One of the things I enjoy about asking questions is waiting to see what answers those questions attract to them.
Sometimes the answers come quickly and directly, other times they’re indirect and slow to arrive or I’m the one being slow in realising that something is an answer to a question I asked.
I do regularly forget that I’ve asked a question, luckily some answers give me a slap in the face and shout: “Hey, I’m the answer to that question you ask seven years ago!”
It doesn’t always take that long for answers to show up. Lately they’ve been arriving before the question has departed the airport of my mind.
What I get in the way of answers does depend on the question, on how I’m asking it and whether I’m open to all answers or just those which confirm a bias, support a narrative.
The concept of narrative has been repeatedly popping up in both my questions and the answers attracted to those questions – some of the answers arrive as questions.
For instance – the other day while browsing the latest posts of the bloggers I follow on WordPress, a blogger asked other bloggers some questions in their post about whether they write thought-provoking content, discuss taboo subjects, play devil’s advocate on topical issues, are willing to take risks and say things which might upset or offend readers.
One blogger commented that in these overly sensitive times, pretty much anything you say will upset and offend a snowflake. The blogger who wrote the post replied to the comment, agreeing that everyone was too much of a snowflake and it was getting impossible to say anything without it causing upset and offense.
I keep hearing people say things like that.
And not too long ago I’d have agreed, but…
I’ve been watching a lot of stand-up comedy on Netflix, and all of the comedians I’ve seen have been doing very un-PC routines, saying things which you’re not supposed to say if you don’t want to upset and offend people… to very big audiences without getting heckled or booed, instead everyone laughs and cheers them on.
Of course most of the comedians did at least one piece about everyone else being overly sensitive snowflakes, and the audience all agreed.
If we all think everyone else is an overly sensitive snowflake and we’re all fed up with it… is there anyone left who is actually an overly sensitive snowflake?
If we’re all anti-snowflake… where are the snowflakes?
Are we all tilting at windmills?
It did briefly strike me that maybe we’re all being snowflakes about snowflakes…
That we’re being overly sensitive about people who we perceive as being overly sensitive.
That we’re getting offended and upset about them getting offended and upset.
That we’re using them as an excuse not to say what we want to say…
That thought about us being snowflakes about snowflakes occurred to me when I was watching Bill Burr.
He did this piece in his stand-up routine about a blogger who’d been at one of his shows, had found him funny, laughed along until he said something which hit a serious spot for them and triggered offense and upset. They blogged about it. Somehow their post got them on the news, and Bill Burr found himself being confronted on the news by this blogger.
He repeated that story when he did Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
It sounds as though it’s a thorn in his side because he keeps coming back to it – but then again he is a comedian and this is part of his routine.
He seemed to be genuinely bothered by what happened with this blogger, and he viewed this blogger as a snowflake… and it suddenly occurred to me that Bill Burr was being a snowflake about a snowflake.
Am I worried that Bill Burr will read this and get pissed off at me, at yet another blogger talking shit about him in a post?
Another thought which struck me about the whole Bill Burr Blogger narrative was – how the fuck did a blogger get so much attention for a post!?!
As a blogger… you’re lucky if the people who willingly followed your blog at some point bother to read your posts.
I’ve seen bloggers with tens of thousands of followers only get a couple of Likes and comments per post.
How the fuck did that Bill Burr blogger get anyone to give a shit about their blog post!?
[That’s a rhetorical question, btw, I don’t really want to know… I could look it up if I really wanted to know]
Maybe that happened before the whole “blogging is dead” period we’re in. Maybe that’s what killed blogging (according to the big bloggers it was actually Google and other search engines changing their algorithms).
Btw, Bill Burr, if you’re reading this, I enjoyed both of your Netflix stand-up shows which I watched, and the Seinfeld Selling Cars to Colleagues episode too. I particularly liked the bit about sinking cruise ships…
I’ve been on a cruise ship, and it would have been a relief if it had sunk while I was on it. I spent quite a long time at the stern of the ship staring at the swirling water wondering if it was true that sharks follow ships and considering jumping overboard to find out for myself. There were large barracudas… but I didn’t see any sharks.
To be fair to the cruise and its other passengers, for me it was a nightmare because I was stuck on it with my parents, and they were both in full-on drama drama DRAMA mode… and it didn’t end once we got off the damn boat.
The cruise was my idea… it was one of those seemed like a good idea at the time which was always a terrible idea but I refused to see the truth because I was trying to force a false narrative onto a real narrative.
I was in my early teens, it was Christmas, and I thought – wouldn’t it be great if I brought my always fighting narcissist parents together, stuck them in a sardine can with me in the middle, and watched the whole situation explode in my face without any way to get away from it.
