Other people's opinions matter to me. Far more than they should.
I need to knock that off. It bothers me to no end.
Stardust is one of my favorite movies. I once saw Neil Gaiman in an interview share how he came up with the idea for Stardust and it endeared me to the book and, by extension, the movie forever.
From the book description:
Young Tristan Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristan learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
The DVD extras include that interview with Gaiman where he tells of traveling in Ireland and noticing a gap in an old stone wall. He asked himself the question that starts the best of everything, "What if?" What if a fairy world existed in the woods beyond that wall? What if you slipped through the break and entered it?
Years later, he watched a falling star and asked, "What if that star landed in the fairy world beyond the wall? What if it became a woman on the other side?" I'm paraphrasing all of those questions.
Stardust is one of my favorite movies and books. It's one of my favorite answers to, "What if?"
But a lot of people think the movie is lame. Where I tear up, they roll their eyes. It's a simple matter of opinion but I am convinced my opinion is right.
Can an opinion be right?
My gut says, "Absolutely, those people are blind! Why can't they see how awesome/ bad/ perfect/ pandering/ right this is?!" My brain says, "Opinions are opinions. They aren't right or wrong."
I also liked the movie Signs. And, for that matter, The Village, if we are going to show all our cards here. Quite a few more people would say I am wrong. But I'm willing to go along with it. I want to see where we'll land.
Disney is a firestarter of opinions. I adore Walt Disney World, specifically. You can't imagine. I am entirely and fully able to suspend disbelief and inhabit the lands as a child. I leave my worries at the gate and it works for me. It is escapism at its best and I adore it. Adore.
Other people see a sucking hole of consumerism. They see people sweating under costumes and inside huge, stifling heads of a mouse.
I have a hipster friend that hates Disney with all of his being. Loathes it. He blames it for making his daughter like princesses and for spoiling the pristine Florida landscape. He was committed to these beliefs.
Then he broke down and took his kids to Disney World. He changed his mind. If even for a day. He let the magic work and somehow it didn't corrupt all of his beliefs. Imagine.
I write for a Disney platform called Babble. It's a parenting site and a number of parent bloggers I know don't like it. Never have. Babble used to make a lot of stupid mistakes that frustrated me to exasperation.
For a variety of reasons I should tell you about sometime, I decided to give them a chance to change my mind and accepted a writing gig there. They convinced me they were changing and I could be part of that change.
I genuinely like it. It's work and it's a business, but I like it. Given my choice of outlets for which to write, I love writing for what became a Disney-owned platform, although it wasn't when I signed on.
Babble still makes mistakes. A lot of my friends refuse to read my writing there. That stinks. It doesn't really have anything to do with me, but still. They are missing some good stories.
And yet, for every one aquaintance that lets the behind-the-scenes politics bog them down, I find 3,000 new readers, regular parents, that love the magazine and get something useful out it. I have to remember that.
Realizing that we don't have to agree feels like defeat to me. Realizing that it shouldn't feel like defeat feels like seeing Mickey Mouse take his head off and throw up on the concrete on a hot Florida day.
BlogHer is this week. During conferences, I generally stay off of social media. Any and all conferences, whether I'm attending or not.
For those conferences I attend, other than a few "Get over here, this is awesome" and "I'll be at X location, let's meet!" updates, I don't engage. Because I'm full-time engaging in person.
The hashtag stream sucks the life out of me. For every 50 positive updates, there is one person complaining. And that one person kills me.
Invariably (let's say 80% of the time), I either disagree with their perspective or can't fathom why they are taking the time to complain. Which means I want to weigh in. No one goes to conferences for the sessions? I disagree. You might have to work a little to design the right agenda for you, but it's entirely possible. The only reason people attend BlogHer is for the private parties? At best, 10-20% of the 5,000 attendees are invited to those private parties. Your perspective is elitist, at best. The food is bad? I can't even.
Right there? That exchange? Absolutely nothing good comes from my weighing in. I think I'm helping them out of their funk (self-induced or otherwise); they don't. They are committed to their perspective, as am I. They are committed to feeling excluded or attacked or disappointed or better than. I am not.
So just forget it. Come visit with me at The People's Party on Thursday night, the community party I host. I attend conferences to meet new people, see old friends, support our diverse communities. Because why else would I attend a conference?
But it bothers me to no end.
I am an intensely critical person. But I am not cynical.
Understanding the difference between being critical and being cynical is the most important moment here.
I belive the best but want better. I choose my battles and walk away. Perhaps the most marked difference between me and the people that I want to sway is the fact that I rarely use my energy to complain.
What is with all of the incessant complaining? So much complaining.
I don't thrash around and gnash teeth, all while adjusting the spotlight. I see what you see. I don't complain. What's the point? Unless it is truly worth it, I don't waste my energy.
Why not? Usually because I think through the entire process. I form the complaint in my head, the most effective way to voice it, I imagine the responses from those willing to listen, I walk through who might agree or disagree and how. Best case scenario, I picture action taken to rectify whatever slight I perceive. And then I wait.
In my head, I wait. I weigh the benefit of swaying others to my side versus the cost of complaining. I assure you, there is a cost.
If I win, what have I actually won? A hundred people agreeing with me? A thousand? More?
If the answer is, "Then nothing." then I leave it be.
I weigh my words against the cost of your attention and I don't splurge on complaining. Not often. Though I see them complaining and I remember them complaining, letting it color my memory of them before I walk away. It's not worth it.
I choose joy. I choose to believe that if a star fell on the other side of the wall, she would shine. I know not everyone is willing to suspend that disbelief. Man, they are missing out.
And it bothers me to no end.
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” – Neil Gaiman
*the headings refer to elements in Stardust
photos via www.istockphoto.com and linked through awesome affiliate links because nickels
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