Many people are mean. Unnecessarily so, in my opinion, and I have been called a bitch many, many, maaaaaannny times in my life. I accept it, I yam what I yam. I am too frank sometimes, too controlling, too quick to react, too touchy. I hate meeting new people so I protect shyness and a need for personal space with a bitchy exterior.
I was accused last weekend, by what I deem a crazy person, of being a total bitch. She gained entrance into my apartment through another friend, and then bounced off of the walls like a toddler on crack until I tried to shut her down with mommy firmness. She couldn't handle it, or I didn't handle it correctly. I don't know. I do know that it was my house and she didn't leave for five hours so it must not have been that painful. But the situation threw me for a loop and made me question myself. I thought about it seriously and had numerous conversations with friends about my behavior, her behavior, and the outcome. I truly don't want to be a mean person, and I think about it often these days. How to draw the line without gouging it into someone's head.
The media is covering cyber-bullying in a major way right now, and we hear all these stories of children killing themselves due to being abused online. There was the teenage girl who killed herself after another girl's mother posed as a boy on myspace and lured the girl in and then taunted her mercilessly. Reprehensible. That college kid who jumped off a bridge because his roommate posted a live video stream of him getting sexual with another boy. Painful. This week I watched a girl on Dr. Phil (my TV dad, even though I know he would yell at me for swearing) who was the victim of a fake facebook page, where someone posted nude photos that looked like her, put her name, number, address, etc. all over the page, and let it loose on the world. She was stalked at her home by perverts, followed home from school, called incessantly, etc. She was terrified and depressed. Can you imagine having that happen when you're a teenager? I could barely handle it if someone made fun of my sweater.
I don't read comments under youtube videos any more, because no matter how harmless or joyful the video, there are always stupid, fucked up things thrown in the comment list. It's a dumping ground for the truly ignorant, and it depresses me to read that kind of keyboard pollution.
In most places on the net, you can post your comments anonymously. The few times I've received hate mail here on my tiny blog, it's always posted anonymously. I will approve comments that disagree with my opinion, but anonymous slams get thrown in the dumper. If you want to get evil, put your fucking name on the thing. Because in my opinion, all of this internet anonymity has created a sea of opportunity to harm each other with no consequences, and I want no part of it.
But that's also the beauty of the internet. I love that it's impossible to keep Wikileaks down. Did anyone read this? WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive. Fabulous. Some anarchy on the internet may save us from the greed in our government.
So what do we do? I realize I am preaching to the choir here, but the simple answer (to quote my old friend Agatha) is to be nice and fucking polite. Which is not to say you can't have a controversial opinion, just state it in an adult manner.
My friend Rob Schwager, who is a killer comic artist, among other things, posted this on Twitter and got slammed: "I find it amusing that the people who talk the most crap about Christians all year long, still have the gall to give presents at CHRISTmas." I happen to love Christmas AND think organized religion is bullshit, and that all this Jesus worship is ridiculous because there have been many teachers over time, he is only one of them, and it wasn't what he spoke of anyway. I just like the sentiment of the holiday, the present giving, It's a Wonderful Life, the tree dropping needles in my tiny living room. I love it all, as does Drew. Regardless, this post doesn't bother me in the least, but apparently it set off a little shitstorm in his feed.
Which is fine in some ways. On one hand, we all have differing opinions and part of being connected through our computers is sharing them. But Rob ended up feeling abused by the onslaught of commentary, and that I don't get, and I don't think it would occur in the same way if he'd stated it in person to that same group of people. People think it's fine to shout things with their keyboard that they would never say face to face. And that is what I think is sort of icky about the internet.
So I propose, at least during this somewhat pointless, overly commercialized and vaguely Christian Christmas season, that we all try to be nice and fucking polite. At least until someone is bouncing off the walls of your home. I am not always, but I will continue to put in the effort. And I will leave you with this, a beloved holiday moment that I think sums up the holiday spirit quite nicely: