At arm's length is a legal term derived from a common phrase. Basically what it means is that you're far enough away to not be biased, so your involvement in something is not coloured. If you were a judge presiding over a case, and the defendant was your cousin, you would not be at arm's length. Either you would be biased for the person because they're a relative, or you might be biased against them because you hate your relative. The fact is, your opinion would be coloured by personal knowledge and/or personal interest.
This term is an important one, particularly when it comes to the media. I just got a request in my inbox to sign a petition to keep the Canadian government from being able to dictate bargaining agreements with CBC. CBC stands for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They're our national radio and television broadcaster. It's a crown corporation, which means that it is officially owned by the government. It's meant to be completely separate and independent of the government's political control. Suddenly the party in power wants to have the ability to control bargaining agreements. Hmm. Sounds to me like they want to start having financial control in order to be able to control the media. Maybe that's a paranoid way of thinking, but with everything that's going on with corporate media in the U. S. I don't think I want to take that chance.
I signed the petition, of course. Canadians are generally proud of their media. It is strictly regulated. There are no guarantees that we will always get the truth from our news, but the fact is there are penalties for lying about the news or fabricating it. It's commonly believed that Fox News was banned from Canada, but it was not. That's an urban myth. However, it apparently took them some time to be allowed to broadcast here, and they are now subject to the same guidelines for broadcasting in Canada as every other news outlet is. I've had to file complaints with television stations who were broadcasting false statements, so I know it happens, but I think on the whole things are pretty good here. They just need to learn to use the word 'allegedly' a bit more often. Mistakes get made, but there should be an instantaneous retraction, correction and apology given, the moment they are discovered.
There are plenty of horrifying truths out there to keep our news outlets busy 24/7, without resorting to fabrication. I don't leave my apartment very often, and I see enough newsworthy items just within my own sphere of interest to keep me busy every single day for a full twelve hours or so. Some of those things I write about. I mean, if someone wants to be well-informed, there are plenty of ways to do it. I could have hundreds of e-mails from various places if I signed up for them, and everything I look at these days is pretty damn eye-popping, so there's just no excuse for fabrication.
One of the things I've been seeing a lot of lately is this ridiculous trend going around where guys complain about being 'friendzoned'. Um, what? You're bitching because you have a friend? Someone actually likes you enough to consider you an important part of their lives, and you're complaining about it? Why? Oh, because she won't sleep with you. Because, as a man, if you're nice to a woman, then she by rights is required to sleep with you. Yeah, you keep telling yourself that ya big stud! There are a lot of women who get stuck being considered a friend, or something like a little sister, or even a mother. You don't hear them talking about how nice they are so they deserve a little bit of sex for their efforts.
Never mind the fact that just being friends with someone right now does not preclude the relationship becoming something more in the future - unless of course your sense of entitlement lands your ass in the don't-talk-to-me-again-zone. If you truly care about someone, then their friendship will be important to you, and maybe one day that friendship could turn into something else. Even if it doesn't, hey, you've got yourself a friend, and that's something not everyone has. If you're interested only because you want to get laid, don't worry. Pretty soon she'll figure that out for herself and you'll no longer have to worry about being called a friend. You'll be relegated to, "Somebody that I used to know," or maybe even, "Some asshole who only wanted to get laid and was pretending to be my friend."
I've had male friends that later became something much more. I married one of them, in fact. My first husband was my best friend for two years before we got together romantically. That whole time he had a crush on me. I knew about it, but I was seeing someone else. When that relationship didn't work out, I turned to him - not during the doomed relationship, either. He was my friend, I loved him, and I figured he would be the last guy who would ever hurt me because he'd loved me for so long. I was wrong about that last part, but it seemed logical to me at the time. It probably would have been logical if he'd been sane, but for some reason I was young & stupid enough that I let the warning signs slip right past my internal radar for wacky behaviour.
I can only think of one guy where I might actually have been friendzoned against my personal wishes. Usually the men I've been interested in have also been interested in me. That's okay, though. I mean, if it's truly an emotional thing where you fall in love with someone who doesn't feel that way about you, then you might have to walk away from the friendship because it gets painful - especially if they start seeing someone else. We're not all selfless enough to be able to simply wish for their happiness.
