I can't seem to settle my mind anymore, and my bones keep rattling after. Book reviews and travel plans and social commentary and story ideas all whirl and tumble around in my head, and when I go to bed at night, I fall asleep to the promise of posting them in the morning, but in the morning, I wake up and shuffle to the toilet and then shuffle into the sunroom to stare at the computer screen with gummy eyes, and nothing gets posted. The incisive critiques of the books I've read molder into a vague, indifferent muddle in my head, and the outrage inspired by the ludicrous political doings of the fool in the President's chair dissipates into a leaden apathy. It's impossible to persuade the willfully blind when they do not wish to open their eyes, and you cannot change the world from behind a keyboard, furiously as you might peck at the keys. Would that you could.

The Internet is a wondrous invention, but the ability to peer into others' virtual living rooms exposes you to a great many things you would rather not see. For instance, before I ventured into the wilds of Facebook as a means to communicate with distant relatives, I had vastly overestimated the basic literacy of my countrymen. Surely, thought I in my naivete, surely most Americans can read and write at a basic level. Nope. No, they cannot. Grown men and women scrawl incoherent gibberings that would embarrass an orangutan and proclaim them the wisdom of Solomon. "Who needs school?" they cry as it is painfully obvious how much they do, or how woefully they ignored or misused its gifts. History is replete with the stupid and the inarticulate, of course, but in the pre-Internet era, their faults weren't displayed for the world to see. Once upon a time, people weren't proud to be ignorant, uneducated, and stupid. But those days, like Jefferson and Lincoln, Dickens and Wordsworth, are gone, gone away, and now the fool is king.

Maybe that's why it's been so easy to fall silent. When I started my first blog, I did so because I wanted to belong. On the Internet, I could not be judged by my looks or my imperfections, but had to be judged by the content of my character. If people disagreed with my opinion, I could rest easy in the knowledge that it was my opinion alone that provoked their response and not the palsied tremor in the finger that typed it. They disagreed with me, not the body I came in, and for someone accustomed to being judge before I finished entering a room, to the necessity of proving my worth before being offered basic courtesy, it was a revelation. The Internet, for all its flaws, pitfalls, and squalid dens of iniquity, was the great equalizer.

But as movie!Galadriel once said, the world has changed. Anonymity is no longer the order of the day. Where once we counseled prudence and safeguarded our privacy behind pseudonyms, now every aspect of our lives is lived in the public sphere. Where we work, where we eat, the movies we see and the books we read--all of these things are on open display, and because it is posted under our real names, it is easy to uncover who we are in the offline world. We're no longer abstract voices in the ether, but faces and bodies and professions and economic strata and religious creeds and political affiliations, and with that knowledge comes all the judgment and supposition so many of us wanted to leave behind.

I can handle being labeled a bitch or a cunt or an asshole; it's part and parcel of life on the Internet. But being derided as a crippled bitch or a retarded cut cuts far more deeply. It's a devaluation not just of my opinion as it stands on its merits or lack thereof, but as a devaluation and dismissal of me, of who I am at the pith and marrow. It's not my ideas they disdain, but me, the soul-spark called Guera, and nothing I say will matter because I am me. Flawed body means flawed mind, the end, forever and ever, and even if God shoved His hand up my ass and used me as His Divine hand puppet, my voice would go unheard because everyone knows people like me are poor misguided souls with no minds of our own, put here to teach our families patience and remind strangers how much crappier their lives could be, so be grateful, you whinging peasants, or the Lord will smite you with a stroke or give you a handicapped child.

I can't say these things publicly. Maybe I could have once upon a time, before anger and outrage became performative and good faith was the naive wish of the sheltered and privileged, but not now. Few would listen, and those who did would either condescend and tell me it was all in my head, the frightful bogeys of exclusion and rejection that have dogged me from childhood, or wag their fingers and tell me my unhappiness is all of my own making and I should just purge all negativity from my life, as if it were as easy as flushing a toilet(and all while moaning on their own blogs about how misunderstood and unappreciated they are. Hello, pot, I'm kettle. Would you like a winch for that beam in your eye?).

And therein lies the rub for me. I like the idea of people very much, but the reality of them is a bitter disappointment. I find them irksome and intrusive, too loud and too blinkered and far less clever than they believe themselves to be. And yes, I include myself in that misanthropic assessment. The pleasure they bring is seldom worth the effort expended to know them. There are wonderful people out there, and I treasure and delight in them as a dying man treasures another breath, but they are few and growing fewer. Most revel in being as cruel, petty, spiteful, and obnoxious as possible, and it's demoralizing to wade into the world to find that there's more mutual respect and decorum to be had in a shit-flinging poo fight at the monkey house.

I'm tired. That's the long and short of it. I'm tired of knowing I'll never be heard, that never again will my opinions be weighed on their merits alone, of knowing that even my family thinks I'm too stupid to have a credible opinion on any matter weightier than what to have for dinner, and that my only intrinsic value lies in how my existence shapes their character and improves their prospects in the hereafter.

I'm tired. I'm tired, and I want to be quiet, but to be quiet smacks too much of surrender, and I don't know what to do.
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