Viewing blog entries in category: Polemics
I am an overestimator of people. Time and time again I give them far too much credit and place way too much confidence in their integrity, honesty, intelligence and talent. I suppose because I see the glass half-full that I am susceptible to this chronic overestimation. Not only do I give people the benefit of the doubt, I actually esteem them higher than they deserve. It’s like I'm on a Kool-Aid diet when I first meet people; but then I get to know them for who they truly are and my sugary elixir is suddenly taken away and I am left disappointed and disillusioned... and a bit sour. I thought them way too precious. It’s not their fault that they are flawed and dumber than I thought.
I have a gift for making people feel really good when they first cross paths with me. Because I put them on a pedestal. This makes them feel special and important. And they are… but not nearly as wonderful as I estimated them to be in the beginning. Once my perspective changes, I see them for who they really are: fairly plain, fairly normal, fairly boring and fairly average.
And when they too realize that I am now seeing their true selves—flaws and mediocrity and awkwardness—they fall back to ground level or perhaps even lower, sinking deeper than they were before they were overestimated by this overestimator.
Introversion should not be confused with shyness. Two different concepts. One can identify as a loner yet feel quite secure interacting with others both in familiar and novel environments. Shy folks feel insecure in social settings. They feel inadequate—like they are lacking the necessary skills to navigate and converse successfully. Sadly many of them are extroverted—desiring to be a part of the group. But fear restricts their agency. Whereas introverts never want to join the group. They simply aren't joiners. They don't get the energy of the crowd—the thrill of meeting and greeting. They prefer to be alone with their own thoughts and noises. Others are a distraction, keeping them from remaining comfy in their heads. Of course the introvert will occasionally wander outside themselves for external inspiration and stimulation. They may even go to a party. But oftentimes you will witness them wandering off by themselves. Don't be alarmed. This is them being themselves—doing what feels natural and necessary. Coping is having a clear escape route—both physically and mentally. If they need to leave the setting it is about self-preservation not snubbing. Though the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
Sounds brutal. I know. But it is true. And the truth can hurt... both the introvert and the folks who love them. There is a sense of shame the introvert experiences for not fitting in with the crowd and guilt for being greedy with one's time and presence. It's not easy to understand and accept the introvert for who she is and how she acts. It is not easy being the introvert who feels misunderstood like she is speaking a language that cannot be understood by extroverts.
I can picture a small group of extroverts discussing introversion over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Each is speaking and listening—sharing their thoughts, enjoying the banter, the community. Funny, you'll never see introverts discussing introversion with other introverts in a bar or coffee shop. Introverts keep these ideas to themselves. What is the point of sharing them? They aren't up for debate. Case closed.
Forgive me I'm out of practice. I haven't written much here or anywhere in the last few years. I blame it on Prozac. My desire or need to express myself out loud, in words, has been stifled. I'm just not that inspired, compelled, or motivated. I think my open-ended drug prescription has been a prescription for mild numbing of my emotions and a physical laziness which makes keeping it all inside less taxing. It is the price I pay to feel safer and saner. But don't think for a second that the thought treadmill has slowed down; it hasn't. It just doesn't want to be witnessed in action as of late. Today is an exception.
It has been almost a week since famed travel and food anthropologist Anthony Bourdain took his last breath—by choice. Or was it really a choice? That is debatable—at another time, in a separate blog entry, with a different state of mind.
Anthony's suicide ruffled my dormant feathers, stirred my still pot of stagnant soup stock—reviving it to a vibrant simmer. I haven't been able to brush-aside thoughts of what he meant to me: how he inspired me and changed my perceptions of foodways, foreign cultures, hospitality, and what it means to being a gracious guest. (Wish I had that last one down before travelling to Europe in the early 90's. What a ninny I was back then. What is the common phrase? Oh yes: an ignorant, arrogant, spoiled American.) I'm not the only person to share these sentiments, of course. Millions caught the Bourdain virus. We became a collective of foodies, chefs, travel enthusiasts, social scientists and common curious folks who loved and respected this snarky, creative, talented, hilarious, insightful genius.
