A Poem about Being a Namby Pamby Liberal Snowflake
Feelings aren’t whole thoughts;
they’re colors, verbs, or sharp-edged shapes;
they’re lightening strikes
or tidal waves
or bursts of laughter
or just nothing. Words are something.
Words are neat, small packages that tear
Building poetry to contain a feeling
seeing lightening and painting it
No one cares about your feelings
or your feces
or your mud.
It makes me weak to realize that I haven’t been writing lately because I’m scared how people might react to it. If I were an actual writer with a rapt audience, whose livelihood was fueled by the positive reception of my words, maybe that fear would make sense.
But I’m not, so this is unreasonable and ridiculous for a number of reasons.
First of all, people never react negatively to what I write. They rarely react at all, aside from my mom. One time someone left a mean comment on my blog, but it was because they misunderstood something I was saying (it was sarcastic, they didn’t understand that).
I’ve been blogging for almost ten years. One bad comment, which was actually a misunderstanding, is a pretty damn good track record, and certainly not reason to retreat.
Of course, it isn’t thanks to my fantastic writing that only one person, one time found something negative to say about my words. It IS thanks to my obscurity. It doesn’t matter what Gloria Steinem says; a thousand people somewhere will argue viciously against it, because she’s Gloria Steinem. I, on the other hand, can sit in my corner and yell about whatever incoherent malarkey that gallops across my attention span and know that I’m doing so in the relative safety of Nowhere, from the beautifully unknown pen name of No One. So again: no reason to worry. Yet still, I do.
In addition to having no history or audience to inform this fear of negative reception, I also don’t write anything controversial enough to merit outrage, or at least nothing more outrageous than what every other jebroni with a URL is throwing out there. And just like those jebronis, the only people navigating over to my blog are the ones who agree with me. It’s the echo chamber that everyone’s been so blah blah blah about lately, and it’s yet another reason that I have no reason to be so stressed about sharing my writing.
I could blame it on my anxiety, but I think we’re all sick of that excuse. Or at least I am. So I won’t; instead, I want to blame it on society.
Things are falling the fuck apart, and everyone is reacting by screaming full-volume in the faces of those with whom they disagree. It’s choking anyone with a conscience and something to say (which is me, and a million or so other people) and pushing us further into oblique silence for fear of being scream, scream, screamed at by a 900-year-old blonde robot with a foreskin for a face or an oversized Oompa Loompa raging about in a syphilitic psychosis.
These fucks, and the rest of the fuckery following them blithely into fuckdom, are what frightens me into silence. And that’s not okay. When the angry assholes are the only ones with the confidence to speak up, bad shit goes down. And it has. It is. In fact, everything is really fucking bad and only getting worse.
I’m aware that I’m naive to feel that this uncertainty is new or special; people all around the world have been living with much less certainty for a much longer time, and they’re still figuring it out somehow. It’s like what that Viktor Frankl guy said after surviving the Holocaust: #YOLO, so find some meaning, y’all.
(Paraphrasing, of course.)
In spite of the power of Dr. Frankl’s words, let me be clear: I’m not comparing 2017’s America to Frankl’s imprisonment at Auschwitz. That wouldn’t be a fair parallel. America is still technically a free, democratic society. And it’s not like our national leadership is demonizing a specific racial “other” or pushing to forcibly remove “them” and spreading falsehoods and propaganda to further indoctrinate the sheeplike masses into a hateful, quasi-religious fervor. Nah. None of that is happening, so there’s no merit to that comparison.
Still though, I am legitimately afraid of the president of my country. I would not feel safe in his company. This isn’t the vanilla, rose-colored, safe and humble America that I thought I lived in. This IS why I’m afraid to write, and the fundamental problem fueling my terror is this hypothetical situation:
If I confronted any of the presidents who’ve reigned during my lifetime – Bush senior, Clinton, Bush junior, or Obama – with an opinion divergent to theirs, any of those men would listen to my concerns thoughtfully and respond compassionately. They may not agreed, and may have continued to uphold the policy or position with which I had issue, but they would listen to me like a person. I would walk out of that meeting with my dignity, knowing I was respected as a human being who happens to live in this part of the universe, on this corner of the Earth.
However, if I had the audience of the current Commander in Chief, he would ridicule me. He would interrupt me. He would misunderstand and talk over me. He would make me feel unsafe and disrespected. I would leave the room feeling humiliated, unsafe, and obscure.
Not that I’ll ever have opportunity to test that theory, so perhaps it’s just some useless alternative facts, but those seem to be pretty persuasive with those aforementioned sheeplike masses. Maybe these ones can sway, too.
It doesn’t matter, though: all of this is just an emotional reaction to some unsavory movements in the America I clearly misunderstood during my first 27 years living in it. It’s not MY country, after all, so perhaps I’m the one who’s getting it wrong. Words are, after all, imprecise, and anyhow these are just feelings, smeared in shit and mud and ultimately unimportant.