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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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