I have been depressed for pretty much the whole of November. I cannot express just how very much the current situation has left me deflated. It's too cold to spend a lot of time outside. The main thing to do here is go outside. But even if i was in a bigger city, there still wouldn't be anything to do because night clubs - one of the few indoor places i enjoy spending a lot of time - are closed, and have been all year.
I have lot of hobbies that don't require me to go outside. I could read. I could cook. I could make music. I could play computer games. I could watch shows. I have the time to do all those things, but because of the depression i don't want to do any of them.
Then, on one of my favorite websites, this week saw a vicious cancellation.
After the toxic comment thread on gender that prompted my last entry, a writer of 12+ years was summarily canceled from the website. He writes a column about wargaming and simulations - the most trainspottery niche of computer games - and brings a depth of knowledge around the historical context that gives all of his writing the sense i am walking around an odd little museum in small town England. He is an excellent, well-researched writer. He was dropped from the website, in a single post on Twitter that did not mention his name, did not mention the name of his column, did not express any regret or acknowledgement of his past work, just (paraphrased) "trans rights are human rights, we dropped a freelancer who disagrees", which is both disingenuous and outrageously petty.
The way they have dealt with this has left me unable to enjoy the other writing on the website, since i now know that at least some of the writers on that team are perfectly fine with the disappearing of colleagues who simply voice curiosity or expect to be able to have a nuanced conversation on gender.
This is my "then they came for me" moment.
Andrew Sullivan has been whining about this forever. A whole bunch of high profile writers including folks like Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky signed a letter about it earlier this year. Matthew Yglesias just left the company he set up for similar reasons. They're all concerned about how the media is getting progressively less tolerant of diversity of opinion. Meanwhile, they also all have massive social media followings and a public profile that means no matter where they go, they will still have plenty of readers and plenty of dollars. I must admit to not having a huge amount of pity for this elite bunch of professional pontificators.
But then they came for someone with a beat so very fucking niche, who has no social media presence at all, who doesn't even write professionally about contemporary politics or culture, over a civil exchange in the comments section around the complexities of gender self identification? The fuck man?
And then they came for me.
Cancel culture is fucking bullshit. It's only making people on the left look intolerant and close-minded. It's one thing to cancel actual fucking scumbags - people who use their platform to deliberately spread disinformation and hate, or people who use their clout to gatekeep and abuse others. But canceling just a guy with an opinion, i fucking can't. It cheapens the whole thing, turns it into some dumb social media sport instead of a true indictment of someone's shitty behavior.
Earlier this year, a professional wrestling writer whose work i enjoyed was canceled when it turned out he had been a serial abuser. The whole section he edited was shut down. That was a gut punch for those of us who visited daily. So the fans banded together and within weeks we had set up our own wrestling website where we reviewed shows ourselves. Did i tell you guys, i have been writing a weekly column for a niche wrestling website? Yes, i am doing that now. We built a fun little space for progressive wrestling fans, from the ashes of this clown who had spent his entire career treating women like shit behind the scenes.
This latest cancellation has been a punch in the different gut. The gut of injustice. The site that cast him out will continue on without him, but they might continue on without me too, because i don't feel safe there any more. The writer himself will probably find a way to self-publish, although it will be hard for him because he has no social media so no way to let readers know where he went. A triumphant win for trans people everywhere, i'm sure.
So, this week i am disillusioned with the media, and i am disillusioned with life. It's hard to find the emotional energy to do anything.
I have more to write about - a trip to the bar and a motel out in the sticks, and an interesting job offer... but i will make coffee and a sandwich first. In the mean time, here is a winter shot of one of my spots after daylight savings started the sun setting at 4pm.