How do you react when you hear the remnants of a conversation that you were not supposed to hear and it is presumably about you and you alone? Does it matter if it is negative or positive or perhaps just indifferent and why do I feel so goddamn curious to find out if it was actually about me? ‘… I follow his blog and it’s pretty gay’ were the words that I heard off a snapchat video that unintentionally picked up the scraps of a conversation from a group I had just spent part of the night with. This has happened to me before. Honestly, this has happened to all of us. What, with the invasion of privacy such a cakewalk these days, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing lives turned upside down or just slightly affected by a couple of minced words from a friend, colleague or stranger.
I can hardly claim to have had my life changed because of a conversation whose subject matter could be attributed to me but it shook me up a little. I’m not 15 years old anymore where my social status was the be-all and end all but I am still desirous of people’s respect and friendship. I don’t go out of my way to make enemies and I’m particularly magnanimous toward other people when it comes to letting them off with a flimsy reprimand if I catch people gossiping about me but it still makes me simmer a little with frustration.
However, I have to check myself when it comes to feelings of resentment for something like this. I do the same. I claim how indignant it is and I whisper about similar types of things with my friends with judging eyes. I can be a prick just as much as the next guy. Speaking of that, my ears do prick up when I notice someone talking about me just as I am curious when I catch a group looking at me as I search for some sort of sign of their general feeling toward me. Are they mocking me? Do they admire my style? How can they hate me when they don’t even know me?
But I digress. I look upon them the same. We are all interested in the same thing. We seek competitive advantages and if that means berating strangers or acquaintances for their inadequacies then so be it. If we were constantly in fear of other people’s opinions of us then we would nitpick any positive affirmation searching for a sign of some sort of inconsistency which points to the person’s true motive behind such a comment. We wouldn’t be able to accept the word of another because we would fear that it hides something more sinister. We might even start to feel that we are truly alone in this world. However, no one is completely enamored with another. There is always a criticism to be made, perhaps a few too many.
Riffing with friends can result in a loose approach to the analysis of another. The lust of stoking a fire when speaking about friends, lovers or perhaps more significantly acquaintances and those we just don’t really like is a delightfully dangerous thing. One comment about another person’s minute genitalia can lead to a thorough and destructive dressing down of that individual that crosses the borders of each and every aspect of his or her life. And what damage does it cause if the wind never carries those words to the window of that person and they remain ignorant of your dripping disdain or passing derision of them?
Not much, if any damage at all.
When it does reach you, it hurts. It hurts because it’s just human nature. Some people pretend it doesn’t bother them because they know what others think of them. They know they are controversial, outrageous, combative or just a genuine prick. Some just genuinely don’t give a fuck. But I’ve been brought up, whether to my detriment or not, to care what others think about me because… I just do. And despite the years making me wiser to the fact that people are going to dislike me for one reason or another whether reasonable or not, I still don’t enjoy the feeling of knowing that a person doesn’t feel any sort of warmth toward my person.
Maybe it’s because my blog is ‘pretty gay’. I think in my heart of hearts I just want to be respected and not to be treated with disdain or dismissed in such a casual way affects me because I feel like I deserve more. But do I? I’ve denigrated people, falsified their homosexuality, referred to them as sluts, and labeled them as wankers all the while passing myself off as a nice guy. We all do it when their backs are turned. So I tend to think it is all well and good to do it when they are motoring down some highway or having a picnic with their elderly grandmother but God forbid if they were actually within earshot!! I’d beg for their forgiveness, blush, kiss their feet, scrub their balls and pour them a milkshake.
Say he wasn’t referring to me but some other manufacturer of another ‘pretty gay’ blog. I won’t ever know. I’m not going to confront the guy about his comment. He’s a decent person and one I actually do respect despite being more friends through friends than genuine bosom buddies. It’s just unfortunate that the façade that is the face-to-face relationship was broken when I heard those words. Now I just won’t be able to speak to him, laugh with him, banter with him without thinking about that little clip. I’m not saddened by what he said or even particularly bothered by it but it still happened and I’ve internalised it now.
And yet I kind of appreciate the honesty. Hey, it’s better to be spoken about in a kind of cruel, dismissive way than not being spoken about at all, right? I don’t know. The guy who came up with that (para)phrase was/is probably an absolute asshole.