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Author Topic: Big Meanies on the Internet
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm actually writing this because while it's something that I deal with often, mostly by virtue of the work I do, it's something many of you also deal with all the time because you don't just go to websites like this where the community is very actively moderated and people work really hard to keep the space safe for everyone.

In a nutshell, this is kind of me asking you for advice. I find that even though I've dealt with it for years and years, I am very impacted by meanness, whether it's aimed at me, people I know and care about, or even people I don't know at all. I feel like as the internet has grown since we first started developing it, that alas -- and likely just by virtue of volume in some respects -- the mean on the internet has also grown. It feels like there's kind of a larger culture of mean in the world, period, of late, that's obviously also part of this.

I know how I deal, and I can talk with some of you about that if you struggle with it too and want to hear someone else's coping tools. But I'm wondering how you do, because I could really use hearing those of other people for myself too!

I also know how I react: I tend to turn very inward, and find that being exposed to mean, and certainly having it thrown at me, tends to make me feel very low, uninspired, and kind of saps my energy, big time. I often have a hard time even getting creative with problem-solving around mean -- unusual for someone who is often a very effortless and inspired problem-solver -- when I'm feeling it. I find that I feel powerless about it to some degree, and struggle to kind of pull up my bootstraps around it. I grew up around people and very much influenced by people who worked very hard in the world to counter cruelty and to foster compassion, so big meanness in my world, when it feels really big and pervasive, is always something that really stops me in my tracks, even though it's not like I ever had any illusions people were sometimes very mean to one another and have experienced some profound cruelty in my life.

So, I'm kind of curious, too, about how different people experience meanness (not just online, mind), especially people of a generation that's very different than mine.

[ 10-01-2011, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Jacob at Scarleteen
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 66249

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It's really hard Heather,

I actually find that a bit of self-help-cynicism helps, not just in deflecting the bull that people come out with but also in putting it into context.

If people are saying ignorant and aggressive stuff, I tend to just be really hurt and frustrated because it's outside my safe internal space where I try to understand the world how I want it to be.

So when that happens I think something which can help is just to say to myself, that the world is a place where there's a lot mean stuff happening and that this is just part of that... that's saddening, but I think it's worth making peace with the idea a little bit. I don't that's surrendering and sometimes it really feels appropriate to say "stuff sucks", I think it can be a bit of a relief.

I don't know if that applies?

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mizchastain
Activist
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Some online snark doesn't bother me - I got someone screaming profanities at me for telling them a story they'd written was bad, and I just thought it was really funny. If it's something that applies to my real-life thoughts, though ... yeah, I get upset. Unreasonably so, to be honest, and I'm not sure why, because what a stranger thinks of me shouldn't be that important. I'm looking into trying EMDR again because that helped clear my head of some other stuff, so maybe it'll help me here.
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Saffron Raymie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 49582

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I deal with a lot of meaness working in a store. I used to tell myself that People are Vulnerble. All people. This is because we are highly, highly emotional creatures.

Sometimes, when people are upset (Antichoice getting mixed up about false-truths, people terrified of sexual things because the media and culture presents sex and abuse as the same thing, people in my shop that think I don't care about them enough to give them the best service.)

Like, yesterday someone asked if out Halloween costume were on sale and I said no, and ze stormed off yelling at me: 'But it's October NOW!!' I figured ze'd been dumped and was desperate for a cool or sexy Halloween costume to win the partner back. It seems like a flight of the imagination; but it could be anything - the main thing is, they're obviously hurting, and have not addressed that yet. People that cannot take care of themselves don't tend to take of others very well.

When other people have shouted or stormed out of the shop I feel that it must be awful to feel that acting out is the only way to have their needs met. They must have learnt that somewhere in life, and it's sad.

Obviously some people are not vulnerable - but this is because of a lifelong habit of self-care. Often, particularly for women, self-care is seen as selfish, so it isn't practiced so well - if at all. For men, self-care is seen as weak and they are pressured to supress their emotional needs completely and utterly.

Last week, someone much bigger than me pushed me out of the way. I felt that being assertive worked best and said 'Next time, do you mind not pushing me out of the way?' Ze said 'it depends if you get in my way'. I made a face of disgust and walked off; honestly, I felt like I was talking to a naughty child. However, I had stood up for myself, and had not resorted to a patriarchal assertion of power.

So I'd say remembering that people are vulnerable, highly emotional, not doing self-care, manipulated by the culture we're in seems to help me. So does standing up for myself when the mean is a display of priviledge or phyisical/verbal agression - and taking pride that I have not resorted to agression; because I do not need to.

The strongest people are those who do not need agression or forcefulness to live the way that they believe is right. They have the confidence that they are doing good in the world without trying to harm or coerce those who do not feel the same. They can be assertive and self-defend without needing to resort to agression or force. I know it hurts, but they re just lost people really. You are strong and respected, because you are not mean. Think of all those you inspire everyday, saving others' hearts from mean.

If thinking thse things don't help, you could start Hula-Hoopers against Meaness and invite Kathleen Hanna!!! She had to deal with lots of mean in her Bikini Kill days by removing the mean people from gigs. Then you could celebrate by eating all the Saffron you grow!

Stay Punk, Heather, *Hugs*.

[ 10-03-2011, 05:05 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
It feels like there's kind of a larger culture of mean in the world, period, of late, that's obviously also part of this.

Interesting that you say that. How of late is of late? Because I'm always hearing that in days I am too young to remember, there was more social solidarity about. There sure doesn't seem to be much of it these days. People don't say, Let's make sure everybody gets a good pension. They say, I work in the private sector and my pension plan is awful, so why should public sector workers have a good one?

I used to get bullied at school. I shrank into myself and took it. I let this kid who was half a head shorter than me and no heavier knock me about, when I could probably have beaten him in a fight. It never once, not until years later, occurred to me that I could have hit back. I had no power at school. I wasn't quite at the bottom of the social pecking order, because I was in the honors classes and whatnot and this particular public school was middle-class enough for that to be valued, but I was near it. It's odd when you think about it: being surrounded by perfectly friendly people all day long will make me so tired from social interaction, which I am clumsy at, that I become furiously angry and misanthropic; but when people are mean to me -- I'm the kind of person who looks like they'll jump a mile if you yell in their ear, so people yell in my ear when I'm walking down the road, and sure enough I jump a mile -- I just crumple. I'm trying to train myself to think "F**k you" when that kind of thing happens, but I am far from a nice person myself, so I don't really feel entitled to.

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