Like many, my love of all things Bourdain began with his best selling book, Kitchen Confidential. It was the starting point. It captured my imagination and forever cemented my space in his global fandom. I thought, "Who is this guy? What insight! What wit! He became my intellectual hero—along with the late Christopher Hitchens. Both had chutzpah and charisma, could hold court, make one laugh out loud and cheer with utter gratitude to both for having the kahunas to unapologetically articulate human truths with such clarity and originality. Although Bourdain chose the destination and context, we were always involved in the adventure.
I can't claim to know why Anthony Bourdain decided to leave a party he was hosting. Even those closest to him are left with questions without answers. And so we'll keeping searching for these answers until we become comfortable with ambiguity—if we ever do. For his family and friends, this may take years—hindered by what ifs and guilt and possibly even anger—at him for taking his life and at themselves for failing to prevent this tragedy. The French detective in charge of the case stated he thinks it was an impulsive act—not premeditated—as if to ease the burden of the survivors who failed to see the warning signs. But truly, all suicides are premeditated. Perhaps no note is left behind, no weapon of choice purchased weeks in advance. But my reasonable mind informs me that all suicides have a modicum of preparation—of forethought. What evidence do I have to substantiate this claim in the case of Bourdain's suicide? Two things: he wanted to die in France and he wanted Eric Ripert to be the one to find his lifeless body.
France is where it all began. Tony fell in love with food and adventure while on holiday there as a child. It was with his first taste of a fresh-from-the-water oyster: "It tasted of seawater...of brine and flesh...of the future." "...I'd learned something. Viscerally, instinctively, spiritually—even in some small way sexually—and there was no turning back. The genie was out of the bottle. My life as a cook, and as a chef had begun." (From the opening pages of Kitchen Confidential.) And as where it all began for Tony, it also ended.
Why Eric Ripert? For one he is French—able to navigate France's laws and mores surrounding death procedures. Secondly, he was Tony's best friend—his confidant, his colleague, the person he trusted the most who loved him unconditionally—the one person whom he felt would protect his dignity and privacy after his death. Believing this so, makes me feel slightly less troubled knowing Anthony was not alone. Not really. He was loved, cherished, respected and best of all understood by at least one other person. Is that enough to keep one living? Apparently not. But it does offer my mind some peace. Comforts me. Calms me. Lets the feathers relax again and the soup return to a stillness—for now.
Rumor has it that the folks pandering at the entrances of Wal-Marts are actually not in dire straights like they purport to be. Supposedly they can make $15.00 an hour standing in one place holding a feel sorry for me sign. Do I feel sorry for them? No. It is a choice to succumb to begging. We have plenty of social services in place to help the needy. We have hot meals, food banks, shelters, rental assistance, job services, free medical, free counseling and rehabilitation. I'm not saying it is easy to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency—it isn't. I know this first hand.
Anyhow, just yesterday I passed by one of these panhandlers on my way out of Wal-Mart. I remember thinking: How can he stand out here all day in this heat? What a miserable state of existence. Not an easy life. He is suffering in order to survive.
But then, just a bit ago, I was out and about at lunchtime and I saw a gentleman in his thirties holding a sign near the road. But he wasn't standing still—like the other guy. He was dancing around, moving the sign back and forth—it is 104F out there. I focused in on the wording on the sign. It was an ad for the car wash behind him. He was getting paid to hold that sign. He had a legitimate job—though undeniably a miserable one. But unlike the panhandler, he was actually working for a living.
I believe in hand-ups not hand-outs. Next time you are tempted to give out spare change to those who ask for a gift without the responsibility of reciprocation, think twice. It doesn't do them or society any favors. It just feeds the victim mentality and sustains a poor work ethic.
Symbols can be powerful—evoking strong emotions to rise to the surface from some deep, out of view space. I have been subjected to three Confederate flags this last week—all were flying from long wooden poles alongside the US flag—attached to the beds of four wheel drive trucks, validating at least one stereotype perfectly. OK. This is Arizona. I am not in the South. The West should not feel any affiliation or loyalty to the Confederacy. What exactly are these fools embracing and expressing by showcasing this powerful symbol?
The first one I saw last week shocked me. The second had me rolling my eyes and feeling contempt and pity for the owner of the truck. But by the third exposure/assault on my intelligence, morality and humanity, I reacted viscerally. As the owner drove past me I showcased a symbol as well. Can you guess what? Short, sweet, powerful, effective:
Think the message was received loud and clear: "Ignorant racists fuck the hell off!"?
