Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Decidedly Un-Elite

::Incoming Transmission. WARNING: Emotional Ramble Detected. Proceed at your own risk::

This is going to be something. Sorry ahead of time.

If you don't follow Ta-Nehesi Coates on Twitter, you are on the wrong life trajectory. It is a simple correction. Here. https://twitter.com/tanehisicoates?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor Now you are destined for better things.

I bring up Ta-Nehesi because he speaks eloquently on many subjects, but specifically one that's been troubling me recently, albeit in the opposite way it has affected him. That is the concept of "being elite" or "One of the elite." We all go on our various social medias and make authoritative statements. Twitter, specifically, is a place where it's very easy to make grand-sounding statements with vast context. 140 characters well wrought and one button starts a sharing cascade that can take you from noone to CNN (although that's not exactly the best place to be). Our tweets can be prophetic portents, our opinions divine laws. We literally have followers, so when you cross the line from "just some gui" to "one of Them" your words become something more than what they are -- words, opinions, statements from a human being.

Ta-Nehesi has waxed on why he is now considered Elite by many, when his statements have not changed and he does not live in a mansion and fly a jet. But his proximity to what we view as "the establishment" has somehow passed an invisible line and he is now closer to Them than Us. This comes with benefits and blights; he is certainly making more money now, he has increased albeit still limited public influence, and he is now attacked even more religiously by trolls and put on a separate pedestal because white women on TV have asked for his opinion.

He's still the same guy. Fame changes people, but usually only stupid people. You can remain an individual outside of your context, but only if you've reached a particual level of self-awareness. Something I'm still struggling with and I know many other people do too. In particular, how shouting to a vacuum suddenly becomes speaking the Word of Godzilla. I have gone up and down in Twitter popularity based on my involvement with various activities, Nanowrimo being the biggest of them, but my comments have not really changed. I evidently feel less need to share them with my significantly smaller author following, but I think another part of the problem. I don't really feel like my words are valued. When I ran NaNoPals, I was essentially providing a service. People weren't coming for wisdom, for my personality, for ME, they were coming for wordsprints that were presented with some level of emotional positivity. And why shouldn't they? I completely understand the perspective. I'm just another white guy trying to say his bit and get paid by someone for telling stories. Stories that people want and need to hear, in the best of worlds.

And that's my problem right now. I am now going to be a crabby old person, but I hope you don't take it the wrong way. This next sentence is going to make you mad, but it isn't what it seems:

SFF is not the genre it used to be. There are pros and cons all across the board. I have seen such great new authors, almost all from marginalized groups rise in this new genre world. I have seen people who struggle with gender identity and sexuality and a host of other things that I have always fought internally with come to the fore. Being gay is so cool now! It used to be pretty much the opposite. Despite some bathroom laws, it's a whole new fucking world and it's amazing and so much of that is thanks to the genre world, I don't care what you think or how much evidence there is for that. It has always stunned me that people who read Scifi and Fantasy could be stupid, ignorant, hateful people. The books are almost entirely written to fight against that! But that's just my personal journey through the genre. I somehow managed to read Brave New World and think it was a Utopia rather than a Dystopia. (I still think that way, and I will happily argue with you about it all day long. Right now as you're getting angry with me I ask you What Color Were the Natives. Because he never said what color they were)

It used to be hard as shit to find a book that had a character like me in it. I know how that sounds. Oh the poor white boi had so many white bois to choose from it was impossible to find the right one whereas I had princess fucking Jasmine and das fucking it for Indian/Arab American female representation circa 1997.

But what am I? Am I just another white boi?

Let's slap some labels on me now: genderfluid, queer, neuroatypical (depression, anxiety), autistic(?!), chronic-pain-haver, great actor. Now the picture is very complicated, especially when you consider how invisible all this stuff was and is to me and my family. Despite my mother's constant "everyone is on the spectrum" autism talk and side-eye, neither she nor any other authority figure has ever had any understanding or compassion for my behaviour, and no one has been able to put a finger down on what the shit I have/am, despite or perhaps because of my almost completely solo journey for self discovery and care.

You know how some people don't like to wear their whole lives on their sleeve? well despite the fact that I have cool tattoos (all to do with my nerd loves thank you) I don't. I like to be who I am and like things and have my shit without putting labels on all of it. I fucking HATE QUILTBAG and whatever. I despise the 40 gender labels we have and the fact that the word "cis" exists. It's a disgusting sound and I hate it. That's literally why btw. If we used "banana" instead I'd be fine. But I get why a gross sound was chosen. Fag and cunt and all that crap are fun and mean and gross to say. They have mouthfeels that make them matter besides just their meanings. So does cis, and I don't think it's a good one.

I feel like I've been passing my whole life. Passing as a man, passing as a white man, passing as a successful human being. Imposter Syndrome isn't a side-effect of my writing, it's my entire fucking life. And now that I don't "have" to pass, it's apparently a rude choice I've made, and I need to just walk out into the open and embrace my problems and scream them to the world at large, cos that's how "our" culture now works. Be out! Be loud! Be proud!

