Saturday, November 03, 2018

adventures in unpopular opinions

When I was 17 or so I made some critical remarks about our school paper. Specifically that it had a history of typos and factual errors—names misspelled, listing students' ages/grades wrong, etc. Nothing I said was inaccurate but I happened to say it in the hearing of some other students who worked on the paper and they forever after hated me for that. And I felt bad about it for years after.
Fast-forward ten years and I say some critical things about a certain fan club—granted, I was trying to be funny, and not succeeding—and naturally one of the people in a position to be offended got wind of it, got offended, and tried to whip up a mob against me. I fired back at him, he stomped off in a huff, he has never forgiven me. I still feel bad about that, but resentful too, because the remarks I made were still accurate, intended to be light-hearted, but because someone chose to be offended and vindictive there's always been a rift there.
Fast forward another ten years, I'm on a panel with a guy I don't know, never met/heard of before, talking about race. I think I'm saying everything right but I'm not using his preferred jargon and/or scourging the people he came there to scourge and/or committing the sin of speaking while White, I'm still not sure. I get publicly stoned on the Internet by a bunch of people who never met me and only heard one side of the story. I didn't even bother to tell my side of the story because I'm old enough to know that people will believe what they want to believe based on their need to defend their own egos.
What's the moral of this story? Think before you speak, but having spoken, move on. People are going to hear your message strained through their own filter, and respond accordingly. It's got very little to do with you.

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