When I was fourteen years old, I fell in love for the first time with a boy named Brett. He was fifteen, handsome, and tall, with silky black hair. He looked a bit like a muscular Steve Perry—frontman for the band, Journey. At the end of the summer—that summer of my first love—Brett and his family moved to Florida. I never saw him again.
Brett and I never kissed or even dated. Too many obstacles kept us from hooking up. First off, he was my boyfriend Scott's best friend. They had been best buds since childhood. Secondly he was my best friend, Tina's, boyfriend. Thirdly, and most importantly, he was Jewish. And according to his religion—if adhered to—he needed to marry a fellow Jew. So even if we were to fall madly in love—leaving Tina and Scott on the sidelines—it was to be short lived. It was a star-crossed love. He was Jewish; I wasn't. Simple as that. It was over before it ever began. At the time, this seemed as silly as saying, my hair is black, yours is brown, so we can never be together. I was an atheist. I was never taught that I was a member of some exclusive club that denies others memberships based on their religious beliefs—or lack thereof. I did not care that he was Jewish—and not atheist. Why should it matter to him that I was not Jewish? Because he was indoctrinated to believe he must stick with his own kind. In the same way that blacks and whites only dated those within their own race. And the way that gays didn't date in the open—at all. This was the early eighties in Akron Ohio—not exactly the center of progressive ideas. So many prejudices. Misunderstandings. Tolerance was not a word or concept on the radar. Political correctness? What was that? Ignorance and fear were dividers—the dividers that kept Brett from even entertaining the thought that we could be together in the future.
Odd, but Tina was not Jewish either. But it was OK in his mind to have a short-lived fling with a gentile. But an everlasting love affair with one? Not a chance. Brett loved me too. I felt the reciprocity in every inch of my body and soul. That Tina and Scott were oblivious to our desires remains a mystery. Were they in denial? Neither were the sharpest blades in the drawer. But still. Scott went on the be my first. Yes, I wish it had been Brett. Elusive Brett. I spent the next five years looking for my next Brett. I found him in 1989 in San Francisco. His name was Israel and he was from Israel. Uncanny. He would become my first husband and the father of my only child, David.
That first rejection—based on my lack of Jewishness—was traumatic. It scarred me—changed me forever. It was not the last time I would be made to feel inferior for not being Jewish. It happened again at the US Embassy in Israel when I was told that my son, who was still in my womb at the time, would be a bastard if I did not convert to Judaism. He would be illegitimate. This was in the early nineties. Ignorance and fear were still alive and thriving there—and possibly still are to this day. Worse still, just a few weeks earlier, I learned that I could not marry Israel anywhere in Israel. There was no civil marriage in the entire state; it was illegal. And a Jew could not marry a non-Jew. Our only practical option was to take a boat to Cyprus and marry there. So we did. And were married by the mayor of the city, Nicosia. It was a simple ceremony—lasting under ten minutes. After we married, another couple, an American Christian woman and a Lebanese Jewish man, were married. Israel's religious bigotry created a thriving, cottage industry in Nicosia. There were even travel brochures advertising wedding and officiating services in Cyprus, much in the same way that Chapels in Las Vegas do. People literally run off to Cyprus to get married just like they run off to Nevada.
After my second divorce in 2010 from a non-Jewish man, I fell for another Jew. Three's a charm? Hardly. Another elusive Jew. Will he be the very last? Has the spell been broken? The fetish extinguished? The chase over? Have I have finally let my demons go? Said goodbye to the Jewish knight that I had hoped would save me, make my life wonderful—complete? My Jewish lover is a façade—an illusion. A delusion that some other person can rescue me, fill in the void, give my life meaning and structure. The elusive Brett is the elusive happiness. And this happiness cannot be found outside ourselves in the other. But rather, must come from within ourselves. The chase is up. I am no longer running towards something, someone. I am standing still, perfectly happy being alone—Jew free.
