Inclusion: Practical Strategies

This is a followup to Responsible Friendshipping: Inclusion v. Exclusion.

What does inclusion look like, practically applied?

Strategy: Opacity in Invitation

For the past three kickbacks I’ve hosted, I’ve skipped creating a Facebook event and instead invited friends individually via text, private message, or in person. Alternatively, I could have created a Facebook event and unchecked “show guest list.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.23.05 PM

 

There was something organic about sending the invite via text. If I created the Facebook event, the set guest list does still exist, even if invisibly — and there is the issue of visible comments in the event page. If I use text, it is unclear about how people ended up at the party, and I found that it was easier to communicate to friends or even allow them to assume that they could bring others.

Either way, obscuring the list seemed to have an added side effect of reducing my stress. If my friends did communicate with one another about whether or not they would go, I did not see it (well, one friend asked who was coming and I told him “people I like” stop asking). I enjoyed spending less time organizing an event (Facebook makes me feel like I have to write a description, set a start time, add a cover photo….) and more communicating with friends directly to answer their questions.

What time are people coming?

IDK after 8, staying late. I’m here now.

I invited people first who I had recently chatted with, and then did my best to remember anyone else I may have missed. I enthusiastically responded yes to anyone who wanted to bring a friend, and I did my best to be welcoming to friends who heard of the gathering by word of mouth but who I had forgotten to invite. One thing I might do differently next time is reach out to close friends to help me spread the word, so I am not just relying on my own memory.

Strategy: Time Pressure

In all cases, I sent the invites the afternoon or night of the event. This reduced one of the major disadvantages of inclusion, and that is that events and hosting locations have limited capacities. Many people already had plans or otherwise couldn’t come, and so I avoided accidentally causing a rager.

If I had a particular friend who I knew had higher-than-average difficulty making last-minute plans, I might give them the curtesy of advance notice at least for a couple of parties, in order to be more inclusive to them. I’d have to, of course, let them know that’s exactly what I’m doing and others will not have heard of this “party” yet.

Alternate Strategy: Revolving Lists

Another strategy I’m considering experimenting with is masterminding a small groups rotation pattern. I will make it clear to friends that, to limit the size of the party, I will invite smaller portions of my larger friend base. If they are not invited to the current party, rest assured they will be invited to the next. This strategy will only be helpful if I have frequent parties, and if no event gets so much acclaim that missing it would be upsetting. I could see using this strategy for weekday hangouts. It will probably require spreadsheets.

Conclusions

These are by no means the best models of inclusion. I have seen better ones with semi-public Reddit events or smaller communities that utilize public Facebook pages to advertise their events. These strategies are instead a middle ground I am reaching after a habit of overly-curating events, as I have done and witnessed in 2014.

Advertisements

Is the Oppressed Life like PTSD?

I struggle with trigger-induced panic. Often, it is easiest to say I suffer from PTSD, though I haven’t been formally diagnosed and do not want to diminish the experiences of others who may have it worse than I do. I know I used to feel helpless when others threw around the word “depressed” as if one could become such by the mere awful occurrence of a bad grade. “Oh my god I got a C- I am depressed.” I promise my use of the label PTSD is not so cavalier.

Lost-panic-typewriter-drawing.jpgYou see, it is true I fit the rubric. Exposure to trauma: check. Subjective re-experiencing of the trauma … hmm, one aspect of it, quite a lot. Newfound hyper-vigilance: definitely. Duration of symptoms for more than 1 month: you betcha. Significant impairment: well, is not going home with the pretty girl significant impairment? Being afraid to be barefoot? Flinching violently when I am touched?

Living life through this lens of panic has changed me. I avoid the strangest things, yet so gracefully, habitually, that I go weeks without noticing. My triggers also, over the years, have spread over more and more stimuli like a sinister net. When I am my most terrified, I imagine the cobwebs of fear will spread until I am forced to be completely immobile, lest I stir my spider of panic.

Ferguson and “Shirtgate” and finishing writing my book (which delves a lot into my panic) (oh yeah by the way I finished writing that) got me wondering if living in oppression is not unlike living with PTSD. Seemingly small infractions, micro-aggressions, seem to illicit a “disproportionate” response. That is, people who don’t know what it’s like to live with triggers and oppression do not understand such reactions. A guy tells me “bitches are crazy,” and instead of feeling mildly annoyed, I feel really sad. A guy asks if he can “watch” me have sex with my girlfriend, and instead of being bored with something I’ve heard before, I feel like my party is ruined.

Granted, this “disproportionate” response tends to only happen when I have a false sense of security, and am startled back into the realization that sexism is, like, prevalent. I’m not going to be as frequently shocked or upset at sports-bro-dive-bars because I’m inured to their stench. When I think I’m having a grand ol’ time busting gender/sexuality norms at a groovy kickback and someone blindsides me with one of these things, then, yes, it shakes me a little. Or a lot.

Sometimes, also, the things that really get me are ones that I know others do not see. I feel helpless because OH LOOK AROUND THIS IS EVERYWHERE… but I know I’ll be hard-pressed to convince someone who doesn’t want to be convinced that the way that guy talked to me was totally indicative of a major sociological problem and not, as my opponent might put it, “just being friendly.”

Yet, to the person with triggers, there is a landslide of connections to cause such panic. Someone runs their hands over my hands in the wrong way, and that connects to one event, which connects to another event, which connects to all of the events ever that have made me feel the monolithic spider’s legs closing around me, her venom dripping on my forehead, and I am reduced to a scared, fight-wild and flight-wild animal.  “Reduced to?” More like detonated.

I know the people without triggers don’t exactly understand. I know this, because the most aware, most well-intentioned, most loving people in my life still require multiple reminders to steer around the land-mines embedded in my skin and in my psyche. They seriously don’t want to hurt me, want to do the opposite of hurt me, but because they lack my vigilance, my daily lived experience, they can’t help but tread on my toes sometimes. (Ouch, foot metaphor hurts for multiple reasons.)

The difference between this PTSD thing, and suffering caused by oppression, is the locus of responsibility. People close to me and who know about my ish ought to be considerate, but healing is pretty much on me. This is my own private monster. The onus of easing the pain of and eradicating oppression, however, belongs to everyone.

Besides that, though, the requests for support I make of intimate friends (for my PTSD) and those with privilege are very similar. 1. If you don’t understand, stop and listen and be receptive to my perspective / the perspective of the oppressed. 2. If you mess up, be willing to try better in the future. 3. Be mindful of the difficulty faced, and how its systematic nature means it can affect every aspect of (my) life. 4. Do not feel guilty per se, but do feel like you have the responsibility to be respectful. 5. Do your own research. Answering questions can sometimes be fatiguing for me / the oppressed, and I  / we don’t know everything.

At the end of the day, if you knew something seemingly-small that you keep doing really hurt someone, would you still want to do it?