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Skeletons in the Closet

March 21, 2012

Dear Reader,

I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while.  If you go back and look for it, I first mentioned it several months ago, suggesting it was going to appear in the next few posts.  Then again a few months later.  One reason I’ve sat on it so long is that I simply don’t know how to approach the topic.  I also don’t know how sensitive of a topic it may be (or may not be).  I know that in some of my email exchanges with other bloggers we’ve touched on this topic, so I know I’m not the only one thinking it.  The fact is that the topic is really as plain as day and as common sensible as they come.  Everyone lies, you see, and more so on the Internet, so why wouldn’t bloggers, too?

I choose my words pretty carefully.  There are those out there who write their posts and post them immediately, not rereading, proofreading, revising, or giving it a second thought.  I’m impressed by such a process; I pour over my posts at least once and frequently two or three times before I finally push the publish button (with the rare occasions when I accidentally hit publish instead of “save draft”).  I look to invoke just the right meaning in what I’m saying, to be specific and descriptive so that my message flows clearly across the screen.  It makes sense with my background, of course, but it makes sense for a second reason, too.  I helps me hide the parts of me I don’t want exposed; it helps me cloak the real me from the persona of Stubborn.

I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I strongly suspect that most bloggers cloak their full form from public eyes with words.  Some hide their unhappiness, or the depth of their unhappiness.  Others hide a temper (sometimes not very well) or a vengeful personality.  Some of us hide a lack of experience or education.  Whatever the case may be, the truth is that probably every blogger has skeletons in their blog closet, hidden behind doors of word choice and selective writing.

Here, then, is some of my dirty laundry.  I’ve tried to be honest in what I’ve written previously about former guilds, tried to really represent what happened.  I don’t think I was unfair (and in fact asked one of my former guildies in my “best” guild, who agreed), but that doesn’t mean I shared everything I was thinking.  I am, you see, dear reader, a schemer.  A a manipulator.  I think a lot about how to get what I want.  I don’t necessarily try to do it at the cost of others, but I’m not above trying to ruin someone who I don’t like.  Being good with words, it’s easy to goad people into a fight that makes them look like the aggressor.

I’ve mentioned before the guild mate who ate my lightwells up because he hated lightwell so much he’d rather ruin mine than let it work well.  He made it easy to ruin him; he ruined himself.  However, I wasn’t kind to him in the process.  I saw immediately he was a EJ style bully (not that Elitist Jerks are bullies; they simply provide a lot of good information, but there are plenty of people out there who wield EJ knowledge like a weapon, and this fellow as no exception).  Knowing what he was like, it was easy to goad him into having a numerical argument with me that I knew I would win, since he clearly wasn’t up to date on Lightwell numbers.  Only after losing that argument – publicly – did he start quaffing my lightwell charges like a dehydrated sailor stranded at sea (the language was much the same, too).  I didn’t make him be a jerk, but I certainly didn’t help him be a better person, either.  I didn’t like him, and I gave him enough rope to hang himself with, and he did.

That tendency is one of the reasons I work hard to be amiable and convergent on this blog.  I’d much rather find the common ground with people, but it’s partially because I’ve got a nasty, nasty temper.  I’m not bad to my wife or anything (she would rend me in two if she felt I deserved it), but when people who I’m not particularly attached to really annoy me, I often go out of my way to serve some form of “justice.”  While I’ve already announced my bully-busting tendencies, the fact is that it’s not really just out of a sense of justice, it’s more a sense of revenge, which is, as Ahab taught us, not a good motivation.  I’ve found myself wanting to quote Gabe of Penny Arcade, who after a nasty exchange with a bad customer service rep, said,

I think there is a big difference between being sorry and being sorry you got caught. I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets and even bigger bully and maybe that’s me in this case.  It’s the same thing that happened with Jack Thompson. It might not always make the most business sense and it is a policy that has caused us some legal problems, but I really don’t give a shit about that. When these assholes threaten me or Penny Arcade I just laugh. I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.

Honestly, I get in moods like that.  I get in moods where it becomes more important to me to “see justice served” than anything else, and afterwards, I’m not sure what came over me.  To quote Gene Wolf, “We say, “I will,” and “I will not,” and imagine ourselves (though we obey the orders of some prosaic person every day) our own masters, when the truth is that our masters are sleeping.  One wakes within us, and we are ridden like beasts, though the rider is but some hitherto unguessed part of ourselves.”

