Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Blocked by Association

In his book, "Medium Raw," Anthony Bourdain first calls Alan Richman a douchebag before correcting himself and opting for a more appropriate description: cunt. The insult was preceded by a long explanation of why the guy deserved the title, but just as flawlessly Bourdain wrote paragraphs praising those who deserved it. The phenomenon of vilifying those who react to misdeeds instead of those who commit them is nothing new, so it wasn't surprising that some readers bristled at Bourdain's use of the C-word and unjustly turned their anger not on the food critic who ripped on the New Orleans restaurant scene shortly after Kartina but on the guy with the flowery vocabulary.

This kind of reaction occurs quite a lot in politics and online where everyone is looking for any reason at all to become irate and quickly blame the messenger instead of those engaging in questionable behavior. Surprisingly, though, it happens in the athletic community as well. Ross Tucker addressed extreme thinking and an "us vs them" mentality in the most recent episode of The Real Science of Sport. When it comes to transgender athletes in sport, those on the extreme left immediately paint anyone who considers it unfair for trans women to compete against women as someone on the extreme right, which is rarely the case. It's a terrible take for anyone to define a person by only one issue and to assume that, based on that one issue, a person automatically thinks a certain way across the board, that this person who wants fairness in competition is transphobic, a Nazi, or associated with extremism. 

More people are starting to realize that, despite the issue being complex when it comes to emotions, inclusion versus fairness in women's sport is pretty straightforward when it comes down to the science, and with increasing evidence that transgender women retain an unfair advantage even with hormone suppression, over 50% of Americans are against allowing trans women who have gone through puberty as their biological sex to compete against women and girls. Yet anyone who holds this majority opinion is often called names, threatened, vilified, or blocked for having an opposing opinion. You're seen as the enemy if you think differently on this or any other issue. It's no different from extreme religious cults. You can be on the same page as far as human rights, education, taxes, climate, and abortion, but if you want fairness in sport or truth in reporting, holy hell you are the goddamn fucking devil. 

Recently, I was blocked without warning by another individual because of my association with Kevin Beck. I may not like the fact that Anthony Bourdain called someone a cunt (I hate that word) even though the guy deserved it, and I may not like some of the adjectives Beck uses to describe certain individuals. I also don't agree with him 100 percent of the time, but I often repost his material because he is a phenomenal writer, is almost always correct, sticks to the truth as much as humanly possible (except for the obvious stretches meant to be humorous), isn't afraid to defend his position, and is one of the few writers who consistently puts out great running content, far better and more accurate than that of most paid journalists. But because he's not on social media for anyone to block, I'm the next best thing. Forget the shitty content, lies, and misinformation others publish and post, shoot the messenger of the messenger. 

What's bizarre to me about all of this is the fact that other people who repost the same content are not blocked. There's something about me in particular that apparently scares people like Chris Chavez, Erin Strout, David Roche, and whoever runs the Citius Magazine Twitter page. I'm trying to figure out why simply not looking at my Tweets and retweets, mostly of Smol Paul and rescue cats, wouldn't be a better solution since I haven't ever really interacted with any of these people and have never called anyone names. That's not my style. From a business standpoint, why would anyone associated with Trail Runner, Women's Running, or Citius Magazine block someone who has a long history in the sport, has co-authored a book about running, and has run at an elite level? True, I'm no longer a runner, but I occasionally keep up with the sport and write about it. And I'm not that scary. 

After a recurrence of an issue I've been having and a short trip to the ER, I spent two weeks not being able to walk and another one gradually moving one foot in front of the other. As much as I wish I could get into watching track meets or keep up with other races, running events never pull me in like they used to, unless I suspend disbelief, which I have mentioned before. Every time I see someone fall and feel bad or see someone win and feel excited, I remind myself how unlikely it is that those at the top are clean and feel depressed that I ever put so much effort, to the point of being a gimp now, into a sport that attracts so many liars, cheats, and ass-kissers. I'm starting to sound like Beck, but how can anyone who follows the sport at all not? How can people just accept the obvious misbehavior of so many individuals, even if they try hard or are nice? Running journalists act like they're in a popularity contest, not there to report. The exceptions are Sarah Lorge Butler and a few others, mostly old-timers, who tend to stick to actual reporting, not biased coverage. 

