NaBloPoMo Day 23: Fun With Internet Trolls
I've been trying to decide if this post should come before or after my Trying Not to Be an Asshole to Assholes on the Internet Anymore post (I backslid a little last night, on a post that asked if people were nearly done their holiday shopping yet, which brought out the appallingly entitled Fake Christians with their 'what do you mean HOLIDAY shopping? Do you mean CHRISTMAS shopping?' bullshit.)
I follow a personal blog page on Facebook called Cranky Fat Feminist, which I love. It's not a private group and not moderated, so a lot of the posts get considerable flak from anti-feminist dickweasels. A while back she posted about a study involving twins that suggested strongly that dieting is neither a one-size-fits-all (weak laugh) solution to obesity nor a necessarily effective one - in fact, dieting may very well cause subsequent weight gain. It was just a post, not an article or an insistence that this was one hundred percent correct, but for people (like me) who think diets are a scourge on the world, it really resonated.
Naturally some diet-obsessed wanker piped up "this is ridiculous! Just because you FAIL at a diet doesn't mean it's the diet's FAULT, it's YOUR fault." This kind of thing makes me see red, as overweight people are constantly made to feel that it's their fault when they can't sustain unsustainable eating and exercise habits (The Biggest Loser, anyone?). I said as much, much more politely than I felt like.
Naturally her next comment was "I had a peek at your profile. I can see why you'd want to believe the study." This did NOT make me see red. I'm a woman on the internet who expresses opinions from time to time, duh, I've been called fat and ugly more times than The Daily Mail has posted a "Skinny Adele goes about her life being skinny and clearly nothing else matters except the fact that she's skinny" headline. I responded "yeah, I figured you'd get around to calling me fat. I actually tend to believe scientific evidence whether it reinforces my natural biases or not, but go ahead with waving your little troll arms and legs around. It's probably good cardio."
I was pleased with this retort to a really unattractive degree, and ready to leave it there. Of course she lost all pretense to equanimity and started frothing that I sounded bitter and jealous and like I needed to get all my validation from social media. I calmly said that it seemed like she was the one who needed validation, which was why she was insisting on believing that dieting yourself to weight loss meant some kind of moral superiority. I said I was occasionally jealous of my friends, but usually because of their talent and kindness, none of which she was currently displaying, but hey, at least she was thin.
Someone else in the group then spoke up and said clearly this Jasmine character was bent on being spiteful and unwilling to hear reason, so why waste my breath? I said "yeah, I know. Don't feed the trolls. It's just that this one looked hungry. You know... because of all the dieting."
I KNOW it doesn't make me a good person that I'm proud of all this, but it seemed like a good one to go out on.
|It's not a troll, but it kind of looks like a bridge|
It's also something that makes me conflicted. Because, don't engage / feed / validate, but also the satisfaction.
Two things that have happened to me recently in this vein:
1) I took the bystander intervention / awareness (whatever) training from Hollaback Ottawa (which was really, super excellent) and in that training was the message that we don't have to find snappy comebacks to people being terrible to other people in public, for many reasons, one of which is that nothing about harassing people is funny and so these are not moments for witty repartee. Which was a huge relief to me since now if I choose to intervene I don't have to feel the pressure of trying to be witheringly funny about it.
2) I heard an interview with some crazy-smart super-accomplished grad student on the radio who was getting some kind of pushback for her research from troll-like people and she told the interviewer, "Well, they have time for that, but I don't," and she said it completely sincerely, like it was just the honest truth (which, of course it is because when you're doing revolutionary sciency-type work why would you have time to hunt other people on the Internet). At that moment I made it my resolution to try to be that serene about haters and calmly think they have the time and I don't (I'm not saying I'll be successful, but it's an appealing thought).
And high praise to you for doing NaBloPoMo! I will have to go back and read the other entries while the Thanksgiving sides are in the oven.
Who said it's for Christmas? News flash, it's not the only holiday. Also, I don't follow Christ but he sounded like a pretty nice guy. I'll bet he's not the one that taught you to be an asshat on social media."
It's a work in progress. Suggestions welcome.