In this line of work, you get a lot of people trying to strong-arm you and shut you up.
Sometimes, it’s done through harassment and threats of violence and public attempts to destroy credibility.
Sometimes, it’s done through the “good cop-bad cop” game. “Listen, it’s not me, but if you don’t stop telling the truth these people aren’t going to let you sit at the cool kids’ table anymore.”
Sometimes, it’s through appeals to ego or money. The old “play ball” routine as so hilariously portrayed by Danny Devito’s D.A. Burr and Griffin Dunne’s Tommy Kelly in the 1984 comedy Johnny Dangerously. “All you gotta do is sit down and shut up and be a good little rubber stamp, and we’ll share your posts and you’ll make money.” “Just don’t rock the boat, and we won’t have to discredit you.” “Just play ball, and we won’t tell your little secrets.”
When you become trapped in that cycle of lying and cheating and covering your ass by lying and cheating some more, trying to push people around, trying to discredit or silence anyone who dares question you, it always collapses in the end. Yeah, I’ve done some crappy things in my life, but I’ve also faced those crappy things, made my apologies – in some ways, I live my apologies and will for the rest of my life – and made sure that I don’t have to repeat them and that I don’t have to hide from them. I’ve spent fifteen years going over it and through it and weeding out my broken thinking and hashing through it with therapists and the whole bit.
And I’m not perfect, or even “better” than anybody else…but these days if I can’t avoid making a mistake, I face it and fix it immediately instead of trying to cover it up and pretend it didn’t happen, because I know through bitter experience and through observation that it just. doesn’t. work. Might seem to for a little while, but eventually the whole thing always ends up coming down around your ears.
Worse, you put yourself in a position of being able to be manipulated through blackmail.
Years ago, I pointed out – politely – a factual error on a popular independent left-wing “news” site. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just that the story made assertions that were, demonstrably and factually, just not true. So I pointed it out, and provided the information that would have allowed the owner of the site (who was also the author of the story in this case) to publish a correction.
Instead of doing the simple, honorable, ethical, and decent thing, this simpering buffoon went postal. Accused me of being a “stealth Republican,” deleted my posts, tried to block my IP address from even being able to SEE his site, deleted and banned followups from several of my friends asking why he didn’t just admit he made a mistake and correct it.
Four years later, this idiot and his little army of simpering lickspittles who suck up to him because he controls several high-volume Facebook pages that generate income from him are still trying to run me down. I’m blacklisted from all but a very thin segment of left-wing pages on FB because they’re all afraid that if they share my work, they won’t get *their* work shared by the Big Boys.
These people – these people who live outside the scope of reality and truth – can’t figure me out, because they’re literally not capable of grasping the concept of a guy who is what he says he is, does what he says he’s going to do, doesn’t have some hidden agenda, isn’t driven by some ulterior motive, doesn’t care about getting rich and famous, doesn’t want the approval of a bunch of losers making dirty money by ripping people off by an elaborate pretense to social conscience.
See, that’s one of the other problems with refusing to face reality and truth – you convince yourself that everybody else refuses to face it, too.
You convince yourself that if you can just oppress and stifle any criticism of your mistakes and lies, that they will no longer be mistakes or lies.
And that’s the biggest mistake, and the biggest lie, of them all, and it’s the one we tell ourselves most frequently and believe in most passionately, unless we’re fortunate enough to have had that privilege revoked by an experience like addiction.
Because any recovering drunk or junkie will tell you: self-deceit is a luxury that we simply cannot afford. It won’t just embarrass us or cost us a few bucks, it’ll kill us.
The reward for respecting reality and truth isn’t moral high ground or self-aggrandizing pats on the back.