Netflix: no breaks; no commercials; no pauses to go pee; no opportunities to defocus—just one episode after another—binge-watching on the cheap. With a trial subscription it's free for thirty days. Thirty free days to get you hooked. Once hooked, your endless drug supply will cost a mere $7.99 a month. That is less than 30 cents a day for all the TV shows and movies one can ingest. Is there a cheaper drug on the market? Doubtful.
I spent the last few days in a daze-induced Dexter bingefest. By the time the sun went down last night, I was thoroughly drugged—in a toxic stupor. I needed air. Exercise. Human interaction. Having a few days off work in a row is not always in one's best interest. I didn't even put on mascara or a bra all weekend. What a waste of free time. I could have been outside enjoying the cooler weather. Or even have gone out on a date or two. But no. I chose to hole myself inside all weekend and watch episode after episode of a TV show about a serial killer. I feel heavy—hungover—this morning. Work will save me—for now—until tonight, when I return home—when/where Netflix is just one tab click away. Will I be able to resist when boredom sets in after 6 pm?
What happened to watching one episode a week? Isn't that the safe and healthy way to view? It would be if I had a TV hooked up. Can I possibly be expected to watch in moderation when I can binge-watch instead? Who eats just one potato chip when there is a whole bag on offer, right? Same thing. It looks like my only option is to not renew my subscription at the end of the month. That way I won't be tempted to view. But if I am going to cancel my Netflix, shouldn't I hurry up and watch as many Dexter episodes as I can before it expires?
Netflix is the Devil. And it knows it.
I am a delusion buster. Whenever I can, I tear down illusions and pull apart delusions. Why? Because I am a rationalist—a natural skeptic. I think it is due to both genetics and environment. My mom is also pragmatic. She is my significant role model.
As a parent, there is a fine line between being a delusion buster and being a dream crusher. One doesn't want to stifle her child's imagination—only keep it grounded in reality. You want your kid to express his/her creativity and have hope and dreams. But you also want their aspirations to be backed-up with practical steps towards achieving those things. Otherwise you are just going to be fostering wishful thinking—nurturing a dreamer whose dreams never materialize.
I think I have done a pretty good job balancing these things as a parent. My son has dreams. He looks to the future with hope and is capable of setting goals. He takes action; he doesn't just talk about what he wants to do; he does it.
I still have dreams too. I want to take a trip to England—possibly as soon as next summer. I am working towards this goal. I have been to many countries in Europe but never England. This is my dream. It is not a delusion; it is a possibility.
People can change.
I often hear and read others claim that people can't change: a zebra doesn't change its stripes; a leopard doesn't change its spots.
This is false. I know. Because if even one person can change, it renders that statement invalid. I am that one person.
Ten years ago I was sixty-seven pounds. Not dead; certainly not living. I was in the deepest throes of full-blown depression and anorexia. All my energy was spent surviving—barely—to be a good enough mom to my son. I didn't want to die. But I had no enthusiasm for life either. But fortunately, somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered a different Jehne. The Jehne of my childhood and early adulthood who was vibrant, positive, and happy. This gave me hope that one day I would return to the real me—my core identity. I went from stripes to spots.
But now I am back—in stripes—and possibly even stars! The old Jehne has returned in full force. I feel alive! Ambitious! Not just hopeful, but also thrilled to be alive and living. I am at a normal, healthy weight. My mind is clear, focused, and sharp. I have short-term goals that are materializing. And long-term ones to keep me on a forward-moving path. I am no longer just in the present; I have a future as well.
My twenties were spent being a single mom. My thirties spent being sick. My forties are about returning to form—and improving upon that form. I reckon my fifties will be fantastic: a decade of resolve, stability, and peace.
I am on fire! But please don't put me out. Let the flames burn bright and high.
It is no secret that I hate dogs. I mean really hate them. I'd never purposely be cruel to a mild-mannered dog. But I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to be kind to one or make any effort to save one from, say, drowning. I honestly don't know anyone who likes them less. Would I watch my parents dog if there were an emergency? Yes. That is the kind of sacrifice one makes for the people he or she loves.
One of the reasons I detest this type of animal is because they are dangerous. Not all dogs, of course. Not ones with responsible owners. Or ones that have been trained properly. But let's face it, most dogs are not well-behaved. They run away, chase cars, jump on house guests, defecate on the carpet, chew up your shoes, bark in the middle of the night, and BITE. This last behavior is the kicker. And sometimes results in serious or fatal injuries. Are some dogs more prone to injure and kill? Yes. And pit bulls are one of those breeds.
