Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,
Yohannon
yohannon

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Journalist's Affirmation

Good evening all! Yo's sitting here next to a sweetly sleeping (and now mostly cough free) Roni, pondering his next move.

I was thinking about my LJ existence, and how it's dramatically improved my life. While there are many who are a bit taken aback by my "tell all" approach, sometimes to extremes, the whole purpose of a journal wasn't just to detail day to day trivia: If that's all I did here, I would have gone bonkers with the sheer boredom of the effort ages ago, and I would be some burnt out Blog also ran.

Obviously there's a reason I began to think on all this: The players responsible might recognize the catalyst they provided, but should not think that I was offended. Not at all, actually -- it's good to think about one's reasons for doing anything. At all.

Almost all of the bad outcomes from my LJ entries have actually served to illustrate the weaknesses in my life and the people I associate with. When a lot of people all became incensed at my musings regarding the situation between them, myself, Roni and steelmagnoliaca, I reflexively caved because I honestly suspected that I might have transgressed. Recently re-reading those posts has left me wondering what on earth they were so upset about. I was caught off-balance as it was only my first month of posting on LJ, so perhaps I folded so fast because I wasn't sure what I had a right to say in my LJ. Later, when talking about my anger around the whole topic in the post afterwards, I actually nailed it a lot more coherently than I have myself credit for later.

People tend to demand two completely exclusive things from other people: Openness and honesty, and complete discretion and dissembling. Failing to admit something or concealing info is "deceitful", yet complete disclosure is a "violation of boundaries". It's often left up to the individual to determine where the line between those things is, and may the gods have mercy upon you if you're wrong.

Now, with a clearer understanding about my limitations here, I've decided something important -- if you know me, and you don't want me to talk about something in my LJ, use these magic words: "Off the record". As a some times journalist in the LITERAL sense, I take that phrase very seriously. You can be blunter about it if you'd like, or more specific about what bits I can use or not. The idea is to tell me what ISN'T for public consumption.

Which isn't to say I'm not going to mark things as filtered from time to time -- there are plenty of things I want to keep between myself and a smaller group for my own reasons. Yet if I'm to stick to my "resolution" to be as honest about myself and the progress I'll be making in the coming weeks as I work out the differences between the people I care about most in my life, I have to be able to tell it as I see it.

I've often been suckered in the past, both professionally and personally, into concealing bits of info that served only to support an atmosphere of FUD* or intimidation, and it's left me feeling that I somehow failed, either in myself, or someone else. The failure wasn't through my own inaction, rather through believing someone else, yet the ultimate responsibility has to be personal, and therefore 100% mine.

It's a seductive thing, to be able to control your personal info -- and it seems almost noble to defend it. Yet it's that very ideal of "privacy" that results in some of the worst injustices of our times. Thanks to "privacy" we create artificial social realities that result in some pretty horrific abuses -- think about the right to privacy when families hide their afflictions beneath it{ Domestic abuse, child abuse, addictions of all sorts that can affect some... or even all... members of that family. Privacy means secrets, secrets means shame, shame means... well, blackmail, extortion, control. It's the same thing that allowed the Catholic Church to control the masses over a thousand years, and recently to hide abusive priests from the law.

Yet I'm not advocating the abolition of privacy, and I still respect it on a personal level. This seeming conflict is not without its logic. As with all systems that have been saddled with defective concepts, the way privacy has morphed from the hushed whispers of Things That Should Never Be Spoken Of into it's current, equally dysfunctional form, you can't simply eliminate it and think things will magically be restored to some healthier modality. An example would be straight from the part of me that is decidedly Libertarian -- I honestly and truly believe that there should be no drug laws, gun laws, or laws governing the use and abuse of our own bodies under our own free will. Simultaneously I recognize that the wholesale abandonment of those same laws would be the worst thing to happen to the philosophy of Libertarianism, as (much the way a junkie is addicted to heroin) the pain of cold turkey can result in death.

