Another one of those “post now, refer people to later” entries. I’ve written about this before regarding specific instances, but it’s nice to have something general to point people to.
So, it turns out I know, and am friends (or at least I have been friendly) with, people who are notable or famous to some degree or another. Yes, I am as amazed about that as anyone else. Sometimes, those notable/famous people:
* Are disliked by a large group of people, for whatever reason(s);
* Have a life event, often not a happy one, that gains attention in the public sphere;
* Will have a public conflict with some other person who is also generally notable;
* Says or does something that causes the Internet to fall on their head;
* Some combination of two or more of the above;
* Otherwise attracts attention to themselves in some manner or another that elicits general comment.
When that happens, occasionally people will remember that I know that person and that we are friends (or at least, are friendly), and will want me to publicly comment on/gossip about/publicly denounce or praise them, depending on that person’s own inclinations.
Here’s the deal with all of that:
1. I don’t take requests. Which is to say that just because you or anyone else wants me to publicly comment about something involving a friend of mine, it doesn’t mean I will. Why? Because I reserve the right to deal with matters involving friends privately, no matter how famous/notable they might be. Also:
2. I probably won’t talk about it publicly. Because, again, if it’s a friend, then it belongs in a personal sphere, regardless of how public their life might otherwise be. If I do say anything publicly at the time of whatever event is happening, it’s likely to be either bland or oblique.
3. If it’s involving a friend, consider that as a friend, I’m processing what’s happening, too. If something bad has happened to a friend, I may be concerned or grieving. If a friend has done a jackassed thing, I may be angry or heartsick (or both). If a friend is having a public feud with someone else, consider I might be friends with that other person, too. And so on. This is a friend we’re talking about; someone I like, and care about, and probably respect, and possibly love. In which case, demanding I do/say something about them publicly, and on your schedule, might be unrealistic.
4. If I “come for my friend,” I will probably do that privately and none of you will know. Strangely, a friend who has had the Internet drop on their head (for cause) might be more likely to listen to a friend talk to them about why the jackassed thing they did was an actual problem, if it is done privately and in the spirit of love and care, than if it takes the form of public castigation. How do I know that? Because I’ve done jackassed things, alas. When that happened, I was more open to criticism from friends I knew and trusted pointing out how I fucked up, than I was to the Internet falling on my head. Being someone’s friend means sometimes you get the privilege of telling them they screwed up. That’s often best done away from everyone and everything else.
5. If I do “come for my friend” privately, results are not guaranteed. People are going to do what they’re going to do. Sometimes they will listen, and sometimes they won’t. And sometimes if they do listen, they’ll decide I’m wrong, or it’s none of my business. That’s just the nature of the beast.
6. It’s entirely possible I might decide your concern/issue/demand is bullshit. In which case I am likely to mute/block/otherwise ignore you, although I might be snippy about it before I do so. This will more likely be the case when your own concern/issue/demand is obviously bound up in your own set of entitlements, i.e., what you seem to think you deserve from that friend of mine. And no, when you’re acting entitled it doesn’t matter if you put a winky emoji in there somewhere.
7. Generally speaking, friends mean more to me than strangers. This is kind of a non-controversial statement, or should be — if something bad is happening to a friend (or a friend has really stepped in it, for whatever reason), my thoughts are going to be on them more than on what people I don’t know think about whatever it is that’s happening. Addressing my friend’s needs (or deficiencies) will take priority over addressing the wants/needs/desires of strangers.
8. I try to keep friends. Which is to say that if I have decided to invest in caring about someone, it’s because there is something them about I think is valuable to me and will make my life better, not worse. Which means that when a friend does something jackassed, I try to deal with it with an eye toward staying friends with them. That’s not always possible; there are people I have let go because ultimately it was clear there was an unbridgeable gap, or because their actions showed I was wrong about them. That’s a grieving process of its own. But as someone who has done his own share of jackassed things and then tried to do better, I’m glad for friends who didn’t just toss me over the side.
9. My actions (or lack thereof) are open to criticism. You don’t have to like any of the above, and it’s entirely possible that you may find my action (or inaction) insufficient. That’s the nature of being on the Internet, and of being my own particular flavor of well-known. Criticize away. If you do it away from me, I’m unlikely to address it in any manner. If you direct it to me, my reaction will range from no response at all, to “I hadn’t considered that, you may be right” to “fuck off all the way to the moon,” depending on the nature of your criticism and how it’s presented to me. Mostly I’m not likely to respond, however.
10. If I do say something public about a friend, it will be at a time, place and manner of my own choosing, not anyone else’s. And it still might not be the statement you wanted or thought you needed from me. And that’s fine. Because I won’t be doing it for you. I’ll be doing it for me.
And that’s what I have to say about that.