The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 13 Nov 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The sudden retreat

I wrote a post weeks ago about Ched Evans and his hateful supporters. Someone I like and admire and do still, for the record, like and admire, accused me of stealing her words. Other people waded in and before I knew where I was, there seemed to be a storm brewing with me at its epicentre, traduced as being a ‘typical liberal male,’ a ‘twat from Sussex’ and sundry other bizarre things.

For the record, I used to see myself as a feminist and described myself as such until I was pointedly asked not to. The reasoning seemed sound, so I instead I described myself as a feminist ally. This latest brouhaha saw me being asked not to describe myself in those terms, either, something I’m equally happy not to do. I was unaware of stealing anyone’s words, or talking for anyone else, since this blog is necessarily highly personal and, on a good week, seen by about three people, one of whom perhaps clicked on it by mistake. I was accused of seeking to divide women, which is something I’ve never, ever sought to do, purely by dint of railing against Evans. Not something an ally would do, clearly, and not something I was aware I was doing. No matter.

My time on Twitter means that I’ve seen hundreds of arguments blow up like this, seemingly out of nowhere, and the vitriol that people expend on them never ceases to amaze me. This has moved me to do a couple of things. Firstly, any interest I may have wanted to demonstrate in feminism and related causes has to stop as it draws too much fire. The movement is clearly for women, led by women and I understand that. My involvement is irrelevant in every conceivable way and having men involved in any way is, in fact, too problematic for all concerned. The best thinking that men have come up with is the MRA movement and related ideologies, which are responsible for rising male suicides, so we are, in every sense, fucked, unless someone can some up with an alternative.

Secondly, I’ve blocked my most strident critics and the people who support them. I work hard to make sure that my timeline is a mix of conversation, pragmatism and just the tiniest dash of what remains of idealism. I don’t want to open it and find that I’m being described as a cunt, envious of cunts and being threatened. Much as I can debate robustly with anyone on my day, I still have a mental health condition that I have to live with every single day, and eternally fending off people who hate me based on no more than a single sentence or a blog I’ve written doesn’t really further the cause of that.

This, in turn, leads on to another thought. Politics used to matter to me, as did the various issues and causes around it, but it occurs that the time when it mattered most viscerally were the times when I was also struggling most vividly with mental health problems. The idea of someone who is as broken as me seeking to, in some odd and nebulous way, heal some kind of malady or call out an issue now seems hilarious. I’m the person least deserving of being listened to and, for at least some of my time, the only people I should be addressing are mental health professionals and not the wider world. Whatever time I have remaining may, perhaps, be more productively spent sorting out my own life rather than campaigning for others.

I’ve written before about how I’d like to try living outside the UK and I can now devote more time to applying for jobs and finding out how I can do TEFL courses as a fall back. Activism, at least in England and the US seems no more than trying to paint a smiling face on a wolf that will eat you sooner or later, and I’m not minded to carry on being part of that. While I have every respect for people who disagree and who are still trying to effect social change in a wholly uncaring system, it’s not, for reasons of mental health, something I can be part of anymore. For those who do stay, and who do fight, I only ask that you take care of your mental health, since it’s hugely fragile and, once it has been broken, cannot easily be repaired.

There remains the problem of Twitter. To promote a blog, you have to be on social media and, right now, Twitter is the only site worth mentioning. Facebook is appalling, for reasons which have already been rehearsed elsewhere, and has an even more disastrous signal/noise ratio than Twitter, so I remain on there until such time – perhaps about two years off – as it’s either switched off for ever or is rendered wholly unusable by wider changes either society or software. For me, the next year is going to be an interesting time, for reasons I’ll expand on later, and I hope at least some of you come with me.

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