Warning: The following journal will contain swearing, emotion, political opinions, more emotion, and probably more swearing. If you are offended by these things, please do not read it.
I’m glad this year is over. Not that 2015 promises anything new. Time just kind of flows; I know that. But 2014 consisted of a series of events that make me want to call it off early, reflect, and expediate the new year. Might as well. There’s no real difference between December 31 and January 1, so why not call it now? It’s time for a clean break.
I have one last outstanding goal for 2014, and that’s to finish animating the first scene of the Monsterville pilot. That’s going to be done before the solstice (because I want a non-arbitrary goalpost). Other than that, I’m so done.
This year consisted of a lot of dead ends for me. Career-wise, awful. I worked a number of short term jobs (all unpaid) and I still have two ongoing jobs (also unpaid). The demands are fortunately minimal, but I still feel cheated. I don’t like that, but what’s more, is I don’t like how insanely angry I get when I hear people going on about “Millennials are lazy and greedy and blah blah blah.” I get so angry I can’t think, and I’m worried I’m going to snap and yell at someone someday. I don’t like being that person.
Actually, I did snap at someone this year, but it was about something else. In retrospect, it was pointless, because it’s not going to change anyone’s mind, but, long story short: conspiracy theories. I was at a party, and some friends of friends started going on about how aliens are really angels running a secret Satanist world government and they’re secretly microchipping people. No, these friends of friends were not on drugs, AFAIK. And it was harmless enough until they started in saying the Sandy Hook shootings were faked. That’s when shit got real. Look, if you want to speculate about aliens and random shit, fine, go on, have a conspiracy fest. But the minute you start spreading bullshit about real people, we have a problem. I’m sorry, are you using murdered children for your entertainment? What they said was absolutely disgusting and I had no problem telling them so. I wonder, if the grieving parents were right there in the room, would these conspiracy theorists be so bold as to continue their hobby? Is it THAT important to sound smart and cool, like you’re so special that you know everything that the mainstream sheeple don’t? Of course, you and only you, are so special that you’re savvy to secret alien microchip conspiracies. Oh, and, by the way? If it really was faked just to tighten up gun control laws, then how come no changes were made at that point? Genius... And maybe I was a little more emotional about it than I should have been, but I’ve been on the receiving end of similar bullshit. Long story short: I’m Jewish, my family is Jewish, and two of my cousins worked in the World Trade Center. They died in 9/11. There wasn’t even any real closure for several years because that’s how long it took to identify the bones. Repeatedly, since 2001 (and as recently as this summer), I’ve had to hear all about how 9/11 is a Jewish conspiracy, and it was orchestrated by the Jews and they told any Jewish employees to stay home that day so they’d be safe. I don’t take well to that. I tend to be someone who internalizes anger, and I really just get it out through angry poems and my private journal and the occasional online journal post. But that feeling, this thing that I don’t even have a name for, it’s right there under the surface. I don’t tolerate that particular brand of stupidity. So when Thing 1 and Thing 2 started in on the dead kindergarteners, yeah, I went on a rant at them. Did it change anybody’s mind? No. Did it make everyone else at the party think I’m an uptight politically correct “sheeple” bitch? Big time! So... there’s another place I prolly shouldn’t show my face again.
If you watch the news or use social media, you might have noticed that things got very fucked up in the Middle East over the summer. This is, of course, very scary. What was ALSO very scary was the way a lot of my friends behaved regarding this. When you hear bullshit from random strangers, it’s bad enough, but to hear it from people you loved and respected...there’s no healing from that.
There are a million things to say here, but I will try to be concise. If you care enough about an issue to post your opinions, protest, or engage in arguments with people, please care enough to do some research first. Information is easily available in books and online, or maybe you can ask somebody. Please. I have seen a lot of well-meaning people say and do horrible things in the name of justice. I don’t mean simply disagreeing. I’m referring to individuals who have insisted on the political validity or even moral righteousness of a dangerous organization. People I knew and felt close to are now people I don’t think I can trust anymore because they’ve thrown their support behind a terrorist group. That’s right, folks. Hamas is a terrorist group. Hamas and Palestine are NOT the same entity. Palestine refers to the group of people and hopefully one day the full-fledged country (yes, I believe in a two-state solution, and no I don’t hate anybody so please stop making assumptions and accusations). Actually, if you support a peaceful two-state solution, then you CANNOT support Hamas. Google their charter if you’re curious as to why. “Oh, but Hamas was democratically elected.” Sure, reeaallllly democratic. Google what happened to the Fatah party and then come back to the conversation.
