Please Excuse Me, I only Sometimes Mean to be Rude: A Reflection on Cruelty

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

When I began this de-friending spree, a friend remarked that the blog’s first watershed moment would occur the first time I got a scathing message from an individual who had recently been de-friended. The friend anticipated that I’d post this message, using it as a sort-of humorous addition to the damage already done from the cut itself. And, in truth, I looked forward to it as well. I was secretly hoping that some distant cut would impulsively craft a note that was full of irrational fury and which totally missed the blog’s point.

That note came, but instead of matching my expectations of nuttiness, it was measured, respectful, and frankly, made me feel really bad.  I won’t go into too many details, but essentially it made me realize the inherent cruelty involved in my description of some cuts. When you have 1,500+ friends, it’s clear that there will be many you don’t know in a meaningful, nuanced way. As a result, those people will be, in a certain sense, easier to caricature. And in caricaturing people you don’t know as well, it’s much easier to employ a sense of creative license in filling in the comparatively sketchier details about the individual’s biographical make-up. It’s also much easier to forget that in describing someone you know less well, hyperbole becomes par for the course and can end up doing an injustice to the person described. For doing that, I apologize. It was wrong, end of story.

But this individual’s message also got me to thinking about the way in which I really intend for this blog to work and the complexities that are bound up in my conception of that vision.

I think too often in life, (but particularly with websites or blogs we read), we enter experiences with a pre-determined expectation of how that experience should be provided to us and at the core of that expectation is the belief the experience should be unchanging. If you read Tucker Max, for instance, you expect the same sorts of tales each time. In turn, it becomes easy to classify Max as “an asshole funny sexist guy” and leave it at that. But the reality is that most good writing cannot be reduced to what I’ll call “fixed identity status.”

I mention this because, while I regret my choice of words in some posts and cringe at the cruelty I occasionally find when looking over old posts, I also realize that I did not embark on this defriending quest for the sake of adopting the same monolithic voice with the same themes each day. I did it with the intention of seeing where it would go and in so doing, I have sometimes been mean, I’ve sometimes been self-deprecating, I’ve sometimes been neutral, and I’ve sometimes been boring. Ultimately, I’ve been myself and I don’t think it’d be fair of me to go about a writing venture in any other way. Identity, like writing, is rarely “fixed.” It’s ever changing and it’s full of different emotional states.

I can’t promise you I’m going to stick with any one means of going about this project and I suspect I’ll make cruel comments again. I apologize in advance and will try to temper some of that, but this is a spontaneous outlet, not a law school essay. I can only promise that I’ll continue to be me and if that doesn’t always match your preconceived understanding of this blog, then I guess you’ll have to find something else to read.

I hope you’ll stick around for a bit, though. We’ve still got 38 days to go. And in a matter of hours, all of this self-reflective, pseudo-intellectual drivel will gave way to some cold, hard cuts. A lot of them. Goodnight and good luck.

 

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Comments
  1. Don Todrin says:

    Its time to fight fire wit fire. I believe we are friends. Not certain but I do see you pop up on my face book so we must be. I of course have very fond memories of you and the boys who ran with my son Aaron, and cherish those days, but really are we friends? Not really, just part of each others history.

    So rather then suffer the pain of being de-friended, I am rising to the challenge and de-friending you first. Ha Ha,,,beat ya.

    I still have fond memories and will miss not following your development as certainly you are headed for greatness, but when you achieve your great success, which i am certain you will, I can say I knew him and de-friended him….before he was famous….

    Good luck Andre, I will miss our relationship, but then there is not much there to miss so maybe not…. keep up the good work, i am certain i will read about you in the newspapers, if there re any left being printed at that time. Rock on.

  2. Samuel Sampson says:

    Everyone is a crybaby today it seems. Being on the edge of someone’s digital friendsphere doesn’t automatically entitle us to generic niceness. I guess what has made Facebook larger than itself isn’t the amount of people that use it, but the heavy emotional attachment that its main users have put into it.

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