Gaslighting For No Fun and No Profit

I had a friend, once. Let’s call her “Porcelain Puppet”, because that was her nicknamename. She had a tempestuous relationship with her partner at the time. Before my own cancellation, when I was in a position to help her, I did.

In the past three years, we’ve texted a bit. Often we’ve apologized to each other for being bad correspondants and reinforced our friendship with little <3 symbols and well-wishes. We had a friendly—even warm, though absolutely never romantic on either side—correspondence from( let me check my phone)--March 20th, 2018 to June 7th, 2021. Today, out of nowhere—that sounds like some kind of euphemism, but sincerely, the only indicator I had that anything might be negative was that it had taken a bit of time for her to respond to our last set of messages, and she was, if anything, a bit annoyed that I thought something might be wrong – that is, I asked if anything was wrong, and she replied that she was slow getting back to everyone. Today, out of literally nowhere, she told me not to text her again. This is quite normal. Any society that lives on social currency will reward someone who says, “You know that person our social group hates? I hate them, too! I'm a member of the club! I'm cool like you are!”--just as the people who remain friends with me sometimes find other people unfriending them for no reason other than the fact that they haven't unfriended me for no reason. I told her I would make a video about it. I did. I didn't name her; why would ? She's just one of tons of people caught up in a moral panic, one of tons of people who know that shunning The Accused will get them love-bombed, and giving even the benefit of doubt to The Accused will lose them friends. Her response was a series of threats. Her boyfriend is a lawyer, she said. Any further contact would be harassment, she said. Talking about what happened would be harassment, she said. If you're familiar with abuser tactics, then none of this is new to you. Of COURSE they want to isolate you. Of COURSE they want to frighten you. Of COURSE they want to think that telling anyone your story, explaining your abuse, discussing your pain, talking about how they've hurt or abused you... of COURSE this will be answered by force, by police, by ostracism. And of COURSE they'll threaten you with things that aren't real. Seriously: do they think it is legal to accuse people of theft, assault, chicanery, or general horrifying (and illegal) behavior—but NOT legal to call someone out, not even by name, for trying to make you think you're insane? I know a cancelled person who refers to the (fairly major) news coverage of her alleged actions as being, essentially, attempts to get her to kill herself. She may not be wrong. There's no doubt in my mind that, even if they had mixed feelings internally, many of these people would give voice to the loudest possible voices of approval if I were to suicide. Even if they have mixed feelings, they know that they can post something like: “Such and such person was bad in every way, and not even human, because of their horribleness. I am glad that being is dead, because they're not a person, just an embodiment of how cruddy this world is, and I'm happy to see one proponent of Bad Things buried, so that I will never have to worry about explaining myself to that person's face”-- --and get tons of “Yes! You go! You're strong! Be brave! You're bold! Be defiant! Hate this person whom we hate, and we will reward your act of bravery with even more status and with even more affirmation.” I get where it's tempting. It's gross; it's wrong; it's unjust; it's why we had the murders of the Witch Trials, the insanity of the Satanic Panic, the alchemical transportation of Halloween fun into fears of (literally nonexistent) fears of Poison Halloween Candy. After years of trying to see their point of view, of trying to listen, of investigating my words and actions, I've come to a simple conclusion: These people cannot and will not EVER back up what they say, not ever, not even once, because none of what they say deals with reality, and worse, they fear the HELL out of reality. They fear nuance; they fear situations where they might not be wholly right; they're terrified at the thought that they might be forced to live in a world where they need to act based on what others do, instead of the stories they tell about other people. These people have gaslit t/hemselves so hard that you could feel sorry for them... ...were it not for the fact that too much gaslight produces toxic residue which hurts absolutely everyone. You can give them the benefit of the doubt. You don't have to attack them personally, even if they attack you by name (but I imagine you can; your choices are your own). Just call out their behavior. Help the world know that this is a dangerous and pervasive malicious insanity. And we cannot and will not abide it – not simply because it hurts us, but because it hurts everyone

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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