Hamas and Israel are not two sides of the same coin, either. Israel is a country. It just wants to exist in peace, and it’s had to take military action because it is under constant attack (by Hamas, not by Palestine; they are not the same thing, read up on it if you don't understand why). I am shocked at how many people don’t understand this, and are convinced Israel is at war just to be a jerk. I have had friends purport that Israel enjoys killing, that it’s a terrorist group in and of itself, and that there cannot be peace in the world until Israel is destroyed or compromises with Hamas. (Again, Google the Hamas charter if you want to see why Israel can’t do that. And if you’re too lazy to at least Google it, please don’t weigh in on a topic that you refuse to learn about).
Any time there was any kind of undeniably positive movement from Israel’s side or from Jewish communities around the world (like protesting against the war, or charities to heal people and repair the damage, etc), activists in the free world would go on about how it’s insincere or faked completely. There was a politician here who championed a petition for Canadian hospitals to help treat the Palestinian children who were injured in the war. The comments were full of people demanding this politician impose sanctions against Israel, or otherwise holding out until this PETITION TO TREAT INJURED CHILDREN became strictly anti-Israel. And then some. Helping kids is "meh," but what would really spice it up is some nice hate speech. These “activists” who supposedly care about the Palestinians wouldn’t sign it. Guess who did? *points to self* This white Jewish bitch. So, maybe that says something about your little campaign, "activists." I’ve seen people (including people I’ve been friends with) take issue with the Iron Dome. Either they have no idea what it is or how it works, or there’s something REALLY sick going on. Too lazy to Google what the Iron Dome is? Okay. Israel has missiles set up around its border, NOT to fire at other countries, but to fire straight up into the air to intercept incoming missiles. The system calculates it such that the resulting debris falls into uninhabited fields. What the Iron Dome does is minimize deaths on the Israeli side (so, for those of you activists complaining that the relative death toll isn’t high enough, that’s one big reason. Another big reason is a lot of the deaths on the other side aren’t caused by Israel, once again, it’s a warzone and there are terrorists operating explosives in densely populated areas. I’m not saying that’s all of it, but that’s a big part of it. Please look it up first if you feel the need to complain about it). What it came down to was this. I heard people complaining that not enough Jews were being killed. So, either, they had no idea what they were actually saying (yet they still felt entitled to say it, and in some cases, to take action), or they... are... um... perhaps not as peaceful as they’d like you to believe.
People didn’t believe you could be pro-Israel without being pro-war. To them (“them” including people I’d been friends with and people I’d volunteered for in the past), it was one and the same. Israel was synonymous with death and destruction. The slogan was “Stop Israel.” Like “Stop Cancer” or “Stop Global Warming.” It wasn’t about peace or “Stop the War.” Just... Stop Israel because Israel is bad. People quoted things out of context and retweeted it all day long. Look, even if you hate Israel, you should at least be careful about spreading misinformation, because it has real life consequences. A couple of times I’d spoken up about it, saying I didn’t think Israel should be forced to back down until Hamas stops bombing them. That mostly went without response. One random person responded to me assuming I meant Israel should be allowed to carte blanche destroy Palestine. That’s not what I said. That is NOT what I said. Why would you think I said that? People don’t like to think. Everyone wants to regurgitate information, but no one wants to think. Accusations fly, and in some cases, suggestions that we should "get what we deserve." Again, someone who jumps on the bandwagon like that is either hateful or too stupid to check themselves from accidentally saying something hateful. In either case, not a good thing.
I mean, if this affects you personally, if you’ve been there, if you’ve been hurt, I understand. War is dirty, ugly, horrible, and I understand why you’re coming at this from a place of pain and fear. *I* feel that way, overwhelmingly, and I’ve never even been anywhere near the area. For someone who’s seen it firsthand... there are no words. For people facing problems here on the other side of the world, well, that hurts in its own kind of way. Of course people are hurting; I know a number of people on both sides who are going through it this way. Something horrible happens; it affects you. Part of being human.
However... in the case of hipster activists on the social justice cheerleading squad... simmer the fuck down and fucking READ something before you scream. Not just a headline. Not just a tweet. Try something bigger, like a book. You know a book? Those things made of paper with words and you can’t take selfies on them?
Yes, I’m angry.
