Friday, July 3, 2015

Feeling A Lot of Feels

Woke up wanting to blog because it’s been a weird few weeks and I have a lot on my mind.

Baby is good but going through this massive cognitive leap that means she’s really mood swingy and tough to get to sleep even though she needs it. She’s also discovered a kind of whining noise that I wish she hadn’t. But then she smiles at me and cuddles, grabs my hand or laughs, and I remember this is temporary and I’d better enjoy it while it’s here.

I feel like I’m starting to come out of the post partum depression cloud, though thoughts still come up I have to set fire to because awful. It’s difficult to describe and anyone who hasn’t been through it wouldn’t really understand why it’s so shitty. It’s not like regular depression, which I have, and it’s compounded by the intense mothering protective instincts. So the horror you feel when it happens is basically amplified by 1000000x. It also ratchets up my anxiety, so it’s a perfect storm of suckage and raw nerves.

It’s made me especially sensitive to different issues online lately, too.

I’ve been watching this really unpleasant situation with author John Green, Tumblr, and discussions about internet mobs unfold and I find it concerning on a lot of levels. There’s a willingness to dismiss the situation as “just” a minor Tumblr fiasco that Green overreacted to. And that, because the original post was likely by a teenager, no one should have responded to it or the shitstorm that came after where people were tagging him by the thousands and demanding he address the implication that he writes YA and does his Youtube stuff to basically groom and molest young girls. It was really ugly.

Now, if the original poster was a teen and did “just” find him creepy that’s one thing. It’s tough to know because it’s from an anonymous screenname and no identity, which is definitely for the best for their safety. But the reality is anyone can say anything online under anonymity and yet it can disseminate like wild fire in a drought.

I personally disagree with Huffpo and The Mary Sue that the original post is harmless. To me, it is suggesting grooming behavior (whether it meant to or not) and putting out publicly a personal feeling a person has about someone else based on no interactions or evidence. Are people entitled to that? Yes. But the internet isn’t private. When we put things out there we have to consider that people can and will see it. And that it may have consequences beyond what we intend. And while teenagers don’t always consider that, I don’t think they learn anything if people just shrug off anything they do as no big deal. There are plenty of examples of situations we wouldn’t do that in. Like when teens have been bullied into suicide. And we're often quick to talk about how serious online threats and rumors are in other situations, which I think it's important to bear in mind here, too.

Now, of course, Green is a prominent author, white, male, and certainly has more power and privilege. That’s not a debatable point. And it’s not one he’d argue with either. But I don’t think that means it’s a free for all when it comes to something like this and I think implications that a person is creeping on young girls is more serious than “just” a mild hit to a reputation.

Maybe I’m more sensitive about this because 1. I’m also a writer and write for a YA audience with some of my work. 2. Someone could easily get the impression that I’m “creepy” at a con or online and come to a similar conclusion. 3. But it’s less likely because I’m female and would not be seen as a threat the same way. 4. It’s been implied that unless you agree with the Huffpo take you are not supporting teen girls, advocating rape culture, and unfeminist 5. Green is a father with two young kids and this seems to be left out of pretty much all the conversations.

A digression that relates, I swear: Recently my husband and I went through a really rough patch with some now ex-friends. Some of it had to do with their opinion that he and I are “too negative” and that we are “toxic” to their well-being. To say that hurts would be an understatement. They’re entitled to those feelings and I won’t try and say they can’t or shouldn’t feel that way. And it just so happened to coincide with a combination post partum/pms, sleep deprived mistake that I made and regret. I have to own and accept the consequences of that. Sometimes we say things we can’t take back and that’s it.

Anyway, my point is that my husband is a new father contending with all kinds of challenges and difficult changes. We had some really rough things the past few months since she was born. She was in the NICU, he developed an eye-palsy that put him in a patch for over a month and he couldn’t drive or do a lot of the “dad” type helping he wanted to. I ended up with this nasty post partum. Hospital bills really stressed me out and ramped up my anxiety to some kind of level Defcon 300. So the reality is we probably have been negative.

And that’s something a few people in our lives could not accept. Which is their right. However. Other people we know don’t view us that way and there’s an element of subjectivity to anything we “feel” about other people. It doesn’t mean you should ignore those feelings or dismiss them, and it doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. But I don’t think they mean that another person is necessarily defined by that, either. I guess what I’m getting at is that feelings are nebulous and not objective “truths” universally. And sometimes they’re only really relevant to us, personally.

How this relates to Green, for me, is that I don’t think that original poster or Huffpo or The Mary Sue considered the full picture here. In a rush to defend a teen girl’s right to her feelings, which she is definitely entitled to, and a discussion about how women and girls concerns are dismissed (which is valid), they’re ignoring the larger context of Green as a human being for the sake of an issue that he didn’t actually create nor in my opinion is perpetuating. He didn’t gaslight this person. He addressed accusations made by others. Should he have is a whole other conversation. I disagree that adults shouldn’t respond to this kind of thing that might have been posted by a teen because 1. Teens have to learn consequences, too 2. It went viral and wasn’t really in the category of “small” incident anymore.

For me, it’s the humanity problem that gets to me. He’s a dad. Implying someone with kids would molest children can have huge repercussions irl. It really isn’t something to be taken lightly. If that kind of thing snowballs it can have awful consequences.

Further,  I don’t find Green creepy. I’ve watched a lot of his Youtube stuff and read TFIOS. I think he’s sincere and imperfect, like a lot of people. I don’t think my opinion is any more or less relevant than the OP who feels he’s “creepy”. But it's being suggested that only the vague impression of "creepiness" is relevant and I have issues with that on a lot of levels. I think it's clouding a complicated conversation and making it difficult to discuss the full pantheon of problems at play.

That doesn’t mean anyone should attack the original poster. They are also a person who, I suspect, didn’t really know what they were implying exactly. But the truth is just trying to work out our feelings online can have consequences well beyond our little piece of it. We can say things in a moment that have lasting repercussions. The unfortunate thing is that online that can come with angry mobs which this situation definitely didn’t deserve. I think both Green and the original poster got a majorly raw and ugly piece of the internet on this one.

I support teen girls. They get a really shit deal in the world a lot of the time. But supporting them doesn’t mean never criticizing anything they do or discussing the consequences of all our actions. It’s something we should all keep in mind.

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