So why bring all this to light?  I’m tired of sitting on it, really.  I posted recently a very revealing bit of my past in response to Apple Cider’s very revealing post about her experiences.  I wasn’t proud of what I put.  It wasn’t cathartic, but it was honest.  I was in the middle of my previous series, then, and didn’t want to interrupt it twice (I had already interrupted with my belated blogiversary).  This, then, is really a response to her honesty, and the other honesty that followed.  It’s not a coincidence that I took the name Stubborn for the blog, after all.  Yes, it was my current toon’s name when I started the blog (but not really, even then – it was still who I considered my main, I guess), but Stubborn is not just who but what I am as well.

Sincerely,

David (but Stubborn again tomorrow)

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2012 10:55 am

    I wish I had made the connection between the comment and this blog sooner, but granted, so many comments were rolling in that day and I had a lot on my mind, it sorta just slipped by.

    I think one of the compelling points you make here is that you sometimes feel that the anger inside you is a bad thing. It, like fire, can be so many things. To feel like everyone doesn’t have it is naive, but understandable. I’d love to say that I didn’t have some really twisted thoughts at times, but yeah, not stooping to it has been best in the long run. (Mostly.)

    I respect your honesty and I hope everyone reads this. You’ll get a RT out of me.

    • March 21, 2012 1:24 pm

      Yeah, to be honest, I almost never leave comments on a post that already has more than 10 or so because 1) I don’t usually feel I have that much to add and 2) the blogger’s already going to be overwhelmed, so why add to it? That speaks volumes for your post, though, because even though I was down past 150 (I think), I still felt I had my own experience to add and that you’d be able to take something from it. It was a hell of a post (as was the follow up), and I think you got the much-deserved attention you deserved for it (that seems needlessly redundant). It’s nice to see things work out like that, when other people (like what happened with the gold queen) get crapped on by some of their commentators instead of positive feedback about their experience.

      At any rate, thanks for the link love on Twitter and for having the bravery to really get this topic going for me again; it’d been languishing in the draft box so long I’d considered deleting it, but your post so perfectly embodied what I wanted to talk about that it provided the fuel I needed to get it going again.

  2. March 21, 2012 11:31 am

    Welcome in the club, Stubborn! 😉 I must say, I am not the type of blogger to turn her insides out on a blog, and I probably never will be. but I hear you very well.
    personally, and having a similar background like you, I don’t see anger or rage (or stages thereof in my life) as only negative, the way some people would (that silly talk of virtues and suffering and turning the other cheek etc. bla). anger serves a purpose and it can be a healthy mechanism of self-preservation; to let it out, even to attack others can be a way to save yourself (and not harbor the anger within yourself, turning it into something more destructive). so, while there might have been a time where you were most destructive and angry, never forget that you preserved yourself by letting it out. rage can be cathartic.

    other than that, you’re a smart person with a lot of self-insight. you’ve done the best possible thing, seems to me you are aware of your flaws and ready to face them, admit them and work on them. there is nothing shameful about that – we all have flaws and traumas and issues. it’s what we do with them and how we let our past/childhood control us (or not) that defines us as people.

    • March 21, 2012 1:44 pm

      I mean, if we’re talking evolutionarily, then anger and rage must be good things or they’d have been selected out. Sure, sometimes you need to go on the attack to defend yourself; I certainly agree with that. Still, the part that “worries” me are the (when I’m not in the middle of one) faux-crusades that sometimes I launch into against someone. The David and Goliath post I did here in the past was certainly one of those, as was my situation with the bad druid.

      I see a relationship between who I sometimes target and how easy it is to get them to ruin themselves, though. These people – bullies, I guess, would be fair – are so brash and overconfident that it’s easy to lure them into a trap that you know they’ll then explode from. The dark, secret side of my is proud of my ability to do this, but the kind, light side of me wishes I was better and making friends of enemies.

