As I make a concerted effort to embrace my hermitage, I keep flashing back to specific memories that led me here. They’re things I can’t let go of, for whatever reason. I can’t figure out why, but I feel that I need to find a way to put them behind me.
Let me share an anecdote as an example. Those who’ve known and/or followed me for a while are aware that I share my birthday with a famous author. When I was a child, this fascinated me and in no small part contributed to my desire to be a writer. By middle school I was writing book reports on his novels, and other reports about assorted aspects of his life. Every year for our mutual birthday, I re-read one of his works.
On one birthday I tweeted all of this out. I followed it up by noting that one thing people forget about [famous book] is that [main character] was… let me swap in “a purple marmoset from Jupiter” as the unambiguous phrase from the book. I quoted one of the final lines of the book, where the characters actually says “I was a purple marmoset from Jupiter all along”.
Someone jumped in to tell me that I was wrong.
Okay, so, let’s break this down. I have read this book multiple times. I quoted the passage where it says the thing most people seem to forget or somehow overlook. This author, and this book, have been highly influential in my life. A good part of my identity comes from my relationship to this author, and this novel. And a total stranger feels the need to invalidate me, on my birthday, for no particular reason.
I do not remember his name, but the contrarian was also a writer. If I recall he had followed me, and I had followed him back because he seemed interesting and, well, according to his profile he was a fellow writer. I didn’t know him at all in real life, hadn’t interacted with him previously, had never read his work. So, shrug, in as friendly a manner as possible point out that I’m not wrong, it says so right there in the novel.
He gets ridiculously nasty and insulting. I mean, what the hell? Why? This book means something to me, but I don’t understand why this is the hill he wants to die on. I mute him and don’t engage further. Except he keeps ranting about me and my high level of wrongness. Other people are sending me direct messages and screen shots to let me know this. So, you know, muting is worthless in the face of a certain type of friend and supporter.
I do the “stealth unfollow”, because I am drama-averse. This is when you block the person and immediately unblock them. Not only are you no longer following them, they’re no longer following you. And if they notice, they can’t throw a fit that you blocked them, which that certain type of friend and supporter will run to screen shot and tell you about.
None of which is the thing that bugs me, by the way. This has all been preamble. Here’s the thing I don’t understand.
About a month later he follows me again. I don’t know why. Clearly I’m not anyone he respects or finds interesting. Was he hoping to come back and harass me some more? Does he just follow anyone who has “writer” or “author” in their profile and he’s forgotten about our exchange?
Block/unblock and he’s not following me any more.
A month after that, he follows me again. Block/unblock and a couple of weeks later he’s back. Block/unblock. He keeps coming back. Run this through the filter of my anxiety disorder, and understand that it was causing me stress.
After several rounds of this over maybe three or four months, I give up and message him. Hey. Why are you following me? Don’t you remember this thread? I link to the thpost where he got nasty. You clearly have an issue with me, so please, just leave me alone.
He tells me that never happened. I was misinterpreting the unambiguous things that he said, in the same way I had misinterpreted the words on the page of one of my favorite books. Then he started questioning my mental health.
I blocked him.
I still have no idea what the hell was wrong with him.