In this line of work, you get a lot of people trying to strong-arm you and shut you up.
Sometimes, it’s done through harassment and threats of violence and public attempts to destroy credibility.
Sometimes, it’s done through the “good cop-bad cop” game. “Listen, it’s not me, but if you don’t stop telling the truth these people aren’t going to let you sit at the cool kids’ table anymore.”
Sometimes, it’s through appeals to ego or money. The old “play ball” routine as so hilariously portrayed by Danny Devito’s D.A. Burr and Griffin Dunne’s Tommy Kelly in the 1984 comedy Johnny Dangerously. “All you gotta do is sit down and shut up and be a good little rubber stamp, and we’ll share your posts and you’ll make money.” “Just don’t rock the boat, and we won’t have to discredit you.” “Just play ball, and we won’t tell your little secrets.”
I’ve discussed many times over the years the efforts of various owners of very large pages on the web and social media to shut me up/down. This has gone on to a ridiculous degree over the last decade, in large part because of just this kind of thinking. Here’s one example of many, many conversations I’ve had with these page owners trying to get me to sell out one way or the other, compromise my principles, and “play ball.” Regrettably for legal reasons I have to redact identify information.
The Wages of Sin
Again, this illustrates the problem with not being diligent about our own biases, about holding ourselves to a consistent standard. That’s the definition of integrity, and when you let that slip, everything tends to follow very quickly.
When you become trapped in that cycle of lying and cheating and covering your ass by lying and cheating some more, trying to push people around, trying to discredit or silence anyone who dares question you, it always collapses in the end.
Yeah, I’ve done some crappy things in my life, but I’ve also faced those crappy things, made my apologies – in some ways, I live my apologies and will for the rest of my life – and made sure that I don’t have to repeat them and that I don’t have to hide from them. I’ve gone over it and through it, weeding out my broken thinking and hashing through it with therapists and the whole bit, since the turn of the century and I’ll continue doing so for the rest of my life.
I want to be clear that this isn’t any kind of bandwagon thing or trendy story about correcting this week’s socially unacceptable behavior. This isn’t some Louis CK bit where I make a sincere-sounding apology and then show up being an even bigger dick and appearing to have learned nothing ten months later. This process of ending the cycle of self-deceit and engaging in systematic and unflinching self-examination to ensure integrity of motive and personal character began nearly two decades ago as of this writing.
This is how I live now, because I have to. Living any other way will kill me. Trying to hide how I live just gives people who want leverage against me something to work with. You can’t threaten to out someone if there’s nothing to out.
This isn’t to suggest that I’m perfect, or even “better” than anybody else…but these days if I can’t avoid making a mistake, I face it and fix it immediately instead of trying to cover it up and pretend it didn’t happen, because I know through bitter experience and through observation that it just. doesn’t. work. Might seem to for a little while, but eventually the whole thing always ends up coming down around your ears.
Worse, you put yourself in a position of being able to be manipulated through blackmail.