Friday, March 16, 2007

Virtual Meanies

Over the past few weeks, I have been reminded on several occasions of what I will dub "virtual meanies." The phrase is not exact, because I believe they are really mean, but it sounds nicer.

Email Meanies
I long time ago, I posted a blog entry about a particularly catty email message1. But I have seen many other emails that have been particularly mean-spirited. And from my personal experience, if the same information was transmitted either on the telephone or in person, the exchange would have been much nicer, and the essential message still would have been transmitted. What I mean is that the message, without some of the nastiness, would have been sent and received.

Blogger Meanies
Have you ever gotten a comment that had thirteen words, ten of which were swear words, two of the remaining words were conjunctions2 linking said swear words, and then your name. Did it make you feel special? Did deleting the comment feel better than reading it?

I know of very few real people who would say that to someone else in person. I can think of two people that would say this, and both had very serious mental illnesses. These people do exist, but you rarely see them, because they are either living in group homes, living on the street3, or have no friends. But in blog-land, they can post lots of comments and have virtual friends who enjoy doing the same.

Vlogger Meanies
I saw several YouTube videos recently which were, more often than not, mean-spirited. Response videos that just ridiculed people. I may blog again on one particular instance, not from the YouTube perspective, but from another perspective. It is in my brain and I might expand this a bit. But you get the idea.

Bottom Line
I think this occurs because we are one step removed from the person. I could talk about non-verbal communication and all of that garbage, but I think the bottom-line is that when we make a comment, send an email or even talk to a telemarketer, we de-personalize the person we are communicating with.

Here is what I would like to say to those meanies. You know, I am Leesa. I am a real person. I have hopes, I have fears. I am not smart at everything, and I am sure you are better at some things.

I sometimes wonder, meanie, if you need to belittle others in order to feel more important. I wonder if you are loved at home, or what has made you the way you are. Are you generally a nice person but flame4 people on email and through your comments? Do you enjoy trolling5 blogs or vlogs? Do you separate your online and real personal life? Do you think that online is just not real? Do you discount your actions online because you don't consider them real?

Okay, I know that meanies don't really care what I think. Heck, it is hard enough having any sort of impact on people you love. After more than a dozen years of marriage, I have taught hubbie to put the toilet seat down, a minor accomplishment that took much more energy than it should.

Conjunction Junction, what's your function. And, but and or, they get you pretty far. Where was I?

1If you read the email, it appears as if the message has been re-arranged so that the earliest message is shown first. You know, over time, I have learned to read in reverse order when it comes to emails, so if you follow the link, be warned.
2Whenever I say or write the word "conjunction", I start hearing, "Conjunction Junction, what's your function. And, but and or, they take you pretty far." This is sad for two reasons: (a) I have no children, and (b) I can't get rid of that song. Ever.
3It is rather sad that many with mental illnesses are homeless in the US.
4Flame: to verbally attack someone online in a chat with harsh, unnecessary words.
5Troll: to post controversial or provocative messages in a deliberate attempt to provoke flames.


LarryLilly said...

Good morning Leesa
First beatches!

LarryLilly said...

I understand. Some people are very rude (1). and others are filled with profanity (2)
Now at times, like during wild gorilla sex, its ok to use words that refer to certain acts (3), body parts (4) etc in less than Kings English (5).

But, what the hell, if you cant take a joke, f you!

1) vulgar
2) really vulgar
3) fuck me, eat me, blow me
4) pussy, penis, Mr Willie
5) high society english

kathi said...

Some people just have so much anger and/or resentment inside of them that it's all that can come out.
I've got a lot of anger and resentment...geeze, I hope I don't come off like some of those. Please tell me if I ever do, I'll give you permission to kick my butt.

Leesa said...

larry: are you making fun of my footnotes? I think my footnotes are cute.

kathi: you don't come across as bitter/angry. You come across as warm, and sometimes like you got the stuffing knocked out of you. But always warm and gracious.

Monica said...

Leesa..I love your footnotes. They ARE cute. You use footnotes, I over-use parenthesees (which despite re-spelling 3 times I can't get right) and have way too many long pause side notes...which is how speak-- long run on sentances with sprawling text.
Oh and spell checked, it is parentheseses--no...crap--cut and paste---Parentheses

Damn...I should stop using them!

Editor said...

sorry, can't be vulgar to pretty women but I would like you to email me. I am thinking of putting together a Battle of the Hunting Blogs and want to know how much of a headache it is to put one on.
You can be a judge!

colleen said...

I have a passive aggressive blog reader who only comes to my site when I write anything political to stand on his soapbox and I have had to censor him at times for insulting me and my readers. The first time I did it I felt guilty, but now I'm like...hey, my blog is not a forum for you. When I got to a person's blog, I feel it's like being in their living room. I might jump in the conversation but try to be polite.

Ian Lidster said...

The bad/good aspect of blogs or even emails is that they break down the normal boundaries of human face-to-face interaction. This seems to give leave to individuals who don't even know you directly as a person to either screw you over, or screw you carnally, as the case may be, on line. We take no time to get to know all sorts of intimate things about people in these places that would otherwise take a great deal of time to do.
I think the point is that people assume they know you far better than they really do.
Good post from you my cyber friend Leesa.


LarryLilly said...

My kids are all grown, and fortunately for me, they didnt have to pester me with me allowing them to get cell phones. I am a Luddite when it comes to that stuff in the house.


Talking to people at work whose kids have cell phones, especially the parents of teen girls, is how cruel cell phone IM have become in teen life. Someone starts a rumor, then in a flash, its all over the school, followed with the rebuttals, and so on until the person either melts down, or gets over it. Then there is the payback.

Used to be you didnt like someone, you had to start rumors the old fashion way, you told two people, and they told two people, and by then, the story changed into something that was true. But today, click BOOM.

That genie wont get back into its bottle.

Leesa I know you didnt get enough last weekend, so I hope you get some more this weekend,

sleep that it!

what were you thinking? LOL

LarryLilly said...

A new blog term

Deja Bull

sort of like urban legends, but more on context related, not factual.

Deja Bull translated means "I have read this Bullshit before!"

Pittchick said...

I've gotten a couple of rude comments, but no swear words yet.
I guess it's just easier for some people to hide behind their online persona when being mean to people.

Leesa said...

monica: I just started loving footnotes.

editor: sounds like fun!

colleen: nice ideas, wish everybody was as considerate.

ian: I think intimacy is a casualty of the Internet.

larry: I did not know texting was that bad! And unfortunately, a lot of what is placed on the Internet may be classified as bull, but it looks fairly official.

pitt: I guess I sometimes attract those who swear.

Rebecca said...

Criticism can be painful to receive, but if a writer is going to put his or her thoughts, feelings, ideas, etc., out there for the world to read, that writer should learn to accept criticism as well as acclaim. Most writers understand that not everyone is going to agree with them, but not all criticism or discourse is bad. I do agree with you, however, that how the criticism is presented is important, and no one should ever be “mean” or call you names (or swear). That says more about that person than it does about you.

I think you are a very intelligent woman, maybe even brilliant, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the adulation of your regular readers. That will make your writing sloppy. Sharpening your skills sometimes means accepting criticism. Instead of competing in contests that no one but the contestants care about, concentrate on writing the best blog. You have the enviable talent of being able to write well, so use it, and perhaps welcome the challenge to stir up lively debate once in a while. Just try not to take the criticism personally.

Leesa said...

rebecca: I think sometimes my blog writing is much sloppier than my "normal" writing. Good thoughts. I guess I have two competing thoughts - improving my writing and sharing my ideas, and although these two thoughts seem aligned, I can assure you they are not.