Tag Archives: rage

The Masses

7 Oct

I was going to post something else today, something more personally relevant about recent events in my life. However, this thought process seemed more communally relevant.

If any of you are huge internet nerds like myself you may be aware of the sexual abuse cacophony happening on YouTube. That community is up in arms around the actions of a handful of it’s members, and rightly so. There are some wonderful discussions around consent and a person’s right to not be put in a situation where their voice is not taken into account. It is a much needed discussion and I hope that it remains uplifting and useful.

What haunts my brain space today is the power of the communal mentality and how easy it is to be pulled into that righteous anger and act out without taking the time to make sure the people you are acting out against have truly committed the crimes we are hanging them for. Especially around such a not black-and-white issue, despite what many of us want to believe.

I am not saying consent is not every person’s right. What I am saying is that it is not always easily communicated. In a perfect world a discussion would be had by both parties, soberly, before engaging in any physical acts. How many of us have ever been in a situation that has not happened? I would venture all of us (who have engaged in those behaviors). I have probably been on both sides of the consent coin. The drunk girl at the party who sincerely regretted having slept with that person I only sort of wanted to touch me in the ways I let them, and that sexually audacious person who tried talking someone into bed with me (disclaimer: no I am not a predator).

While I could go on forever about that, again not what I want to address here. My focus is more around how we as a community react to injustice, or the perception of injustice. An event happens, it is legitimated, we get angry on the behalf of the victims and rise up to overthrow the perpetrator and stand against their actions. As the situation progresses, it is discovered the injustice was not committed by one individual, but several. Stories come of the woodwork, some true, some not, and the community’s rage grows and they begin lashing out at every name that is brought before them. It is called the mob mentality where we become part of something and continue to perpetuate the actions of the group without really analyzing if what we are supporting is truth or propaganda. It is in our nature, it is who we are as humans for many reasons.

My challenge is that if we are going to condemn someone, we do it with thoughtful intent and substantiation.

I only recently started to really look into where this YouTube uprising was coming from. I am not in a position to support or condemn any individual, but I will say there are some cases that are pretty clear and evidence based, where there are others that are less obvious. Specifically, and again I am not putting my feet on one side of the line or the other, I was watching this morning the most recent videos from Alex Day who I had for a long time been an avid admirer. He made a video in an effort to explain himself and formally say he, despite his many mistakes, did not see himself as the monster the community has made him into. I browsed the comments briefly and saw a lot of people saying he should never make videos again, remove himself from this medium that he had been such a participant in and basically disappear.

They want to take away his voice. To me, this seems, regardless of whether he is guilty or not, a harsh and unjust reaction. In my mind, everyone has a right to speak, to defend themselves, to be heard. Perhaps others may not want to listen, and that is their right as well, but they can shut their ears. It is not an individual’s right to take the voice of someone else simply because they don’t like what that person is saying.

I don’t know where my allegiances will fall when is all is said and done, but regardless of who I support and who I don’t, I will always look to my personal belief in basic human rights. I will look at others with the compassion and patience that I strive to have at the core of my own humanity. I will listen and observe and move forward based on my own understanding, not the passionate outrage of the masses.

I can only hope others can find it in themselves to do the same.

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Idiots in Love – A case study of Wizard and Sammie

5 Mar

** I wrote this post in two parts. The first I started a few months back when I wasn’t in a very good place about the ordeal. Since then things are a bit more settled, less strings are left untied, and I have found a place of acceptance for what things are…here goes.

I don’t know what it is about love, but I have met very few people that are able to be smart about it. The mix of hormones, endorphins, flowery language, and finally having our narcissistic need for attention met creates a dangerous melting pot that, if we aren’t careful, can quickly turn from the warm fuzzies to singeing self-deprecation. I can only truthfully say I have been in love once. Mini-romances and minor flirtations aside, real, honest love, is life-consuming. It takes up every waking thought, seeps into every minute detail, until you have formulated a life in which you are constantly waiting for those next precious moments to be shared with the person you have made your end-all-be-all. Then when it ends, you physically feel an empty chasm in your chest that makes everything seem dark until you can fill it with brick and mortar and swear to yourself you will never let yourself fall so easily into the delirium again. Only, we always do, and most of us do it willingly.

You would think a woman would be the reason this procession of thought has come upon me. And although I will freely admit I see this train crash of amorous events happen more often in the land of estrogen, today’s homily on the pitfalls of affection sprouts specifically from the male half of a couple I have taken nearly a year to observe and (as I often do) analyze. For the sake of this case study and to maintain confidentiality, we’ll name them Wizard and Sammie.

Sammie, who also happens to be my estranged roommate (which may explain any negative bias I may have, although I promise to at least try to stay neutral), had been Wizard’s girlfriend for six years (with a short break a couple years back if I remember the story properly). Recently, approximately six weeks ago, they called a “break” in their relationship. This of course crushed Wizard who, despite explanation, did not truly understand the reasoning behind this turn of events. I of course know both sides given my situation, but from his perspective, he was told Sammie needed to work on herself and that she could not do that within the bounds of a relationship.

