Feel like I’m fucking up everywhere

I have apparently upset a bunch of people in the unschooling forum by describing those who do a lot of more formal music learning as doing “fancy pants music” as opposed to my making up rhyming songs with no instruments. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole. But apparently I succeed without trying all the time. Wooo.

Yesterday I got into it on twitter with a woman I barely know from home schooling. (Mostly what I know about her is she was kicked out of my home schooling group because she posted a lot of pictures of other peoples kids on her home schooling group website and made it look like we were “clients” for her home schooling assistance organization.) She was posting about how people should give her money to buy books because books should be free for kids. I kind of went off. It wasn’t necessary or nice.

I told her that as long as she thinks books should be free she is saying the time and energy of the authors isn’t worth anything. If you seriously want to campaign hard about how books should be free… you are saying authors should die of starvation. Their children do not deserve to live in homes. If someone knows something you want to know they have to cough it up no matter how it effects their life. I got really mad. The funny part was when she told me not to put words in her tweets. That was funny because her posts are 100% barely-literate hashtags. She doesn’t use words in her tweets.

I know a lot of authors who are struggling to survive. I’m really tired of hearing that it is just that they barely survive.

“Money has no value. We should stop treating it like it is important.” Only she said it in a hashtag run together and not mostly spelled like words. But that is what she said. I told her, “If money has no value why do you keep begging for it on the internet?” That is when she finally got mad enough to write an actual sentence and tell me to stop following her.

She runs indie-gogo campaigns asking people to fund her home schooling efforts nearly once a month.

I’m a judgmental asshole. If you want people to give you money while you are saying loudly that it has no value… I’m going to call you on it. If you are saying that my friends who write books should not be compensated for their time… I’m going to get really fucking hostile. Many of my friends pay their rent and buy their food with money they earn from their writing. Stealing from them is not just.

Yes, I think that kids need access to books. When I said that the solution to her problem (Wanting books and not wanting to pay for them) was the public library she went off on how I just don’t understand. Yeah, I don’t understand that you feel you have the right to benefit from other peoples time and they should suffer to give you benefits. It’s only just.

No kidding people, the public library is the solution for not being able to afford books. Acting like people owe you free books is really… I’m not going to be nice. Fuck you very much. Books cost money. They cost time. If you think you deserve that exchange for free you can fuck yourself. You don’t. You don’t deserve shit. You don’t deserve free books any more than I deserve a mother who loves me. These aren’t things you can “deserve” and then get.

If you want your kids educated for free we have a free public education system. Yes, it isn’t very good.

This is about the most judgmental I will ever be about poverty related stuff.

I have a hard time with the idea that a public education is completely intolerable and unacceptable because… I was entirely publicly educated. Yes, I have done an extreme amount of outside self-study… that’s available to anyone who wants to do it. I think that if you believe your child is owed a free education, here you go. We have a public system set up to provide that.

If you think that your child is owed a free unschooling education where everyone in your community gives you books and money so your kid can do anything (s)he wants… no. You may not have it. That’s not how it works.

Your kid is not owed free ice skating lessons. The fucking instructor needs to eat. Your kid is not owed free music lessons. The fucking instructor needs to eat.

I notice how you only think your child’s “need” to learn is important here. The need of other people to not die doesn’t seem to rank in the importance chart and that’s not something that is going to provoke a lot of sympathy for the needs of your kids.

No, your kid DOES NOT NEED FREE BOOKS and fuck you very much. Your kid needs food, water, and shelter. Those things cost money. The very money you are saying doesn’t matter and you won’t give any to other people to help them provide for the needs of their own children.

People have survived without free books for many tens of thousands of years.

Especially now that we have the internet I think demanding free books is just fucking ridiculous. Get a god damn library card and borrow books on the kindle device on your fucking computer. The whole process is free. (I live in the same county with access to the same system–no really, it is easy to use.) If you have the internet you have no standing to require that people owe you free books. That’s lazy, self-absorbed, and just about malicious.

I know how much it sucks to not be able to afford books. That was my childhood. I am so grateful I can afford to buy lots of books for my kids. I think it is very sad that not every child gets to have a whole library in their house the way my kids get to have a library.

But I don’t think the solution is saying that books shouldn’t cost money. It takes time, energy, and resources to make books. That can’t be just passed along as “free”.

