Monday, September 23, 2013

Have a heart

I've gone back and forth on blogging about this. My primary hesitation is that I don't want relatives to panic. So let me make this very clear: I am fine. Very safe. There is no imminent threat. Really. I  promise.
My secondary hesitation is that this post will be kind of a bummer. But it's something that happened and something I've been thinking a lot about, and if a blog isn't for sharing happenings and thoughts, then well, I guess I've been doing this wrong for the past five years. No use changing now.


Remember the guy who created an image of my head on Hitler's body? It wasn't very nice, it was a little crazy, but it was kind of funny, and after a while I forgot about it. But then someone brought this to my attention:

Obviously, my boss took immediate action and contacted the authorities, and the web hosting company pulled this lunatic's site. Again, I'm fine. This was months ago. I'm still very much alive and in no danger. I am, however, a bit disturbed. I'll remind you that this user was banned for bullying and profanity. By banned, I mean he was no longer allowed to participate in the forum that I moderate. So to really boil this down, I stopped this guy from writing the F word on one tiny page of the Internet, and now he fantasizes about murdering me.

There is no doubt that this guy is crazy. But I wonder if he's so crazy that if we met in real life he would admit that he daydreams about shooting me in the head. I really don't think so. I think he only dares proclaim such things through the anonymity of a pseudonym and the silence of a computer image.

I'm of that strange generation who spent half our youth without the Internet and the other half online.  Maybe  I'm looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, or maybe I was an oblivious teenager, but I remember a lot less nastiness in the pre-social media days. I didn't know everyone's opinion on everything. Now I do know, I swear, every single person's opinion on everything that has happened, or will happen, ever. Political discussions meant communicating face to face and catching the nuances only expressions and vocal intonation offer, lending a better understanding to why someone might think it's necessary to carry a gun, or maintain the welfare system, or dare to disagree in any way. Now political discussions are ALL CAPS and days of Facebook notifications. Ten years ago if someone thought an article was stupid, they would think to their self, "This is stupid," then throw the newspaper in the trash and move on with their day without having to share their hatred with the world. Now, true story, the other day I was reading an enjoyable article, and in the comment section someone wrote "If anyone has ever told you that you are an intelligent or humorous person, they lied to you." A human being actually wrote that to another human being. Before the birth of the Internet I never received a death  threat. That's not the case now.

But I love the Internet.  I love being able to communicate with friends and family without using my phone (I can only call or receive calls if I stand right next to my bedroom window).  I can write and be read without going through the long and often heart-breaking process of submitting works for publication. I can learn anything about anything without leaving my couch.  I can work from home while my baby naps.  I can find a recipe for baklava and keep up on the news in Syria.  So maybe we take the good with the bad.  Maybe we ignore the crazies and stay connected to the good. Or maybe we run away to New Hampshire and live in a cabin off the grid, a la Walter White.  I honestly don't know which is the better option at this point. 


  1. I followed this link from Graydon's facebook feed, because I don't have fb but I still have a bit of an addiction that I satiate with his... :)

    I have been thinking about this a lot, too, lately. Another blogger described his experience with a negative reaction to a post he wrote, and I had recently shared the same experience, so I left a comment. He referred me to this post:

    The title is: Why Vicious Online Comments are like Killing. And he talks about exactly what you're talking about, just with different words. :)

    Hang in there!

    1. That article is a great read, and helps explain why we all think what's said on the internet doesn't hurt, when in fact it really does. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. Well, bless your soul. That's awful. It's interesting, because I've recently begun to hate the Internet. Probably because of Facebook... Which is my own fault. I should just delete it already. Anyway, so much of it is inane and stupid and so many people are offended or offensive, and therejust SO. MUCH. CRAP out there.

  3. My phone is ridiculous. Anyway, there's a ton of crap. I'm sorry you have to deal with this--it's actually pretty creepy, regardless of whether you're safe or not. I think the Internet had made people forget how to be human and interact with other humans. And it's a huge bummer (to say the least).

  4. Internet *has. Autocorrect will kill me one of these days.

    1. There is a lot of crap. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it.

  5. I've taken every precaution to make sure he doesn't.


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