Narcissists are the ultimate super special snowflakes. Their sensitivity levels are stratospheric. Anything and everything can upset and offend them.
On that cruise the word “hot dog” set off an almighty KABOOM! the sound of it continues to ring in my ears which is why I remember it fairly vividly decades later.
I still can’t hear the word “hot dog” with getting flashbacks… but I no longer feel the impulse to throw myself into the mouth of a shark because of it.
Growing up with parents who are narcissists… I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I could say and what I couldn’t say. The list of what I shouldn’t say got longer and longer and interminably longer. I eventually decided not to say anything… but that also upset and offended them and caused overly sensitive explosions.
Of course I couldn’t say anything bad about my parents – it wasn’t just my parents who would lose their snowflake shit about that, it was also other people (and this was back in those mythical less PC times, which weren’t really any less snowflakey than they are now, but we didn’t have the internet).
Other people do not like it when you talk shit about your parents even if that shit is true… especially if that shit is true.
Honesty is the best policy until it isn’t… terms and conditions apply and they’re so friggin’ complicated that – just don’t say anything except “my parents are wonderful, I had a happy childhood, I’m so lucky”… but don’t say it like a robot or everyone will be upset and offended.
My parents could talk shit about me and other people were totally okay with that, in fact they’d join in, character assassinate me and their own kids if they had any. It’s okay to talk shit about your children if you’re a parent, it’s not okay for children of any age to talk shit about their parents.
When I first started blogging I was careful and cagey about what I said about my parents…
I wanted to share the narrative of my life story, but…
I was afraid of the way people would react – I knew the typical reaction and I was fed-up of that lecture, I knew it by heart, it made my heart turn to stone and drop down through my body hitting other organs, bruising them, on its way to my feet where it would shatter.
To control the way people reacted to me when I spoke of my life, my self, I had to… lie, be inauthentic.
Most of my narrative had to be blacked out, censored, edited, encrypted.
The narcissists were still controlling the narrative even though I’d cut them out of my life years before.
At some point I started to share more of the real story from my perspective, my side of the story, my real feelings, emotions, thoughts… bit by bit I stopped suppressing, repressing, and depressing my self.
I braced myself for the typical reaction and… it didn’t happen.
Instead I had reactions which I’d never experienced before. People were thanking me for speaking my truth – they particularly liked my rants, for helping them by helping myself by letting myself just share myself as is, for telling my story and giving expression to their own stories, and they shared their stories with me.
Over time I realised that you can say anything you want to say… we’re actually living in less PC times than we used to, in large part thanks to the internet where we can all express ourselves freely.
Even those who live in countries which try to control the internet to control the narrative of their people can find ways to speak out – although it is far more dangerous for them if they get caught and found out. Their snowflakes will kill them, imprison them, persecute them, disappear them.
You can say anything you want…
You can share thought-provoking content, discuss taboo issues, play devil’s advocate…
What you can’t do is control how your narrative affects others, you can’t control how others will hear what you say and react to what you share… and that’s a good thing!
And yes, some of what you say may upset and offend others.
They have the right to express that just as you have the right to express yourself and your view.
Don’t be a snowflake about snowflakes – in other words don’t get upset and offended about someone being upset and offended about something you said.
Scratch that – do get upset and offended if that’s how you genuinely feel, share it like Bill Burr did, like Dave Chappelle did (he also hates bloggers), like your particular snowflake did with you, but don’t get trapped in the narrative of – you can’t say anything these days because of the snowflakes, and use that as an excuse to bottle yourself up, getting angrier, more upset and offended, more sensitive to the slightest slight because of what you’re doing to yourself using someone else.
I used to do that, still do sometimes but I’m better at catching myself doing it and telling myself to cut the crap…
Growing up, living and dealing with narcissists made me overly sensitive about the overly sensitive.
Narcissists will tell you the awful truth about yourself, they say whatever the fuck they want, they can talk shit about you to your face and behind your back, they can change the story at any moment, lie, make stuff about, scream and yell, rant and rage, burst into tears, play the victim of the person they just victimised, be overly sensitive, upset offended, but no one else is allowed to do that.
But, hang on a minute… that’s their narrative, it doesn’t have to be your narrative.
If you accept their narrative as your own too, then who is fucking who?
Narcissists rely on others being too afraid to challenge the narrative.
They rely on you being too worried about upsetting and offending them not just because you upset and offended them but because of their reaction and of how that impacts you, your identity, your narrative of who you are and how others will see you.