What kind of person owns a pit bull? Not a gentle and quiet person. Not a person who feels secure. But rather a person who wants to prove something. A bully of sorts. A person who wants to intimidate others. Protect themselves and/or their property from 'violators'. Someone who lives in fear of being violated. Not much different from a gun owner, in that regard. I'd be willing to bet that while most gun owners do not have pit bulls, most pit bull owners have guns—legally or illegally.
Far more people are injured by dogs than guns: Significant dog bites affect tens of million of people globally each year. It is estimated that two percent of the US population, from 4.5–4.7 million people, are bitten by dogs each year. In the 1980s and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities per year, while in the 2000s this has increased to 26. 77% of dog bites are from the pet of family or friends, and 50% of attacks occur on the dog owner's property. Source.
Just this morning I was pulling into my drive. Two women were walking a pit bull. A small girl was standing outside with her caretaker. The women and dog approach the child. Dog jumps up on girl—exceeding her in height. Then it latches onto a rolled up paper she is holding in her hand. The handlers tell her she has to let go of it. She throws it; dog retrieves it. One of the handlers pulls on paper in a game of tug of war. Dog holds tight. One woman says, "She's strong. Good girl." I could not even believe what I was witnessing. I called out, "Looks like a pit bull. Should be illegal." I am glad they didn't have a gun—or rather, use it on me. They did have a big, mean dog though. And I was on high alert. I entered my apartment—now safe and sound.
I'll say it again: I really hate dogs. I mean really hate them. But I also hate some dog owners/handlers. In this case, probably the owner(s)/handler(s) even more than the dog. Irresponsible idiots.
Certain breeds of dogs should be illegal. I nominate the pit bull as one of those breeds. The pit bull is like the automatic machine gun of dogs. No commoner should have one in their possession. It's overkill. Get a decent sized pistol and a shih tzu instead.
I am neither vegan nor vegetarian; I eat beef. But that does not make me a monster who is incapable of feeling empathy for bulls. I do care about animal welfare. Unnecessary suffering is immoral; bullfighting is immoral; it's archaic and barbaric; it's torture porn—one step removed from the gladiatorial shows of yesteryear.
Morrissey's new track, The Bullfighter Dies, is an anthem which cries out against this blood circus. Bullfighting is still legal in Spain, France, Mexico, and Texas. Yes, freaking Texas!
I don't want any creature to die needlessly in a bullfighting arena. But if a matador is going to be a sadist and repeatedly stick a bull until it weakens and bleeds to near death in front of an audience of torture voyeurs, then I am going to be rooting for the bull—no ifs ands or buts.
Seems like shaming is a favorite pastime for certain forum members. Why do some shame more than others? What gives them a sense of moral superiority, entitlement, and chutzpah to do it? I am not a psychologist. But I am certain there are a few theories out there to explain it. These are the Shaming Threads that have been erected (or resurrected) since January 1 of this year—the last four months— in the Off-topic and Pigsty forums. The archives are full of them, I'm sure.
Thread title is followed by thread starter. It is ALL about the thread starter. The lynch mob, however, obviously has a hand in it as well, otherwise the thread would simply die. I'll start by listing the epitome of a shaming thread, started by the resident Shamer No1Uno, who is not an outright troll but more of a passive aggressive instigator. Hides behind a thin veneer of civility when in fact he is the most self-righteous poster on the forum with an unhealthy dose of narcissism. Judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one (seven out of the fifteen threads were started by him). This thread was quite popular. And very revealing. Especially when the shaming was done to a person who was not even around to defend himself. The thread was two dimensional, as it also was an attempt to shame me for defending the shamed target. Anyone studying lynch mob mentality should have a look at this first thread. Most of the shaming threads are in the Pigsty. Are you surprised? I'm not. The thread starter knew it was going to get ugly. That was the point.
