Guys. Please listen to me.
Yes, I have made merciless fun of you over the last week or so. I’ve done this because a) you deserve it, and b) it’s a time-honored tool of speaking truth to power. But now I’m delivering an honest, genuine plea, and I’m doing it with your best interests in mind:
Just stop talking. You are not doing yourselves any favors. For months now, every time this comes up, you reveal yourselves more and more clearly to be a bunch of inflexible, nasty, Tea Party-esque ranters, stricken with terror at the prospect of their own impending irrelevance. That’s not a good look for anyone, and it’s especially not a good look for you. We’re getting to know all your names. We’re getting to be familiar with who you are. You’re developing a reputation, and it’s not a good one. Maybe you were respected once in the community; maybe in the minds of many you still are. But over and over I’ve seen the disappointment of many who did respect you and who are honestly distressed by the fact that they can no longer do so.
You’re hurting people. You’re hurting yourselves. Please just stop.
I understand that it’s no fun when people call you names on the internet. I understand the impulse to hit back, and to hit back hard. But threatening a libel suit makes you look ignorant and full of a very unpleasant combination of shit and hot air, and it’s just making people think less of you than they already did. Maybe you don’t care about that, but owing to your general reaction to this, I’d say that you do.
I understand your distress, actually. I understand that it’s worrying and even frightening to have to face the fact that a world that you feel like you had a hand in building is changing beyond your capacity to control it. I understand that it’s a glimpse of your own mortality, the terrifying truth that you’ll be gone someday, maybe soon, and this will all go on without you. But that’s life. That’s how it works. So many of us feel like these are changes for the better, and I feel like you really owe it to yourselves and the people who will come after you to answer this question: What are your real motivations here? Are you genuinely trying to protect something for the good of everyone? Or are you a privileged group of people desperately trying to defend their own privilege?
Again, I understand that the loss of privilege is upsetting. I understand that it can even feel genuinely unfair. But it happens. It should happen. You don’t get to keep control of this forever. You need to be willing to step aside and let the rest of us change things if we want to.
And right now you’re not doing that very gracefully.
We don’t want to think less of you, is the thing. You might perceive that there’s an element of glee in how people are reacting to this, but I promise you, if anyone feels that way they’re probably in the very small minority. Hardly anyone wants to see people they once admired fail, and do so in such a public fashion, and then fail even harder when people point out their failure.
I’m begging you, take John Scalzi’s advice. Step away from the internet for a while and really think about what you’re doing. Do so without adrenaline and defensiveness involved. Try to put yourself in the place of the people you feel like you’re having to fight against. Try to really understand where we’re coming from. And ask yourselves that question I posed above. What’s really going on here? What’s really behind this? Is it genuinely a bunch of mean nasty feminazis who are trying to take away your God-given right to talk about boobs?
Or is it something else?
So please, again: Stop. Just stop. Put down the shovel and stop digging, before you get down so far that you’ll really and truly never, ever, ever get yourself out.
If nothing else, think about how people are going to remember you. Think about that very, very hard. You still have some control over that. Maybe more than you think.