My strange and eccentric roommate left me for Europe for a couple of months, so I didn’t have anyone to get into trouble with last night. He did, however, leave a copy of All the Sad Young Literary Men in his place, so I spent my Friday night vicariously hanging out with him through his taste in literature and remembering how to read.

It’s a book by Keith Gessen, the founder and editor of the literary journal n+1, and it follows him and two friends from their undergrad to their early thirties as they struggle to become writers and members of the literati (as I once did). Some make it, and some don’t. Anyways, by page 149, Keith is 27 (my age now), and he’s feeling very much about life as I do today:

I wasn’t a member of anything. I was a man in my late twenties who had accomplished next to nothing, had loved, properly, no one, and who was driving a car around a city in whose suburbs he’d grown up, but shich remained to him, as he to it, a stranger

I grew up in Montreal, and lived here most of my life, but I never really felt like I fit in. I’m from a burrough where a guy was beat into a coma by 10 teenagers last night, bounced through four high schools, was kicked out of CEGEP (it’s like community college), and finally graduated from a university where the vast majority of students are not Montrealers and so never really fit in.

Now I’m pursuing a career in marketing communications and it was recently brought to my attention that I’ve pretty much become the blacksheep of the Montreal social media community. It’s probably because I’ve done things like trash-talked peers, worked for Montreal’s most unpopular start-up, and post videos of my drunken and disorderly conduct.

To tell you the truth, though, being a blacksheep doesn’t really phase me . For starters, I’m kind of used to it. More to the point, however, I’m good enough at what I do that I don’t really worry about writing blog posts and joining in circles jerks to try and prove it to anyone else. Basically, I’ve made peace with who I am.

You see, I used to blog social commentary as the Bourbon Hipster, and this one time I called Ed Lee a slime ball (post now offline) and, in turn, he outed me until he edited that note at my request.

The thing was, however, was that when i called him a slime ball, as much as he took offense, I was including myself in that very category too — kind of like how a black guy will drop the N-Bomb. ‘Cause as much as I sneer at the type of work that a guy like Ed does, I do very much of the same thing, and I do it well. I’ve deployed smear campaigns to diffuse lawsuits, I’ve tinkered with the front page of what consumers believe to be an objective gage of what’s relevant (Google), and I’ve saturated the marketplace with so much positive spin that its negative counterpart was either outright lost or seemed anecdotal at best.

At best, I’m a bit of a social outlaw, and I know it because every time I tell educated people at parties what I do for a living, they cringe, sneer, and/or spend the rest of the night trying to avoid me. After all, I might be propping up a system that’s better at employing and feeding everyone than any other thus far, but it does so at the expense of the planet and self-esteem of younger generations.

If I lack integrity on some fundamentally idealistic level, though, at least I don’t lack it on a personal one. As Bob Dylan said, ” to live outside the law, you must be honest,” and honest (or at least transparent) is what I try to be (at least with other individuals).

Granted, transparency doesn’t always get to you to the best of places. Take Socrates, for instance: all it got him was into the history books — which is kind of cool, but cool isn’t exactly the same thing as happy. After all, ignorance is bliss, so you can’t really have your cake and eat it to.

So I’m guessing that if anything has tended me toward being the blacksheep of any community, it’s that my example reminds people that we’re all kind of full of shit. As momentary as that reminder might be, it’s enough to burst bubbles, and that kind of outcome tends to piss people off. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve made my bed, and not only am I going to try and sleep in it, but I’m going to do my darndest to lure in another warm body to snuggle up with during those dark, lonely, and desperate hours of the night.


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