Steve Croce - disappeared - Shamer No1Uno (almost 17,00 views)
Omitting Personal Pronouns - Shamer Skylarker
The truth according to whom - Shamer No1Uno
Regular Posters - Shamer No1Uno
Have you forgotten Robby? I didn't. - Shamer Viva Hate
The FBE Appreciation Thread - Shamer Mozza220559 (a dud)
Which takes more of a pounding? - Shamer Viva Hate
Post then.........delete - Shamer No1Uno
Celebrities lookin' at ass - Shamer Viva Hate
Pathetic Losers Trying Desperately to Look Like Morrissey - Shamer Skylarker
Pray for realitybites - Shamer CrystalGeezer
Oh what manners we have - Shamer No1Uno
Shaming - Shamer No1Uno (oh the irony)
Symbolic stuff one person gives a crap about - Shamer No1Uno
Who should realitybites date next? - Shamer CrystalGeezer
There are also threads that start out as normal threads about various topics but get hijacked by the Shamers and thus become shame threads:
Misnomers - Hijacked by Shamer Viva Hate
The BBFC (BrummieBoy Fan Club) Thread - Hijacked by Shamer Viva Hate
Of course, the hijacker of all hijackers of threads—with the attempt to shame—was (let's hope it is a was) Pet Troll.
Notice how all the threads were started or hijacked by one of the resident trolls or instigators?!
Have I ever started a Shaming Thread? No. Have I made shaming posts? Yes, guilty on many occasions. FBE is my signature Shamemark.
Is this a shaming blog post? Yes, it is.
Have I made other similar blog posts? Probably quite a few. What is the appeal in shaming? Separates us from the shamed. Defines what we are not. Reinforces our values and beliefs—solidifies them. Seeks to change the behavior of the shamed. Or, at its most base, it could be to seek revenge or to lash out—humiliate another.
Morrissey is the master of shaming, btw. Almost all of his TTY posts are about shaming someone or some group. As are his statements in the press. But if you really want to see his shaming at its finest, don't look to TTY or the press, simply open Autobiography and start with page one.
Look at the list of threads above. Look at who started the most threads. Is there a correlation between shame and overachieving? Do children who are shamed become either deeply insecure, troubled adults or neurotic perfectionists? Is shaming ever a good thing? Does the Shamer ever have the right to sit in judgement? Are some things just flat out wrong that they warrant shaming? Or is shaming just one person or group trying to impart their values, beliefs, and ways of doing things upon another person or group? Kind of the opposite of live and let live. Curiously, so many fly that banner; so few actually believe it deep down. Shaming proves this. Do things this way or you should feel ashamed. I am better than you. I am right; you are wrong. Get in line. My way or the highway to Shame-hell. It is interesting to me that the people who cry the loudest about being judged are the most judgmental of all (Morrissey and the trolls, and yes, myself). The anti-regulators and libertarians who shame are the biggest hypocrites of all. Think about it.
There are also Shaming Signatures. Viva is flying one, as is Brummie and Fer, and so am I. There are probably more.
Here is a little song to close out this post. Don't be ashamed to admit you like it. I'm not.
I am not open-minded;
My brain is not elastic;
It's more like hardened plastic.
I know you must agree;
It is not difficult to see;
Denying it would be silly.
My beliefs are firmly planted;
Opinions sort of cemented;
Rarely changing over the seasons.
A paradigm shift is unlikely;
The skeptic in me prevents it;
You'll have to do some persuading.
Emotional appeals won't do;
Reason and evidence are what's needed;
Do you have what it takes to convince me?
Debate is what I love to do;
It's the platform to change convictions;
It's the time when my mind adjusts.
I'm not humble enough, I know;
But I am not too proud and stubborn;
I can see the flaws in my thinking.
Just yesterday, I dismissed the semicolon;
I said it was archaic and pretentious;
Good writers, I claimed, never use it.
But I was convinced otherwise;
I saw the errors in my perception;
Decided it was something worth embracing.
Semicolons can be effective on the page;
They alter the speed of the read;
They change the reader's pace.
So they are not overkill as I suggested;
They have their time and place;
Perhaps this poem has you convinced?
There are all kinds of people online, just as there are all kinds of people IRL. Fortunately I am able to steer clear of the psychopaths IRL. It is easy; one just avoids certain environments that they might otherwise run into one—like seedy nightclubs. Think of the film, Looking for Mr. Goodbar.
