F Stands for Fungible

Reading time: about 4 min.
sff  mental-health  writing 

I started the process of mothballing my old site last night.

It was really hard to go through nearly 700 posts and unpublish them, leaving only the ones I’m planning on archiving on a static site.

Really, really hard. Also hard was seeing people respond on Twitter to my statement a few days ago that I was shutting the site down.

It’s been, personally, a terrible few years. I’ve lost my health, my career, and now I’m losing the vast majority of my social network. I am gutted.

The ongoing harassment, silencing, and other kinds of abuse I’ve had to deal with over the nearly 10 years I’ve been publishing there–it’s just too much. I think that if I hadn’t felt so alone during last year’s Hugo season and if people with larger platforms on social media had done something to defend me instead of choosing to let me be the tank for people’s dissatisfaction with the Hugo ballot…

Because that was a choice. Let’s not pretend that it wasn’t. A lot of people knew how distressed I was by the bad faith arguments and the intimations that if I were a decent person, I’d have refused the nomination and they chose to say and do nothing.

And then when I was brigaded by a bunch of leftier-than-thou jackasses after the Hugos–again, no support. The fiction finalists who received abuse did get a lot of support, but when I posted in the finalist Slack that I was also being abused and the only other person who responded was another fan, well. That showed me who the SFF community finds importand and who they don’t. Shortly after, I quietly peaced out of the Slack since I no longer felt welcome.

I often joke that F doesn’t stand for fan, it stands for fungible.

fungible: being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account

That is, fans like myself are seen by many pro writers and SMOFs as interchangeable cogs in the SFF community. And since we are fungible, when someone’s pushed aside or leaves, well, it’s not a big deal. Someone else will certainly come along. And I am definitely feeling disposable. Surely, there will come along someone else to fill my particular niche in the SFF community. I wish them luck, because they’re going to need it.

I’ve talked a little bit about what I’ve had to deal with over the last ten years, let me make it explicit:

  • professional writers I thought were friends not only expressing relief that my essay didn’t win a Hugo, but the fact that it was nominated was a disgrace and saying so in a place where I could not only see it, but interact with it–and their silence when I expressed my disappointment that they hadn’t bothered to hide it from me
    • the comments on said post, some of which called my nomination the worst thing ever to happen to the Hugos, worse than that time Harlan Ellison grabbed Connie Willis’s breast at the Hugo Awards Ceremony (there is video, you can look it up)
  • aforementioned brigading by a bunch of leftier-than-thou jackasses on Twitter
    • the ringleaders have also made photoshopped memes of a post I deleted which they think is hilarious (it’s not)
    • one of them also published a “poem” which was “inspired” by my deleted tweet and which also included the image and the tweet’s text
    • their creation of a “movement” in SFF that they can’t even define cogently which appears to have been created, in part, as a way to direct harassment towards me by getting the attention of professional writers with a significant platform
    • ongoing defense of the subject of my essay, which is just weird because he’s a cis het white man with a swimming pool full of money: presumably everything they hate about capitalism and the power structures it sustains
  • having my work appropriated by professional non-fiction writers and not credited and when they were asked to credit me, made pathetic excuses
  • endless accusations of whining, of jealousy, or of just wanting more traffic
  • “friendly advice” to be less blunt, to be nicer, to be quiet
  • abusive comments calling me names, making fun of my appearance, telling me to die and/or kill myself
  • doxxed 3 times in 2 years by trolls, Worldcon, and SFWA

Legitimate criticism and engaging with my arguments? I have no problem with that. It’s when all this other stuff happens and happens because I’m saying things that people don’t like or don’t want to hear or because I don’t look the way they think I should (pray tell, how should I look?).

And it’s been ongoing for nearly 10 years and for the most part, the attacks are coming from inside the house.

Is it any wonder that I feel like I need a little space to re-grow and to find my voice again?

That doesn’t mean I’m not sad about walking away: I am. I know that there are many people that I will lose touch with, since I won’t be interacting with them on Twitter or seeing them at conventions. I know that when I do start attending conventions again, I won’t be asked to be on programming anymore–and I love being on panels and I’ve been told that I’m good at being on panels.

Perhaps, eventually, I’ll feel comfortable shedding this pseudonym. For now, though, it’s exactly what I need.