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How Do You Get Kicked Out of Leather-Therapy?

February 26, 2016

So I stumbled into a “safe space” the other day. It was a Facebook page involving leather. People would post their work or questions about leather-working.

One day, I opened the browser to a weird screed. A woman accused the community of hurting her daughter’s feelings because of comments made when, a week before, she had posted a photo of a bent tool.

She’d claimed to have been using only mallets. It was a stamp, and it was bent at about a 15 degree angle — scromped, as my high school metalsmith teacher, Mr. Church, would say. I vaguely remember her asking if there might be a way to fix it. Well somewhere down the line, I guess, some comments were made that insinuated someone who used a metal hammer on a stamp might be a bit dim.

This I only surmise due to the post that currently captured my attention where the same woman said that they had hurt a child’s feeling with their comments, that her daughter had made a guitar strap and accidentally bent the tool, and now here was a photo of that beautiful guitar strap the daughter was almost discouraged from surprising her with because of their horrible, mean internet comments.

I ended up getting kicked out of the group.

In the thread beneath the photo, there were many apologies that something so terrible had happened until I posted something like, “I don’t understand why a child was hurt by internet comments. Like, it doesn’t make sense. When I was a kid, we didn’t have the internet to call us stupid, but to make up for that we had our dads. Seriously, get a grip. You need to teach your kid to ignore comments from strangers on the internet.”

I have to paraphrase because I don’t have access anymore and didn’t take a screencap. The moment I thought to take one, I noticed my access was gone.

Some woman in the thread who had friend-requested me, maybe a week before, was now telling me that “Get a grip,” is hate-speech or something. I didn’t understand who she was when I received her request, really, then ignored it, as we had no mutual friends, then was reminded of it as she “warned” me about what I was saying. I ignored her admonishments in much the same fashion as her friend request and continued to express astonishment that the child’s feelings could be hurt through their mother’s facebook account until someone explained that some parents let their children look at the page to learn about leather.

That group was weird anyway. The group owner took it super seriously and was recovering from some sort of head trauma, and loved leather-working as a sort of therapy and clearly the group meant a lot to her. She was always posting to ask what the group wanted, seemingly worried if she was doing a good job or not. “Like, no one’s paying you. It’s fine,” I wanted to say. It seemed odd to me that some weirdo was hurling all these accusations after posting something people were joking around about. She had no sense of humor. Or else I missed out on some stuff that, given the group’s apparent sensitivity, and the unintended damage of their comments, was tantamount to child abuse.

I kind of bet the woman (if she was a woman — maybe a troll disguised as a woman) had bent the tool herself, set up her own little drama with a photo of a poorly-crafted guitar strap…

Nah. Even though that’s pretty much what anyone who’s throwing that much guilt is doing: just spreading their bullshit around, holding other people responsible for it, creating a drama. I really don’t get how your kid’s feelings are getting hurt looking at a forum that says bending a stamp with a metal hammer is stupid. But guess what? It is stupid. There’s no reason to ruin equipment that way. It ain’t cheap. And sure, mistakes are how we learn, but my goodness. The luxury that kid feels to just grab the tools and try something and not get in trouble for using stuff that doesn’t belong to her without asking — that’s good-fortune for her in and of itself in a way. I love to see a child, a girl child especially, feel like she can go grab some tools and try something.

Is that a spirit a couple internet commenters can get down? Only if you let them! Do we have to start teaching defensive thinking? I just don’t understand how people can be so soft, so weak and sad, as to take personally what strangers say in passing, likely joking, about someone being a little on the dumb side for bending a tool. Most of the comments I saw were people saying that had happened to them, that some stamps were junk, and just generally being supportive. So yeah, “get a grip” is fucking right. This kind of coddling is what’s wrong with people more and more these days. We can’t get our heads out of our asses to imagine anyone else’s circumstances. We feel wronged and slighted on an individual level, but we’re too lazy to vote, or to imagine what it’s like to be discriminated against, or see beyond the bright object we gouge at with our thumbs.

To not take any personal responsibility for having made the post and given the child access to it or parlayed the information contained therein was astonishing to me. I seriously don’t get why anyone would let someone with a chip on their shoulder in that way dictate that we cater to their very specific sensitivities.

I have a condition called misophonia. If I hear chewing, lip smacking, or weird mouth sounds of any kind, I start to feel really squirrelly. I mitigate it the best I can, by using music to mute it or by putting a finger in one ear, moving away from the source of the noise or whatever I can because I really do suffer somehow when subjected to these sounds. It makes me upset and even angry, but I do not tell someone to stop doing what they are enjoying. I recognize that this is my problem. And with people close to me, I might make a request, but I’m not going to announce that a stranger is a tyrant for chewing near me or demand apologies. That’s making your problem everyone else’s.

To show an example of self-righteous anger as a reaction for your child to model, painting her as a victim in the same moment you show off her accomplishment is not going to do anything good for her. If, indeed, she is as sensitive as she was made out to be, and she continues to have access to the group, she’ll be sure to tune into how her victimization and accomplishments are all mixed up — and she can get the gentle praise of a group of strangers who, you’ve trained her to believe, matter.

There are people in the world really dealing with discrimination and abuse, kicked out of their homes for who they are, imprisoned because of the color of their skin, socked away in an asylum because the way they are is unpleasant for someone else. There are people out there who have been wronged by society, who are, every day suspect, according to a vocal, but (hopefully) diminishing majority. Indeed, there are plenty of children out there facing very real abuse. Not everything that isn’t glowing and effusive praise for your child is abusive or mean, especially when everyone had assumed, because in fact they were, that they were talking to an adult.

But from now on, I will keep my group therapy and my leather separate, thank you very much.

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