When my neighbourhood was vandalized for the first time (of this summer, not the first time in my lifetime; I’ve seen it with my own eyes), people started snarking about how it was deserved. One person even joked that it was faked by rabbis (note: person was from a group that is not directly affected by this conflict) and she said it was “probs retaliation.” Probs! Not even “Probably.” Your theory doesn’t even warrant a whole word. Wow. Some assclown decided to draw swastika graffiti on a bus shelter that is near a synagogue. When I saw the picture of it in the newspaper, I didn’t need to read the address to know where it was. I recognized the fence behind it. This bus shelter is across the street from a synagogue, and slightly down the road from there is a public/secular community centre. That community centre was my second home, growing up. It was where I learned to swim. It was where I learned karate. It was where I took ballet lessons and learned I don’t like ballet. So, for the activist(s) to strike there, it was rather disturbing.
There’s a mosque in my neighbourhood as well, and guess what, it was vandalized too. Social justice activists, I don’t understand you.
Because I work in TV (or I’m trying to), I know a number of people who are somewhat famous. Two of those individuals are Jewish, and both were attacked. One of them, luckily, was “only” verbally attacked. Not that that’s okay, but the other one was put in physical danger and had to be rescued by the police. Well done, activists, who are probably complaining now that their Freedom of Speech had been silenced because they weren’t allowed to beat up my friend.
As the summer continued, the war continued. Someone had graffiti’d a sign on my street - ON MY STREET! They drew a caricature of an orthodox Jewish man. Nice going, genius, this isn’t even an orthodox neighbourhood. Mind you, there is an orthodox area not too far away, and there were cases of people slowing down their cars to drive beside people walking and yell insults at them. Mothers concerned about sending their kids to school. More and more swastika graffiti appeared, including on a sign (right near the library and the mall, so I see it really often) for the UJA. United Jewish Appeal. That’s a charity. A CHARITY! Oh, but because it’s a Jewish charity, it’s bad, so say the activists. Thankfully, my city does not tolerate hate speech or hate graffiti or however this would be classified. It was all cleaned up ASAP (yes, from the mosque too) and a statement was made about how this municipality doesn't tolerate hate crimes. I am grateful to see this but sad that that's what it came to.
People are not so amiable online. I have been told I shouldn’t be Jewish, that it’s bad and evil. Don’t even know how to respond to that. I just know I’m not sure how solid a lot of my friendships are, especially in the cases of people who don’t know I’m Jewish and say certain stuff to my face without realizing. It’s not like I won’t be friends with someone who has a different political opinion from mine, but when someone wishes death upon me and my family (by expressing agreement or otherwise supporting groups that exist to, well, to kill us), I don’t feel like getting any closer to that person. And that’s my right to not have to open up to someone like that.
And if you think that simply passing along misleading information or misinformation isn’t dangerous, consider this. When someone has a kickstarter and you can’t afford to donate, don’t you post it on your social media so someone who can will see it? When you need to get the word out, isn’t that how you do so? So, think about this... when you strongly imply that Israel and Jews are bad and SOMEONE ought to teach them a lesson... when you hint that there is something righteous about fighting the badguys... aren’t you putting that information in front of someone who can and will “do something?” (Yes, I know this affects many hated groups around the world; for this journal I can only speak from firsthand experience).
Here’s the thing, I’m not saying all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but if you can’t do it without double dipping, then you’re doing it wrong. Freedom of Speech does not mean a lack of accountability. Complete this sentence: “I disagree with Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party because.....” And do it without smashing any windows, shouting racial slurs at anybody, vandalizing any synagogues, or drawing any swastikas. No, Jimmy, that’s a spray paint can. Put it down... put it down. Ah, you drew another swastika. Lovely handwriting on that “death to Israel,” though.
The scary part is, they think they’re right. It’s like by attacking Jewish individuals and communities that they are somehow improving the lives of someone else somewhere. But, you know what? They’re not. The only lives they are improving are their own, because they get to tell themselves that they are doing something exciting for a good cause. They are playing some kind of real life video game, attacking the enemy, or pretending they are Guy Fawkes (seriously, “V for Vendetta” fans, you need to look at what the Gunpowder Plot actually was. You wouldn’t like it. Please take off the Anonymous mask and use your brain.). People often do things to make themselves feel like they are part of something, making a difference. Live Aid. The Salvation Army. Dumping buckets of ice water on yourself to pretend you are curing Lou Gehrig’s Disease. And, fine, if you feel the need to pour ice water on yourself to make yourself feel like you are cool and edgy, then do that, but please don’t hurt anyone.
