Vendettas, Proxy Wars and Disfavored Nations
For most of my life, I have had to contend with cliques. I can have this person over, not that person. One side of my family can come, but not while the other side comes over. This friend can come, unless that friend shows up. That friend likes these two friends, but not that one amongst them. I’ll go to a mixer because so-n-so has RSVPed a “no.”
Last week, I took a survey of the blacklists. Holy, did I end up with a lot of black outs, rules and riders. How did this happen? A long time ago, a friend called me, “The Get Along Guy.” I liked that idea. In high school, I may not have been thought of as popular, but I wasn’t the target of abuse (which was hard in the 1980s, the era when bullying was not a stigmatized practice). I have picked up a lot of people who have a problem with Shawn DeWolfe as his whole deal.
It’s not much of a mystery as to why there are so many complications:
I have colourful friends and family. We used to do brunches at the house. The crappy kitchen and missing dining room sort of killed those. The other coffin nails were the collision of characters that happens when we do gatherings. Too many of my friends get along with me, but don’t get along with each other. They’re all polite enough to bear with each other for my sake, but some of them book it as soon as they can. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable. In response, we assembled gatherings using that fox-chicken-bag of grain approach. Nowadays, we often don’t try to assemble anything; we occasionally don’t care who collides with who.
I quit jobs. I will be asked to work for a place. Maybe, I was only into it for a while. Maybe, when I got inside, the inside of the sausage machine was not comfortable. Maybe, the dynamic was never that thrilling and I never intended to get neck deep but got there anyways. I get to a tipping point and I don’t want to stay anymore. Most jobs will accept two weeks notice. I invariably end up at places that say, “we’re going to need more than two weeks.” I almost always stay to meet their timeframe. When I go, they’re still pissed that I quit. In juxtaposition to the “people screwed me” (see below), I am sure they speak poorly of me and speak of how I screwed them. I quit. I left their work incomplete. In cold terms, that’s a screwing that I committed. Given the chill by extension I have received, I know these former allies now take some time to speak poorly of me. So be it. They were willing to work with me, dangle money and I still walked. How bad must the relationship be in practice that love nor money will keep me? If people side with them and their telling of the story without asking for my side, I actually prefer the gulf.
I say ‘no.’ I will be asked to do ridiculous things (work on spec, do the impossible, make something guaranteed to fail, etc.). I look at these various death marches. When I work hard for others, I sometimes ask, “when can I work for me, a little?” This 90-day challenge is, in part, a “me” exercise where I am doing some distinct that I wish to accomplish. Often, when I say, ‘no’ to others, I am hoping to get the chance to say, ‘yes’ to myself. People don’t like slave revolts. I don’t have their respect, so when I say, ‘no’ I lose their favour.
I’ve been screwed (in person and by proxy). A nefarious huckster stole my wife’s web content and then mocked her. I blackballed his diploma mill in response. There were jobs dangled in front of me via headhunters. I repeatedly said ‘no.’ I still ended up working there after all as a side effect of working with one of their sub-contractors. It was exactly what I thought the place would be like. A beehive of activity. A tonne of work. They didn’t have a clue how to do stuff I do in my sleep. I don’t care if there is a mountain of work to tap into. They’re still feeding the huckster. More recently, an ebook “author” bitched someone out for giving his jumble two stars on Amazon. I let him know what I saw as his faults and then unfriended him. A friend tore a strip off of another friend. She was already on thin ice and her attack made me think that life is too short to let her have any more of my time. I amputated her and distanced myself from her husband. My guiding principle here is that if you bring hardship to the people in my pack, I will let you know how I feel as soon as possible. If you actually harm someone in my pack, then there’s going to be trouble. I have done a better job of insulating myself from potential screwings and assaults, but that was only after learning lessons in the past. If I willingly get into what turns out to be a bad deal, I own it. I also treat the dud as gangrenous and amputate as much as necessary to put some distance on them.
I changed. The change-up last year freaked out a lot of people. That cost me a fair amount social capital. It was really necessary from my perspective. In the last year, it’s not uncommon for people to say, “Mike-- Shawn-- what the fuck ever your name is.” In part, the beneficial side-effect of the change-up was to shake loose people uncomfortable with accepting me in the first place. The same people would likely mock born again Christians, reformed alcoholics and people who step out of the closet. If that drew a wedge, then I wedged out the right sort of people.
Look at the top of this page. My spirit animal is the wolf. I think about packs. I work for my pack. My concept of “self” is really loose. I am a part of my pack. I understand the idea of the alpha. I’m loyal, but I will be terrible when the need arises. The problem with the pack mentality: I have to run in many packs. This is the non-exhaustive list:
Family Man - I work to take care of my gene line. It’s the easiest role to identify in pack terms. It’s the least abstract version of the pack mindset, so it’s the most likely to spark a clear reaction that displays this mindset.
Nerd - I have all sorts of nerd artifacts around my home. These are not purchased nerd trinkets I speak of: these are nerd-bits that I created. I’ve been a nerd my whole life.
Business Guy - I am self employed, so the side effect is that each of my ventures has a small pack associated.
Programmer - I have to be ready to use phrases like “chmod” both inside and outside of their intended meaning.
Political operative - I really don’t understand politics to the depth I would like, but I do run with politicians (both elected, wouldbe and former).
Angry local - Grumble grumble-- you can’t do that on my street.
People don’t get along. Because of my actions and my choices, I’m not a get along guy but I do walk in many worlds. As a side effect, I silo my interactions. Sometimes, I will consciously put people on the outside of the silo. I think I also have a silo marked “Danger.” Standing for some definite things does put me on one side of an issue versus a number of opponents. If that means I have picked up some adversaries along the way, I have to live with that. Likewise, I know some people who are my friends, but they oppose each other. As long as my friends and associates do not assault each other, I can stand neutral looking upon their nations of varying favor. When they cross a line, the relationship dynamic has to get all the more complex as I prep to take a stand that will endear me to some and alienate others.
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