Narcissists rely on you to be attached to the “good person” narrative – the good person doesn’t say things which upset and offend people, and you’re a good person, so… shut the fuck up! Put on a smiley-nicey face and only say inauthentic things which please others while authentic you burns in a personal silent hell within wanting to rip the heads off all snowflakes.
Bill Burr said something very interesting and intelligent in his routines (which he also stated in his chat with Seinfeld) – he can’t control what happens to his words once they leave his mouth.
Those words enter people’s heads through their ears and get mixed up with their personal stories, their words, and become something else – and when people get upset and offended about what he said, they’re getting upset and offended with what they heard, what they made of what he said inside their own minds.
That also applies to blogging – what you write is not necessarily going to be what people read.
Do you read what people have really written or is it your interpretation of what is written? Is what you read what they wrote?
I have a slight natural advantage – I have dyslexia, so I’m constantly made aware that what I’m reading isn’t what’s written, but I still think I’m reading what’s written until it doesn’t make sense because I’ve turned tornado into tomato – woah a tomato destroyed a town!?! Hang on a minute, is it April Fool’s? Maybe I read it wrong… oh… hmmm… I kind of prefer it the way I read it.
If you’re writing about a topic which hits upon something important to them, it stirs up their own feelings, emotions, thoughts, and stories about it.
Frankly if it’s not stirring me up, I won’t read it… I like to be stirred. If it upsets or offends me… I can deal with it, maybe by ranting about it in a blog post. I love to have my thoughts provoked into taking a thought journey.
Sometimes that thought journey ends with me realising I’m being a dick. It’s a happy ending, because owning your own dick (especially if you thought you didn’t have one of those) and owning up to it is liberating. Ah, I’m free of having to pretend I’m a good person, I can now be who I really am which is a probably human definitely mess.
Here’s the thing, most people aren’t snowflakes or narcissists, they’re you and they’re me, probably human definitely mess. They’re a bit snowflakey and narcissistic at times, but they’re also not always that, there’s so much more to them, and they can work their way through those moments.
Sometimes they work their way through it by sharing their snowflakey narcissistic reaction with you.
What you do when they do that – makes a big difference to what happens next in the narrative.
If you get angry, upset, offended at their reaction… why?
Are you really hearing what they’re saying to you?
Are you really listening to what they shared with you?
Or are you hearing something else, something you are saying to yourself using their words which got jumbled up inside your mind, stirring up your own inner story?
Another thing to consider is how you say what you say – the attitude and approach you’re taking when expressing yourself.
If you set yourself up on a pedestal, and you might not notice you’ve done that because you’re all caught up in something, getting the word out there, trying to make others hear your message… someone is going to knock you off of it… maybe deliberately, maybe by accident.
They’re actually doing you a favour, but it may take a while to realise that, by then you’ve probably said “Fuck you” instead of “Thank you” to them and whatever they used to knock you off the pedestal… usually all it takes is a word, a question, or giving you an answer which you don’t like and won’t accept.
Sometimes you’ll be the one knocking someone else off their pedestal with just a remark, a question, an answer which didn’t confirm their bias… and you’ll wonder why they’re being so all “fuck you” when you were just sharing your view. It gets even more confusing if they asked for your view, said they really wanted it, said they were interested in it, and then got mad at you for having it and sharing it with them.
The latter happens to me quite a bit… and I’ve asked a lot of questions about it, I’m getting quite a few answers from watching stand-up on Netflix, and also Comedians in Cars.
In those moments when I’m not thinking that Jerry Seinfeld looks like a successful real estate or car salesman, maybe he’s both because he diversified… I’m listening to him mentor both old and new comedians, insisting that they continue to say things which upset and offend because it’s part of their job to do that, to say what everyone is afraid of saying, to go where others are afraid to go, into the uncomfortable zone.
All of the comedians whose stand-up I’ve watched aren’t arrogant or aggressive even though they may adopt that persona, appear to be that way, when discussing sensitive issues, taboo subjects, when sharing a provocative thought, idea, when doing un-PC material.
They’re confident, strong in their stance, but there’s a softness, vulnerability, and sharp yet gentle intelligence to it which makes you want to hear them out and not put up barriers, not get all prickly, offended, upset… just listen and really hear them, and listen to what happens inside your head when their words mingle with your own story, hear your own story using them, their words, to speak to you.
I liked what Jim Jefferies said in his routine – the only difference between a drunk person rambling and a stand-up comedian is a microphone.
There are a lot of similarities between bloggers and comedians and drunk people rambling… as I’ve been watching all of these stand-up shows on Netflix I feel as though I’m taking a masterclass in self-expression, in how to share life-story narrative.
