punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Thoughts on Loyalty

Sometimes I wonder about loyalty. I was talking to someone who said her cats were more loyal than people because "at least you know where you stand with cats: their loyalty is a constant, even if it isn't adoration." I suppose so. Dogs are more loyal in the adoration department but I know mine can be bribed to do almost anything for food. If it's love and attention versus food, food almost always wins. But does that make them more "loyal" because their lack of loyalty is a constant? It makes them easier to manipulate, so maybe not.

But I think I agree on humans and loyalty. This may not be a total truth, but I think it's a general truth because a human will only put up with so much over their best interests. But where those "best interests" lie is such a variable between people that it's hard to gauge. They say loyalty cannot be earned through fear, but respect. I am not sure about that, either. Some people might say respect really comes from subliminal fear, either from fear of loss, or fear of the person they are loyal to getting back at them. I don't know what to believe because I see examples of each.

I bring this up because I see a lot of misplaced loyalty. Loyalty to people and friends is a good thing, and I approve of that in most cases. But loyalty to something like a genre or style seems like a waste of time. One such misplacement seems to be over stuff like computer operating systems or TV and movie series.

Back in 1988, I got an Atari 1040 ST. It was a nice computer for its time. One whole megabyte of memory, sound, midi, and all the trimmings. I lived in a house where people were Atari ST enthusiasts. We went to NOVATARI meetings, I was a regular poster on the board ARMUDIC, and we thought the Amiga and Macs sucked. I have an ST in my closet now, sitting unused. I sold my Atari when I was strapped for cash, and then got another one (same model) a few years later from a friend who saw it at some flea market for $10 and just had to get me one for the "fun value" of it. I last booted it up in 1998, and the monitor cable was flaky, and I don't know if my floppy disks are still good. Where was my loyalty to the Atari computers of old? My loyalty and even flame wars about the Atari were wasted energy in the long term. I almost burn with embarrassment at the stuff I said back then, and sometimes go into a semi-denial by saying, "Atari was good ... for it's time." Maybe so. The Trammels, the family that bought out Atari and practically drove it into the ground, did not care if I was loyal or not. I felt betrayed. And I was stupid.

I have also been stupid of some former friends. I am not going to mention any because that's not nice, but I have had a few in my past whom I was pretty loyal to, even though people told me they were nuts, I was blinded, and it turned out that they were right. I haven't had any recently, and part of that is because I now know "signs when someone is going nuts and will drag you down with them." Keeping my hands out of the crazy, as it were. Over time, I have gathered enough friends I do trust around me to tell me the truth, too. And many of them I have known for a long time I am pretty loyal to, although if they started doing very bad things, that loyalty would drop pretty quickly. What are very bad things? This was my original problem when I was younger, I didn't have a good set of moral rules that they could cross. But now I have adopted my own line of morals and set of guidelines. They aren't perfect, and they may be too annoying for some to adopt, but a common example is if anyone I knew started killing people, that's a good reason to drop loyalty. It gets harder when there's a group of people, and a friend splits off. That friend could turn out to be the madman, or the most sane one around! It's so hard to tell. I have a rule of thumb that if I have to chose between two friends, I don't chose the one that asks me to make the choice. Like if Bob and Betty split up, and Betty tells me she won't be friends with me if I stay friends with Bob, I feel that Betty isn't a good friend if she does this, and so I'll probably lose her down the road anyway. Then again, what if Bob is totally nuts? I have been grateful that I haven't been in this crux in over ten years, but when friends of mine split up or split off, I pray they will be mature enough to handle if I stay friends with both of them. Of course, with groups, this becomes a problem, like if the group splits into two factions of several people each. If one by one, people leave in a steady trickle, that's often easier to pick because the club as a whole is dying off anyway. But if some club I am a member of suddenly becomes "the Bob people" and "the Betty people," I end up waffling so much, I end up making enemies on both sides because not choosing is almost like saying you hate both sides. Bah! This is why I hate politics so much, but they are a standard fact of life, so I must weather them just like everyone else; I'm not special.

So I watch people on tech boards and irc chats who claim "FreeBSD is better than..." and "Slackware Linux is better than..." Ya'll going to hate yourself in 10 years, you know that, right? And unlike the real world, the Internet archives your words for decades. I see some stuff I said on Usenet in 1991 I'd rather take back now. Being fanatically loyal to some computer operating system or distro that probably won't even be around in the next copule of years is kind of... well, a waste of time.

I think the only undying, uncompromised loyalty I have is to Christine. And what if SHE started killing people? My loyalty is stemmed from the fact I know she won't. She is one of the most decent and honest people I know, and I trust her implicitly. She could really fuck me up if she wanted to, but she doesn't. I realize this is rare in today's world, and that makes me cherish it even more.

More than Linux. :)

P.S.: But Linux is still cool beans!

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000306.html
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