But avoiding 'not right in the head' types online is next to impossible. Creeps gravitate towards message boards and dating sites like moths to flames. I have an internet stalker as you know: Pet Troll. He is at it again, out on the forums, in full force. He started harassing me on Solo, in the chat room under the name Morrithey back in 2004. During my hiatus, he harassed numerous other posters and was banned. But he continues to re-register names. Then gets banned again, and again. And posts anonymously when he cannot post under a registered name. I am sure most of you are familiar with this psychopath. He even harasses offsite. I have received emails from him telling me he is going to send my Solo posts to my employer. Sick stuff. He seems to know where I work, where my son works, and the addresses I have lived at in the last ten years. He has also attempted to hack into my Gmail account and written a libelous book review on Amazon.com which he just removed a day ago—probably because he knows it is traceable to his real account.
Internet harassment is real folks. It is not just something that happens in films and novels. I have had firsthand experience. When I started posting again, the harassment started back up. It flourishes here because anonymous posting and freedom of speech are two maxims which are fully embraced. I respect this in many ways. I really do. It is actually part of the appeal of Solo. I benefit from these freedoms myself. And definitely utilize the freedom of speech clause to my advantage. But when freedom of speech and anonymous posting are taken to their extremes, we may see something more sinister manifest: systematic stalking. Perhaps rare—but possible on this type of forum. Solo is an enabler of this type of behavior, in other words. Please don't think I am knocking David and/or his baby. I'm not. I think he has one of the best sites on the Net. Unfortunately, it just happens to have some sick posters. He doesn't hand pick the cast of characters. There is no casting agent. Anyone and everyone is allowed on stage. The only thing that changes is the audience and the actors. The story pretty much remains the same, month after month, year after year. When one person leaves, another enters to fill their shoes. If a troll leaves (Wait, do they ever leave?), another will arrive to take his place.
I also believe Pet Troll is currently posting under a registered name. I think—just a hunch—that he has carefully crafted a false identity.
Could be wrong. I have been wrong before, as we all know. But I also am often right. My instincts are fine-tuned. And my reasoning abilities are sound. Haha. If I am right, however, this is the most disturbing thing I have seen online—ever. Because not only has this person been messing with innocent people who are oblivious to his deceit, but he seems to actually be delusional—almost believing his own lies. He has created a fantasy world and a new identity online. Think of the film, The Stepfather.
When reality won't do, alter your reality. Think of the film, Catch Me if You Can.
This guy's self-concept seems to be blurred—just like those film characters' self-concepts. His real life is not what he wishes it to be. So he has created a better life for himself—online. It is troubling. But probably not as uncommon as one might think. Ever see that TV show Catfish where people have created false identities to trick innocent people into online relationships with them? They create false Facebook profiles by stealing pics from other profiles and claiming ownership. Some even switch sexes, posing as a man, when if fact they are female. Or vice versa. Almost all of the catfish have been grossly overweight, social misfits with no regard for their victims. Psychopaths or just very maladjusted individuals? I don't know.
Plenty Of Fish, the world's largest free online dating site, has its fair share of creepers. Already I have had to block three members from being able to send further messages. Two were pretty benign. They seemed to be just trolling for a hookup. Setting out bait, hoping someone would bite. It was not personal. But the third one was. It started out innocently enough. A few weeks back, he sent me a message, asking me where in Sedona I lived. I wrote back and told him, close to the Starbucks. He wrote back and gave me his number then stated he is rarely online. I never called. So two days ago, he wrote back with some very abusive, stalkerish remarks about me being online a lot... and have I met anyone yet? I wrote back, despite my better judgment, asking him, "If you are rarely online how could you be be privy to my browsing habits?" (Actually, I did not use the word privy. I dumbed myself down in my reply. Not sure what my actual words were as the messages have been deleted from my inbox.) He wrote back and said he checks his inbox often and noticed I was online. Hello asshole, checking your inbox is logging onto the site. Perhaps others do the same thing? Anyhow, stalker man is now blocked as well.
Could stalker man be Pet Troll playing the role of Catfish on POF? Oh dear. What a nightmare.
