It begins with an article on Facebook. And a migraine.
Now, as with a lot of my other things I write when I get serious, this article also begins with a teaching story. I know a good many of you can’t get the concept of teaching stories – not even when your Jesus used them all of the time. Or when you grow up around them, like with certain family members who assumed I was always just talking about myself. For a while there, because of out-of-culture pressure, I was self-conscious about the way I would illustrate my points. Ever since getting closer to members of my tribe for The Mohegan Language project, I’ve come to realize all y’all be wrong. I’m not that self-centered. And this is a teaching story.
So it begins with an article on Facebook on a day when I’m battling my monthly migraine, which of course means if you cross me your life is in dire peril as I no longer can control my temper nor my tongue. The article? A young couple took an old school bus and refitted it so that it’s a ‘traveling home’. A Facebook friend posted it.
I saw it, and I was immediately unimpressed. I had my reasons, so I simply said in the reply box that I was unimpressed. What I didn’t add was that my father had done the same thing for us when we were kids, and he’d added more bells and whistles to boot. It wasn’t necessary, I thought, to explain my opinion.
This was an opportunity for people who are NOT the lowest common denominator to explore an alternative point of view. It was a chance to walk someone else’s moccasins at the very least. Or… why this couple was so impressive could have been defended. I didn’t get an intelligent response, though. I got my FB friend’s son calling me, and I quote, “Lame”.
It’s 2016. There have been internet trolls for ages, and it’s to the point that many people have become desensitized to troll attitude. The trolls have gathered in tribes and created hate blogs. They absolutely love to haunt places like reddit. More and more, people on the internet just put up with the verbal abuse without realizing that it’s, well, verbal abuse.
Meanwhile long with the rise of the trolls we have a rise in teen suicides, usually by the same teens the trolls are trolling. Self-esteems are being shattered left and right. And the trolls just get worse and worse with each passing day.
So there I was, being trolled by an asshole just because I’m not impressed two folks (obviously with money) created a glorified shack van out of a school bus. It’s just not that impressive.
As I saw this person’s remark to me, I had the sense that this was my FB friend’s son. There were clues, you know. His status on FB, the way she addressed him in the post suggesting he try doing the bus thing. The flags were there. So I responded, “Still not impressed.” Because calling me lame like some twelve year old would wasn’t going to magically make me rethink my stance on the matter. And I felt obligated to at least reply something. I admit it took me a while to figure out how to respond, and my response could justifiably be called lame. But there it was.
His reply was something along the lines of ‘good for you’.
I could have let it die there, buuuut this kid obviously could benefit from an alternative point of view. So I added a smile, then wrote a brief explanation as to my stance. See, when I was a kid our single-wide trailer was repossessed. This is when my father showed his ingenuity. He got an old church bus – much smaller than the one in that article – and he built for us a home.
He did it with practically no money. As time went by the Bus (as we called it) changed and grew. It had a gorgeous kitchen. It had an add-on bathroom, separate bedrooms. My father made gorgeous hardwood flooring out of wood scraps that he then varnished. Things inside that Bus were *nice* looking. (Nicer than the photos in that article, most certainly.) It looked like a regular little house in there. But the outside was an old church bus.
I finished up by stating that if that young couple had made their bus into a house under real serious conditions such as raising children or with little to no money having to use their brains the way my father did, then I could be impressed. But what they did just wasn’t impressive. It’s average. This coming from someone who knows above-average when she sees it in bus-home making.
Now stop a minute and consider this. This guy, who is also a young adult, was already being a complete douche bag and I knew it. But I still took the time out to explain the other side of life; to teach. If nothing else – whether or not I’m older than him – that deserved a little respect.
What I got instead was derisive laughter and a snide comment about how I’d been shit on. His sister or girlfriend – I don’t know which the blonde bimbo was – stepped in and wanted to know if just because that young couple weren’t living like I lived that made it unimpressive or what. Just like that the situation went from bad to worse.
I have rules if you’re going to be on my friends list anywhere these days. They’re simple: if you maintain a caustic environment then you can’t be around. So while this brat was being a brat at me simply for not being impressed by something he had *nothing* to do with personally I agonized. Briefly. I was going to have to unfriend my friend and I knew it.
I went ahead and responded to Blonde Bimbo anyway. I was teaching and figured I’d finish up the lesson. I explained: It’s unimpressive to me because it’s a clear double standard. They only were getting the attention because they happened to know the right people and they had money. (I mean, come on. They’re traveling across America in a gas-guzzling BUS.) If they had been in the same conditions as mine, they wouldn’t have gotten praised. They’d be getting chased by child welfare for not living in a ‘stable’ environment, not having enough money, not choosing to raise their children the way everyone else wants them to be raised. Also, once again: the 1960’s. Or hell, music bands today traveling in their homes on wheels. It’s just. Flat. Not. Impressive. It’s average. They are not the only ones doing it. Period.
