Oh, My Sweet Droogs: I Told You Not To Trust Me.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday, I wrote an essay about how I’m bringing my wife along to conventions even though it’s a little inconvenient for me.  And while the response is lovely, I had a lot of people saying, “Wow, reading through, I was worried you were going to do the wrong thing!”
Well, of course you were worried.  I wrote that essay to throw up a tornado of red flags.
If I’d wanted to justify the decision to not bring Gini along, I never would have started with the conversation about how I didn’t want her to go.  A good essay is about leading you down to my conclusion.
No, if I’d wanted to convince you that what I’d done was a good thing, I’d have started much harder with the stress of grief, and how me dealing with Gini’s fear of crowds was holding me back from going out to the people I needed to see.  I’d present a scene of sitting in the house with just her for the fourteenth night in a row, her wanting nothing more than to curl up and watch Star Wars again, me feeling itchy and isolated and not knowing what to do because she needed my help but I was dying inside.  I would have talked about how I wasn’t able to comfort her because my emotional batteries were also drained, and we just kept bumping up against each other, unable to recharge the other because there was nothing left for me to give.
And I’d have emphasized the reluctance I felt about going out to GKNE alone, how uncertain I was, so when it turned out that GKNE was awesome for me you would have been there in my triumph.
Then I would have mentioned the other arguments I’d had to get Gini to go out with me, the ones where I’d failed, to show what a good guy I was.  And I wouldn’t have just talked abstractly about what GKE did for me – I would have given you a scene where I showed you just how that first BDSM scene blew the doors off of what I knew, made you understand just how this was what I’d been seeking all along.
Then I would have talked about how Winter Wickedness gave me the strength to come back home and be better for her, that it was an oasis of healing for me to give Gini more comfort in her hour of need…
…And it wouldn’t have been quite as heart-meltingly nice but damn, I woulda sold some of y’all.  Probably a lot.
And I’m sure some of you would have gone “Um, not sure about that” if I’d written about how I needed to go out to cons alone.  Some of you are perceptive, and call me on my shit.  But a good writer can bury his red flags, and manipulate emotions so you see what we want you to see.  We’re like magicians.
Which is not to say that I don’t believe what I told you yesterday.  I do.  Thoroughly.  And I think some of that belief saturates my work and makes me a better writer.  But I also know just how I’d tweak my tale to tell you the exact opposite thing I said, and make it sound goddamned good.
That’s why I tell you not to trust me.  Or anyone.
Because predators also know this trick.  They know how to shift the mirrors to lead you deeper into the funhouse.  And they’re very good at knowing what emotional dials to tweak, which moments to amplify, to lead you to the conclusion they desire.
I do believe in what I say.  I do.  But if I didn’t, it’d be really hard for some of y’all to spot that, because I know how to shift things around to mask my intentions and make good things seem like bad ones.
A lot of people do that.  Hell, I could be doing it right now.  So read closely.  Question.  Interrogate the text.  Because there are people out there trying to mash your heart-warmed button so hard that it occludes your logic, and if you’re not careful they can lead you to some very wrong places.
So watch.

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