If people started saying with more seriousness that Noah should be giving away the books he was writing I would no longer allow him to write books. He takes time away from his family to write those books. That has a cost *I* have to bear. The money he earns from writing I use to make it easier for me to deal with the fact that he is not with the kids a lot–he is working or writing books most of the time. If someone wants me to just suck it up and bear all the cost… fuck you. No more books for you, asshole. Making your life better at the expense of mine is not a fucking trade I’m making for any fucking asshole who fucking demands it of me. Go to hell.

I feel like an asshole for having this position. But people would line up around the block for Noah to spend 24/7 teaching them for free. I would never see him again if I didn’t have boundaries. He has a lot of stuff to teach that other people can use to go make money. Yes, it has value. Maybe I’m a selfish asshole for not wanting him to share his knowledge completely freely.

I don’t care how many people tell me money doesn’t matter, I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and I’m going to god damn act like money has value. I like my surprise Hawaiian vacations. I like spending a month in Scotland. I like getting to build a park in my backyard. These things cost money. I don’t think I deserve money more than other people. I think Noah is better at earning it than average. That’s not about “deserving”. It just is.

But I think if you have a product to sell and people want to buy it there isn’t shame in selling your product. I think that demanding that people give something away just because you want to have it and don’t want to pay for it… that’s… that’s a special kind of entitlement.

But this is how rich people always justify keeping poor people down, right?

The thing is: when you are talking about authors not deserving to be paid for their books… mostly you aren’t talking about folks like Noah who write as their second lower-paying-job. I have many women of color in my life who write books. They pay their rent with the proceeds. My stance may seem “convenient” because it is protecting Noah but I’m a lot more concerned with the women who have kids and no other income. They need god damn protection.

I practically give my books away. I charge very little. I’m not selling books to make money. I will cheerfully give a free copy of my books to anyone who asks. I’m not trying to support a family I’m trying to get information out into the ether. Different approach. One I’m perfectly entitled to take if I want to take it.

But no one has the right to demand it of me.

Demanding that I give up my financial security so you can have a little knowledge is… not a fair trade. Saying that someone else should go massively into debt paying for college so they can learn things and then write books for free so that you don’t have to incur debt for the knowledge… that’s a special kind of entitled.

I don’t think I am entitled to other people doing work for me for free. Hell, I think I can pay people buckets of money and still not get them to actually work in a way that is helpful. (Hello medical profession.) And I don’t think this attitude is because I have money in the bank. I had a much larger chip on my shoulder about people giving me things when I had just about no money in the bank.

If you want to find a music teacher and offer to trade cooking meals for classes… that’s great. If you want to find an ice skating coach willing to trade for produce you grow in your yard, awesome.

I don’t think that money is the only valid unit of transaction for “paying” for services. I really don’t. I think trades are totally valuable and worthy. However when you say “books should be free” you aren’t offering to trade for the knowledge. You just want to steal it. And I have no respect for that.

People do not respect things they get for free. If you are able to demand a completely free education (oh wait–one is already available) then you place no value on it. (See recent uptick in home schooling demographics. We don’t appreciate that which we can get for free. Instead we want to reinvent the wheel and do it ALL OUR SELVES which makes it harder and… more valuable.)

I’m not trying to say that all home schooling people expect the community to hand over stuff for free. I’m not saying that wanting free resources is bad. (I think wanting a free public education system and a free library system is basically a healthy set of goals for a society.) I think saying that authors should write for free is crap. What a user. (Either that or you are saying that the government should be subsidizing authors the same way it subsidizes the library and public schools and… that’s a bad idea too.)

There are just as many users in the public system as there are out of it. I don’t think this woman is the only example of entitlement. I’m just being a ranty-pants today.

I haven’t said much that was mean about anybody in a while. I get a backlog of “want to be mean” feelings. I think it is a little funny that my “want to be mean” feelings are now saved up for ranting about how unjust it is that people want free books. That is what I’m getting my panties all in a twist about?

Are you going to tell Toni Morrison that her books should be free? Are you going to tell bell hooks she doesn’t deserve to be paid for her writing?

Oh man. I’m sure they would be better at telling you what is wrong with your position. Much more articulate than me.

