When to Walk Away.
I’m doing it wrong. AA is a place full of catchphrases and mantras, aphorisms. One of our basic sayings is: “We have ceased fighting anyone and anything.” Because when alcoholics battle, alcoholics die. We cannot win the fight against alcohol, or against alcoholism. I was born an alcoholic. I drank like an alcoholic. I will die an alcoholic. I am no less addicted to alcohol than I was on February 16th, 2008. I lost the battle, and I gave up fighting. That’s why I’m free.
I think my last post was deeply emblematic of how I’m doing it wrong. I stand by the core content of it. I think people online are too quick to judge. I think there’s too much vitriol. I think it’s both ineffective and unbecoming. But you know what? It’s none of my business.
I’ve been getting involved in way too many arguments that aren’t my business. I’ve been focusing on problems and issues that only make me unhappy. I have no hope of influencing the timbre of the online debate. Not even in my own tiny little corner of the internet. And it is neither my role nor my responsibility to do so. The only effect I can achieve by wading into that water is to rail against a throng until I am hoarse and miserable. I cannot change the course of the crowd. I can only choose to be a member of it, or to step out to the margin.
I’ve written so many times here about the wonderful community on twitter. And there is a wonderful community there. And I’ve lost my footing in it somehow. I don’t feel like I’m participating the way I used to. I’m arguing more. I’ve been violating my own principles of being measured and circumspect before talking. As a result, I think I’m connecting less with people. Yesterday’s post is a great example of me doing exactly what I was complaining about in others: telling other people how to behave.
I’m realizing that I don’t know how to state an opinion without trampling on someone. Or at least, without someone feeling trampled. I don’t know how to assert my own beliefs and desires without feeling like I’ve crossed someone else’s boundaries. And I hate that feeling. I hate feeling like I am in eternal, irreconcilable conflict with others. But humans always conflict. There’s no way around it.
And so, as I attempt to participate more, I feel like I’m contributing less. I feel like I’ve been a negative in the community that I care so deeply about, and that has given so much to me. So I’m going to take a step back for a while. I need to readdress the rigor with which I adhere to my guidelines for myself, which have led me to peace. I’m not leaving forever. It may not been all that long. But for the moment, I need to walk away. Infactorium will proceed as usual.