Where’s Your Head At?

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A lot has happened in the last week. The second of the IoW essay’s has gone up, there’s a workable short story on the table for beta reading and honestly, things are far better than expected. Forget for a moment that, personally speaking, the previous five days are a personal bomb crater: I’ve managed to get the routine cracked, and genuinely believe the long term future of the project’s getting increasingly viable with each passing day.  I’ve replaced what used to be my MMO Games Wednesday post with something I can dictate in both content and direction: most importantly, it has absolutely nothing to do with Warcraft. In that regard, I’m not going to lie: I don’t miss that work, but remain grateful for the lessons taught during my time as a columnist.

I’ve seen the very worst of humanity thanks to Azeroth, as well as the best. The decent people I have met and call friends will always outweigh the petty, angry minority: to succeed at what I desire means leaving these destructive people in my wake. I am continually reminded that some individuals will take your words and twist them for their own ends, often with little thought of both consequence and casualty. As a result of someone else’s stupidity I lost the trust of someone whose honesty and brilliance will be greatly missed. In the end, however, the most damage was all my own doing, providing salutary reminder that 140 characters is the harshest of mistresses when you want to make a point.

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Inevitably, when someone decides that your work is an attack on them, there is the panic that whatever you write will now be interpreted in the same way. I can remember the last time this happened, and the time before that… and the list goes on, because when you hold a mirror up to yourself as I do with regularity, it is inevitable that others see their reflection and not yours. Of course, I can invoke Occam’s Razor at this point, and decide that really the problem is with me. Perhaps if I stopped pointing out this stuff, I could have a quiet life and everybody would be happy… except that’s no longer the case. Being like this is what makes me happy. Discussing my thoughts, considering the shortcomings I posses… without this vital release, I’d not feel strong and confident enough to begin a Patreon, and here’s where we came in.

If you want to truly know what I am, it is all here, hidden between the lines. There is no secret plan to destroy other people’s lives: what I do, on any given day, is simply shine a light on what I see reflected back at me, that has to be dealt with by all of us eventually, in one way or another. I am saddened greatly when someone ends up being hurt where there was never, ever that intent, but in all honesty life is full of these moments, and it is how we deal with them as human beings that defines not simply our place in the world, but how the World reacts to us. Each time it happens the lesson is learnt: think when you use certain words, make sure if the person matters you apologise in person. However, I won’t take the words back if I know they were never written maliciously to begin with. I have admitted culpability when I knew I was wrong in the past. When I know I’m right, I stand by my assertions.

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Once upon a time, of course, I was too afraid to do this: easily bullied by others who felt that my opinion and voice was irrelevant. The only way you ever get stronger is to believe your own conscience, and after sixteen years of working with my demons, there is at least some peace for me. I abhor those people who think they can manipulate and twist outcomes to suit their own ends, and so many of these people care not one iota for those that they hurt along the way. If I was one of those people, yesterday I would have blocked several people and simply continued on with my life, but as I’m not? I choose to deal with the inevitable (and very personal) mental fallout the only way I know how. When I look back on this week, however many months it is from now, I’ll know I was given a lesson to learn.

Like it or not, you will encounter conflict in your life. It is inevitable and often unavoidable, and when it does happen the true measure of your own humanity is how you choose to stand and fall. I do my best to repair damage when it occurs, because it matters. There’s a choice to be made, in every situation, and if a particular flashpoint is irretrievable, I will still make sure I tried my best. Mistakes will be marked down on the list of ‘People I upset by not thinking’ and that is never just because of a blog post I wrote. All those failures come from the precarious fragility of automatic response via Social media.

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If this stuff didn’t matter I’d not get so wound up in the business of putting stuff right. I’d not go and ask people why they left, or try and repair bridges that are often nothing more than sticks in the water. Once upon a time I’d lie and pretend I didn’t care either, and that’s never gonna wash with my current path. This GIF that I love so much, Daniel Radcliffe at his cheeky British best, almost sums it up: it ought to say ‘I tried, and everybody can and will criticise me regardless.’ Realizing you are wrong is a big ask sometimes. Saying you fucked up in public, and I have several times in the last few weeks, is an admission far more people should make.

That’s something I’m perfectly capable of doing for myself.