I describe my ego as the Hindenburg.

I'm literally surprised every time I look in the mirror. Can you imagine that? I don't honestly have an accurate internal view of myself. My internal me is a bloated troll seeping with pus and boils whose rotting teeth and fetid breath can kill a horse from thirty yards. In reality, I'm pretty decent looking. I can tell objectively now, and that helps. I'm fortunate there too -- I can't honestly complain about being ugly. All my complaints are invisible! NOBODY listened to me about ANYTHING until I had a god-damned HOLE in my leg, and now suddenly I'm allow to have all sorts of problems and oh the poor thing they got hit by a car.

MY LIFE FUCKING SUCKED BEFORE I GOT HIT BY A CAR. Now it just hurts more to sit and stand and do everything else, more than it already did before which was a lot. My back is so fucked up when I saw a professional masseuse they actually shrugged and gave up.

So now when I go on Twitter, and I see that there are so many people like me, and I see that our stories are succeeding and #ownvoices is trending and the books are being written I am very happy. Then, and now I suppose we will revisit an actual point -- I read them. And they are all fucking depressing. I get it. This post is depressing. Our lives are depressing. Our genre is turning into that most heinous of things... "literature."

And, like every fucking POS Hemmingway wannabe piece and the books by bloated goatfucker himself, I'm so fucking done reading those stories. I'm done, guys. I have been fighting my way out of this depression shithole for twenty years, and I'm so tired of fighting suicidal urges. That isn't mean to suggest I'm giving in, at all. I will be tired forever, and that's just that. But fuck, guys, do you have to make it so hard? I want to join in, I want to be a part of this, I want to be engaged and alive and part of the fucking movement but I don't want the labels, I don't want infighting over who has it worse black cripples or gay autistics. (hint, it's black cripples. but that doesn't mean we can't still have problems!) I don't want the tears anymore. I want us to laugh, for once. I want us to see how good things have gotten for us, even if they're still not great. I can't even imagine what my younger self would have done with Tumblr. I'd probably be wearing makeup and a dress right now. (Nah, I hate makeup)

This kind of an upbringing makes me have pity on GGers and their ilk. If you go on imgur or reddit where a lot of these trolls hang out you will find pictures of hot women and comments like "god I wish I could wake up next to/as that" and other illuminating tidbits that reveal they are troubled and no different from us -- they have been sold a lie and now cannot see the truth behind it. It is so difficult to help them, since they do not seem to want to help themselves, and that I think is the ultimate point. I want to get better. I want to learn. I was hate-filled and angry, I used the word tranny and said other rude things because trans people made me so jealous. Every trans person is a fucking hero. The level of courage and self-love it takes to make that change, announce it to the world and be proud of this new skin you've made yourself is just fucking incredible and I could not do it. Without a magic wand to give me a uterus and change my shape I would go fucking insane, more than I am already.

Good writing apparently comes from the heart. To write openly and honestly, to give it to you completely raw. That's hard as fuck, especially for people who are struggling. My life is better than it's ever been, but my problems haven't gone away. That's the hardest part of having brain problems. Everything looks FINE on the outside. But we need to be honest about the struggle. I need to be open, if anything is ever going to change. But I still need to be me, I still need to live. I need happiness and joy, because my internal production of seratonin is malfunctioning, and another story about being beaten, raped and abused is not going to help me get there. I know the world is awful goddamnit. I am reminded of that by my own life every five seconds because the only memories my brain can save are bad ones. I literally have to record good events separately if I'm going to remember them. I want to know that the world, that people, can be good. Someone, please, show me that. Anyone, anyone at all. The only author I can think of who rides that line and can make me cry about bad things but see hope is fucking Rose Lemberg and I don't understand how they aren't fucking famous as shit yet. They follow me! Why? They're INCREDIBLE and I am an almost entirely unpublished sack of meat-trash.

But maybe that means... I'm not a worthless sack of trash? Watch as I entertain this thought for all of one microsecond before it is disproven by my oh-so-many real life experiences. There's a whole other post about why I think right now I am starting to just "whine" rather than emote about my actual issues. Again, the invisibility of brain problems.

If/when I'm "elite" this post might be famous. It might be garbage. It might be a sore eyesight and I'll delete it shamefully, or no one will ever read it and I'll leave it here because why the shit not, let the future know what a loser I was. It will help with the data mining of our time, and maybe some future child will understand themselves better thanks to my rant.

In a world of a million labels, where we are gaining visibility and strength without losing any of our vulnerabilities, any member of #ownvoices is going to be having a tough time. Finding themselves, finding success, being accepted at all. Just remember that you are who you are. Ta-Nehesi is who he is. Fucking Barack Obama is going to go back to smokin' dope and straight chillin' when he's done with that white house.

Whether I'm a man, a woman, or just a brain in a machine, I'm still going to be me, and you're still going to be you. Whether or not anyone's listening, that matters. Even if I don't know you, I hope you're happy. I hope you can believe in yourself. You matter, and I'm just trying to prove to myself that I matter too, even if I don't scream my life from the rafters.

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