For the past week or two I’ve not been a happy person. A string of events has brought me to this low. It begins with the tragic disappearance of my cat and ends with me today, sitting at the desk half alive and feeling like a steamroller has flattened me several times in consecutive order. Yesterday the ringing in my ears was so loud I had a hard time hearing what the nurse had to say to me. My hair is matted in clumps, and my stomach hurts from being forced to take painkillers. I do not feel good. Period.
Being stuck in bed as much as I have been lately leads to a lot of introspection. If you’re the same kind of pondering character that I am, your mind will naturally begin to consider the cosmic questions in life. You ask yourself monumental things such as, “How the hell were Studio Ghibli films so wonderful and yet so boring at the same damn time?” You worry about the new Dr. Who – as a female, is the Doctor going to be allowed to keep his/her wit and natural intelligence or are the writers going to take the formulaic approach and push her feelings into the gutter and past all reason? (I shudder to think.)
You also dwell on things, like from that time in grade school when you got into trouble for doing the Right Thing ™ to the most recent time you did the right thing. You don’t feel good enough to play video games or to read. Hell you can’t even sit up to write this post more than a few lines at a time. So you dwell. You dwell on it a lot, because you’re stuck in bed and really have nothing better to do.
The topic yo kisk: cyberbullying and how it related to you recently. Fun times.
There are people who laugh the concept of cyberbullying away, because in the end all you should have to do is block the bully. But the fact is cyerbullying is real. It’s not as common as we’re lead to believe, but it’s real. When blocked, the cyberbullies don’t stop because they know you don’t have to be seen by the target to hurt the target where the internet is concerned. They have been known to ruin lives in such ways as, for example, spreading dirty pictures in acts of revenge porn – pictures that make their way back to their intended target (usually under-aged minors) in devastating ways. The bullies will create coalitions united by one single purpose: to put down that artist’s work they hate. Entire websites have been devoted to bullying one single person. And have won. Because united, they are strong. This is the meat of cyberbullying.
In my case, I wouldn’t even call it cyberbullying. I grew up being bullied based on my race so I know bullying when I see and experience it. That past trauma, I know, had a lot to play in this. Knowing I have that past trauma is how it was allowed to continue for a long as I let it – at least a year if not more. I didn’t want to make an emotionally driven and rash move.
Well, what was the situation? On Facebook – Land of Dramah – I had a friend. That friend is someone who I had known since the 1980’s. We used to be best friends, even. We lost touch the way friends do, but she returned wanting to be friends again. She’d been there for me in the past, and I was still fond of her.
But as also happens we both had changed, especially in our personal worldview. She had obviously taken the opposite path from myself. For example, I feel taking down historical monuments and hiding from history is a big mistake. She feels people can just walk into museums to learn history, so why have the monuments up.
So for months I had been looking the other way and internally agreeing to disagree. After all, that’s what makes the world go ’round and that’s what America is made for. I’m not sure if she felt the same about that, because she often went out of her way to argue with me. She would even respond if I commented on someone’s page that had nothing to do with her. Then, to my usual mortification, would pick fights there as well. Then, when she realized she was going too far, she stopped picking at me… but her vast arsenal of friends would leap on things I said and do it instead.
The culprit I realize after much bedridden thinking probably knew they were going over the line. They most likely knew they were in the wrong. How did I come to my conclusion? Actions speak louder than words. For weeks and months I had the occasional side chat with her – always initiated by her – in which she explained she didn’t want to lose me as a friend. That I was so dear to her, and so very important, and precious. That actually she and I agreed on so many things.
There were other caustic things that had happened over the years as well. Things I didn’t want to associate with this but now I realize I must. Like… the time I mentioned I was trying to start a band. So. She started a band and put out an album of sorts. The time she learned I had published a book. So she decided to write a book. The time she realized I was doing flat work for Marvel and DC artists. She tried to go into comic books and publishing. The time I graduated with a hard-won BA in anthropology. So she went back to school and now has her master’s.
I still remember the conversation associated with all that; me telling her she couldn’t look to me to tell her how to live. She had to find what made *her* happy.
