I am a person completely unsuited to Ukrainian politics. This might come off as strange, given the Mortal Kombat levels of violence that characterize Ukrainian parliamentary process, but being a politician – or even worse, a government official, which is unfortunately still a political position – requires some basic level of self-control and decency, even in Ukraine. You can be as violent as you want on camera (newly-minted MPs are particularly eager to break established Rada fight protocol), but off-air you keep your cool, you ignore inconvenient questions and, most often, you end up drinking with the same guy you’ve just been trying to strangle with his necktie.
Ignoring inconvenient questions is possibly a politician’s greatest art. It is also my weakest point yet, and the reason why I am completely unsuited to politics. Consider this: A person writes a Facebook post about President Poroshenko and his chocolate factory. An ordinary person would shrug, or possibly make a snide comment about the chocolate factory in question (the one in Lipetsk, which works kind of on and off at the moment). A Poroshenko supporter would make a snide comment about the aforementioned person’s stupidity. I am pretty certain a lot of people at the President’s Office are on Facebook, and it’s a safe bet they’ll ignore the post.
Not me, though. The Bankova has yet to pay me a single Lazy Cow for all my hard work defending Poroshenko on the Internet, and I most assuredly do not work there (I also do not work at the Cabinet offices or the Kyiv mayor’s office, for that matter), yet, upon seeing a post like that, my first reaction is to fly into a murderous rage.
I am not thinking ‘hey, what a stupid and uninformed person, surely he knows not of blind trusts or the difficulties of selling a property in Russia or Ukraine, or maybe he’s just spin doctoring public opinion’, like reasonable people should. Instead, I’m thinking along the lines of ‘RIP TEAR MURDER MURDER MURDER‘. This is NOT a healthy way to behave yourself over a Facebook post. This is NOT a healthy way to behave yourself, period.
Now, I am a difficult person. I’ve most assuredly got an abrasive personality and little patience for people and questions I perceive as stupid. My favorite Internet self-defence tactic in the last two years is to tell the offending person to go get pissed. This is an intentionally incorrect translation. This helps me save my nerves for when I burn them in clumps experiencing MAIM KILL BURN emotions over some Facebook post or other. But this isn’t healthy. This isn’t right, even.
My maxim, for the past year, was an almost Ancient Greek notion of ‘that you aren’t interested in politics doesn’t mean the politics aren’t interested in you’. But if I react that way to every random word about the goddamned chocolate factory (or Yatsenyuk’s first billion, or snide insinuations about Klitschko, these are always popular), it is clear that I am not suited to politics. Period.
I had enough trouble when I used to get into fights about stuff like giant robots or space fighters on my LiveJournal blog. Geek stuff. I burned through more of my nerves in the past two years than I did in the preceding three, spent almost entirely on debating geek stuff. There is little wonder my LJ all but fizzled out in the last half a year: I spend too much of my energy on politics to employ it otherwise.
What’s even worse, every joule of that energy is spent in vain. I’ve never been much for aggressively hounding followers the way many Twitter accounts (such as the infamous no-cheques-allowed Ledokoin Hetmana) and Facebook opinion leaders did. Conversely, this makes it insanely hard for me and my complaints to get noticed by said opinion leaders. The fact that I got banned on Facebook five times in a row doesn’t really help matters. Everything I write? Goes absolutely unnoticed no matter how I scream my head off about it. The only time people actively reposted and even QUOTED me was back during the Bershidskygate post. If I’m correct the only thing it led to was Bershidsky banning me on Twitter.
Which brings me to the last, and most important, point: the continued existence of this blog. The problem is that The Ukraine Today is a blog with most of its content being aimed at Western journalists and their idiocy re: Ukraine… yet no Western journalists read it at all. In fact, not many Westerners do. The third-largest number of page views in the blog comes from the USA… right after Ukraine and Russia.
An English-language blog… read by Ukrainians. Glorious.
The kicker? All the while that I write all these posts ridiculing the cliches and mistakes Western journalists make while writing about Ukraine, Western journalists continue with business as usual. Euromaidan Press refuses to consider reposting my article about Rada MP Ihor Lutsenko and his millions of unexplained nature, while one of its editors tweets about Ukraine being a ‘failed state’, ‘Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk’s continued graft’ and, of course, ‘fighting corruption’ (and what a buzzword that is!). He also used to write, in April 2014, how Ukraine was supposed to blow up the Belarusian gas pipeline and FLATTEN BELGOROD.
Obviously a post making light of an anti-corruption activist’s unexplained funds would be against the party line. It is a wonder Euromaidan Press reposted my Bershidsky rant or the article about reform-shaming the Rada at all.
Is there even a point for me to go on fighting these particular windmills? I don’t think so. You can explain all you want how legislative power in Ukraine is vested in the parliament, not the president; or how Poland took fifteen years to go from bankrupt post-communist hellhole to EU member, yet Ukraine is expected to do the same in just two; or how Ukrainian anti-corruption activists have been ‘fighting’ corruption since at least 2001, when Kuchma was around, and yet corruption is still there, because it’s much easier to talk about fighting it than actually fighting it; no matter how much time you take and how many words and swearwords you use, you can’t convince anybody over the Internet. In fact, I suspect that you can’t convince anyone, period. If a person believes something, they’ll keep right on believing it no matter how many valid points you present. What is the point, then?
Because frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time than keep on with this one-sided struggle. Things like catching up on my writing, breathing life back into my LJ, finishing my master’s thesis, all sorts of stuff. Stuff that doesn’t include shouting into a fucking wall and getting precisely nothing in return.
I learned the lesson of not arguing with Russians, back in 2014. Because I’m, apparently, young and naive and always want everything to be fine (despite my abrasive personality), I had to learn that particular lesson the hard way.
Maybe it is time I learned the lesson of not arguing with Western journalists or Ukrainian opinion leaders.
Russian vatniks at least pretended to listen to me.