Saturday, April 4, 2015

One Rule

"Humans are not meant to live in a land of rainbows and unicorns... People were, are and will allways (sic) be evious (sic), jealous, rude, hating and so on." LittleBlackLamb
I had to revisit Berry's Mean Comments Meme. I read the comments posted, and while most of them were people sharing their own stories of being victims of trolls, or bullying, there was this one in particular from the person above. And, as per usual, I have more to say on the subject.

To LittleBlackLamb and his/her comments about unicorns and rainbows, says who? Why does anyone else have the right to define what another person's world is? I don't know about you, but my world is full of rainbows (I'm a little short on unicorns these days but I did see this today. Does that count? It counts for me).
The world is what we make it. We have the power. And I, for one, have the will.

The will for what, you ask? To make the world a better, happier place. And why not? How does doing that affect me, or you? For me, it makes me feel damn good to be nice to others... anyone, anywhere, at anytime. It costs me nothing to give someone a smile. To say hello to strangers, even just a nod to acknowledge that I see that they exist. That their presence has impacted my life in some small way just by simply being.

And for the person on the receiving end of this tiny bit of kindness, this humanity, I only hope that it makes their day just a wee bit better knowing that someone sees them as they go about their day. That someone knows they're alive. "Hey, fellow human, I see you there. And I hope your day is full of rainbows and unicorns."
I agree that there will always be envy and jealousy in the world. Those are natural human emotions. But rudeness and hate? No. No, those aren't natural. Hate is learned, as is rudeness.

Saying that rudeness and hate will always exist is just a cop-out. It's an excuse to be hateful and rude.

And I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm bloody damn sick of it.

In this day and age we live in, this world where we're all afforded the (relative) anonymity of the internet, saying that these traits will always exist is not okay with me. I can't say for certain that people are behaving worse now than they did 10, 20, 100, 500 years ago, but it's closer and easier to see now more than ever. All one has to do is flip on their computer, or pull out their phone, to be confronted with all the ugliness a person can stand.
What can be done about that? Easy. We don't fucking stand for it, that's what. I'm in the states, so I can only speak to America and our constitution. Lots of internet mean folks like to stand up for themselves by spouting on and on about their first amendment rights.

Guess what, sugarplums... that is NOT what the first amendment means. No, the government isn't going to stop you from being a hateful asshat, but the rest of us can. The internet as a whole... Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, video game thingies (I don't play them so I don't know the proper terminology), Second Life, YouTube, whatever... all of those entities, whoever is in charge, needs to adopt a zero-tolerance policy. Act like a jackass and you don't get to play. Period. Ban, then ban again. Drop the ban hammer hard and fast and often and without mercy.
Would that be a catch-all, cure-all? No, of course not. Nothing is that simple, but it would be a start. And people need to start not accepting the hate when they come across it. Arguing with logic instead of emotion. Mocking is always good, too. It's especially effective with twelve year old boys. Throw enough logic and mockery and big words at them and before long, their only come back becomes, "Yeah, well, I fucked your mom."

And if that insult causes you distress, yeah... you need to grow thicker skin.

I just don't  understand being mean for the sake of being mean. Even if you're envious of someone, or jealous of them, I just don't get it. Trashing that person doesn't make you feel better. You know it doesn't. You might feel a momentary sense of satisfaction, but that doesn't last. Maybe that's why the trolls always go back for more and more. It's like a drug and they can't get enough and keep having to up their troll game to get that same high. 

And that's just sad. When I'm in line at a store behind someone that treats the cashier like shit for some small imagined slight, not only will I (depending on how big/mean looking they are) make certain they know I find their behavior repugnant and unacceptable, I go out of my way to remind the poor cashier of how sad and pathetic that person's life must be that they feel the need to treat others like shit to make themselves feel better. And the few times I've been attacked on the internet, I tell myself the exact same thing.

I was a weird kid and got more than my fair share of bullying for it. It hurt. A lot. I don't look back on the first twenty years of my life with much fondness, in part due to the constant bullying. Words hurt, especially during those vulnerable years when you're just beginning to shape who you are as a person. 
Now, with age and the wisdom that comes with it, I can't help but wonder what was going on in my bullies' lives. They weren't happy kids and something was causing that. The same goes today for internet bullies. These aren't happy, well-adjusted people. These are people who aren't happy with their own lives. And it's easy for me to place all my sympathy with the people they are hurting... and I do hurt for them. It's heart-breaking to see someone attacked on the internet. 

But I also remind myself to have sympathy for the bullies and trolls because I don't know what shitastic things are happening in their lives when they're not online. But that's not an excuse for their behavior. They have to learn to be human beings and to treat others with respect. And the responsibility for teaching them lies on all our shoulders. Call them on it. Engage. Enlighten. Educate. And report. Do it with intelligence, and logic, and a bit of kindness, just because. 

And when you see it happening, reach out to the person receiving the brunt of the insults. Offer them a virtual hug or smile. A few kinds words. Give them something to feel good about.

You'll feel better, too. 

I'll leave you with the words of one of my very favorite authors, and a damn fine human, too. 


  1. You hit the nail RIGHT on the head.

    There's a phrase that sums up why there's all the trolling, bullying, shaming and general asshatted behavior.

    "For the lulz".

    They do this stuff because they think it's funny. And they're all trying to one-up each other on how outrageously cruel they can be, who is the absolute biggest bastard.

    I read an article the other day about a game shop that got 'swatted' (this is the practice of spoofing a 911 call to invoke an armed police response on the victim). Not only did someone get the cops to surround the shop, they also CALLED the shop, impersonated a sheriff's deputy, and tried to convince someone there to "walk out with your hands up and say there's a man with a gun inside". The person on the phone thought this was hinky and refused to do it... but the implication was that some sick fuck tried to incite a full on MASS SHOOTING by the cops, in a game shop, where no one had committed a crime!

    For the lulz.

    I'm sorry, but no one's laughing at this one. They're shaking their heads wondering where the **** did we go wrong in raising our kids, that someone would go to such effort to social-engineer a tragedy simply to watch it happen.

    We have to reverse the trend, before more kids kill themselves, before more families and relationships are broken up, before reputations are trashed and people lose their jobs, and most of all, before a bunch of innocents are gunned down by the very men and women sworn to protect them. This. Must. Stop.

    It's not about the First Amendment. It's about being a decent human being.

    1. Thank you!

      I'm familiar with swatting... and that's just a whole nother level of bullshit that has to be stopped. That goes beyond trolling and it's a miracle that no one has been killed yet. And, yes, it's a failure on society that there are kids who think it's funny. I get that kids aren't able to process the possible consequences of their actions... but holy shit. And these aren't always teenagers, either.

      When I was a kid, the weird kids or the outcasts didn't have any sort of outlet. We just sort of grew out of it (well, most of us did) as we became adults. Today, these kids DO have an outlet, but it certainly isn't a healthy one. When it all started, we as a society couldn't have foreseen the path it would take.

      In hindsight, it should have been ingrained in the entire cyber-connected world to reach out to these kids in a healthy way. Instead, they've found ways to congregate online together and encourage this horrible behavior.

      I don't know how to fix it. But, relatively speaking, we're really still in the early days of the internet. My generation didn't grow up playing with Mom's smartphone in our car seat. So many parents have no idea what they're kids are up to online, but I feel that will change over the next 10, 20 years.

      When I was a kid, I couldn't pull anything over on my parents because they'd seen it all before and knew the tricks. I'm hoping that as the younger generations grow up and become parents, this will become the norm again.

      And, yes, I am a Pollyanna. :-)


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