I never used to care.
Back in some mythical golden era of self-absorbed geekery I really didn't care what other people thought of my actions. I'd dress how I liked, do what I wanted, say what I wanted and didn't really think about the consequences. In retrospect the only consequences would have been no friends and I was damn close to that as it was.
I remember reading about scriptwriters, and how they get snared by hollywood. They sell a succeesful script, make a bit of money, move to a nicer house, get a nicer car and suddenly have
to sell the scripts that hollywood wants, because otherwise they lose the nice house they bought and the lifestyle they've assumed.
In November of 1991 I started developing emotional attachments to people (and yes, that kind of statement does deserve a longer explanation, but that's another story and will be told another time). This began a process of almost alchemical transformation that lasted several years and turned my life inside out. I'm not the person I was then and I really have no empathy for the person I used to be. I don't even remember what I felt about anything from before the process started.
Anyway, the upshot of the emotional integration was that I (eventually) started caring about what other people thought and felt. I also (eventually) realised that people could get offended at things I said/did. I've (largely) had a lot of personal detachment from things. I can step back and be dispersonal about things. I've got in trouble because I've laughed at things which would have been funny if they'd been in a sit-com
but apparently aren't funny if they happen to your friends. I can separate arguments against my ideas from personal arguments (something that many people seem to find impossible). I'm near-impossible to offend (about the only thing that can offend me are people I like who deliberately try to hurt me). Realising that other people weren't like this took quite a long time to get through my thick head.
This upshot of these two events (realising that other people could be offended by my actions and caring what other people thought/felt) was a sudden realisation that I needed to watch my actions or I'd alienate these people I cared about. I began to watch what I said, to avoid saying things that people had a negative reaction to, to even avoid saying things that I thought people might be bored by. I would keep topics of conversation to ones that I knew the person was interested in. On the one hand, this seemed to make me a more popular conversationalist, but on the other hand I'd never stretch conversations to topics that I didn't know peopl were interested in and I'd never discuss some topics at all. I found places online where I could talk about the things my friends didn't seem to be interested in, or I slowly lost any interest in talking about them at all.
In retrospect this seems slightly ridiculous. A certain amount of it seems vital, but to constantly rein myself in to avoid offending people either means that I'm not with people that are really my friends/suited to being around or I don't trust them, to be so.
This came to a head a couple of days ago with this
post. I posted something I found amusing, a few others found it similarly so, and then two people complained that it was racist and wrong. I successfully (in my opinion) argued that it wasn't wrong, and stated that I didn't believe it was racist (largely because it specifically says "most" and was factually accurate). The two people argued for a while and then both unsubscribed from my journal when I refused to back down.
It's a shame, because I don't like losing people, but to be honest I'd rather feel free to publish whatever I like, and whatever I feel I can justify according to my own personal morals. I have changed things in the past when people complained I was being offensive and
agreed with them. But I won't back off because you're offended by something unless I can see your point.
reminded to me yesterday that "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind", and I'm going to try to follow that I will continue to moderate my direct person to person expression, because I don't want to bore people by talking geek-speak around non-geeks, nor do I want to offend people about things they're personally sensitive about, but my journal is pure me
, as much as I can manage.
I'd be sorry to lose people, but if I do then I'll just remind myself that it's for the best - if they don't like the real me they shouldn't be reading me and I shouldn't be caring if they do.