And then I said to my FB friend that her son was a dick and she was getting unfriended.
Okay, I also (very quickly) edited out my dick comment because I knew that was my temper getting the best of me… but I still unfriended her. Remember: caustic environment. People tend to forget that mothers and children are package deals. I couldn’t block her son without things become even more awkward, so alas. She had to go. And I liked her, too.
Blondie called me a “hater” for my explanation and probably the dick comment for all it was removed. (I briefly felt bad about it, but the guilt died.) The like button started to get get, and suddenly it all started to become a “let’s gang up on the elder” fest. Are you getting the point of my topic header yet? Hang in there if not.
I’ve come to the point where personal responsibility, or rather the lack thereof, no longer shocks me. However, when it happens I have not passed the point where I don’t get disgusted. I get disgusted at everyone participating in the lack of responsibility. If that had been my son on my Facbook acting like that, he’d have got a public talking to. That’s right. I wouldn’t have taken him aside in private to protect his widdle feelings. He would have been told to behave right then and there in front of the person whose feelings he had no problem stomping on. Because personal responsibility.
Thus, my last comment was another teaching statement – a point that is often ignored. “Let me get this straight,” I opened it with. I simply stated an opinion. It was an opportunity for deep discussion. But I didn’t get that. Instead I **was called a name**. I was VERBALLY ABUSED (albeit not as bad as some verbal abuse I’ve seen out there) for having an opinion. When I took the time and made an effort (for them) to explain my stance I was VERBALLY ABUSED even more. And somehow I’m a hater for not putting up with that shit? Fine then, I’m a hater. “Aaaand… blocked.”
Now folks. Let me ask you this: what is missing out of this story? Think about it real hard.
That’s right. Where was the mother? It was HER post on HER page!
She could have been at work. She could have been washing dishes or doing some other afk activity. I’m pretty sure that was it. (Addendum: I found a note from her in my message box later apologizing. She also stated that as parents we “can’t control our children” but she did try talking to him apparently. I’m unclear on the details, being as I wasn’t there, but the gist of what I understand is he told her, “I do what I want.” Ah, self-entitlement!)
Let’s imagine, however, that she was there – as is OFTEN the case on the internet these days. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. “Boys will be boys.” Ever hear that? I heard that from a mother whose boy ended up in big trouble for smashing someone’s house to bits while they were on vacation. Hell, I’ve seen mothers defend their pieces of shit knowing they’re in the wrong no matter what. There’s a mother in jail right now because she tried to hide her serial killer son from the police. The bad mothers are out there. So, let’s pretend this such a case and go with it.
Examining the situation – really without having to overthink it at all – you should note that HER son was being a troll on HER page right in FRONT OF HER. Which means that his behavior is *accepted* by her. He was being an asshole, as was his blonde bimbo girlfriend/sister/what the fuck ever. So it doesn’t matter if Mummy was there or not at the moment. It’s clear that his attitude is *okay* with her.
Even if she clucked her tongue and disapproved, his behavior is clearly on an action level (the most important level of all in child rearing) OKAY. And the blond was going along with it, because to her it was also OKAY. Had to defend him after all, whether or not his behavior was the cause!! Self responsibility is only for anyone but yourself!
It’s OKAY for her boy to call people names.
It’s OKAY for her boy not to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins.
It’s OKAY for her boy to spit on someone’s efforts to bridge a gap.
It’s OKAY for her boy to be disrespective.
It’s OKAY for her boy to be ignorant.
It’s OKAY by proxy that her boy will be that sort of example to her grandchildren. And great-grandchildren. And already is an example to those around him of how a man should be.
In other words, this tiny event… this little iddy bitty thing… is bigger than it looks. Because his mother’s silence means its okay to be a part of the problem.
If your kid is disrespectful, whether you mean it to be or not, it might just partially be your fault. OMG I know when I saw my kids being disrespectful, I’d muster up some courage (it was very hard) and say something. The boy would placate me, cuz that got people off his back. The girl would rail and rant and blame me for accusing her of every evil in the world. But dammit, I spoke up. I always thought I’d be that old woman in her 70’s, hitting people with a cane if they were assholes.
We never see it anymore in TV shows and movies – the grey-haired mother that will grab her son by the ear and tell him no matter how old he is that he’d better be respectful or else. I often think when events like this happen around me we need our feisty grandmothers back again. Those of us with greying hair need to muster up some courage and step into those long-vacant pointy shoes.
Because the trolls have risen, and teen suicides from their actions are becoming more and more common. And this isn’t a matter of regulating the forum. It’s a matter of getting our children to see that name-calling is not okay. And neither is being an asshole over a difference in opinion.