Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feathers in the Wind

In the past couple of months, I’ve somehow stepped in a lot of shit. Without even knowing I was anywhere near the barnyard.

Septimus told me a story one time about gossip. And a feather pillow. You can read the gist of it here: Gossip

I’m seeing a hell of a lot of feathers being scattered my way. And I can’t for the life of me figure out how to put them back in the pillow.

Feather on grass

In the past few months, I’ve had a sockpuppet account tease me with some not well-known, but not entirely hidden, information about an acquaintance of mine. I’ve had people contacting me about things that I “should” know about people I’ve never met. I’ve had people make serious accusations of wrongdoing, sometimes bordering on criminality. I’ve had messages regarding “what really happened” and read threads on Fetlife containing thinly (or sometimes not so thinly) veiled allegations of wrongdoing, wrongdomming, and blaming. And I think to myself only one thing: “what the fuck am I supposed to DO about it?”

When I respond to threads on Fetlife, I don’t do a shit ton of research into a profile. I look, but I generally try to take the questions asked at Face Value. Even if there is some backstory of which I’m unaware, I always figure that the question, and the answers it receives, might be of value to someone else. I don’t generally try to answer a question by second-guessing what’s been posted. And if there is more to the story that might affect my particular answer, I’d hope the person with the information would post openly. Or keep quiet and not send private messages. If it’s not important enough for everyone to know, it’s not important for only a few to know. And its certainly not important enough for me to be told privately. If it’s important, if it’s criminal, if it’s potentially dangerous, then keeping it to yourself or telling only a few people using hushed whispers and innuendo is not only unhelpful to anyone, it puts me in a rather precarious position of maybe knowing something about someone I don’t know which may or may not be true and about which I can’t do a damned thing.

I also have to believe that the people whispering TO me are also whispering ABOUT me. Whether they’ve “heard” something, or thought something, or made up something, I can only imagine. It wreaks havoc on my brain trying to figure out which one of my friends is going to start whispering about me.

And finally, what should I do when the next sockpuppet or covert account contacts me about YOU? (that’s a metaphorical you, not a specific one) Should I tell you? We’re friends after all. And as much as I may be friends with the person you’ve just tarred and feathered in my inbox, should I then keep those allegations from you? Being my friend and all?

Once that vicious circle has started, I can’t unhear what you’ve told me. But I do know that I’m tired of the whispers. Either own your words, put your name to them and stand behind them, or don’t tear open that featherpillow.

The goose that’s saved may someday be your own.


CoyoteToo said...

I've had that same "here's the story behind the question" backchannel message before, and I agree with you. I don't really care, if the question has value, then the answer has value to someone as well, even if the poster had a hidden agenda. Unless it's a help hint to identify someone who is trolling, I don't really want to get involved. People who do that are invariably trying to get you to take their side.

As for the rest, I think a lot of the reason you've become a magnet for some of these is because you are someone who people know is respected and has credence in the community. Unfortunately that means that people will try to leverage your reputation, or even just dump things on you because they don't know what to do. That's a pain, but you should look at it as an indication that you *are* respected, and that people greatly appreciate what you write.

silverdreams said...


I don't mind being a "dump" for issues which might need my area of expertise. I can point people in the right direction and would even hold their hands while they reported it. But I can't and won't be a party to whispers and innuendo. Most of the time, it's not even anything concrete. It's the whole attitude of "I know something that you don't know and I'm not going to tell you what it is, but you should know there's "more" to the story". If there's more, then either spill, own it, and move on or keep it inside the pillow.

I'll help anyone who needs my help. I'll find the people they need to help them if I can't do it; and I'll hold their hands while they get it. If someone needs my reputation to leverage anything, let them use it for that instead. In that case, I'll be only too happy to know the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

i have no words of advice, especially given i have only just come across this blog.

all i can say is that i have been in all of these situations and none of them are good.

so very exhausting. emotionally.