Such things should come in steps. Certainly one of the chief safeguards of privacy isn't an opaque wall, convoluted or self-serving legislation, or a paper shredder -- it's boredom. Let's face it, most of the trivia of our lives isn't all that interesting. It's the bits we guard the closest that piques the interest of the Miss Grundy's of the world, the natter ing busybodies determined to control anything that scares them through the intimidation of peer based shame. Those are the bits that some of us have the unmitigated chutzpah to lay out there like it's no big deal to, identifying marks and all.

Ironically, the best way we can all guarantee the privacy of ourselves, and of our children, and their children after, is to make the things we all fear to be exposed, eventually to the point of the commonplace. The Internet has come a long way in helping this to come about, and the Cranky Old White Guys know this all too well. We all start small and scared, behind a nickname or a handle (Yes, me too! I was once "Jackbox" back in the relatively quiet electronic days of 1987) and later a lot of us start to come out, because we begin to see we're not alone. And then we form our movements, the ones people laugh at because they seem too absurd to be real.

Yet that's what freaks are for: To push the envelope for the rest of y'all. I can wear earrings as a male because someone wears so many that my mere two planted in my left ear seems tame. I can have tattoos because there are people out there tattooing their faces. I can talk about my Wife and my Other Significant Others or my Significant Something or Others because other people talk about theirs. It's surreal to say, but I know for a fact there are people who are able to admit their attraction to fat people (or can admit that they ARE attractive to those of us who can see it) because I had the balls to create a BBS in '90, and a web site in 1994 trumpeting my adoration in whatever ways I could manage. Yet I could do it only because others laid the way before me... The Big Board BBS, Paul's Waka Waka, The Big Picture, even the incredibly obscure BigNet amateur network (think of it as internet lite).

As we remove the mystique from things like homosexuality, paganism, polyamory, BDSM, fat sex, and all the rest, we remove the power from those who would seek to control us. I respect the specifics of people's lives because those are things that might still hurt them because that power isn't yet gone. Yet I won't stop discussing generalities on any subject with any person based on the outmoded concept that there are things that SHOULDN'T be discussed.

Do I experience shame, the desire to hide things? Absolutely. I'm still a human who's a product of his upbringing in this culture, and one who has to constantly battle for his reality and his right to it. One of those things is the fear of making mistakes, failing myself and (by extension) anyone counting on me. When steelmagnoliaca tried sabotaging my relationship with Roni through some misguided sense of self-righteousness, my first impulse was to panic and run. Yes, the mistake was mine, but trying to hide from it wouldn't fix the situation. The solution is communication, and to keep talking. I am now more secure in my relationship with Roni than ever, and have pledged to work through it no matter what. To that end I borrowed a powerful phrase that lovingstones used with me to great effect: There are no deal breakers. My commitment to her, and hers to me, is something beyond the negotiation of boundaries and details, beyond the heat of angry words born of fear and shame, beyond the thoughtless intrusions of people who refuse to understand that strength.

Now, the job thrust upon me, is to extend that to all areas of my life, and all the relationships therein: Michele, kshandra, lovingstones, lavendersage, dragonwitchling, src, rubynesque, et al.

How? I have no idea. As I pledged to Roni, knowing what everything looks like isn't the important part -- knowing that we'll be there together as a part of it is all that matters. The rest is details, and if that's where the Goddess lives, then I'll just have to have faith that I'll find her.



* Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt - It wasn't invented at Microsloth, but they've accomplished a lot by perfecting it. Recently the torch has been picked up at The SCO Group in their bogus fight with Open Source, and taken to a global level by the Shrub and Company's "Homeland Security" affiliate: Keep people in a state of confusion, and they'll remain more or less willing to buy into anything to "fix" something, even if it isn't broken. Like an "upgrade" to Office, or the idea that Airport security has to violate whole swathes of the Constitution to be effective... But I digress.
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