Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just be old?

(concave reflection)

Reading too much online reporting leaves me with few conclusions to draw. It seems that people do not like each other very much. If you question any of their feelings, actions, or motivations then you might very likely become the target of their misguided embitterment. Not even by them, but by somebody who has read what they have written and wishes to advance or enforce it. Everybody wants to be heard, but it seems that too many only wish to scream. 

I just don't believe the internet quite benefits people in the way they believe it does. I've returned to reading books more and I'm almost shocked at the disparities between the two experiences. I know that sounds obvious to many, but I've been focusing on how different writers will attempt to employ rhetoric to persuade, or its near complete absence while still making a very persuasive point.  

Then I look at my posts here, how some will resemble essay writing and others will more closely resemble what passes for online journalism, while only being an opinion piece. I try to write in a variety of styles, but I'm least happy when what appears here falls into that last category, but that's where so much of the fuel for writing seems to come from, at least here. I've written several unpublished pages recently that were just that: opinion pieces. There were some good passages, but mostly their presence made me feel a little queasy if I just sat on them for a while, similar to how reading too much of the online stuff makes me feel.

Ah well, I was happier when my interactions with certain types of people were more limited - when they only happened by chance encounter, occurred face to face, and were limited in scope by those circumstances. Now, it seems that everyone is having the conversations that only the more extreme participants were engaged in during the 80s and 90s. The conversation seems to find its richest resources when it taps into the need and ability to vastly overstate its purpose. I mean, I get it, things have changed, but it seems that many are convinced that they have only changed for the better. The term "tone-deaf" seems to have come to exclusively mean "old."  Because youthful zealots are the only ones privy to nuance. 

Places like Facebook seem to self-explanatorily prove such a notion, but then people will tell me that I am to blame for looking in the wrong place. But it seems to be a very large microcosm of what is happening everywhere. The comments section of almost any major publication, for example.

To discuss a moderate position with an extremist makes you their enemy. I'm not even usually a fan of moderate positions. I always try to imagine a position more extreme than the person I'm talking to, but being only an extension of their own position, to see how much weight the extremity can possibly bear before we're forced to admit to at least some absurdity. I'm often curious in that way. 

This is why I have no problem telling people that I'm transgender, even though it is only true inasmuch as it is true for anybody blessed with the imaginative capacity. Do not misunderstand me, I'm not suggesting that being transgender is only of the imagination, but that is the only way it is possible for me to feel or understand, purely through my willful imagining. Anybody can do it, you just close your eyes and wonder what something might be like, which will result in any number of feelings that you're not used to, some of which may make you uncomfortable, others otherwise. Those are specific to the person, and almost always in flux.

Being transgender has been very easy for me and has resulted in no negative social encounters, yet. Stating that might anger some people, which makes me wish to state it all the more often. I've always believed that there must be something important embedded in that ire, but now I'm not so sure. It just seems bland to me, flat vexation for all. 

People do not wish to share the claims which seem to provide them with the identities they are making the claims for, which strikes me as odd. I can choose to be ambivalent about anything, at will, but ambivalence is not what people wish to hear concerning your understanding of them.  People have suggested that my exercise in transgender feelings is even dangerous. Yet how is anybody expected to have empathy for another's circumstances without conducting some sort of similar exercise within themselves? I wonder. Are they fooling themselves, or do they genuinely believe that only a certain category of person gets to experience and express thoughts and feelings about a given matter. I can never tell and there is so much disagreement and anger concerning anyone's authenticity and motives.

People seem to wish to express rage towards straight white males most of all, and perhaps that explains it: nobody wants to give them an escape hatch. They have them cornered, and now they wish to unleash the full brunt of their fury. That was the subject of a lengthy piece I wrote yesterday morning but then didn't publish. Instead, I went with an incoherent piece of garbage later in the day that I have since removed.

