Not long ago, and I mean maybe an hour ago, I posted a blog in which a young kid posted a tweet encouraging Sarah Silverman to kill herself. I wrote it as it angered me to see people were still doing that.
I wrote it, sent it, and then did what I’ve been trying to do when the internet bothers me; I went for a walk. Honestly, it was nice. There were some cranes out and I’m fairly certain I saw a fox, but that’s not what you came here for.
Then, I came home and decided to get back online for a moment. In the words of Mike Birbiglia, “I know, I’m in the future also.”
I got online and the first thing I saw was this:
Alright, haven’t seen that for a while. I’ve honestly not been blogging as much as I used to since I stopped doing it professionally so I forgot that WordPress can be a praise machine if it wants to be.
Then I looked at the countries viewing my blog. Instead of just typing it out, have another screenshot:
Alright, well damn. Normally the only time I get views outside of the United States is if I post something about Doctor Who. Then that’ll usually promise me one or two UK votes, but all this for one blog?
Then, I went to Twitter…
I hadn’t really seen this since high school so I forgot what this was for a minute. Took a moment for that center of my brain to dust itself off. But then I saw more…
And after reading a long line of these, I remembered what this was. High school level bullying. As a grown man, it didn’t bother me, especially since that last guy was a bit wrong when he also posted…
…but it made me realize something. I didn’t really grow up with the internet in high school. Well I did, but no one really knew each other or networked like they do now, and, honestly, it wasn’t cool to be online. And if you were, you were limited to things like AOL Instant Messenger, IRC chat, or, god help you, Palace Chat.
So I never stopped to think about what sort of an effect Twitter or Facebook has on the average school kid. But I see it now. Do you remember that old bully trick when a bully was caught doing something they’d try to threaten you by bringing their friends in and peer pressuring you? It’s this, but now people are completely networked in a way where they don’t even have to know who it is they’re bullying. Honestly, this is the sort of thing that would have terrified me in high school.
I can’t imagine how many views I got from her page alone, she posted the link in an ironic “look at me” sort of way my one-year-old does when he goes up one step and then looks at me, smirking, knowing I’d have to come running. But the numbers were there. Most of them came from Twitter. And while there was a solid chunk that came from other sites that decided to run my piece, Twitter had the biggest chunk.
I even showed one of my old editors the numbers and he told me that’s something that even paid bloggers want to hit in their first hour.
And while, honestly, it’s nice to have the dust blown of a silly thing like a personal blog with such a gale force wind, it also served as a numerical measuring tool to the deluge of bullying that came with the first blog and was, admittedly, a bit of a bummer seeing there were more people like her in the world.
But it also served as a powerful sign that this was a legit problem. Jon Stewart, in his farewell episode of the Daily Show, said that one of the things wrong with this world is bullshit, and that, if we’re too fix anything, we need to call it when we see it. That blog was me calling it. And much like when you pick up dog shit from your back yard, it’s going to stir up all sorts of flies. Especially when it’s shit that’s been lying there way to long.
That’s what this is. And I know that the whole anti-bullying efforts have been extended to schools now, but this is what leaks out onto the internet and we, all of us, need to work hard to start calling this nonsense when we see it. Right now, as it stands, when a person like that posts something vile, she’ll have people like and retweet it.
I’ve never been one for the whole, “dislike” button request, but maybe it IS a necessity. Because as it stands, we live in this weird world of misguided people like this whole mainly just hide behind Facebook and Twitter because it’s a constant wave of self-promotion. You post something and people only really have the option to post that they like it. They can type an opinion in the comments, but honestly, these sort of people aren’t really open to that sort of reading. But what if there was some sort of button you could click to dislike it? What if, instead of saying, “holy shit, 50 people liked what I had to say!” you said, “holy shit, 50 people liked this, but 300 people disliked it.” I think it would actually give people a bit of a reflection.
Obviously, this isn’t going to fix things entirely. We’re a race that managed to enslave an entire group of people merely because skin color and thought it was alright so having something as simple as a count for how many people didn’t like what you had to say won’t be the healing agent the situation needs. But it could be a start.
When I was first starting off, I used to post every stray, arrant thought that went through my head. And honestly, it wasn’t until someone in the industry sat me down and explained to me that they were getting sick of some of the stuff I was posting, that I stopped and actually thought about what I put out there. Hell, that’s why this Twitter account is so fresh because I ended up deleting the old one and starting anew.
Anywho. Christ, I’m rambling. Sorry, haven’t typed an article off the cuff for a while. But as someone who hasn’t been actually bullied since George Bush Sr. was in office, it was pretty stunning to behold. I honestly wish I could go back in time and tell young me how silly that sort of thing looks once you hit adult hood, but I can’t. But, I don’t know, hell. Maybe someone stumbles across this, sees how silly this sort of thing looks, and realizes that the bullying in their life is going to pass too.
I know the phrase, “It Gets Better”, has become a cliché but it’s a cliché because it’s truth. It does. Life away from the sort of people that would bully other people and say things like those type of people would, it gets amazing. Especially later on, their career paths and yours are going to go in a completely different direction, you’ll meet amazing, like minded people and they’re end up with no one but the people who tolerate their nonsense and all they have left to bully is each other. I’ve worked a few bars, trust me, I’ve seen it, shit’s gross and you’re better off not ending up there.
So seriously. If this sort of thing is happening to you and you’re young enough where it doesn’t phase you, OR, if you just see it in general and think it’s gross, just call it out. Call the person on their actions. Let people see the sort of thing these people are doing. That’s part of the wonderful double-edged sword of the internet. While they can say shit like this to you, you can hold them accountable for it.
Quick story before I go: I used to work in an office. One of the things they did to just about every employee is review their social media antics. It’s really easy to find. Especially if you were referred to a company by someone. But they’d review your name and see what you do. Now, most of the time they can just delete posts, but in blogs like mine, I specifically add their names to the user names to the tags so even if they do make their site private, employers can still see this sort of behavior.
You see it, you call it. It does get better.