If you’re read my book already (and if you haven’t, why not? It’s only 99p on kindle for a limited period
) (also you’ve had 4947 free blogs, so YOU OWE ME) then you’ll know I’ve decided to try and actually encourage people to celebrate International Men’s Day, in the hope that that will spread the word and make it less likely for people to ask when it is on International Women’s Day (which is now all I want to achieve with the rest of my life).
So I put a request out on Twitter, whilst posting pictures of my new dad Michael Palin and also my old dad Keith Herring, for everyone to celebrate a man in their life and what happened was actually pretty wonderful and confusing. Social media became something positive, like we were in 2010 or something. I tried to RT everyone, even if I didn’t agree with their choice (forcing me to RT tributes to Stewart Lee, which was not an easy thing to do) and asked that people didn’t take issue, or point out where that choice had actually let people down. None of us are perfect, all of us have made mistakes and all we can do is try and become better people. So if someone means something to someone else, just for this day, I hoped others wouldn’t be critical (and largely they weren’t). Because injecting negativity into something positive is actually the same energy as asking “When’s International Men’s Day?” on International Women’s Day.
There were plenty of funny and goofy tributes, but loads of properly moving ones, with loving celebrations of fathers and grandfathers and brothers and sons, many of whom were no longer with us. I won’t pick out any here, but you can see them in my timeline at @Herring1967 on Twitter. It was a reminder that most men are doing their best and are loved and respected (and forgiven) by those close to them. Men have had a bad press and it’s not wholly undeserved, but as my book also points out we’re a weird mixture of fragility and over-confident bluster and I think many of us just need to feel like we’re liked or appreciated. It’s good to be reminded that we are. Or that we can be. If we stop being arseholes.
It was so much nicer for me than International Women’s Day to be spreading something positive rather than slightly passive-aggressive. And I also attempted to reach out to some of the straggling dissenters and treat them with kindness, rather than heckle putdowns. One guy was being unpleasant to a woman who’d tweeted something positive, for no real apparent reason. She was doing a good job of telling him to fuck off and she obviously didn’t care about his weird nonsense. I wondered if I could reach to him with kindness and ask him why he was behaving like this, telling him that it was clear that he needed to talk about whatever had made him behave this way. I also told him I didn’t believe he thought this was the real him. To be fair to him, he stayed pretty solidly on the side of being monosyllabically angry, but I said he could get back in touch if he ever wanted to chat it over. The thing is that you aren’t looking like a winner when you behave like this. It’s like wearing a badge proclaiming that something has hurt you, but that you aren’t prepared to examine what. Preferring to lash out and hope that causing pain to others will make it better.
He wasn’t even doing that very well though.
I tried. We’ll see. Maybe some of it got through.
More satisfyingly a guy who has spent quite a lot of his time over the last few years being critical of what I have been doing on International Women’s Day tweeted to say he hadn’t liked me in the past, but appreciated what I was doing today. We’d met a little bit in the middle. People make assumptions about my motivations (let’s face it making assumptions and sticking to them is what drives at least 75% of social media) so it’s good to see that hearts and minds can be changed. Mine included.
This was a much more productive use of my time than March 8th. Though I needed to do all those March 8ths for this to mean anything. Not in charity terms, (though people still donated over £1000 to Movember over the course of the day) but in having a nice time terms. Making people feel good is a better tool of persuasion than making them feel bad. It’s obvious really, isn’t it? Empathy and reaching out to those who oppose you might not always work, but it will work more than getting angry and increasing the hate and the pain.
I think this is what Jesus was struggling to say in his books, though clearly he never really nailed it (no pun intended - sorry that looks a bit insensitive in hindsight).
But did any of them get into the top 20 of the kindle store, like mine did today?
Not at the time and that’s all that counts.
I also found time to record another Writers’ room sketch for Twitch of Fun (which will be on Friday night this week) and drive to London to talk to lovely Rich Wilson (I don’t believe it- not that one as it turned out) about my book. I missed Taskmaster. Which was good because it was one of my worst ones. Though I can’t wait to see Daisy scaring me to death by losing her shit over me failing to identify her terrible drawing of a hippo and me remaining calm in the face of her refusing to try to identify my relatively accurate picture of a kangaroo.
Only four more shows to go and I think I’m 8 points adrift of the lead now. Is my Taskmaster dream over?