I write for free. I’m not saying that authors should never write for free. I am saying readers do not have the right to decide whether or not authors should get paid. I think the author should be allowed to gate keep how much money their writing is worth. If I want to write for free, whatever. If Noah wants to write for pay, it isn’t ok to steal from him.

But would I shoot someone who wanted to steal a copy of his book? That’s where these property-rights come up. Are you willing to shoot someone to defend your stuff? How much force is appropriate to defend your right to “stuff”? I don’t own a gun and I wouldn’t shoot someone to defend my stuff. If someone walked into my house and stole my wedding ring set (by far the single most expensive thing I own) I would not think it was worth killing someone to protect.

I don’t think that people who steal books should go to jail.

I think life is very complicated. I think that people who steal books should be forced to have a full time job in a library so they can be surrounded by books full time and get past the feeling that they must be stolen to be enjoyed.

If what you want is an education, there are many ways to get one for free. Why are you saying books should be free when so many websites want to give you the information for free? All you have to do is look at the blinding ads.

I think my desire to have a friend who wants to talk to me every single day is much like the desire that other people have for free books. If it requires work from someone else you can’t just decide that you want it. Well, you can want it. But you can’t decide that someone else has to provide it. I want a relationship that is close enough that someone wants to speak to me every day. But I can’t demand it. That doesn’t work. You can’t demand that authors give their work away for free. They will stop writing and go find a different job that will provide them with money so they can eat.

There is no deserve in this life. You don’t deserve books. I don’t deserve friends who want to interact with me in the ways I want to be interacted with. I get what people have to give. You get the free books people want to give away as free. You can’t just pick which ones will be free.

Mostly I’m procrastinating. I can’t submit the book anywhere until I can come up with a biography. “Krissy is a stupid bitch who should die” is probably not going to sell copies.

I feel like a mean nasty bitch who should never speak to anyone again. I want to hurt myself so badly.

Oh, didn’t have 8 hours of babysitting yesterday. Second babysitter called and said, “Uhm my phone says I shouldn’t drive anywhere… can we reschedule?” I’m flexible. Even though I’m not really flexible and I have explosions of negative feelings.

My stomach hurts and I feel sad. I feel mean and nasty and like I don’t deserve love at all. I don’t deserve love any more than she deserves free fucking books.

For the record: I’m not sure that I’m “right” and she’s “wrong” on this topic. I’m just babbling.

4 thoughts on “Feel like I’m fucking up everywhere

  1. Noah Gibbs

    Part of “money isn’t important” is that you *could* come up with a different way to distribute stuff (food, books, buildings, all of it.) But whatever kind of “pull” allowed you to get stuff, we would think of that kind of pull as being basically money. Which it would be. World War 2 ration cards? Effectively, they’re money. Because they let you get stuff you want in return, and that’s what money does. As a result, you could exchange them for money and vice-versa, just like with dollars and euros.

    So she can only argue “money’s not important” if she’s arguing “who gets what stuff” isn’t important. There are folks who argue that — I immediately think of Zen monks, but they’re not the only ones. But she’s clearly *not* arguing that. She just wants stuff distributed differently.

    Which is fair. But it’s not really “money isn’t important.” It’s “I don’t like the current rules of money and there should be different ones.”

    BitCoin is a different way of envisioning how money moves around. So is barter. So is making prostitution legal or illegal. So is making tuition free at state universities but having the government pay for what the school needs. So is Canadian-style “you can grow marijuana but not buy it legally” or Pennsylvania-style “you can buy alcohol but only from the government in special stores.” So is Burning Man.

    It is 200% okay to come up with different visions of how money should move around and how stuff should be distributed.

    But *man* is that not the same thing as “money isn’t important.”

    Reply
  2. inflectionpoint

    Wow. Most of the people I know who talk about how money shouldn’t matter (when trying to get me to do stuff for free) have never been even near what I’d call poor.

    I don’t think you’re being unkind or unjust or anything here, and wow. Just wow. It is really messed up for someone to expect another person to work for free. But it happens all the time.

    I got into my epic on line fight of the year, when I refused to spend time and energy educating a Well Meaning Man – on demand, to his satisfaction, and without any consideration for the things I’d already planned to do with my time. Because for him, I am supposed to perform educational work for free, so he can claim to be “just trying to learn.” Nope. Diversity education is also work, and like you said, people devalue work done for free.

    Reply

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