The Temporary Embarrassment of Changing Your Mind on the Internet (Or: A Preemptive Apology for When People Get Mad Online at Me)

One of the worst sins you can commit on the internet is changing your mind.

It’s common practice on Twitter (and maybe elsewhere) to screenshot a person’s tweets from years ago and post it next to a screenshot of a recent tweet espousing the opposite belief – usually with the caption “life comes at you fast.”

One day I plan on writing things again – things that will likely be controversial and might provoke a wave of people who are Mad Online looking to defame me. I’ll beat them to it. Here’s a list of problematic beliefs I held and things I did, and a preemptive apology for all of it:

1. I was extremely conservative as a youth. I already wrote about this extensively so there’s nothing new to mention.

2. I emailed a bad person for advice before I knew they were a bad person. I watched them do a series of interviews and they seemed really well-read and knowledgable. I emailed them asking how to be more like them. A while later I’d find out some unsavory things about them – I’d also see them espouse…questionable opinions. Damn. I legitimately feel bad about this one and I should’ve known better. Sorry.

3. I was anti-public school as recently as 2013. I even wrote a really terrible eBook condemning public school in the form of a fictional personal narrative. This is a long-ish story that I’ll try to summarize:

In late spring 2013 I was on the verge of suicide. I had less than $100 in my bank account and I was going nowhere in life.

I watched a cliched YouTube video: The one of Neil Gaiman saying to ‘make good art’ in times of trouble (commencement speeches are actually bullshit). My interpretation of ‘good art’ back then was a poorly written, hastily scrawled out ‘novella’ full of awful typos. I wrote the ‘book’ throughout the summer and fall instead of killing myself. In early November 2013 I sent it to the publisher (who I’d later denounce due to them actively and unapologetically promoting anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech. This is also why I’m not linking to the book; I don’t want them making money). It got published in January 2014. That summer a relative began teaching in the NYC public school system and they taught me what was what. This is arguably my most controversial past belief. This ‘book’ is easily my biggest regret in life. It was poorly done, poorly thought out, poorly written. I can’t shit on it enough.

I know changing your opinions when you learn new things is (for some reason) very controversial, so I’ll apologize: I’m sorry. By that point in life I should’ve known better but I didn’t. I know people will probably still crucify me over this particular issue. Oh well.

4. I was rich for about four years. I know being “secretly rich” can be used to discredit people and I understand why. Wealth is a substitute for talent most of the time. And when it’s not a direct substitute for it, it at least allows for talent to grow and thrive; every industry worth being in is pay to play.

Most of my life my family didn’t have a lot. Some of my first memories are of going to the day old bread store with my mom. Sometimes she’d buy me a Hostess fruit pie. I hated the taste but I loved that they came with a little Batman comic.

In middle school things were very difficult. I was even made fun of for wearing shitty, off-brand clothing (I remember the kids who had T-Mac 2s making fun of me for wearing garbage sneakers I got from Marshall’s and for occasionally cutting jeans into a pair of jorts). But by high school my family was doing well. I didn’t have to get a job at 16 like a lot of kids. I worked at McDonald’s for a time in high school because I felt guilty not doing it. I quit eventually and didn’t work throughout most of junior year and all of senior year.

Then the ‘Great Recession’ hit in my first year of college and I’m sure you can figure out how it went! I worked at a Target, then a call center, then a dozen other shitty jobs, then a doctor’s office.

I had to work two jobs to afford an unpaid internship (while still paying student loans). I was fortunate that I lived only an hour or two from NYC, meaning I could intern while still living at home. People who live outside of the tristate area are not so lucky; how could they possibly break in without having the money to move into NYC – and then not get paid!?

My brief period of wealth didn’t enable me to ascend into a higher social strata via attending a pricey school (I went to community college for the first two years and then a local college nobody outside Long Island has heard of because I couldn’t afford anywhere better) or through networking with social “betters.” But it did allow me to have certain material comforts that many people never get to experience.  For that I’m grateful. And experiencing both affluence and poverty helped give shape to my current political beliefs.

5. In 2014 I wrote that college was “the worst decision a young American can make.” In retrospect that’s probably not true.

So, yeah, sorry for all this!