Author's Note: Today's entry is me venting my spleen on a subject I should have addressed a long time ago. It has the ability to turn into a rant. So this is fair warning. If you can't bear the thought of a person saying what they really think on a subject, go read something else.
There's a saying: "Opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has one and they all stink." Yesterday, I was taken solidly to task by someone I considered a friend simply for voicing an opinion. I have been told before, actually, that my opinions aren't welcome on Fetlife, which is why I post the majority of them here. I thought that the scene was supposed to be all about acceptance? I thought people welcomed and tolerated differing opinions? Well, here's the truth in black and white. It doesn't. The scene is as cliquish as a middle school and as gossipy as a hair salon. And if you have an opinion that differs from the majority (no matter how trivial the subject) you run the very real risk of being silenced, as I have been. People really don't want your feedback on their posts unless you're goose stepping with them. Granted, I've seen a few that can and do offer civilized debate with people who have a dissenting view. I pride myself on being one of them. But the majority of the people who post on Fetlife might as well preface their journal entries and notes with "I only want people who agree with me 100% to respond." That way, there's never any "drama" from those of us whose opinions are diametrically opposed to theirs.
I have stated here before that I was bullied as a child. It took me many years to learn to stand up for myself and I'm not about to go back to being that scared little girl who was afraid to open her mouth for fear of reprisal. My father used to say "Cheryl wouldn't say 'shit' if she had a mouthful of it." And he was right. I would rather have borne the worst injustice imaginable than speak up in outrage. When I was raped at 16 by a family friend, I told no one except my mother and I only told her because she was a nurse and I had a head injury. At 16, I kept a violent, humiliating rape to myself. And people wondered why I became an alcoholic? I knew if I reported the rape, it would cause trouble; not just for my family but for his as well. I learned to keep my mouth shut about things that annoyed or bothered me because it wasn't worth the blow back I always seem to experience.
So here's what I have learned from almost six years on Fetlife:
1) I'm a "negative" person. Apparently, if you voice an opinion that differs from the majority, you're bringing your negativity to the group. I guess we're all supposed to march in line.
2) If you're having a bad day and you reach out to friends, you're throwing yourself a pity party.
3) If you have a falling out with a friend and you tell your side of the story, you're "playing the victim".
4) If there's disagreement between two people who are friends of yours, you will be expected to choose sides.
5) Never, ever under any circumstances should you ever mention, no matter how casually, that you're not into something that other people are into. Again, this is construed as negativity. Gone are the days of "your kink is not my kink". Apparently, we all have to not only like what others like, but we have to embrace it as well.
6) The "if-you're-friends-with-him/her-you-can't-be-friends-with-me" mentality is alive and well on Fetlife. I haven't seen this kind of behavior since grade school. And I thought Fetlife was an adult site.
7) "Conflict resolution" on Fetlife is accomplished by unfriending and blocking.
8) If you aren't "in" with the popular crowd, expect to be invisible to them. If you cross them, expect a massive helping of public humiliation.
9) It's OK to have Christian or conservative beliefs. Just don't voice them, especially when it comes to opposing same-sex marriage. For God's sake, don't ever mention that.
10) If you hold unpopular opinions on subjects held dear in the so-called kink "community" it's OK for people to call you names, flame you on threads and judge you for your views. You just can't turn around and do the same to them.
11) LOL or :) doesn't always fix things. I've learned that putting these at the end of a sentence doesn't always convey that I'm joking or that there are no hard feelings. I've been absolutely crispy fried by people who only saw my words and not the intent behind them.
12) I'm a lot stronger than I thought. When I first joined Fetlife, the thought of someone disagreeing with me mortified me. Now, my first thought is usually "meh".
13) A lot of the friendships formed on Fetlife are superficial. Everything will be great as long as you're convenient. Ask a favor or need a shoulder and you can forget about it. Of course, some very close friendships have been formed, too. But the majority are the going-to-parties or going-out-drinking type of friendships.
So in the sea of humanity that is Fetlife, if you don't know how to swim against the tide, you better learn how or develop a thick skin. Thankfully, I've been swimming against the tide for most of my life. But don't be looking on Fetlife if you want to know my opinion on something. Just look here. This blog is now the only place I feel safe enough to voice my opinions.