To get back to Facbook, it stopped feeling like a friendly situation and had turned caustic as all fuck. I actually stopped feeling free to think and feel in public. If I agreed in public on anything – it didn’t matter what – and my friend noticed I was sure to get a public backlash. To make things worse, it didn’t matter what the topic was. It could even be a topic my friend felt the same as myself on. I was going to be punished for having a social tie to her in some way or another. (This ironically is one reason why Trump’s victory was such a surprise to so many. People like myself were afraid to say anything, and the more fearful we got the more we were pushed into taking that plunge.)
I think losing my cat and starting to get sick signaled to my heart enough was enough. I was devastated when Liono (also known as Mongo) disappeared. He didn’t just not come home for dinner one day. He broke out of his carrier in the veterinary parking lot and took off in the middle of town. I was home sleeping when that happened, which means I simply woke up and he was gone. Just like that. And I don’t take well to situations like that.
So there I was, my heart raging in all sorts of pain, and suddenly I’m being attacked for posting an article discussing the removal of historical monuments. I had been staying away from anything political for weeks on purpose, because of that. I was not emotionally able to keep my cool this time. And I didn’t even try.
My husband and a fellow Facebook friend did join the debate, and they made excellent points. My friend’s friend also hadn’t gotten too trollish – yet. (They always had degenerated into idiot lunatics in the past that had to be blocked.) I just couldn’t take it anymore. Finally the point came and a decision I had been trying *not* to make more for my sake than my friend’s came to a head. I told my friend thanks for all the fish, and I blocked her.
Her friend’s response: Snowflake much?
And then they were gone. My husband and fellow friend continued to make logical points to the debate, but the trolls had what they wanted. My 1980’s friend was blocked from my life. I guess they didn’t feel like they needed to protect her from expanding her horizons anymore, so they stopped responding. Which pretty much tells me and the world they didn’t give a flying fuck about the debate. They wanted to stop the thinking.
Ah, fascism at its finest. I guess.
I’m not as sad as I thought I would be in blocking my longtime friend and letting the past go. I really should have done it sooner, and I’m mad at myself for putting up with the social abuse for so long. I know I made the right decision because I feel more elated than guilty. Of course I worry about her feelings, because I didn’t want to hurt her to the point that I let her hurt me for an extended period of time just to avoid doing so. But beyond that my heart knows the responsibility ends.
I also admit to being annoyed. There seems to be a long-standing double standard to my existence. I know people that will tell you their dog died, and they’re swamped with condolences and well wishes. If I say my dog died I will get only crickets. People look down on me for expressing the same emotions others get away with. It’s like there’s a neon sign on my forehead that reads: NOT ALLOWED TO FEEL. So I’m really bothered and personally injured that it’s quite okay to be pushed around by caustic people, but it’s not okay for me to finally do something about it. If I do, then apparently I’m an over-reactive snowflake.
Well I’m not, and I know I’m not. So this just leaves me with a bigger decision: who else needs cutting from my life? Because apparently if I’m not allowed to feel around you, then I must choose. And I choose… to be human.
Which, by the way, is not a bad choice if you know what being human actually is. And that, my friends, is something you learn through many years of pondering… not always when stuck in the bed by illness.
So I will sign off and crawl back into bed now. Not without leaving you with a copy and paste from my Facebook on what happened.
- Having differences in opinions can be a very good, eye-opening thing. But lately, mostly because of a long-time friend’s friends, I had been feeling pushed into having to watch every little thing I do and say here on Facebook. I don’t like putting “friends only” settings on posts, considering my social status in the world. I also intensely hate not feeling like I have the freedom to like certain things or share other things.
- It wasn’t just once in a while I was having a difference in opinion. It was a 99% chance of rain in hell that if my friend noticed and commented, her friends were going to come dog-piling on me in a bully pile of dissent. Which is neither fair nor reasonable.
- An important measure to having success in your life is to maintain a successful environment, and that includes the company you keep. Also. The company your company keeps.If you want a good environment with success in your life, the things you cultivate around you must reflect that. So with a heavy heart I have blocked my friend, even though they are not the actual culprit, because the environment they have learned to foster isn’t a good one. Ironically I had known this person since high school, which means I’d known her longer… but… I like the idea of feeling free and being a success far too much to keep putting up with this.It has taken me over a year to come to this act. Apparently I’m a snowflake for it. Fine then. I’m a snowflake that melts like the polar winds on Pluto, slowly.