Still, I hate to think of friendship as being that selfish. If you do really care about someone you want them to be happy, even when it's not with you. Eventually you'll get past it. Chances are, though, if the person is in a relationship with someone else, you'll find that they barely talk to you anymore anyway. I mean, the person who's with them is instinctively going to know what your interest level is, and so will your friend, so hang-outs might become a thing of the past based on their relationship needs. Those scenarios are uncomfortable for everyone.
Sometimes the friendzone happens because the object of your unrequited love is not personally ready for anything more than friendship. I've been single for five years. I know what I'm talking about. For the first few years of that I really wasn't ready for anything even close to a relationship. Thinking about the potential drama and conflicts and compromises just exhausted me. I was experiencing relationship burn-out I guess. If you could've seen what my relationship with my ex was like, you'd know why. We fought every single day, and I'm talking about me being screamed at and having him call me nasty names that had no bearing on what we were arguing about. When people don't have the vocabulary to express themselves, they tend to resort to those sorts of tactics.
After you've been called a c*nt a certain number of times, though, it loses its power to offend. I mostly remember how I tensed up the second I heard the car pull up, and how that tension increased exponentially when I heard the key in the door. I knew that there would be at least one thing I had or hadn't done that day that would supposedly be the trigger for rage. I knew that something in the house was going to get broken, and I knew how much I was going to resent the fact that the things I'd worked so hard to pay for were going to be destroyed. Things I'd wasted a portion of my life working to pay for, I should say, because that's what it is. You give part of your life to make money to buy things. When someone cares so little about your efforts that they arbitrarily destroy things, it hurts, because you know it means they don't care about your time, which is the same thing about not caring about the life you spent.
Thankfully, that's one person who has been friendzoned now. Oddly, he's been a great friend who has been there for me, and as I've said before we've been friends about the same length of time that we were more than friends. There's nothing wrong with the friendzone. It's a sign that someone cares about you, even if they did throw dishes and shatter the patio door one time.
Speaking of patio doors, my daughter and I were clearing off the balcony the other night, and while I was standing in the balcony door I slipped and fell. I managed to jam one of my finger, among other minor injuries, but other than that I was okay. My daughter was a bit worried that I'd hurt myself, but I was laughing and joking. It's what I usually do when I start klutzing and end up hurting myself. I was listing off the injuries as I became aware of them, and cracking jokes, and she was shaking her head because of me laughing at it. She couldn't believe I was talking about getting hurt and thought it was funny.
Well, hell, it is funny. Especially with me. I do stuff like that all the time. I used to work with a girl who fell down the stairs all the time. Seriously. She wasn't getting beat up by her husband. She just had this weird, involuntary habit, I guess, and she used to joke about it all the time. I laughed and cracked a whole slew of jokes about my skydiving accident, and again after I tore the ligaments in my ankle (doing nothing more dangerous than walking). What are you going to do, though? You can cry if you want to, but even injuries can be a bit like an adventure. I did the same if my car broke down, run out of gas, or I couldn't start it because it was too cold outside. It brings something new and unexpected to your life. It might not be the best thing to have happen, but once it happens there's nothing you can do about it. "Roaming the halls, weeping," as Zachary Quinto's Spock would say, would be of no help at all. I choose to think of it as an adventure.
The sad truth is, I don't go looking for adventure. I probably should, since I seem to enjoy it when it happens, but I don't. It's only when things truly matter to me that I bother. Writing since last July has been an adventure for me. I've gone in directions I never thought I would, and learned about things I didn't know were possible. I learned things about myself, too, and I have every expectation that I will continue to do so. Another thing that happens with my writing, since I write a lot of fact-based stuff, is that I find my mind opening more and more. I have to research my pieces, even when they're based on something I strongly believe in. Most times when I do research I learn things. It isn't just fact-checking, and sometimes I'll learn that I might have been wrong in the rigidity of my beliefs. I guess you could say I know the grey areas a little bit better by the time I've written a piece.
I've had this conversation with a good friend of mine a few times now. I tend to gravitate toward extremes when it comes to my opinions, so I try very hard to temper those extremes. He tells me, and I know he's right about it in most things, that the answers don't lie in the extremes. We talk a bit about the current state of U. S. politics, although we don't really discuss specifics, and he's said a few times that both sides are starting to sound like nuts. You've got extremists for gun control on both sides of the debate, and extremists for both sides of the economy debate. Neither of them holds the answer, but as long as they stick to their extremes nothing will be resolved. We need to start loving the colour grey if we're ever going to get anywhere, and I'm not referring to E. L. James' fifty shades of it, either. Then again, that might help!