We all get scared from time to time that we don't fit in. Some of us more than others. Some of us actually bear the scars of being ousted from a social group. I can think of a few that have happened to me as an adult, and while no one ever came close to pointing and laughing at me (in person), I have had incidences with people where suddenly, I wasn't liked anymore.
I never know what turns them off to me. I have been with some groups for a long time, and then suddenly, it's like the light turns off, people can't be found, and then when I find them they ignore me or give me the cold shoulder. They end up unresolved, and I feel kind of pissed off and lonely. Sometimes I wonder if my life is a movie, and the audience knows what happened, but I never do. Sometimes I wish I could hear this audience as they are shouting at the screen to me, "No no! Don't do that! She's unstable!" or "Oh man, you have no idea what you said has pissed those people off. You said blahdeblah, which was insensitive, but you'll never know that, and its not really your fault." Once in a while, a kind person tells me, "You came off as kind of preachy," and I think, "I didn't say that to be preachy," and then they say, "Yeah, well, they thought it was preachy, and what they think matters to the whole group." I have had a few people say, "When you said this and that, he thought you were really talking about him," like suddenly I have to watch what people say, lest their own paranoia define who *I* am. I mean, this hasn't happened with all the groups I have been a part of (thank goodness), but has happened more than I'd like.
And it's happening again.
One of the problems I have had throughout the years is some people just make this broad assumption I am evil. Yeah, I am supposed to be consoled that they "do this to a lot of people," but it still pisses me off. I suspect in this group I am having problems with that someone with some influence has just gotten sick of me for whatever reason, and spread poison among the other members. I have no proof if this, really, so it sounds like I am being paranoid (to me). Even if this was the case, I wouldn't even begin to suspect who. Maybe just a bunch of them got sick of me at the same time. Perhaps I said too much, or said that one boneheaded statement that everyone took the wrong way. I am not perfect. I say dumb stuff from time to time, but I never mean it in a bad way. People just assume that I do.
The warning shots fired across my bow would be great, if I knew they were warning shots. There is an old saying that "Everything is 20/20 in hindsight," and that's true. Patterns emerge and seem so obvious AFTER they are useful as warning signs. Trouble is, I get a lot of shots that are just misses aimed at someone else, or just shots in general, not aimed at me. I hate the game of double guessing, and I have to really write down what I see, and look for a pattern. But since this is a public diary, I have to really obfuscate things.
Why? If this got back to them, it adds another layer to the confusion. Suppose a bunch of people just started to dislike me for whatever reason. Often, they don't have a solid reason, so they will feel what they can't prove without looking foolish or paranoid. Suppose they still like me, and I am totally wrong? Then I look like an idiot, vying for attention. The only "winning strategy," IMHO, is to slowly back away. This has worked well in the past, although a lot of my other friends will say things like, "Don't let them control what you do," and "You should stick up for yourself." I stuck up for myself for the "Group I will not mention." It backfired. Had I bowed out when no one was looking, it would have been a much, much smarter move.
But here are some patterns I see, and have seen in the past:
1. About six months ago, I got a letter from someone in this group I liked (and still do), who said (in a letter about something else) he and his girlfriend had "issues" with "certain people" in this group, and thus, were backing out gracefully. He also stated, "Do not let this influence your decision about this group, this is a personal matter between us and so-and-so." When asked what happened, the details were vague, but stated certain people were doing things that I am now seeing.
2. An accusation towards my personage a few months later. Friends defending. War ensues. This is ALWAYS a bad sign, because it usually means people are taking sides.
3. A month afterwards, a second, personal, accusation towards my personage, this time someone who was dubious about my veracity of my past. I later found out this graphic designer from San Francisco made some very strong attempts to "prove" his point in private. Two people told me about his attempts. A sick feeling in my gut spread. This had happened before, in the same type of venue. I decided to do some "social engineering" and found out who he was, where he lived, what he did, and what band he played in. Nothing matched anyone I knew, but I did learn he was generally a prick anyway.
4. People stopped responding to me as much. In social circles I was often ignored, or given one line responses. I definitely got the cold shoulder. People seemed suspicious of my actions and things I said, as if I had ulterior motives. People only responded to me in small forms of criticizing, and almost no forms of praise (except from a few die-hard fans). Sometimes it seems like the mood has shifted, and I am no longer "in style." There are some things happening that the couple in #1 warned me of. They backed out. Quietly.
I can hear Belinda's voice saying, "Oh honey, it's time to go. You have real friends who do care about you." And that is true. I will miss this group of friends though, because they were all super-smart, caring, and not fannish.
I want to make a point here: I love fannish people and fandom. They are almost all smart, intelligent people, with big hearts, open minds, and just my kind of people. I have so much more in common with them than "mundanes," their word for people outside of fandom. But I also value my "mundane" social circles as well, because a balance is good. One group is no better or worse than the other, they are just different, and I learn from both sides. Trouble is, I lose far more "mundane" friends than I do fannish ones. Maybe it all goes back to being the awkward kid no one could or wanted to deal with. Maybe my honesty and strangeness are just too much for some people. Maybe that's really arrogant to say, but honestly, I got nothing on why I annoy some people. I am kind, and try to treat everyone with respect and dignity, but that isn't a catch-all to having a good response back. This is the kind of crap that Hollywood people put up with all the time. One minute, you're America's sweetheart, and the next, you are an arrogant has-been who has 40 face lifts and beats up helpless kittens for fun. The truth doesn't matter, ever. People love to love celebrities as much as they love to hate them. The Queen of England gets caught on camera picking her nose just once, and everyone refers back to it for decades. People love to see those they think are better than them fall from grace. Maybe that's what's happening, although I blush to think I even mattered as a "celebrity" among anyone.
I started backing off last week. Not many have noticed. This is a good sign, but it still makes me sad. I still have a lot of friends, though, all good people. I will go on, and learn from this as best I can.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000107.html