Aside from the obvious “Being a good husband/father/provider” answer, I believe that just about the most important thing in my life right now is being an advocate on the topic of pornography addiction. I’ve got a new book coming out in July, a much bigger announcement coming (within the month) and for the first time in my life, I genuinely feel like I have a calling.
But I’m also a human being who has morals, values and beliefs that are not connected to my pornography addiction crusade. I have cultivated these over the years both based on what I was taught by my parents, what I have experienced on my own and what I have witnessed in society.
I worked very hard during my years as a journalist to never take a political stance on just about anything and being an introspective moderate, I took that seriously. A few weeks back, I made the statement here that after seeing how President Trump handled the COVID-19 and George Floyd issues, I could no longer defend him as a suitable leader. I still believe he has been overly attacked on often trivial things, but the events of the last few months have hardly been trivial.
I also stated a few weeks ago that I heard somebody on television say that it wasn’t simply enough to be against racism, which I always have been, it’s time to be actively anti-racist. Now is the time to call people out on their faulty thinking and reasoning, especially those who you could get through to who may see the error of their way and change things. I’m proud to say that I have had discussions with several people discussing issues like the faulty “few bad apples” excuse or how BLM is about equality, not minimizing other lives.
Ten years ago, I’d have spirited debates with people about politics on Facebook. I was running a “fluffy” magazine, so there was nothing controversial and I was a city councilor, so people often wanted my opinion on matter that went well beyond the borders of our city. Upon my arrest in early 2014, I discontinued my Facebook account.
I can objectively look back and recognize that I probably didn’t change too many opinions and while I do consider myself an open-minded person, I rarely heard arguments that changed mine. The entire exercise was one in frustration, and when I briefly returned to Facebook last year in advance of my second book, it didn’t take more than a few days to see that this wasn’t the place for me. In the six years I had been off Facebook, I have changed greatly as a person. It’s been hard work, but I’m regularly reminded how much I’ve changed when I dip my toe into things from my former life. Maybe it was the same, but Facebook seemed like a forum for unbridled, unchecked and unsolicited toxicity at a level I couldn’t remember. I attributed it to the fact that this country has only become more divided, not united in the last six years. Again, that’s party on our leader’s shoulders.
I hoped I could use Facebook as a forum to promote my work, but it was clear that option would leave me angry and depressed, which is one of the reasons that aside from headlines on Google News, I rarely followed politics during this period of recovery from pornography and alcohol addiction.
I did, however, join LinkedIn for the first time in late 2019. Probably 90% of my connections were people I did not know in my daily life, but had some connection to the mental health industry. Many of them have become trusted allies and I do not regret starting a profile there. Had I not made the connections of the last six months, I do not believe the new book would have the depth of interviews it presents.
The other 10% has been either random people from other places in my life or people outside of the healthcare industry who asked to make a connection with me for whatever reason.
I’ve been introduced to many trends of character quirks that I didn’t recognize exist in the mental health industry and obviously, I neither understand nor agree with all of them. There are clearly some who are out for money and glory and others who will only selectively help people, exhibiting some kind of moral authority. Despite being “experts” many have no idea what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety or addiction, yet they’d never be able to admit they don’t know. And there are many who are very broken people, should actually be on the couch, and are trying to save themselves by saving others. All of this said, there are generally a really high-quality bunch of people who stick to the mainly professional platform LinkedIn was intended to be. Sure, people will post a joke, or a cute cat video, or cheesy inspirational memes, but that’s just society today. Every social media platform has them.
I would also say that of these professionals, they seem to either all be in agreement regarding racism, and being anti-racist, or they have taken the stance to keep their mouth shut. It’s this other 10%, specifically the ones I didn’t know in the past, where the problems are arising.
Many of them don’t mind sharing their politics and their views. While I don’t necessarily want to read about what they think of every little move the Democrats or Republicans make, and the name-calling, selective facts and general buffoonery that comes with it, I did make the decision to be anti-racist, so I have begun calling people out when they do racist things.