      In my most recent guild (though I’ve vanished from it now), I mentioned the 15/22 year old tank. I at first went after her. I’ll be honest. I teased her (playfully, of course, but I knew it would irritate her) and pulled off of her or before her, marked without waiting for her, etc. I did lots of little “good” things that really amounted to taunting. When she confided in the guild leader (whose confidence was not very secret, obviously, since I know about it) that she was thinking of quitting, I suddenly – and for the first time in this kind of situation – felt bad. She wasn’t really a bully, you see. She was a brash, loud, entitled child, but she wasn’t a bully, and I felt guilty for having driven her to quitting something she liked to do. So I reversed myself. I took her into my confidence. We talked out our problems and developed a much stronger and trusting relationship. She started arriving on time (or at least more on time). She communicated more about her strategies. When I eventually ditched, she took over as raid leader when the GL wasn’t on (which was more and more frequently). I had said early on (after my “mean” streak) that all she really needed was to not be treated like a child, and she wouldn’t act like one; the guild leader had crapped on her so much it had made her the way she was. All it took was being nice, honest, and respectful, and she reciprocated.

      That’s what I wish I could do more, but when my “master awakens,” I rarely see that option.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. March 22, 2012 11:54 pm

    While I can’t say that I’ve been in quite the dangerous situations you’ve been in, I was bullied a lot during middle school and high school. My sophomore year of HS saw the events in Columbine High School take place, and very quickly, people tried being much nicer to me.
    I must clarify that a bit. I didn’t dress in the “scary clothes” or listen to the “scary music” that the two shooters in Colorado did. I was dressed in terribly unfashionable clothing by my birth mother (that’s an entirely different set of issues there) and looked like a complete joke of a person. I was the nerd that other nerds picked on to gain status.
    What disgusted me the most about the sudden change in people’s attitudes towards me was how immediate it was. It was as if they were perfectly well aware of the way they were treating me, and only once they saw the possible ramifications did they even think to stop.
    That lasted for a few weeks until people decided I wasn’t going to be following the same path.
    When I moved away to live with my father, I made a change. I changed the hair, the clothes, and the general demeanor. I decided I would fake confidence and pride until, maybe, it would be real. I’m still faking it some days, but some days I don’t have to. And I’ve had to learn that while I don’t actively want to fight people, if there’s no other option, I will fight viciously, like a wounded animal.
    My past experiences are what made me enjoy WoW so much. I’ve even written about it in my personal blog. In Azeroth, the wicked are punished, the righteous glorified and respected, and your worth as a person is based solely on how smart you are or how much you’re willing to do to help others. Only your good works help you. Justice is swift, and it is without mercy.
    That’s the world I’ve wanted for so long.

    Sweet Jesus, I typed a lot. Sorry to blow up your page. This was actually a little cathartic.

    Thanks for the post and subsequent point of focus for my thoughts on the matter.

    Hyperious

    • March 23, 2012 10:46 am

      No need to apologize; blowing up my page is precisely what most bloggers hope for in a comment. I’m sorry that you had such a miserable experience in school, as many of us have, but I’m glad you found a way to push through and turn that experience into a positive thing by building you confidence (even if it’s only sometimes). I agree about the attraction to video games for worlds that are more fair. I’ve never had any desire to play a bad guy in video games, and I vastly prefer to play a hero. It’s often suggested that this is a limitation on my part, that somehow I’m flawed because I only want to do good, but I tend to think that people who are out to do evil in games are simply finding an outlet for their anger at the real world rather than actually role playing. To each their own, I guess.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • March 23, 2012 11:18 am

      I dont see the desire to do good as a flaw. I do think that violence, in certain situations, can be a good thing. Take my paladin for example. Yes, he represents a holiness and inherent good, but that won’t stop him from being a merciless juggernaut of destruction when it comes to facing down evil beings.

    • March 23, 2012 1:04 pm

      It actually bothers me that violence is the only solution in WoW. I agree that violence is at times necessary, that there is such a thing as irredeemable evil, but I also believe the highest form of good is redemption. Why we’re rarely (if ever) given the chance to spare people and bring them in, trying to turn them from evil back to good, I don’t know. The stories would be that much more interesting, and there’d be characters still around who could teach us about what it means to be evil and how to combat it. Imagine redeeming Illidan, for example. What stories could he tell? What could he have taught us? Violence may be necessary; death might be the only solution, but it shouldn’t be the first, though it often is in games.

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