For me to have developed understanding and empathy towards the gay experience I listened to a number of gay friends recount what their lives were like, what wishes they had for their relationships with their family, what corollary or unrelated wishes they had for their romantic relationships, how they wished to live their lives, and what regrets they had, if any. The last category was often the most veiled and protected, understandably. In time, I became more and more comfortable with hearing about the private circumstances of their lives and I found that this exercise greatly increased my capacity to love and feel for them, which also allowed me to develop a shared sense of humor with them, something that seems to be lacking in this brave new world's understanding of one another. It is no longer allowed to find anything funny if you are not suffering as greatly as another within a given context. People seem to have lost the ability to detect when they are being laughed with or laughed at. I blame the internet for this. It is a horrible place to make new friends, and none of my old friends use it in the way that I seem to, or try to.

This understanding has resulted in more than one friend believing, and even trying to convince me, of my own homosexuality, just by being sensitive to their life, and pains, and joys. It reveals to me how incapable people are of understanding one another. We only seem to attribute to others values that we ourselves are capable of possessing. 

In a similar way, I have female friends, and many of my male friends will try to get me to admit that my only real intention in being their friend is to have sex with them. The only conclusion that I have been able to draw from this is that they are incapable of being friends with women without the desire to have sex being the primary motivation for forming the friendship. Now, I do only befriend attractive women, but that's because they seem more charming and clever to me. Again, this is a sensual observation and not necessarily a sexual one. 

You must remember that I did not grow up in what could be considered a southern liberal stronghold. I grew up in Florida in the 70s and 80s, where this type of understanding must be learned and developed, and where other attitudes, like casual racism, had to be daily resisted. Complex understanding of others did not appear fully formed in the hearts and minds of adolescents in that locale and time period, etc. It is practiced until it becomes natural. My experiences in nightclubbing helped greatly. There was a period in which, as a group, we all seemed to come to a fresh collective understanding and acceptance of one another, fueled in part by the use of what used to be called a designer drug - Ecstasy. The most appropriately named drug ever made, most of all when created and ingested correctly. There are many variants of it now, not all leaning with equal effect towards benevolence. 

At almost 50 years of age, it seems that the development of understanding for others must only come in the form of reverence to their circumstance and of them as individual people, no matter how much pushiness and bullshit arrives with it. I feel similarly about so much feminism, or rather collections of feminists. They are, or too often can be, bullies. We are reminded to stand up to bullies, for the sake of the weak, but they pretend to also be the sole persons in possession of any supply of weakness, even as they are attacking with startling vitriol and malice. It is the advantageous claim of victimhood when used as a social cudgel. 

It makes no sense to me, that they can not see they have become the very thing they claim to hate. They resemble men in their casual assumptions and in their demonstrations of the use of the power of condemnation. Nobody wishes to be called a bigot or a chauvinist or a sexist, but it has become almost comically scripted when interacting with any number of online factions. The first thing they notice about you - maleness, whiteness, or those two qualities combined - generates an automatic dismissal of you as a person and anything you might have to say.

I know, I know... these are white, first world problems. I just fail to see how they don't see what they are doing. There must be a complete vacuum of imagination or the ability to self-register the marked similarities in tone, content, and delivery of the thing they have defined as that which they most wish to topple. 

It was Kafka that I recently quoted here: Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy. 

The same is true with too many liberals who wish to discuss and advance transgender rights. Only they or the people they believe themselves to be defending are ever qualified to speak, and then it must only be from the agreed upon cue cards. Easy fix: be a member of the aggrieved group and think and speak as an individual. Few things will reward you with hatred as quickly and definitively, even when you find examples of an accepted transgender saying the exact same thing. 

I have, quite literally, copied and pasted sentences from transgender testimony into online conversations and been met only with severe hostility, and was then provided with any number of reasons as to why I do not get to speak that way. It makes no sense, and yet I see it everywhere. It is almost all that I see. 

So, what does a thinking person do? Give up? Walk away from the conversation and accept the fate of my own tone-deafness?

Just be old? 

A hermit or a troll?

Would it matter for there to be one less person to hate?

(mostly plane)