being unlikable

My browser home page  obligingly shows me articles it pulls in from mainstream cyberspace according to some method that could be considered creepy or helpful, depending on whether you enjoy having your mind read/shaped by…Google? Facebook? One algorithm to find and bind them all?

I try not to be seduced too often, but I admit it happens. So, today I clicked on an article about things that make you unlikable.

It was a pretty mild list. Granted, I too don’t particularly like people who brag, name-drop, gossip or don’t listen, behaviors the article encourages you to avoid because they make your work colleagues dislike you. Getting along and ahead at work is the goal, and to do so it is important to be likable; therefore, reduce behaviors that make you unlikable.

With that inspiration, I thought I would offer a list of some unlikable behaviors that activists dislike encountering in the course of their work lives (and deserve to be protected from):

 

  • Murder
  • Torture
  • Betrayal
  • Disappearing people
  • Harassment
  • Retaliatory firing
  • Discrimination
  • Divisiveness
  • Exploitation
  • Ostracism
  • Sowing confusion
  • Sowing division
  • Backstabbing
  • Road-blocking
  • Dissembling
  • Sidelining
  • Disrespect
  • Provocateurism
  • etc.*

* Since drafting this article I helped protect the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC as part of the Embassy Protection Collective. Among other takeaways from that experience is the opportunity to add to the list of unlikable behaviors directed towards activists, all of which we were subjected to by supporters of US military intervention and regime change in Venezuela when they surrounded the embassy and besieged us:

  • Death threats
  • Threats to family members
  • Blockading
  • Preventing people from getting food and other necessities
  • Subjecting people unsafe levels of noise-making
  • Shining strobe lights in people’s eyes 
  • Racist, sexist and otherwise dehumanizing taunting
  • Beating and threatening people’s friends and comrades
  • Taking advantage of police inaction and favoritism to conduct these and similar unlikable behaviors
  • Defamation and disinformation
  • Cutting people’s electricity and water
  • Depriving people of sleep
  • Threatening mob violence
mob outside venezuelan embassy
strobe attack

(left) Pro-coup crowd surrounding and blockading embassy night and day. (Above) Shining strobe lights in our eyes.

These and other serious anti-human behaviors cause you to seem unlikable. So don’t do them if you wish to fit in well with the beloved community of people working to make a fair, fun and human planet.

Simple as that.

Scoffing aside, wishing to be liked has benefits in terms of restraining unbridled greed, selfishness and other unlikable behaviors among humans. 

The problem is, the Beast does not care if we like it or not, nor do those who support it by engaging in behaviors such as those listed. Sure, they will do as much as possible to seem pleasant, good and right to people it feels it needs to ensure unrestricted access to wealth and power. However, if it considers you extraneous to these ends, i.e., if you are poor and marginalized, then expect a steady diet of unlikable behaviors.

And if you stand directly, deliberately, in its way, as say, activists are wont to do, then expect the gloves to come fully off.

What the Beast really likes is to make us dislike ourselves and one another. That’s why we need to be extremely careful about attacking our fellow activists. We need to remember that even if we dislike them, we need to take care to address differences in ways that help our movements, to avoid facilitating being divided and conquered.

On the other hand, we don’t care if the Beast likes us. Quite the contrary: if it likes us something’s wrong. Everyone enjoys a pleasant work environment full of people who like each other, but if you find yourself getting more perks and promotions, it might be time to wonder if you’re not too well liked, and at what cost.

 

FYI, here is a list of some behaviors capitalists and their minions, representatives of The Beast, dislike you to engage in:

  • Organizing
  • Unifying with rivals
  • Listening to others
  • Talking with others about how society really works
  • Especially others you are supposed to hate
  • Organizing for justice in your workplace
  • Organizing for justice anywhere
  • Thinking
  • Naming names, especially of polluters, exploiters and the politicians they purchase
  • Setting up collective protest encampments on public or private property
  • Setting up collective anythings anywhere
  • Organizing
  • Telling others about revolutions, social movements and alternatives to capitalism
  • Creating and participating in ditto
  • Whistleblowing
  • Speaking out
  • Speaking up
  • Organizing
  • Singing, especially at protests and in jail
  • Making irreverent art
  • Laughing at the Beast
  • Defying fear

 

 

FYI, here is a list of some behaviors capitalists and their minions, representatives of The Beast, dislike you to engage in:

This is not a complete list. Use the contact form below to send in additions. Put these items on your to-do lists!

But be aware that doing so may expose you to some of the unlikable behaviors set forth in the list at the top. Fortunately, you will be seen as highly likable, even beloved, by your FRCCs (Friends-Relatives-Comrades-Colleagues) in the activist community, and those who like them. So do things on the list in organized, thoughtful ways, not alone but shoulder to shoulder with others. You’ll like it!

But be prepared to be disliked by the Beast. Which is why it’s important to share as much info and thinking as possible about how to survive and thrive as a community while proudly occupying our places on the Beast’s sh*t list.

Share your anecdotes of Beast antipathy, how you incurred it, the consequences, how you and your community dealt with them, and what you learned.

 

-Article: Juliana Barnet.
-Artwork: original adaptation of an image from a psychology article I can’t find!
The tone of this piece is partly inspired by “Rape Prevention Tips” by Leigh Hofheimer of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, with thanks to comedian Sarah Silverman.
More about how I work with internet images and struggle to give credit where credit is due: [Credits page coming]

Our favorite fiction is full of police and superheroes. And activists?? Not so much. Let’s seek out stories with activists, the courageous first responders against injustice! And let’s look into why there aren’t more of them.

We’ll ask why activists–when they do appear–are so often shown as unappealing stereotypes, not real people.

Does this matter? If so, what can we do about it?

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