Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I Mean When I Talk About Hating Snow

One of the things that's become so aggravating to me in the age of the internet and internet commenting is that I'm walking around with a certain knowledge of which opinions I can't just start sharing without expecting some kind of confrontation.

For example, I can't devote a whole post to what I did or didn't like about Star Trek Into Darkness, because I know there are people who are weirdly angry about it and I don't want to get into a fight over a movie. (Not anymore. It's draining.) I can't write a post about how a big part of why I love The Phantom Menace is that it reminds me of a time when I was really happy and first dating my wife and just carefree without several people who are still bitter over not liking an overhyped movie 14 years ago getting offended that someone likes it. (Thank you for making me feel bad about sharing my memories of the love story of my life, that's very rational of you.) And I haven't been able to say anything at all on Tumblr about how I didn't like "The Day of the Doctor," because people there are being such dicks to anyone who was dissatisfied that you'd be justified in thinking that only total agreement on all opinions is what keeps the fandom from crying at night.

I hate this irrational sensibility and weird hostility on the internet, but I hate it most where matters of subjective opinion on entertainment are concerned. Sure, I get it when people argue about religion or politics. The arguments are pointless--nothing you two scream about here today is going to actually affect religion or politics in any way, you're just angry with the other person for having different beliefs than you--but at least those are things that affect policy, law, and society. But whether I'm offended or not by Miley Cyrus on someone else's behalf, or what my sexual preferences are, or whether I care how some celebrity's kids or being raised, or the fact that I think Jennifer Lawrence is far from the greatest actress ever... those are things that affect exactly zero people.

I should have to think about whether or not what I'm saying is actually offensive. I should not have to think that what I'm saying might hurt someone's feelings because I hated Les Miserables and they thought it was amazing.

And I'm not saying I can't stand disagreement. That doesn't bother me. What I hate is when people go out of their way to be flip and dismissive in their irrationality. I hate when people invalidate my like or dislike of something because I'm fat or I'm a pervert or I'm stupid. I hate when people get angry and tell me there's something morally wrong with me because I didn't like The Dark Knight. If your love of anything is dependent on defending it to people who don't like it--or even don't care about it--with personal attacks, then the problem isn't me.

I hate dealing in it. Unless it's some tremendous irritation that I'm trying to get out, I don't really like to talk about it online much anymore. It's why I stopped writing the Throwdown years ago--the sheer amount of snarky negativity I was engaging with every week, even just coming out of myself, was tiring and eventually sickening.

I'm thinking about this now because of something that happened yesterday.

Yesterday was Illinois' first big snowfall of the season. The one that always seems to come out of nowhere and take everyone by surprise, because at first it's just tiny flakes that don't accumulate, and then suddenly it's several inches of thick, wet snow blowing so hard that you can barely see.

I hate the snow. I have for a long time. And one of the things that's come out of that is that when I try to complain about it online, over here, in my teeny space on a vast internet, someone always has to go out of their way to come over here and look at a post I've written about hating the snow and dismissively write "I love the snow!"

I. Don't. Care.

It only pisses me off more to see that. I'm not trying to start an open discussion. I'm exorcising my frustration. The whole point of writing about it is to get out my anxiety and all of the bad feelings I have about this particular weather phenomenon, and you've just come along and invalidated all of it with your self-serving, dismissive comment. I don't care if you love the snow. It has no bearing on my life at all. And guess what? My hating is has no bearing on yours, either. If you love the snow, write about it on your own blog and don't bother me with it. Jaquandor loves snow. He's always excited when he gets snow in Buffalo, and he usually mentions it somewhere--on his blog, or Tumblr, or Facebook. And you know what? I'm happy for him that he's feeling good. You know what I don't do? Assault him with derisive comments about his attitude and try to make him feel bad because he likes something that I don't.

Now, as you know, I've got diagnosed anxiety disorders. I don't always handle them well. I can't be medicated for them, because all the medications I've tried (except Xanax, but only when taken occasionally) have had bad, life-threatening side effects. It's stuff that was always there, but it became a real obstacle several years ago when, on a day like yesterday, I slid my car into a tree. That's what triggered the agoraphobia, and that's what set me on the road to eventual therapy. And as long as I've been in therapy, and as many triumphs as I've had, all it takes is one panic incident to make me feel like it's all been in vain.

Yesterday, right after walking out of therapy, I saw that the snow was really coming down. It was already thick on the ground. And I immediately began to shake. I didn't even make it to the car--my wife driving, because I still can't drive, and it was only in the last couple of years when I've been able to be a passenger again--before a panic attack set in. I sat in that car and the full panic experience happened. Shaking, screaming, crying, hyperventilating. It was a nightmare episode. My anxiety and panic about the wedding was nothing like this. My wife almost slapped me in the face because I couldn't calm down and she didn't know what else to do. You can't do therapeutic breathing techniques to calm yourself when you're panicking so hard that you can't breathe. All I could think about was my accident and my fears coming true and how ill-equipped I was for the real world. I felt fear and shame and self-loathing. It felt like forever before I even calmed down enough to breathe properly. It was the worst moment I've had in a long, long time.

This is what the snow does to me. I can't even look at it snowing when I'm in the comfort and safety of my own home without feeling agitated and jittery. Being out in it, completely unexpected and unprepared mentally for it, was devastating. And demoralizing, because it was a reminder of just how far out of the woods of my own anxiety I'm not. I still feel bad about it. I've done the worst thing, according to my therapist, which is accepted it as evidence of how worthless I am.

