posted on February 25, 2013 00:00
In the relatively short time that I’ve been bringing you the brilliance that I do, I’m sure that’s it’s become pretty obvious that I endured a fair amount of bullying in my childhood.
I would place it somewhere between “the norm” that most kids may experience, and the extreme shit that leads to sometimes drastic results, with a few years unfortunately leaning toward the latter.
Age, toughness and even writing guided me to the other side and I actually find myself thankful for a lot of what was instilled in me as a result. I write often of some bullying situations and definitely don’t hold back some obviously bitter thoughts about a few of my tormentors.
That being said, I knew these people, and the shit that they did to me affected my life in a way that gives me, in my own “I don’t give a fuck what you think” opinion, every right to express my feelings where these likely-forging-license-plates-or-serving-French-fry motherfuckers are concerned.
I’m glad I’m able to use writing as therapy and haven’t turned my past personal turmoil into an excuse to exercise pain on innocent people through the anonymity and “muscle” of a computer screen.
I’m glad I am not a “troll”.
The internet is a fabulous tool and it’s brought to us many great things, with this very column obviously highlighting that list. Unfortunately, as with all good things, the bad came as well – and “trolling” was possibly the worst.
For those unfamiliar, a “troll” is somebody surfing various message boards, articles, columns and websites for the sole purpose of anonymous critique and the solicitation of laughter from their unseen peers that, though often crossing the line of what most feel is moral and decent, somehow justifies their pathetic existence.
In the interest of my normal hypocrisy, I’ll admit to having a smidgeon of this in me, as I think we all do online – to SOME degree. Laughter and approval from an audience feels pretty fucking good and, let’s face it, a lot of why I even do this. Half of that therapy which I referred to is the warm fuzzy of approval that is returned for my efforts.
I also enjoy commenting at the bottom of local articles when something funny crosses my mind or I have a particularly passionate opinion. Where the difference lies is where we draw that “line”.
“Trolls” range from those that were born bullies simply graduating to yet another avenue, to those who were actually the victims now turning the pain they experienced on an unseen audience, as some twisted, sadistic form of healing.
My own opinion is that certain things are definitely fair game. There are those who “put themselves out there”, myself included, and are definitely open to public critique by the very nature of their career or, in my case, hobby.
Certainly I take some shit personally but you also quickly learn the difference between genuine feedback, which you respect, or blatant “trolling” and hatred of everything anybody else does that went above and beyond what you had the balls or ability to do, which I’ve touched on in previous columns.
A simple Google search can often find these shit-bags lurking in the comment sections of sites all over this glorious internet, revealing the simple transparency of their motives, as well as the overall sadness of their day-to-day lives.
I recently read a story about the extent to which these wastes of breath would go for a laugh when an OVERWHELMING amount disrupted the lives of a young family in Texas, inflicting anonymous pain at the expense of their 6-year old daughter who suffered, and would die, from Progeria. This is inexcusable.
Again, I’m plenty guilty of getting too personal in exchanges at times and definitely taking the bait with which these “trolls” spend 17-24 hours of their day chumming the internet water with, but children are off fucking limits.
This said, while in no way coming CLOSE to the evils of these assholes, I am not entirely innocent…
An occurrence over the weekend is what prompted this column, and it hit me in the face like the ball-sack of my uncle in 1981.
A local headline caught my attention and moved me to offer a comment. The comment was based solely on that headline and had ZERO to do with the actual story. It only reminded me of a frequently told urban myth, which spurred my weak (and selfish) attempt at humor.
I typed it, got a few comments, “likes” and the all important fucking “LOL’s”, and went on about my merry little world.
Then, as us narcissistic, approval-hounding assholes tend to do, I revisited said article later in the weekend. To my surprise, I found that the mother of an actual murder victim, who the column I so lazily had declined to peruse was about, had unfortunately clicked on the “comment section” and was obviously hurt by the anonymous words of John Q. Public.
As I said, mine were in no way aimed at the victim and a mere drop in the bucket compared to the vile shit that was so thoughtlessly thrown out there but, nonetheless, this callous bastard was moved.
I’m man enough to admit my mistakes, of which there have been many in life, and I immediately retracted my original comments and replaced them with a genuine apology.
Others – those “trolls” we speak of – reacted not with the embarrassment or regret of a sane human being, but with obvious joy of having had their challenge accepted, if you will, and thereby justifying their pathetic existence.
They now turned their venom directly at the grieving mother of a murdered man and relished in the back and forth that ensued. This is the lowest form of life and it saddens me to share a planet, much less a city, with these fuckers.
It even took several deletions by the “administrator” before my apology was allowed amongst the hurtful bullshit, further testimony to our love of all things “shocking”, which may be even sadder than the fact that people made such comments in the first place.
Websites have a tendency to chastise the “troll”, yet silently enable him at the same time for the simple draw of the mouse-click and the polarizing nature of argument, and I’m sadly torn on this.
I write how I write, firmly believe in freedom of speech, and I don’t often apologize for that. I have, and WILL, be guilty of hypocrisy in the highest of manner and am sure that my words will hurt more than a few at some point, while undoubtedly offending a great deal many.
There’s a line between having your honest opinions offend a segment of readers and going out of your way to genuinely hurt somebody, or “polarize”, simply for affect and to solicit laughter or interest in your work.
An intelligent reader understands this and will likely even respect you on one hand, while simultaneously cursing you on the other, because they know you speak your mind, regardless of how injured they may view it to be.
Despite the circumstances that may have surrounded his life, the fact of my little lesson was that this lady lost her son, while others may have lost a brother, uncle, cousin or father. Somebody, somewhere, was sad, and my words may have made them sadder.
I don’t aim to change behavior with this column, and I sadly find this impossible; but my own behavior humiliated the shit out of me…and writing about it clears my head. My selfishness has no bounds.
“Sticks and stones may break your bones” but words can ruin lives…KMFP-out!
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