Jack Dawkins, 2007
(This is just, oh, typical Jack-style ranting about an old bugbear of mine. This isn’t written to be accusatory or nasty – it just details some experiences we’ve had. If any of you have found yourselves doing this to any plural groups, take this as my opinion on that sort of treatment, not I HAET U 4EVER.)
Some people who knew us before – not everyone, mind you – really have odd ideas about us. Not about our system structure or origins, but about us as individuals. Some people, unfortunately, seem to pick favourites, and we do not like it one bit. There are two sorts of favouritism we’ve noticed, actually. There is the sort of favouritism in which everyone except the ‘designated old friend’ is completely ignored, and there is the sort of favouritism in which certain members of the group are automatically perceived as more reasonable (or intelligent, or trustworthy, or co-operative) than others, even though no people have given off any signals of being untrustworthy. (Sometimes both sorts of favouritism come hand in hand, too.)
It is really very tiresome when you are never the ‘designated old friend’ in a plural group. I have never been in that role, ever. We’ve been in, erm, some situations in which we came out to particular singlets, and these singlets never showed the slightest interest in anyone in the group besides the person who used the name of the ‘singlet identity’, assuming that they did not know the rest of us at all. (Even so, wouldn’t it be polite to talk to us in the same way you would your friends’ relations if you were visiting an old friend?) In general, the ‘singlet name person’ everyone talked to was a composite.
It’s actually very hurtful to be told, in essence, ‘You’re no different from a random person in the street’ when you’ve known someone for years, but under a different name. We had that happen before, but we were too frightened to tell those people about how it hurt us. The ‘designated old friend’, who is not particularly gifted at stating his opinion, did not make it clear how upset we were by this, and none of the more direct members of this group (including me – I was *itching* to say something) dared to respond, because it would be ‘foisting strange fronters’ on these people.
We were so angry, but we felt we couldn’t say anything, because we were told that we were being too sensitive when Richard asked about the situation. I don’t believe that for a minute. We also felt tied, because…the person whom they claimed was the ‘only one they knew’ wouldn’t have told them that he was not happy, because of his social anxiety, and since they ‘didn’t know us’, any criticism from us would look as though it came out of the blue from someone who was entirely unconnected to the situation. We were trapped.
We’ve also had the unpleasant experience of, well, being cast in roles within the group, with some of us being the ‘favourites’. Some of us are set up as being more ‘reasonable’, more ‘intelligent’ or more ‘trustworthy’. Two people here – the ‘designated old friend’ and someone else here – tend to end up in this role constantly, whilst another person has been classed as irrational and untrustworthy too many times to count. It’s been so bad that the ‘designated irrational person’ was once told off for telling someone not to do something generally considered immoral, and she tried to appeal to the ‘designated old friend’ — who in this case was her boy-friend (who was also the ‘designated old friend’ in the earlier section). She probably knew that he would probably let her get away with much more than she would have if one of the rest of us spoke up about it. More recently, the ‘designated irrational person’ here has found his opinions about a particular situation discounted, simply because of who he is and the role he has been assigned.