Yesterday, the wonderful Doc Pop drew up a cartoon for Torque that made the rounds and got some attention from a few pals and ex-colleagues that work on the Jetpack plugin for WordPress.
For some reason, this comic bothered me. Well, not the actual comic itself, but my reaction to the comic bothered me, which then further bothered me enough to publish this here.
I noticed right away that the man on the right pretty closely resembles Doc Pop himself, and so it’s safe to assume it’s probably literally him having drawn a reasonable facsimile of himself that he titled “Me.”
On the left are two women having a conversation about a lack of Jetpacks in their lives, and Doc has written them to be relatable, and really… normal.
But… I’m actually worried for Doc.
My recent experience with strangers on Twitter is developing into its own type of PTSD where I’m beginning to censor myself and change my behavior to try and continuously re-prove that inclusion and diversity are important values to me, ones I prioritize.
Then someone says “no they’re not because of that we’re true you’d do this” or “you’d do that” or “I’m offended because you used this word this way.”
And so an innocent comic from a creative acquaintance made me worried that his portrayal of two women as being “not as into tech as he is” would turn out poorly for him in a way that I know he doesn’t actually believe.
This is me having been bullied, and trying to protect someone from attackers that might not ever even exist for him, and so it’s completely irrational to intervene.
I’m not offended, and I know Doc didn’t intentionally draw his comic in a way that’s demeaning towards anyone but maybe himself and what he sees as his own quirky passions, but because I could imagine a very real threat, it became really hard to not interrupt other people’s conversations to say “hey look at this potential threat I’ve identified.”
The interesting thing about this realization, is what I just laid out IS the cycle. It’s exactly the way that the abused become abusers, and the bullied becomes bullies. Someone beats me down, and now I want to prevent others from being beaten down, but that’s impossible unless I become the person who mentions something first, making me the bad guy.
It’s a really complex problem that has me seriously considering giving up engaging on social sites like Twitter and Reddit entirely. I feel like I have an intimate understanding of these types of elements of human interaction (more than most?) and am really growing tired of people assuming that “you need to learn a lesson” or “you can’t possibly understand what I’m going through” when I know that I deeply do, more than most, am more willing and able than most to help, but the offer to help actually will make things worse for everyone somehow.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think the comic is offensive because I know Doc didn’t intend for it to be. I don’t think it portrays anyone poorly. I don’t think it’s an issue. But other people might, and other people might be mad at me because I don’t feel how they feel. It’s all behavior that I don’t subscribe to, think is unhealthy, and try to avoid.
But, I wanted to write this out, and didn’t feel comfortable shouting it all over social media.