What is my point in posting this rant against trolls, creepers, and stalkers online? Well, I am suggesting that I am freaking fed up. I really am. Online life, if you can call it that, is losing its luster. I am really in need of a break from all the psycho drama and psychopaths. It is easy to leave behind. Simply don't log on. I really hate the people on Solo for the most part. The loudmouths are some of the most vile people I have ever come across. I know for a fact I am not the only one who feels this way. Not even close. They are the worst the Net has to offer. Cyber bullies. People IRL don't gang up on a person and scream profanities and insults in their face, circling them like a pack of rabid wolves while wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Or do they?
I know of a place where bullying and stalking IS rampant IRL—elementary school playgrounds. Fortunately, like the seedy nightclubs, I can avoid those as well.
Trolls, whether registered or posting anonymously, harass, abuse and intimidate others for the thrill of it. Why online rather than at work, at home, at school? Because essentially they are cowards and psychopaths and the Net is the perfect playground for them to get their cheap thrills. They are hard to catch online because they do it behind a veil of anonymity where there is no accountability. Plus, targets are numerous and easy prey. But most of all they behave badly online because they never suffer any consequences. It's a game called, Catch Me if You Can—I dare you. The saying, you can run but you can't hide, does not apply. They can in fact run, and can in fact hide. And they do.
Erecting walls and having firm boundaries in place are measures one can take to safeguard against being a victim. You cannot win. No matter how clever and intelligent one is, one cannot beat them at their game. They have something that gives them the upper hand, they lack a conscience. You will lose every time. Every time. Ignore first. If that is not possible, walk away. Or run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and never look back. But make sure you have the last words: Catch me if you can, saddos!
The title of my new book...
How to Make Enemies and Distance People
~ Simply by Being Yourself ~
Well, it should be anyhow. Because I do believe I am an expert on the subject. Look no further than Solo for proof. My ignore list is long, my haters list is longer, and those who generally dislike me make up the longest list.
I basically go about things the wrong way—that is if I am trying to win friends and influence people. I don't sugarcoat, placate, pander. Well maybe a little, at first. I am friendly. Can be charming. Get along with almost everyone, in the beginning. But, inevitably, I need to be true to myself. And this is where making enemies and distancing oneself comes in.
I am an outspoken atheist. Some, perhaps many, will take offense to my views and my tell it like I see it approach. I don't tone it down because I am afraid I will offend someone who is religious. I just don't. IRL, I work with people who are believers. I don't talk about atheism with them. They don't know what I think. I don't care what they think. Work is a professional atmosphere. I keep my personal life out of it.
IRL, I am surrounded by people who are overweight. Do I discriminate against them? Snub them? Make fun of them? Absolutely not. I treat them and all people as my equals.
But online... well, it is different. It is freedom. The medium allows for and almost begs one to debate, push boundaries, become fearless, put forth ideas and see how others respond. Sometimes we forget that there are real people reading our words. But maybe that is the beauty of it as well. It liberates us when we don't hold back.
I don't go out of my way to hurt people or offend them. Well, occasionally I do, when I craft some insult. But normally I am just being myself. Expressing my raw opinions. Mainly unfiltered.
I took the high road for several months. Censored myself—heavily. I was being encouraged to do so by someone who claimed he was all about compassion. Yet the irony of it all is that once he vacated the premises, he became known as someone who was the antithesis of compassion. Still boggles my mind. And I do wonder if he was trying to be all about compassion. But wasn't really at all, in his core. Who knows? And I am afraid I will never have the answer.
I don't expect to be loved by anyone online. I am OK with not really even being liked. I need to be me first. If that means I am hated by all, so be it.
Solo does not feel like the Cheers bar any longer. It did a few months ago. But that well has dried up. But honestly, was it ever overflowing with love and harmony? No, it wasn't.
The stupidest phrase in circulation has got to be, "Can't we all just get along?" No, we can't. Especially when I am not in a diplomatic mood. I'm 90% kind, 10% bitch. I think the bitch part is what most seem to focus on and remember. I really DO polarize people.
So here is a quick summary of my tips for making enemies and distancing people:
Be outspoken about your atheism.
Tell people they are choosing to be overweight.
Be brutally honest.
Be friendly with disliked people.
Write intelligently, to differentiate yourself from the plebs.
Come off as arrogant and narcissistic whenever possible.
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