I Can’t Promise I Will Never Be Problematic: A Twitter Thread
Archived here for posterity.
1. Recent events have prompted some folks to ask me to assure them that I will never be problematic, so they can continue to read my work with a clear conscience. Folks, I have some real bad news for you: I can’t promise that, and here’s a thread on why. Ready? Let’s begin.
2. To begin, I can’t promise that because I have already been problematic at various points in my past — I’ve shown my ass in a number of ways. I try to listen to friends/others when I do show my ass, and do better, but it has happened before, and will probably happen again.
3. I can’t promise because there are gaps in my personal knowledge and experience, and sometimes I will do/say something problematic because I didn’t know, and also, I didn’t know I didn’t know. What one does from there is important, but I’ll still trip over lines I didn’t see.
4. I can’t promise because what’s problematic is a moving target, with different people, different audiences and different groups. What might be fine with one group (and a group close to me) might not with others. I try not to do harm but I also accept the view on that differs.
5. And I can’t promise because sometimes it may be that what I believe to be moral and correct may be different or even in direct opposition to what you believe is moral and correct, and we might not be able to bridge that gap (or want to). When that happens we can talk…
6. … and perhaps through discussion come to a better understanding. But sometimes we might not, or one or both of us might decide that discussion is futile in any event, so why bother. In which case: Hi, I’m problematic, and that’s where we are.
7. As an example, there are a fair number of people on the US political right who won’t touch my work because they see my personal political and social positions and are all “yeah, no,” and I’m fine with that because I’m comfortable with my positions and their response to them.
8. (There’s also some on the left! Although not as many, but even so I’m a pretty damn corporate straight white dude, and that’s a thing.)
9. Now, here’s a thing: I do try to learn and try to grow and to be decent to people. I’ve accepted I’ll be wrong, and I work to mitigate when I am. But I can’t promise I won’t fuck up, and when I do, I can’t promise you’ll always be happy with how I work to be better.
10. When and if that happens, and you decide you can’t hang with me or my work anymore, then take your leave of me. There’s a wide world of creators out there. Find the ones that speak to you. I understand that will happen, and that you may criticize me as you go. That’s fair.
11. In sum: I can’t promise I won’t ever be problematic, for whatever set of criteria you use to determine that. What I can promise is that I’ll always be aware I’m not perfect, and will continue to work on myself. It’s up to you to decide, as we go along, if that’s sufficient.
12. And this is the end of this particular tweet thread. To show my appreciation for your attention, please accept this picture of a cat. Thank you.