Let’s Have a Dialogue

[The other day, as I got bored writing an administrivia post about my comment policy, I created a dialogue with an imaginary internet denizen. I … kinda liked it. Or he did. Or the part of my mind that is that guy did. I’m not really sure. Probably this is not a psychotic break … right? Anyway, welcome back Internet Bob.]

INTERNET BOB: I HAVE A NAME NOW?

lastgreypoet: Yeah. You like it?

INTERNET BOB: I DUNNO. I THINK IT’S MAYBE A BIT TOO CUTE.

lastgreypoet: Nah. It looks good on you.

INTERNET BOB: I DO NOT GET YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR.

lastgreypoet: And that’s Reason A why you exist.

INTERNET BOB: YOU MADE A LIST? WHAT’S REASON B?

lastgreypoet: I kinda felt a need for a foil.

INTERNET BOB: REYNOLDS WRAP?

lastgreypoet: Nah. More like an épée.

INTERNET BOB: I DO NOT GET YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR.

lastgreypoet: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

INTERNET BOB: …

lastgreypoet: Okay. I’ll behave. Ish. What’s on your mind Bob?

INTERNET BOB: THINGS ARE AWFULLY UGLY ONLINE RIGHT NOW!

lastgreypoet: And this is different from any other day how, exactly?

INTERNET BOB: WELL, IT ALL SEEMS VERY PERSONAL RIGHT NOW, ESPECIALLY WITH THE RAGE BACK AND FORTH OVER THE ELECTION!

lastgreypoet: Yeah. I get that. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

INTERNET BOB: NO? YOU THINK WE CAN MAKE PEACE WITH THE ENEMY?

lastgreypoet: Well, I suppose that depends entirely on how you’re defining “enemy.” I don’t see a bright future for a country divided into two halves constantly hating each other.

INTERNET BOB: SO, YOU DON’T SEE A BRIGHT FUTURE, IN OTHER WORDS.

lastgreypoet: Touché, Bob.

INTERNET BOB: STOP WITH THE FENCING JOKES ALREADY!

lastgreypoet: Oh. I didn’t realize you got those. I thought they went over your head.

INTERNET BOB: OF COURSE YOU THOUGHT THAT. YOU’RE A CONDESCENDING ASS.

lastgreypoet: I … have no defense for that.

INTERNET BOB: NO. OF COURSE NOT. WHY WOULD YOU? I MEAN, YOU BASICALLY CREATED ME TO BE A CARICATURE OF PEOPLE WHO ANNOY YOU ONLINE, EVEN — FUCK THIS — even to the point of having me write in all caps, despite how hard it is to read. You want a dialogue? Something even quasi-believable? Make me real, not a straw man.

lastgreypoet: Yeah. Okay. You were never intended to be exactly a straw man, just a slightly exaggerated version of, well, people who annoy me online. I thought by talking to you out loud like this, I could establish the concept that two people can have a conversation that isn’t all-rage, all-the-time, come to a common understanding, and move life in a more positive direction.

INTERNET BOB: Did this imaginary conversation end, perhaps, on a joke at my expense?

lastgreypoet: Probably.

INTERNET BOB: Look, I get it. This whole election outcome is weighing heavily on you, to the point that you’re back at the keyboard, feeling compelled to play writer-hero, in some sort of Quixotic dream that you’ll put just the right string of words together and someone will read them and go, “Oh. I never thought of it like that. I guess maybe I will rethink my entire worldview because Jon is good with words.” You know better.

lastgreypoet: I do. But I can’t get past the point of trying. “All that is necessary for evil to triumph …” and all that.

INTERNET BOB: You sure you shouldn’t write out the rest of that? I mean, you do still doubt my intelligence.

lastgreypoet: No. I don’t. At least, not at this point in the conversation. Besides, there’s always Google!

INTERNET BOB: Always with the jokes.

lastgreypoet: It’s laugh or cry, man, 24/7 for the past week.

INTERNET BOB: Fuck that. Talk it out. Pretend I’m the therapist you probably should have been seeing for the past decade. Or, better, pretend that I’m the people you really had in your head when the idea for this dialogue occurred to you. Talk. They’re listening.

lastgreypoet: …

INTERNET BOB: I can wai-

lastgreypoet: I love you.

INTERNET BOB: That’s it? That’s what you got?

lastgreypoet: No, that isn’t it. But that’s the important bit, the bit to get right up front. Trust me, it’ll be important to remember later. It’s why I said it on the eve of the election. Hell, it’s why I repeated it after the outcome became apparent, although I admit it was said a bit grumpily the second time.

INTERNET BOB: “I love you all. I’m really fucking disappointed with some of you right now, though.”

lastgreypoet: Yeah. That.

INTERNET BOB: You really believe it’s possible to be both? I mean, there are plenty of takes on this election that place the blame for Clinton’s loss squarely on that kind of condescending, I-know-what’s-better-for-you-than-you attitude for th-

lastgreypoet: Stop. I don’t care to hear yet another explanatory hot take, even in abbreviated form. Frankly, at this point that’s horseshit for professional politicos to sift. Not my bag. The why is of far less concern to me that the outcome itself and the ramifications thereof.

INTERNET BOB: Like, how are you going to look these people in the eye?

lastgreypoet: Yeah.

INTERNET BOB: Is that going to be harder or easier after what you’re about to write?

lastgreypoet: I really don’t know. There shouldn’t be any misunderstandings, though.

INTERNET BOB: Forever the optimist.

lastgreypoet: Shh. Just listen. Please.

I can assume you aren’t racist, misogynist, or some other form of bigot.

For real, not just the “blinded-by-white-privilege” version of not being those things.

I am left to believe you either didn’t notice these problem areas of the president-elect’s campaign, or you opted to ignore them because other policy issues mattered more to you.

Well, now we’re all stuck with the consequences. And as much as I really don’t want to dismiss certain details — like all the policy details — I’m willing to narrow focus.

Maybe you’re right.

Maybe he is just a guy who “tells it like it is,” and I don’t like hearing what he has to say.

Maybe the worst thing that will happen over the next four years (aside from everything, policy-wise) is that the presidency will be occupied by a pig, and I’ll just have to get used to that, same as you had to get used to the gentleman we had the last eight years.

But maybe you’re wrong.

If you’re wrong, as part of the political coalition that brought this to pass, own it.

If you’re wrong, but you aren’t racist, misogynist, or some other form of bigot, rise above those you’ve put in power and help deliver a better, more equal freedom to everyone.

If you’re wrong, stand by me, and fight oppression.

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