It's a mental thing. It's part of my mental and emotional thing that's keeping me stuck in life.

Oh, and I had a little triumph yesterday, too, of being told that I might qualify for the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, so I could potentially go and see a doctor without having to save for months to get the $90 entrance fee. (Why don't I want to go to the doctor? Because without insurance, I've been paying off a $500 blood work for months.) So there's a glimmer of hope now that I could have a slight medical safety net.

And all of that hope? Washed away in an instant by my panic and my deep-rooted problems and all of the negative things about myself and the world that the snow has come to symbolize.

I hate the snow because it's so hard for me to function in it.

I'm sorry if that makes you feel bad because you have happy connotations with the snow. But that's not my problem. And my problems aren't yours, either. But don't rush to invalidate me by dismissing my sentiments just because they aren't yours.


Jason said...

Honestly, don't give two scoops of fucks about what other people think about your opinions. Most people will just fight for the sake of fighting and their opinions matter as much as any stranger's - not at all.

Remember: opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one and if they don't like yours, they can stick their thumbs up theirs and ride them out of town.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Well, actually I loathe snow myself. Wet, cold, uncomfortable and dangerous. One of the reasons I live in California and would never even consider living anywhere else is because it doesn't snow here. One might assume I live in California because I was born here. True, but the reason I was born here is because for one year during World War II my dad, who was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Los Angeles, was stationed in Phoenix, and was so horrified by his only winter ever with snow that he vowed never to live anywhere where it snowed, so hatred of snow was the reason I was born here.

Snow looks very pretty in photos or movies viewed in a warm room while it's sunny and not snowed-in outside. One time, I went to Yosemite in mid-winter. The snow was lovely, and I could try to enjoy it knowing I'd only be there for a single week. Oops. Got caught in a full-scale blizzard one afternoon in Yosemite Valley, and I ended up spending the rest of my vacation confined in my cabin with pnuemonia. NOT a severe cold, not a bad flu, fucking pnuemonia. Worst vacation ever.

I hate snow.

(But I loved Day of the Doctor Saw it again last night in Imax 3-D. David and Matt introduced it, with David Tennant apologising to us for having to have Matt Smith's giant chin thrust into our faces, while the 11th Doctor, who mistakenly thought he was introducing "The 100th Anniversary Special, with all 57 Doctors," asking: "Three-D? Isn't that a bit retro?")

SamuraiFrog said...

I've had pneumonia twice in my life, it's the worst. I missed a few months of high school over it.

Bob Rutledge said...

Y'know, I love snow, I really enjoyed Day of the Doctor... and I also feel privileged to be able to read your opinions/takes on things.

Rock on, Frog!

Kelly Sedinger said...

I honestly don't get folks who feel the need to comment every time someone opines in favor of something they hate. Even worse is when they do it with a tone of dripping condescension, either in the "I am now going to talk you out of the error of your ways" manner or the equally-obnoxious, "You sad little creture" manner. I had this happen just last week, on Facebook -- another friend offered a favorable opinion of John Denver, with which I concurred. Another then came along and proceeded to tell us that "Oh please, Denver sucks" (he actually used the phrase "Oh please"). I debated Denver's merits for a while, arguing that he's an iconic figure whose music has stood the test of time for 40+ years now. He responds with "So the new definition of ICONIC is that you're popular for a while and sell a lot of records?" I very nicely responded, "That's certainly PART of the concept of being iconic, and what's NOT part of the concept is whether or not YOU like him." End of my participation.

I'm also reminded of my film music fandom days (when I'd interact with fans, not that I've stopped loving film music). There was a guy who ran (still runs, actually) his own film music review site, and he didn't much like the LORD OF THE RINGS scores, which is fine. But it got irritating when he wrote a whole new review on his site of Jerry Goldsmith's score to LEGEND and filled it with digs like "This is how you do a proper fantasy score" and "There is more reward in five minutes of this music than in three hours of boring hobbit tunes" and the like. I read this and thought, what the hell is the point of this?

Anyway...I'm not sure that I even have a point right now. Continued best wishes on battling your problems! (I start editing a sequel that may interest you in a couple of days, btw....)

DrGoat said...

Don't like snow either. That's one reason I live in Tucson. Snow once a year and only every other year. And it only lasts a little while after the sun comes up. And as far as other people's opinions, see Jason's comment. If they are a friend, I listen and act accordingly. Happy Thanksgiving SamuraiFrog, and may you have good luck dealing with your problems.

Roger Owen Green said...

I alluded to this phenomenon a couple times recently, I suppose. Know that some people get joy out of being argumentative. I've bowed out of more debates at the first sign of assholery.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I almost died of double pnuemonia in 1996. It was touch-and-go for a couple weeks. It left my lungs and esphagus permanently scarred, and left me prone to pnuemonias, so I've been hospitalized with it (though not double again, fortunately), some five times since. It is indeed the worst. That Yosemite pnuemonia was my first-ever case of it. I had walking-pnuemonia hit me when I was in Nice, France. Oh there's fun: having one's only-ever trip to Europe inturruped with a serious illness in a foreign country. Fortunately, it lasted only a week, and I was pretty much OK again by the time I got to Paris.