself together DESPITE feeling down in the dumps lately.
No, no. The world hasn’t hurt me directly. But has done so indirectly. The world has let me down.
I was indirect witness to two wildly different yet oddly similar incidents in which humanity exposed its ugly underbelly for all to see. Namely: the horrific racism and systemic abuse of law going on down in Ferguson, and there’s the unending campaign of hatred and malice being poured on the head of Zoe Quinn, independent game developer. One offline, one online. One against a race, another against a gender. One physical, one psychological. But both are rooted in fear, hatred, and ultimately… bullying.
(Before you decide to lead the charge with flaming sword and war steed right into my comments section to say that Michael or Zoe deserve what they have coming to them… do yourself a favor. Turn right around and never come back here again. I know I only have a dozen or so readers, but I can stand to shed any that stand firmly on the neck of others.)
But I’m not here in my personal blog to talk the particulars about either of those. No, it’s not these incidents and the exact details of them that drove my mood into the toilet this week. It’s something larger than that.
I’m sitting here writing a story about another tyrannical bully — the Citadel — representing a seemingly unstoppable force that always gets what it wants. They are the rule of law gone too far, determined to bring all in line with their thinking or else. In my story, the essential core of human spirit struggles to push back against that kind of bullying. That’s City of Angles. But… the world is continually reminding me that, well… that’s not the reality of the situation, is it? Flashy heroics do nothing. In reality, the bullies tend to win.
What I’m writing feels disconnected, as a result. An escapist fantasy, where we can ultimately triumph over generations of fear and loathing. Where women like Marcy can walk the streets at night looking for tagging opportunities without a worry. Where Penelope can run a blog online where she’s got opinions and she doesn’t get tarred and feathered by a fedora wearing brigade. Where Milly can be cyberbullied but empathically turn it around to make the accuser into an ally. All lovely sentiments which do not reflect what IS, merely what I WISH was. Reality, this week at least, has been hammering home the point that No, That’s Not How Things Work.
I’d like to think that intellectually, I know tolerance and cohesion of community will win out in the long run. Humanity can overcome, can unite, can become something greater. But it’s tough to feel that in the face of incidents like this. Like the hippies of the sixties who saw their peaceful movement collapse, and became uncaring stockbrokers as a result… it’s disheartening.
I know I shouldn’t take this personally. I’m a straight white male, and despite technically being in a minority (disability) I have it good. None of these things really impacts me. And yet, I feel them. I feel them deep down, the injustice, the frustration, the sense of futility. As much as I know I shouldn’t internalize all that, some weeks it’s difficult not to, particularly when I’m trying to write about a world with similar conflicts but different resolutions.
I’ll still finish City of Angles. I managed to write a spectacular finale for //024 which you’ll be reading tomorrow; it’s got the flavor of optimism that I wanted. I won’t change one bit of my plans; the ending will be triumphant. (Hardly a spoiler, that.) But I figured I’d get words down on digital paper all the same, to explain why it’s been difficult. See you tomorrow.