Monday, February 01, 2016

Disproportionate Analogies

So, given the weather last week, I checked the status of my cross-state bus a few times before heading out on Monday.  Originally they said all Monday schedules as normal.  Then it said, some cancelled, but mine appeared to still be on the normal list.  So, I showed up, and...there were a lot of people waiting for the same bus, some ticketed, some hoping for the best because they had been trying to get back earlier and been stymied. And we stood there.  And the time of the buss arrival came and went and we stood there.  And the bus after ours came and went.  And I finally tried calling.  (The schedule continued to indicate our bus was supposed to be on time even though that was no longer temporally possible.) And finally, one of the bus line employees indicated it was coming in ten minutes.  And it arrived and, with the snow and the standbys people crowded up and while we had all tried to be cheery and happy waiting, there was a moment where, I had a seat and I could tell the driver was already talking to the people in the group after me, and I still couldn't get past to get my bag on so I could board.  And I pushed passed someone to get my bag on, and then when I realized the guy in front of me was still pulling up his ticket on his phone, I stepped around him and boarded.  And I felt so mean.  It was the same bus.  With the number of standbys, no one was getting a row to themselves anyway.  But, you know what, I didn't really hurt anyone.  I boarded.  And, I kind of had a point.  I did have a ticket that allowed me the joy of boarding first.
I mention this because when stuff comes spilling out publicly, there's often a big pushback.  I know so-and-so.  They are super nice.  They didn't mean to hurt anyone.  And, well, all of that may be true.  People can be nice and not mean to hurt anyone and still do so. But, make sure you understand who you are telling to be nice and why.  If I said something racist, or ran over someone's toes with my suitcase, I could still be a nice person who harmed someone else.  It is not a binary situation.  And if I say, I'm sorry I ran over your toes, but all this discussing of it really isn't helping, well, I am definitely being the jerk then.  Because as the person harmed, the harmed person gets to decide to speak out.  Can things get blown out of proportion?  Sure.  But me saying, shush up about your pain doesn't solve anything. 
And so, the discussion about how hard one reviewer is finding it to read diverse books (like pretty much any), well, if people started mentioning that her attempts to boost romance have come at the expense in some ways of recognizing LGBTQ+ romances, or diverse romance, or that by continuing to treat them as the special snowflake or vegetables of romance  - as in the things you read to be able to get back to talking about what you really wanted to talk about - then yeah, telling people to stop being mean isn't helping.  Saying you did something harmful isn't mean.  And telling people to shush doesn't make you nice.