People pride themselves on being shining beacons of truth and information (why, yes, that IS a lovely selfie) but if you’re going to fly that flag then act the part. Fact check before retweeting. Contextualize. Great power, great responsibility; you know the drill. And, by the way, the Middle East conflict is longstanding, highly complex, and has many many many viewpoints. It is rather unhelpful to simply suggest “peace” as if no one has ever thought of it before. You’re kind of implying something rather uncomfortable there, whether you mean to or not. Jews and Arabs aren’t waiting for some random disconnected person from tumblr to end their “barbaric” ways by going “omg, lol, peace” like no one else has ever tried for it before. Please. Please please please. Research before you speak up. And the snide insults? Really really not constructive. It just hurts a lot of people and only entertains you and your friends, and if you’re in such dire need for entertainment, go play a game or something. Senseless hatred is always scary, but it’s scariest when endorsed by people you thought you knew.
I don’t have much contact with people outside of social media, and the few times when I do, the person spends the whole time on their phone anyway. And it got to the point where I couldn’t “see my friends” without having to wade through pages and pages of the “lol, death 2 isreeelz” bandwagon. So... I completely stopped using social media for two months solid. It’s not going to be a big part of my life in the future. TBH, I stopped relying on it emotionally a couple of years ago, but I only truly felt happier when I stopped using it entirely. I still sign in occasionally if a friend needs their book/film/kickstater promoted and I will happily spread the word. But that’s it. Other than that, I just stopped. Not even as a choice, just as a... response. Like, I have a friend who loves animals, and her entire Facebook feed is just picture after picture after picture of abused animals. I can’t. I can’t see that; it is too disturbing. And now EVERYONE on all social media sites are just abused puppy after warzone after protest after WTF is going on in Ferguson and... and... no. I just stopped. If anyone here works out by lifting weights, maybe this will explain it. You know how when you move up to a higher weight, for the last few reps it starts getting REALLY hard to raise your arm. And then, for the last one or two, it’s just “no.” Like, there is nothing left. You are forcing yourself to raise that weight but it’s Not Gonna Happen. You are done. Literally exhausted. No more energy left. None at all. That was what happened to me with all this political, social, whatever the fuck to call it. I can’t do it anymore. There is nothing left. And if there was, no fucking way would I want to spend it on appeasing former friends who, perhaps unwittingly, spread misinformation that has made my neighbourhood a less safe place.
And it’s not just me. I don't have tumblr but I was surfing a Sailor Moon tumblr (does anyone say “surfing” anymore?) and someone said they were taking a break from social media because there were too many disturbing things happening and they couldn’t handle it anymore (read: Ferguson). Then someone else calls the OP a racist piece of shit because she “doesn’t care about black people.” Umm... yeah, that’s not how it works. You’re not HELPING black people by WATCHING the videos. Do you know what spreading awareness does? It INFORMS people. If the OP has acknowledged what is happening, then she already fucking knows. To rewatch the videos does nothing to actually help anybody. Want to help? Why don’t you write a letter to President Obama or whoever is the Governor of Missouri - His name is Jay Nixon. See? I needed to know something and I FUCKING LOOKED IT UP! Took two seconds. ... Holy crap, he’s a Democrat? Seriously? Anyway, write a letter or an email and demand justice. Demand that officers guilty of racial profiling and police brutality be held accountable - lose their jobs, face jail time, that kind of thing. Or, maybe if you want to help, perhaps many of the people in Ferguson have an online presence. Don’t they use Twitter and tumblr? Why don’t you contact THEM and ask them how you can be an ally. THAT might help. Sharing violent images on social media does not help. You are not “raising awareness” because everyone is already aware. It’s on the news. It’s all over the fucking place. This ain’t Yemen or Turkey or Egypt where the government is keeping shit under wraps and the people actually NEED to use social media to communicate important information. In North America, tumblr is for My Little SuperWhoLock and, yes, that’s a lovely selfie. Duck face. So classy. Not everyone has it in them to spend all day looking at pictures of explosions and flags on fire and riot cops attacking people. Not everyone wants to play “guess who’s a rapist?” Not everyone wants to hear your conspiracy theory.
And, seriously, you also don’t know what’s gone on in another person’s life and maybe they really can’t handle your disturbing shit. People with PTSD, people in abusive situations, people with various mental health issues - they cannot be your audience. You should not force them. You are not helping the people you think you are helping; you are only harming your social media followers. You are making noise. Hey, didn’t Michael Brown’s mother say “let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.” Decide if your actions are actually making a difference.