Marc Maron’s Too Real was a brilliant perspective on narrative from many angles.
His piece about the hat, told twice in different ways – first as himself telling a tale of buying a hat and the hat’s journey from shop to head to only worn inside to hanging on the wall to shut in a cupboard to Goodwill store where another guy buys it… and then as a children’s story (reminded me of one of my fav’s – The Berenstain Bears’ Old Hat New Hat) – showed how personal narrative flows, and changes depending on how you tell it, and who’s looking at it (including which you is looking at it).
His overall self-narrative for the show was – grizzled old man who’s had enough of the chaos of life and can only take so much more of it – fascinating, especially considering that I kept thinking he was about 70 years old and yet he’s only a couple of years older than me.
I loved his bit about the post-its… because I write weird notes on post-its too (see below) which I sometimes use in my posts.
That one is from a dream I had the other night – I was in this very modern super clean and tidy house (not my house), I didn’t know why I was there but there wasn’t time to think about that because the place’s self-destruct mode had been activated.
A drawer opened in a wall, inside were several sealed plastic bags with diamonds of different sizes in them. I scooped them all up, I wasn’t stealing this is what I was supposed to do which is why the drawer had opened, and wished I’d had the smarts to grab a basket since there were almost too many to carry in my arms (yeah, I could have done the scoop thing with my top but I didn’t think of that – I hate being on a timer, I just gave up on a video game because of that timey timed timer shit, it makes my mind go into slo-mo or panic or slo-mo panic).
I made my way outside, and the robot butler of the place came up to me to usher me further away since somehow I thought standing just outside of a big place which is about to blow up was safe.
The robot lead me to a bunker built to survive the blast, and it also had a tunnel leading somewhere else… I hesitated, felt kind of bad leaving the robot behind when he could so easily come with, but he told me to say “goodbye” and go.
That dream was partly inspired by something going on with some people I know which… I was thinking about before I fell asleep – I won’t discuss it because it’s not my place (just like the house in the dream) to discuss it, not on my blog anyway.
And I think that it was also partly inspired by watching a Kevin Hart stand-up, the one where he does this whole Bond film intro and had a bit in his routine about living in a big house and running out of it in the middle of the night to escape imaginary intruders leaving his family to fend for themselves, .
He’s the most mainstream comedy and PC comedian I’ve watched… I didn’t finish watching his show.
He’s very talented and funny, but I prefer it when the routine is almost not comedy at all.
I prefer it when the stand-up comedian is more of a stand-up philosopher, and I feel as though some great wisdom is being shared with me even though I’m not entirely sure what it is, perhaps they’re crazy… it’s more likely I’m the one who is crazy… maybe we’re both crazy, maybe all humans are crazy.
I definitely thought I was crazy when watching Anthony Jeselnik… it takes a lot for me to think that about myself… no, it doesn’t… why did I just say that!?
While listening to him do his routine (which later had me Googling his astro… he’s a Capricorn! Aha, that explains the comfortable fascination with the macabre and the slow deadpan delivery), the really shallow side of me kept chattering away:
“Oh he’s so good-looking, I didn’t know good-looking people could be funny (Googling him sorted that out – without beard he’s a 5, with beard he’s a 9… Jim Jefferies explained what a 5 looks like in his routine, thanks Jim because I’ve never quite grasped that odd rating system until you explained it), shit I’m being an -ist dick (not the word I used but can’t share the word I used in a post… although I think I may have used it in a post before… I came to my senses), shouldn’t base people’s abilities on their looks, I wonder if my partner knows I only put AJ on because I found him good looking and wondered if good looking people can be funny, should I tell him I find AJ good looking, no, but he tells me when he finds people good looking, yes but… am I being a pervy crone, oooh, that’s kind of cool to be a pervy crone, maybe I should make that a thing on my blog!?!”
I’d forgotten about that idea… hmmm… diary of a pervy crone… the pervy crone files? In today’s pervy crone file, pervy crone finds this young man attractive and doesn’t know why, could it be the beard? Let’s shave his beard off and find out… bzzzzzzz… bzzz… yup, it was the beard!
I have no idea where the love of beard came from… ha… it’s not a daddy thing because he refused to grow one no matter how much I told him he should… okay this is getting weirder… it might have been Kabir Bedi… or Clint… or Grizzly A… never mind.
I did also consider doing a Stand-Up Philosophers series on my blog… but I’m kind of bored of watching stand-up now, why do I always have to overdo it…
That’s a rhetorical question too.
Time to wrap this mess up…
For those of you who are interested, here’s a list of… nope, can’t be bothered.
That’s it, I’m grabbing the diamonds and saying bye!