Meet Flower the Skunk. Flower has lived his life by the aphorism, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” This wasn’t so hard of a statement to live by when he lived a mostly solitary lifestyle in the meadow and met each wandering critter with a stoned bashfulness meant to disguise his wretched desperation for critter contact in his lonely neck of the woods. I mean, how do you think he got the name “Flower” — did you think he was trying to fuck the gender binary? Cuz he’ll pretend that’s what he’s doing if that’s what’s punk rock and cool these days but he really just let some deer-in-the-headlights type give him the wrong name at some kickback Thumper was throwing and was too timid to offer a correction.
Anyway, his pathetic approval-seeking habits didn’t have him feeling so worthless about himself until right about the time social media and Facebook came out. He fit in for awhile until Upworthy and Buzzfeed became so painfully popular along with things like Reiki-pet-healing and conspiracy theories about the water. He wants to be respectful about a diversity of beliefs, and hell, he used to smoke a ton of weed when he was young, but he’s into the scientific method, dammit, and is he just a soft-bellied phony because he’s too afraid to really speak his mind??
And actually, Flower, yes I would like to fuck your gender binary because I feel like a lot of my self-censorship comes from my performance of a resiliently feminine personality. I say resiliently because I fantasize about chopping off all my hair and/or tossing all my sequin dresses for white button-downs and bow ties.
I just really want to be Claire Moseley but my voice isn’t
sexy raspy enough. Seriously how many cigarettes do I have to smoke before I can sound like that? Oh, fuck, guys I think I realized why I am fatally attracted to trying to smoke cigarettes.
I’m wondering how many of the posts I abandon are due to:
- My own insecurity about my grip on reality as an ex-alien princess, ex-christian, and ex-heterosexual
- Trying to act like a friend around my so-called Facebook Friends and avoiding needless negativity and criticism. And of course, to keep getting invited to parties. Um, I need to write a post on FOMO paranoia because is it just me or am I not being invited to everything there is to be invited to??
- Gender fuckery telling me my opinion is less valid than my conformity to to feminine ideals, lest I get labelled a Mean Girl.
One of my most recent attempts to speak my mind got sparked by an article share on the ol’ newsfeed by some guy who throws pretty awesome parties. I don’t know if my snark-level registered as high to him as it did to me, but I’d like to give you some insight into the spiraling self-doubt that occurs for me whenever I say something remotely divisive on these social media channels. Here’s my personalized paraphrase of the exchange:
I’m left feeling like I didn’t get my point across, I caused unnecessary conflict, I don’t know how to express myself when I have an opinion that does not match the rest of the thread, and if I say what I really think people are going to label me a bitch and not invite me to parties. The last fear is true insanity, because I know plenty of jerk-dudes who say rude things all the time and still get invited to parties, but it’s something I really do worry about when I’m posting.
While regret whorls inside me like a wet pile of snakes, I’m also thinking of all the things I would have liked to say. All the things I would have liked to say if Facebook didn’t live inside a briar pit of social layers in a format which collages baby pictures with instagram food photos with rape culture blog posts with Masaru Emoto water studies with beach trip photos with radiation scare articles. How can I begin to fit my thoughts in alongside that mess?
Don’t read all of this, but here’s an example of all the things I’d like to say.
..But I daren’t write these essays and hit “post” on actual Facebook. It’s strange, as a young’n I did pretty well with being one of the “too smart” ones, but I’m letting anxiety over that get to me today. Back in middle & high school I was made less aware of how such intellectualism in girls is generally put down by society and more aware of how awesome it is to get me in your group for class projects. Nowadays, I find myself biting nails over whether people will be annoyed if I go on a diatribe both on and off the webpage.
I think it’s because I’m finally in the attractive league. I was always cute as a little ginger could be cute, but as soon as I got taller and longer in all the right ways, my first serious boyfriend snatched me up and took me out of the social awareness of being a hottie for 4 years — meaning I wasn’t paying attention to all the attention since I was a super monogamous relationship and I’d never even had the chance to learn how to flirt.
So now, I’m meeting people; I’m learning how to fit this “beautiful” thing into my understanding of my self. What there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for in my new, feminine, pretty persona is this rude little bulldozer that lives inside me and tells me to chew on people’s feelings for a snack. Ok, no, it’s not evil, it really just wants me to honor the truth and the strength of my own intellect. Yet my self-doubt prevents me from ruffling feathers.
I am going to honor this self-censorship to some extent until I fully understand it. If nothing else, it’s useful to avoid facebook comment wars because it’s a fucking pain to unfollow a thread on mobile and, while I tried to turn it off, the green, pulsing, never-ceasing LED on my phone pierces my skull with each new notification. I hate that thing more than I hate not being invited to parties.
I will need an outlet, though, where I can learn the risks and rewards of speaking my mind. Therefore, meet Flower the Skunk. I will create a place for him in this blog to share all the things he wish he shared. I will take screencaps of the nasty just-woke-up I-hate-everything thoughts. I will gather evidence of my drunken malcontent, my late-night lust, my frustration with the unspoken. Let us start a trend of acknowledging these thoughts, and laughing at them together when we realize how common they are. Why were we so afraid, why did we say nothin’ at all?