Worldcon, day 4

I don’t want to call them social networks. A social network, these days, is a tool, not a construct. What I imply is an older term. A network made up of personal connections and obligations. I’m at 36,000 feet as I write this, westbound from Kansas City, Missouri and the 74th Worldcon/MidAmeriCon II. It was a really good con, as they go.

I’ve written elsewhere about my impressions of the future of fandom as the old folks today understand it, and how the world has already changed, but has also left them utterly bereft by the side of the road.

Through Fabulous Publisher Babe™ I met several new folks that she had known for twenty or more years, from her days in Minneapolis and other places. We also ran into other people we know, some from the west coast, others from elsewhere, but almost all of them almost entirely from conventions we all attend.

They are con-buddies. People we hang out with at panels. Bar-conning co-conspirators. Instigators of mischief, as well as witnesses at later dates.

What has changed over the last few years is that we no longer only stay in touch with each other via email or online bulletin boards where we argue with each other. The rise of technology has worked to even-more eliminate the virtual distance between us, so that we can stay in some manner of abstract day-to-day contact. Our feed is filled with their news: birthdays, weddings, parties, dirty jokes, silliness, etc. They see our lives.

My online feed is almost entirely business, mostly because Blaze Ward, Storyteller is a construct I maintain for that purpose. I rarely talk about general things, unless something or someone really pisses me off, and I have not deleted anyone from my life just because they are fools. Racists dumb enough to be racists in public these days, or anti-vaxxers who want to talk about how a vaccine is going to suddenly give their child a genetic disorder. Those folks get the boot. I don’t have time for that truck.

People who are on the other side of various social and political divides will, at most, simply get un-followed, at least for a while. When you reach the point where I feel like you’ve got nothing important to say, I stop listening. It has happened a few times this year.

One other group comes up in my life now and again: relatives. I freely admit I was the black sheep of the family in the old days. Folks who have known me long enough (and there are a few of you within the sound of my voice), can attribute to how angry I used to be. How hurt. How defensive. How mean I could get when provoked.

But we all change.

I chose to become someone entirely different a little more than three years ago. Woke up and realized I didn’t like the current me, and I needed to become someone else. Fewer grudges. Less anger.

Starting over.

I have striven to reach out to various members of my estranged family so that they could see what I have become, and maybe be proud of me that I turned out to be less of a shit than they expected. (You all have that person in your family tree somewhere.)

One of the things that struck me over the last few years has been how bad some of the grudges people hold against me. In some cases, I don’t even know why. In others, I have tried to apologize and make amends.

It hasn’t always worked, but I have tried.

There is nothing greater than that. I tried.

If you chose to dislike me anyway at this point, that is your prerogative. But it has consequences. I don’t know what your reasons might be, but something changed in me over the last few days.

I often reinvent myself. Once or twice a year I will take an inventory, keep the things I like, toss the things I don’t. Does it bring me joy, or angst? If not joy, then it is onto the trash heap of history with you.

This week, for reasons that doubtless made sense to them, several folks chose to not have anything to do with me. That is their right.

But there are always consequences.

You will decide that a wall needs to be built up between us.

I get to choose if that wall will be three feet tall, or fifty.

And I’m not even sure that I was the offending party, or just happened to be the closest male figure upon which a female (in all three cases recently: female) was allowed to safely heap her scorn and derision.

I try to live my life by a few simple ethical observations:

  • If you don’t tell people lies, you don’t have to keep track of what you’ve told them.
  • If the world gives you a little extra, it is better to build a longer table than a higher wall.
  • Your word is your bond.

I’m sure there are others, if pressed or inebriated, but I start there.

But occasionally, I have to take inventory. If you can still hear these words, you weren’t one of the people I decided to permanently excise over the last few days.

I became someone else. Someone not as willing to take your shit, particularly when I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve it. Even Fabulous Publisher Babe™ has had to shrug her shoulders and make excuses for folks a few times lately.

But as someone I greatly value recently told me: this is not my circus, these are not my monkeys. I am happy to be helpful for no other reason than I can be. I am also quite content to hold a grudge forever.

And that is a terrible concept: forever. It means that I have built a wall fifty feet tall between us. Not five, where you might be able to jump up and see over it. Not ten where you could climb with some effort and see things on my side.

Tall enough to shadow the sun.

I would like to offer a few people the best of luck on their journey, and hope they manage to find a safe harbor, because they have sailed off beyond my horizons, and done so forever.

Tall enough to shadow the sun.


shade and sweet water,


West of the Mountains, WA