So, long story long, I left social media (and, basically, my whole social life along with it) in September. And juuuuuuuuust in fucking time, because guess what came like a week after? GAMER GATE! And if you don’t know what that is, you are really fucking lucky. I know I’ve been going on about the importance of informing yourself on the issues, but if you can sit this one out, do yourself a favour and FUCKING SIT THIS OUT, because you do NOT want to know. All I have to say about it is this:
1. Yes, game journalism need standards and accountability.
2. Rape is not a legitimate form of self-expression, and thus does not need to be protected by Freedom of Speech. You rape someone, it’s a crime. You threaten to rape someone, that’s also a crime.
3. Take off the fucking Anonymous Mask.
4. Go fuck yourself.
5. Go fuck yourself again.
Lot of shit happened this year. Someone I rather idolized snapped and said horrible things to someone who - surprise - is my friend. So, yeah, that illusion’s shattered. Another group of people I thought I trusted turned out to be the cast of “Mean Girls” (and I’m so sorry I had to refer to that movie, but it was the best way to explain it).
This year is also going to be the end of my anime podcast. I COULD keep it going, but I’d rather put the time to animating (since, wow, is that ever time consuming). The would-be next episode started as a critique on the roots of geeky slang and what that means for geek culture. In researching for it, I discovered some seriously scary crap that, well, at least it explains how we went from “let’s all play games and geek out together” to “bitch I’m going to rape you” every two seconds. Lots of reading, stressing, research, more stressing, writing, and something about Big Bang Theory later, I decided, “I can’t possibly do this in a podcast.” For one thing, what started as two pages of notes became a 51-thousand word speech. To actually read it out loud would take about 8 hours. I know because I tried it and my voice was flagging after 2, when I was 1/4 through. For another thing, I say some stuff in there that would get certain geeks REALLY fucking mad at me, and I don’t feel the need to get into their crosshairs. I kinda just want to live my life, so... yeah. Fuck that. I will say, though, that it was informative and cathartic for me. I now fully understand the label that’s always been near me, the label I proudly wore for many years before having to tear it off myself and throw it into a volcano. I will always like reading and playing video games and making stuff, but I will never be a “geek” again. Fuck the word, they can have it back. Now that I wrote my geek polemic, I feel like I have the clean break I so desperately needed. (See? Writing is awesome.)
So what can I say, leaving 2014? There are bad things in the world and I can’t change that. There are also not enough good things in the world, but I CAN change that. I will not scream. I will not post violent images for shock value and personal attention. I will instead be the best friend I can be to those who deserve it, write stories that will make people happy, and volunteer my time to worthy causes. My goal in 2015 will be to focus on making cool stuff, “failing, trying again, and failing better,” as it were. It’s the best thing I can do.
It’s not like this was an all-bad year either. Part of what I want to do in the New Year is practise focusing on the positive, so, I’m going to start that now. 2014 was the year Sailor Moon Crystal came out, it was the year I got to work on the set of a successful webseries, it was the year I learned how to make chocolates and how to make a vampire bat pattern in a string bracelet. I met someone who is kind of a huge deal in the Canadian film industry and even though I totally dorked out, he still responded to my email (which didn’t lead to any internship, but hey, a response email is still huge). I composed the Monsterville theme song and made the opening credits and will have animated the first scene, and that is a HUGE accomplishment.
I also learned (or, at least, started learning) how to forgive myself for stupid things I did when I was a kid. In retrospect, I did most of my stupid stuff during the happy times of my life, and I reluctantly equated happiness with recklessness and proud ignorance. But now, I know that isn’t true. I did more stupid stuff when I was happy because I was confident. Confidence allows you to do stuff, and when you do stuff you’re not used to, you make mistakes. I felt better, so I took more risks... which didn’t always work out. I wrote stories that didn’t make sense, made jokes that missed the mark, and got creative when it wasn’t necessary (or feasible). When I was at the worst phases of my depression, however, I didn’t make any mistakes to be embarrassed about... because I wasn’t doing anything at all! OF COURSE I didn’t have any accomplishments to be embarrassed about because I could barely get through the day. That wasn’t “cautious.” That was miserable, and I need to make sure I don’t let shame force me into defaulting back to that level of dysfunctional, terrified, cry-myself-to-sleep depression. That’s not me. It’s something that comes over me at times, but I refuse to let it BE me. I’m me. Depression doesn’t get to hog that spot.
So...moving forward... I’ve got stuff to learn, chances to take, and vampire bat bracelets to make. I’m not going to be people’s social media audience, not because I haven’t got the strength to anymore, but because now I don’t have the time. I have a whole new year ahead of me, and none of it is reserved for causing pain for myself or for anyone else. Happy New Year, and I’m going to make this new year actually happy.