I find myself having a harder time wanting to be in this world a lot of the time. Between the pain I've had to endure to the shitty way people are to deep self-hatred, there's not a lot to look forward to. Sometimes I think I'll continue working on my novel, and then I look at it and think how bad it is. It might be better than some really terrible published shit, but I can't seem to push past the self-doubt and my critical mind. I'm lost with where to go with it. No wonder people like Bourdain eventually end things on their own terms. The world and the people in it can be nice, but this planet can also be such a difficult place to exist. Too bad I'm too much of a coward to act on any of my dark thoughts. At least there's chocolate, I guess. 

It's funny that I wrote the first paragraph of this post and struggled to get through it. Then it suddenly disappeared, one of those glitches that leaves a writer stunned and horrified, all those carefully placed words sucked into some kind of Internet void. I had a tantrum and immediately thought it was a sign I should give up writing. After some deep breaths, though, I started putting the ideas back down and recreated what I had lost, probably not exactly in the same order. I'm not sure why I share this, but maybe it's not quite time to give up on everything completely. 


  1. Oh no, you were having trouble walking? I think you need to just do race walking and race hiking up hills for like a year then start your running campaign again. You may have scar tissue in your foot and other stuff that needs to settle and be worked out and the muscles will strengthen. Otherwise it could eventually be "Gimp Time" because you could really hurt yourself. You're not a gimp yet. I never considered gimps bad people. I will tell you one thing though, one gimp was pushing his luck lately. I was on a very narrow trail recently and the gimp was in front of me and wouldn't let me pass for over a quarter of a mile. So Gimpish! I think in 2015 you were running low 7 per mile for 5k races which is fast and certainly not gimpish. Just take your time healing!

  2. Thank you so much. I think you’re right about the foot. That plus all the limping caused some tearing in my hip plus a few other issues. As soon as I can really walk again, I hope to get out and hike.
    I hope you are well!

  3. Hiking is very fun and when you're going up hills in the woods it's great for the lungs and it really works so many muscles. When your going downhill it can be sometimes stressful but just focus on a relaxed and natural form and take it slower "if you can" by maybe hiking down the hill with different styles. Zigzag sometimes to give other muscles a break. There's really many ways you can go down a hill. I am just saying this because right now the same way and method of going down a hill could cause problems with the foot. I wouldn't do it 7 days a week to start off. Every other day basically to start. At this point long walks on a flat road or the pressure of putting pressure with your foot on the pedal of a bicycle could make things worse.

    1. Thank you so much for the sound advice. I’m terrible at going downhill! Whatever I do, I’ll just have to be super careful. I see a specialist in August and should know more then. You’re so kind to offer ideas on getting back out there. I really appreciate it and will keep your suggestions in mind as I start to move more.

  4. I'm occasionally asked by tone-policing commenters why I don't scale back the insults and the profanity (which, unbeknownst to anyone unfamiliar with my older stuff, I actually have) on my site.

    In addition to pointing out that blatant liars and cheaters deserve no coddling, I remind them that I'd be blocked and ignored by the same bozos anyway, because the refusal of my haters to engage a word of my material is rooted in garden-variety cowardice that social media and inept 1990s parenting have combined to legitimize.

    These people are idiots, frauds, and liars, and they want no part of anyone who points these qualities and the resulting poor content out, kindly or unkindly. And they won't get any nicer as the ideas of "meanies" like me (and you, I guess) prove increasingly mainstream.

    Aysha Mirza is an absolute across-the-board fraud herself, worse than any of the dirtbags she complains about. I would not wring my hands over being excluded from her dingbat imaginary-scientist content for no reason whatsoever. The rest of your inherited detractors are untalented runners and writers -- physically decrepit in some way and powered by insecurity and the specter or social rejection. They remind me why anyone who has children these days is a sadist committing ecoterrorism and bioterrorism on the side.

    1. I understand blocking someone who’s harassing you or engaging with you in a way you don’t like, but why block people whose content you don’t like? Just look the other way and move on, or address the problem. But as you point out, cowards don’t want any kind of conversation. Blocking someone who simply has a different viewpoint is childish.