In the background, Sammie was trying to deal with her guilt around having feelings for another man, “Sloth,” whom she had met the previous year briefly, but then over the summer, had seen socially on multiple occasions. Sloth did not have a flattering reputation within the group, but he had certain skills which the other gentlemen he hung out with valued if I understand it correctly. Sammie and Sloth had an instant connection and began spending time together more privately. I bet you can already see where this is going, especially when I mention that sobriety was not always a factor in their dalliances.

One thing led to another and Sammie was dealing with the guilt of kissing, rather heatedly, Sloth when she called the break between her and Wizard. Being “single” and dealing with confusing feelings towards Sloth only increased the ante leading to a scandalous affair of both the heart and the flesh (despite the pledge Wizard had made to never return to her if she so much as touched another man while they were separated).

I hope you are beginning to see my pickle. Being the roommate, I was privy to information no one else could know and sworn to secrecy, but being Wizard’s friend made it difficult to balance a neutral stance while being supportive. Not to mention the complication of remaining in contact with Sloth. He was a conundrum I was determined to unravel.

I have never claimed to be perfect, nor will I ever hold hope of being so. Maybe in a way chronicling this tale for you is my way of trying to find redemption. Whatever the case, after nearly a month my conscience and my loyalty were stretched to their limits. My head was full to bursting with information I had to very carefully navigate in conversations with the three players in this game. Over and over again Sammie sealed our conversations with vows of secrecy. I complied, not because I believed what she was doing was honorable, mostly I detested it, but I cared for her and we do foolish things for our friends. That is until we reach our breaking point.

A football game, apparently, was mine. The beer in mason jars more than likely didn’t help matters. I met up with Wizard and Mr. Big in Foxboro to watch our beloved Patriots at Toby Keith’s. Mr. Big was feeling generous and bought me several rounds of drinks during the course of the game. We were having a great time and the party didn’t end when the game did. Long, somewhat embarrassing, story short, the night ended with me and Wizard sobering up in my car, not silently. For most of the night I had avoided the Sammie conversation, but alone, in such close proximity, with my friend in need, I couldn’t help myself when he introduced the subject.

Put yourself in my shoes for a moment and look through my alcohol-clouded eyes. My friend, sitting in the car, heart in pieces, talking about his semi-ex-girlfriend and how much he loves her and hopes that he can find a way to stay with her. He trusts her, he tells me she’s told him everything, and even though it hurts, he’s just happy she hasn’t slept with this other guy. I know differently, and at first, its easy to let him believe this girl is being truthful because his heart is already hurting too much. But he keeps talking and something sets me off. I start thinking how deceitful this whole thing is, how despicable I feel for hiding the truth, for letting him believe she is worth his time. How do you care so much about someone, and hurt them so completely?

Before I know it, the words are escaping my lips and then they are there, out in the world. “You know she’s sleeping with him right?” Wizard just looks at me, and as he processes this information, I see his facial expression change from shock, to confusion, to rage. It’s the last one that scares me a little, makes me realize the chain reaction I have just put into motion. He jumps from the car, slams the door, and begins dialing. I know who he’s calling and I start to chase after him, I just want to fix it somehow, but he’s walking so fast and I can hear his voice rising. I know its too late, regret floods my mind, and I sink to the pavement as the tears start rolling down my face.

I don’t know how long I sat there, not long, but long enough to loose sight of Wizard. I start to run around Patriots’ Place, looking anywhere I can of where he might have gone. My phone is dead and I’m sure I look a little crazed when I finally decide to go back to my car. I wait. He parked near me so I figure he has to come back eventually. Again, I lost track of time, but eventually, I saw him, walking laboriously across the parking lot. I don’t know what words we exchange or how we said good bye, but I do remember him telling me he talked to her, how enraged he was, confusion tingeing every word he said.

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It’s been a few months since that moment. The drive home was filled with doubt and I began questioning myself, analyzing every minute leading up to that one. The series of events that followed were a shit storm of dramatic soliloquies, awkward tension, and the breakdown of trust. Sammie and I found a way to recover after that first blow to our friendship, but a short time later, another situation, related, but ancillary, shattered it permanently. I am too ashamed still to divulge the details. I take the blame for it wholeheartedly, but no amount of penitence can make up for it in her mind. We almost amended the situation at one point about a month ago, but I quickly realized the surface bond was not strong enough to rebuild the bulk of the structure back up. I may not be perfect, but she is a child sometimes, and in the interim of our breakdown, I think I realized some things I had overlooked. Roommates we remain, but civility is not always a constant in our world any longer.

As for Wizard, he remains the victim of the tale, but his naivety has since dissolved my empathy. He is still chasing after a dream I don’t think he realizes should be left to rest, but he’s in “love.” Sammie got just what she wanted, the ability to chase after other men, while still having her backup plan.

I’m not really sure how to end this without sounding bitter and disillusioned. Love is wonderful and sustaining when its healthy and mutual, but how often do we pervert it, fake it, or try to force it into our own little mold? Romance clouds our minds, but love isn’t logical either. How do we let our heart fly free when we might loose our heads in the process? To every risk there is a consequence, and pain sometimes walks hand-in-hand with pleasure. I guess I’m just hoping I can learn to walk the tightrope before I take my next leap of faith.