Monday, September 13, 2021

Why Am I So Angry?

Because I already addressed the Shelby Houlihan case, and nothing has really changed after details of the CAS ruling came out, I'm mostly sidestepping the issue except to say that this write-up is one of the few that gets directly to the point. The way the loudest running "journalists" have handled the topic is atrocious, and I can't really add much to the conversation, at least not in any kind of scintillating way like Kevin Beck has. The whole thing makes me angry. 

Regarding all the sorting through the rubble that's occurring, though, what's shocking is the reaction of some Houlihan supporters who have harassed journalists like Alan Abrahamson for expressing what many of us feel about the situation, that someone needs to come clean. But even if that were to happen, which is unlikely, would that change anything? I doubt it. Look at cycling after the downfall of Lance Armstrong. People will always find ways to cheat, but fans don't like to see their idols knocked down or even called out. It's frightening how abusive people can be toward others who have a different opinion. Then there are those who just stick their fingers in their ears and look the other way, pretending nothing's wrong, which is fine, I suppose, if you're not a journalist. 

Erin Strout, who has boasted about muting people on Twitter, as if that's anything to be proud of, highlighted the fact that Houlihan had character witnesses testify over the fact that the athlete's burrito defense was more than a little unlikely before the writer set her tweets to private, which actually might be a good thing since fewer people will see the way she skews facts and is careless with triggering content. However, I'm not sure what the point of having a blue checkmark on Twitter and claiming the title of journalist is if you're too afraid to have a public voice. 

It's strange, but the fact that she took extra time to block me on a social media website is more bizarre than upsetting to me. I'm a female runner with a very long history in the sport, but she has a right to limit her audience to only those who fully back her. It's a bad look for anyone who's representing a publication like Women's Running, though. Blocked or not, nobody can see her tweets unless she approves it. I feel sad for anyone who continually boasts about her job as a journalist, usually by complaining about it publicly, the long hours, the work, the deadlines, the travel issues, yet feels it necessary to hide from anyone who doesn't agree 100 percent with her various takes. 

I guess I had more to say about that than I originally thought. 

Speaking of being angry, I experienced an unpleasant incident the other day while jogging on the trails. Two people were blocking a very wide and heavily used trail by walking side-by-side with their two dogs. I was coming up behind them and uttered two "ahems" in an effort to get their attention. Just when I was about to say, "excuse me," each one moved, she to the left and he to the right, so I assumed they had heard me. I went through the opening, ran a little longer, and then turned around to go back the way I had come. When I came upon the couple again, she started yelling at me, insisting I should have notified them that I was using the popular public path that they were hogging. In response, I pointed out that they must not have heard my efforts to do just that and later added something she probably didn't like but also may not have heard. 

It was a trivial occurrence, but it upset me. Initially, I brushed it off, but the more I thought about it, the more it pissed me off. Not that long ago, my mom fell, and I was rushing her to the hospital (she's OK now but broke her wrist) when some complete and total asshole ran a stop sign and then leaned out his window to make wild ape-like gestures and yell who knows what at me. Then he started in with the fucking games, driving 5 miles per hour and breaking hard on occasion specifically to impede my forward motion. I'm not a violent person, but I have never wanted to punch someone in the face so badly. Everyone is more on edge lately, though. It's not just me. 

Call it road rage or situational anger, I can see why there are so many horrific ends to minor incidents, though, as far as I know, it's not in me to actually go there. Still, the kind of anger I experienced in that moment made me realize how and why something that seems minor on the surface can get ugly fast. People's online behavior can be just as concerning, but I want to point out that there's a difference between someone calling out a person’s incompetence or lies and an individual being an actual bully who harasses others. Expressing opinions in a blog post about obvious bias and misinformation coming from journalists in the running community is not bullying. It's always odd to me how so many people who act pompous and arrogant are quick to play the victim when criticized.

While it's understandable to get angry at someone like the idiot who ran a stop sign who's very clearly in the wrong and intentionally being a piece of shit, sometimes determining what's right or what's not right isn't quite as clear-cut. It's also more difficult to call people out when their track record isn't 100-percent shitty and their unsavory behavior doesn't fall into the serial killer or road rage category. In fact, a few of the individuals I have scolded on my blog share similar views on many topics, but I can't bring myself to support or approve of anyone who intentionally misleads others, triggers individuals with sloppy content, or outright lies, even if we both like cheese.

In terms of how I look at information online, especially regarding running-related matters, things took a turn for me when I did a podcast on eating disorders with Lauren Fleshman and Ann Gaffigan that has mysteriously disappeared. For the life of me, I can't find a copy of it anywhere. Based on that interview alone, it's puzzling how Lauren is or ever was seen as any kind of expert in the field of recovery, but that seems to be how she's viewed. She has never fully addressed recovery in a compassionate or thorough way because she presents a flawed view of what others experience in the throes of severe illness. Her story seems to have changed since she participated in the podcast, but, despite the 180, it's difficult to understand her involvement with eating disorder recovery anyway. 

Whether or not she is aware of it, she has continually taken little swipes at those of us who struggle, subtly suggesting it takes the kind of mental toughness she possesses to avoid an eating disorder, thereby removing any emotional, genetic, or physiological component associated with these kinds of illnesses. I guess I'm just flummoxed by people's resounding support of her, no matter her behavior or what she says. On the one hand, she prefers recruiting athletes who haven't struggled with body image issues in the past, but on the other, she can be seen tweeting about Molly Seidel and her recovery during the Olympic marathon. It's a head-scratcher. I mean, Molly isn't exactly the kind of athlete Lauren suggests she would like to coach. I guess it's good that she can still cheer on someone who struggled, even if she prefers working with athletes who don't have any kind of history of eating disorders or body image issues, though, as I have stated before, I'm not sure how one determines this or why any coach would make this distinction. I'm just glad to see that Molly's coach didn't take that kind of approach with her. 

Regarding my own feelings during the podcast I now regret doing, it's not that I can't handle myself around opinionated people -- I grew up in a house full of them -- it's more that I wasn't expecting any kind of discord. I realize that not everyone is going to act in a way one might expect, but up until that point, every interview, podcast, and speaking event I had done that related to eating disorders was done so in an incredibly supportive, nurturing environment, a safe space, if you will, even if everyone involved had different ideas on recovery and different experiences. That was the first time I was caught completely off guard and couldn't quite figure out how to address someone skewing the facts. 

It left a really sour taste in my mouth, has bothered me since, and yet initially I tried to be supportive and search for some kind of greater good in the situation. It wasn't until recently that I couldn't bring myself to do that anymore, try to be accommodating and nice to people who don't deserve it. Misinformation never serves the public well. I won't condone it, especially if the content is potentially harmful to others and even if that makes me look like the bad guy in some people's eyes.

All this said, anger that grows doesn't serve the person who's holding it well. It clouds a person's perspective in other areas. I'm going to work on letting that shit go, but I'm not going to stop addressing liars, frauds, and cheats. 

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