Sometimes as i am typing a comment on Facebook i pause for a moment to think of all the people going, “Oh man, there he goes again.” i imagine for a lot of people i am THAT GUY.
i found out years ago at church that there was a certain lady, who, anytime i opened my mouth at a meeting, switched off immediately because she knew i was going to rant about a certain thing. To her i was THAT GUY [and it’s been so interesting that 20 years later i now see her on Facebook occasionally liking some of the stuff i post and say].
While i do think there are many more occasions when many more of us should jump in and be THAT GUY [in the generic non-gender specific meaning of the word ‘guy’ so ‘person’] often the silence is relatively overwhelming and so once again i will tend to jump in and be THAT GUY and hope that others will jump in as well. [You might be amazed at how much i hold back from jumping in to things i’d like to].
And so i am quite happy to be THAT GUY if that means reacting to pictures like this shirt which i was tagged in with the words “So I think I found the perfect T-shirt for you”
You clearly did not know me in even the slightest of ways if you thought i would be okay with this monstrosity sitting on my FB wall, let alone thinking somehow that this would be “the perfect shirt” for me. Firstly, themewise i’m not the biggest rugby fan at all – if it was cricket then there would have been the smallest amount of more possibility, but mostly because i am the hugest fan of marriage and i feel like the joke here undermines that. And while people will no doubt think i am overreacting, i feel like marriage is under pressure so much in the world today that even the smallest digs and jabs are completely unhelpful and unnecessary. There are worse things, but i can’t get my mind around how a wife would feel about her husband saying he wants to wear this as a joke even. [Or the other way around].
I am also quite okay with being THAT GUY when i share this picture on social media and people respond with absolutely no sense that what is being depicted could probably be true in any way:
From Brad Kurth who chose sarcasm: I love analogy. It can have an emotional impact while being completely factual.
To Paul West who started with children’s literature: About as factual as a fairy story………… Once upon a time…….
Before continuing with: It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, I am oppressed therefore I am nothing……. What a crock…. Oh and by just being white, something I have no choice over, I am guilty, also guilty for the sins of my father. Life puts obstacles in ones way, it is how you tackle those obstacles that determines how your life comes out…… Slave shackles on the wrists have been broken… but the shackles on the mind hasn’t. It is a shame indeed
[In Paul’s defence, after a bunch of back and forth we are going to meet in two week’s time and hopefully get to chat over some of this stuff over a meal, which feels to me like the only way you are likely to really get any kind of serious progress in one of these online conversations/arguments.]
[Update – 5 minutes later – Out of Paul’s defence – nope, another race story arrives on my wall and he jumps straight on and gives himself away completely…]
To Cameron Olivier’s misdirection to what i imagine he thought was humour: have you ever tried to race someone wearing a suit?
To Jason DeZurik’s: This meme misses a very important point Or perhaps it’s your interpretation of the meme. IDK which it is but here’s something to think about: If parents and grand parents worked their tails off, made good choices to get where they are in life by taking risk’s in order to reap the benefits of said risk’s isn’t it logical that their children and grandchildren should absolutely reap the benefits of those decisions as well. Most parents and grand parents I know, made those decisions because of their children. And you will notice I am not the one bringing the color of ones skin into this.
And more. And it frustrates the crap out of my friend Megan that i take time engaging some of these people. And i have written about the primary reason i do so in a post titled ‘Why i Run With Trolls’ which in a nutshell is almost always for the sake of others reading and not commentating [and online arguments have often led to some incredible offline/behind the scenes chats with other people that no-one else gets to see] who are generally more likely to be influenced than someone who comes in with really strong arguments and doesn’t seem as open to engagement.
i will very likely always be THAT guy when someone online makes a joke about rape or uses it as a verb to describe something like a test or sports match that is so far removed from the reality and horror of what rape is [as written about briefly here]. In this case i don’t care if i know you or not, i will jump in and be THAT GUY cos that is NEVER OKAY!
And more. No, i am not the internet police. But i am involved in a fight against racism and sexism and various other things that inflict pain on people or cause heart-ache. i may not jump in on all the causes you want me to, which doesn’t necessarily make your cause any less important or vital. Believe me, this THAT GUY stuff can be tiring and it can be lonely. But if you can say or share things publically, then they can typically deserve some kind of public response.
WHAT LIGHT THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS
While i was in the midst of frustrating attempts at trying to get people to understand the reality of the uneven playing fields between black and white people [in both Americaland and South Africa cos by then our argument had gone international], my friend Linda Ndaba jumped in with a “brilliant” comment. [When one of my black friends jumps on and affirms a post trying to deal with inequality/injustice/racism it is often a helpful indicator to me that i may be on the right track], my friend Lester Pillay jumped in with some helpful commentary, an old youth friend of mine Amy Halliday initiated a chat conversation with me [she is busy taking a Public History class this semester which focuses on mass incarceration in the US (and includes work with activists, prisoners etc)] and encouraged me and finally another friend, Wendy Lewin jumped into the comments with an encouraging cheer.
That is what makes it easier. Hints that you may be on the right track, suggestion that other people are with you on this, affirmation that your words and stance are important and news that you are not alone. These are all strengthening and persevering-enhancement moments and i am so grateful any time those come my way.
My wife tbV shared this quote from the Spoken Word sessions she attended last night that helped sum up one of the ridiculous arguments that was given to the cartoon:
“Do not let me think I know what water means to you because I have also swum. We have different currents that brought us here” Pieter Odendaal @inzyncpoetry at the Open Book Festival tonight
And then finally i am okay with being THAT GUY when THAT GUY means i share immensely genius or horribly painful [depending on your perspective] puns on my wall. Someone has to and sometimes it has to be me. i do prefer ones that are a little cleverer, like this one:
Are you THAT GUY? Or THAT WOMAN PERSON? If so where [what are the things that cause you to jump on] and if not, is there perhaps some place where you could and maybe should be THAT PERSON? Strength in numbers… What are the things that you refuse to let pass without comment?