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.
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.