I’m pretty consistent across venues with the persona I present: it’s part of my lifelong obsession with congruence. There are, however, differences in the intensity with which I flash different facets of myself in different settings. For example, I’ve been very outspoken about my allegiance to the Hillary-for President-in-2008 campaign in my Tribe blog, but I’ve only mentioned it in passing in my LiveJoural blog, and on FaceBook I only publicize it by including pro-Hillary groups in my groups list… and I’ve studiously avoided being political on Plurk.
Today I was reading one of my plurks, where one of my friends made a reference to pro-Hillary “morons” (an epithet I reject out of hand because it’s disrespectful to mentally retarded people, not to mention to high-intelligence voters with free wills). I decided that enough was enough, and posted a request that people please not engage in name-calling of Hillary supporters, since I had been very consistent about showing 0bamaphiles that particular courtesy (on Plurk, at least). I pointed out that I am willing to brook dissent but that I deplore name-calling, at least among “friends.”
Immediately one wisecracker shot back a response about how Hillary fans had it coming or some such, and as a knee-jerk reaction, I shot back, “Well, fuck you!” and dropped him from my friends list right there on the spot. I announced my action to the thread, and then said wisecracker found the thread without help from any friends-links and posted a complaint that he’d been “only joking” and that I lacked a sense of humor, not the mention fairness. With that I blocked him, and again announced my action.
Just as quickly, another friend–with whom I had already privately discussed the fact that we had contradictory political loyalties–asked me if I was aware that I had just dropped an f-bomb on and then unfriended someone for disagreeing with me.
Ironically, the caller of the name “moron” wasn’t involved in this exchange at all.
And just as quickly, even though Plurk had become the major source of online social intercourse for me over the last two months, almost without thinking about it, I deleted my account. *Poof*! Just like that. I even did it wrong the first time and had to repeat the action, so I had the chance to reconsider, but in a trice I counted the cost, verified to myself that Plurk had, despite its once paramount importance to me, lost so much of its luster that it was no longer rewarding enough to remain on, and for the second time in a few seconds said “Yes, I’m sure, delete my account”… and went irrevocably cold turkey from a community full of people who had, albeit virtually, become dear to me.
Even after a lengthy nap, I a) can’t believe and b) don’t regret the fact that I walked away from a thriving social network that had loomed so large in my consciousness for the past nearly 8 weeks.
I know some of the forces behind my precipitous departure. I’d been reading on a pro-Hillary forum about how ugly the tension between Hillary fans and 0bama fans had the potential for becoming (I can’t help thinking of Fannie Lou Hamer and wondering if Bill Moyers is having déja vu) in Denver, and I’m not in much of a mood to let my guard down, since I’ve already been derided more than enough by 0bamaphiles. I expect to become very, very unpopular over the next week based simply on my political preferences.
I’ve experienced this before, around the fact of my homosexuality and my erstwhile identification with Evangelicalism. Twenty years ago, I walked away from family who shunned me for refusing to stop affirming both my then-faith and my sexual orientation. I went eight years with nearly no contact with them at all.
I’d seen that coming when my brother chastised me one day for performing with my folk band in a Unitarian Universalist church, because “they weren’t Christian.” I thought, “Oh, boy, if he’s upset about this, he’s gonna hit the roof when I come out to him.” (It turns out that I didn’t out myself to him–my artless once-and-future brother-in-law did it for me, but that’s another story.)
I had even more advance warning of the disaster that could come when my mother seethed during my last visit to her, “I hate Hillary Clinton.” I decided that that conversation was never even going to happen, even if it meant no conversations about anything ever again. Between religion and politics, my family is nothing but a Sunday walk through the mine fields any more.
So if I’m willing to walk away from my ostensibly sane family of origin, what makes anybody think I wouldn’t walk away from an online social network?
Anti-Hillary folk are fond of charging the likes of me, “Old news!” and “Get over it!” Uh huh. Anti-Choice folk use exactly the same language. I’ve had nothing new to say to you because you’ve had nothing new to say to me. My objections have never been answered. Since it’s a matter of contradictory worldviews, it comes down, then, to a power struggle (which is also what it has come down to between my mother and me all my life).
And the fact is that my Plurk-friend’s accusation—that I had unfriended somebody for saying something I disliked—was misplaced. The implication was that I was a malcontent, a wimp, a poor sport.
Well, okay; I may be all of those things. But you can’t demonstrate it with that argument, because it’s a fallacious argument, and a pretty basic one at that. And in a forum like Plurk, in which communiqués have to be confined to 140 characters at a time, it’s just not worth giving the Logic 101 lecture. And, assuming my cohort is college educated, which is a reasonable assumption much of the time, it shouldn’t have to be my job to teach freshman-level rhetoric.
I’m simply not going to engage in arguments with people who don’t have high-level argumentation skills, certainly not in a micro-blog setting. To repeat, “that conversation [is] never even going to happen, even if it [means] no conversations about anything ever again.”
I have for years been captivated by the phrase from Rumi-in-translation, “lover of leaving.” It’s not leaving, per se, that I love: in fact, sometimes I think I won’t be able to stand another separation. And yet the spontaneity with which I initiated this departure indicates to me that indeed I do stand ready to do what I need to do to get to the next place I need to go in life.
There are a lot of wonderful people participating in the Plurk universe, including the ones involved in my decision to disappear. “But why would you give up all the benefits of such a wonderful network just because of an occasional run-in or misunderstanding?”
Well, for one thing, sometimes, when you discover that you’ve spread out your picnic-blanket on a yellow-jackets’ nest, it’s enough of a mood-breaker that it’s just as attractive idea to move to another park as it is to scooch under the next tree over.
“But this is a free country, and we have freedom of speech.” Of course it is, at least until free speech goes the way of habeas corpus in the US. But I’m not Congress—I’m not any kind of governing body. It was my thread and my membership, and I had the unconditional—moral as well as legal—right to pull out or cancel any part of the above. Them wot wants to, knows how to find me: Google “Khrysso,” and I’m still the only person your results will lead to. Them wot loves me will, sooner or later, likely forgive my hasty departure. And, to quote Dr. Seuss, “those who mind don’t matter.”
What only I knew was that this was was simply a last-straw for me: enough other things had happened in the past eight weeks to make my Plurk experience less and less enjoyable. My only two real-time friends had stopped plurking, the person who had invited me to Plurk in the first place withdrew, the caliber of conversation was declining, and while my most eloquent friends remained eloquent, I was feeling inundated by contributions of other friends of theirs who, to borrow from Eudora Welty, “were not serious, and didn’t tell the truth.”
I just took this apparently sudden move earlier this evening, so I have no idea how I’ll feel about it in the morning. But I can’t help feeling right now as though my gut knew something my head didn’t know, and in this case, obeying my gut felt better than missing my new friends was going to feel bad.