Last night, I got into a long discussion with a person who posted a TikTok video on LinkedIn that was a parody of what police will be like in 2021. It showed a sheepish man in golf apparel coming to someone’s door and asking them if they would like to come with them down to the station. The message was clear to me… the changes that are being demanded now will leave police as ineffectual nothings if they happen. The message is change is bad and while this was an obvious overstatement full of hyperbole, at the core of it, to me, was the message that the changes that are happening or will be happening are bad.
In my opinion, that’s passive-aggressive racism, and while I generally respect the guy who posted it, many of the comments that came after were from right-wing types who were more blatant with their distaste of recent events and changes those events might prompt. They want things to stay the same way. We have enough statistics — provided by the police departments themselves — that prove systemic racism against minorities. Even if you’re the most racist person on earth, it’s hard to argue with the math provided by the police.
I was highly disappointed that this man took an active blind eye to why this video might be considered racist, preferring to debate that humor is subjective, yet not explaining why it was funny when I asked, nor responding to my question about if humor against disabled people, including mocking them, could be funny.
I do not believe he is intentionally racist, but when I challenged him about providing a platform to allow people who were clearly racist to spread their rhetoric, he got bogged down in exact meanings of words and why we can never assume things about anybody. Despite continually trying to bring it away from his word smithing and back to the topic at hand — especially since I could tell he was doing everything in his power to avoid the core issues that I sense he knew were wrong (and he added a disclaimer to his post as we were talking which suggests knowing there was something wrong) but he didn’t want to play thought police. I told him that his actions were his and I know I had no control nor could change them, but I thought they were wrong and they were promoting racism. He disagreed. When it was finally just after 1:30 a.m., I’d have enough and called it a night.
I should also mention that I just checked LinkedIn and it appears he has either completely erased the post at some point in the last 12 hours or he has hidden me from it. I really hope it’s the former and my grousing for over an hour made a difference.
This guy gets a lot of traffic. He’s figured out the LinkedIn algorhothims and has thousands of more followers than I do. In one sense, it’s good to be seen by that many people for my pornography addiction mission. In another sense, I have some real fear that I may be hurting my position as an authority by having a different political or social opinion than many of his commenters. People are quick to dismiss EVERYTHING about others these days when they are first introduced by highlighting a philosophical difference. You and I may like the same sports teams, restaurants, kinds of movies, etc., but if we’re introduced because we differ on gun control, odds are there will be division, not unity, in that relationship and certain conclusions will be drawn.
I really don’t care if people don’t like me. I got over that a few years ago. When I finally recognized most people don’t have enough facts to logically judge me, and that I can only let someone’s opinion affect me I respect them, it was like a load off my shoulders. Wish I learned that at 18.
What I do care about is people jumping to the conclusion that pornography addiction is fake, that education is unnecessary, that it’s a ridiculous topic or whatever their sudden issue is with it, simply because we disagree about something else. I don’t want to hurt my mission because an opinion that has nothing to do about pornography addiction soured someone on me as a person.
While I want to remain anti-racist, I don’t want to hurt this pornography addiction education path I’m on. You could say, “Only open your mouth about racism with people who you know agree with you” but that completely misses the point. It’s the people who disagree with me — even if they are unwilling to change their racist (even if unintentional) ways — who need to be called out the most, repeatedly.
It doesn’t seem like these two things can co-exist within each other. I feel like the only answers are shut up about the racism, which makes me feel like I’d be part of the problem, or to speak my truth and deal with the fallout, recognizing there is a trade-off. I mean, which is more important… ending racism or teaching the world about pornography addiction. Most would easily say racism, but I’m in a unique position with the pornography addiction. If I’m not out there doing this advocacy, who will?
I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place and I’m not sure which way to move. As Gorilla Monsoon so eloquently put it during the Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant fight at Wrestlemania III, it’s the irresistable force meets the immovable object.
Something has to give…but what?