TRIGGER WARNINGS for homophobia, ableism, cyberbullying and what not but I can without shame say that this one is a good read if you’re wanting to see a take down of one of the most amateur hour trolls I’ve seen in some time. I explore what makes a worthy online adversary and why most trolls fail because their commitment to their own evil is kind of lacking.
So this is going to sound utterly insane, because it is, but when I’ve @ replied to somebody I care about or value the opinion of on Twitter, and they ask me to chill out or relax or say something of that ilk that makes me worry I’ve offended or irritated them, their reply telling me to calm down, or worse, no reply at all, combined with their avatar not turning up in my feed for a while… It makes me terrified that they’ve blocked me and I’ve blown my chance of interacting with another human being forever.
If this sounds like I should get out more, you’d be right. A large portion of my strong attachment to Twitter people stems from my lack of meatspace people most of the time to interact with. So if suddenly your @ reply to my panic seems like I’ve annoyed you, it makes the panic worse! And you probably don’t even mean to do it! It’s a debilitating condition and it’s affecting my recent social media interactions rather badly due to the combined factor of my high functioning autism making it hard to read tone on the Internet. Hence at the first sign of trouble I become a ball of raw panic.
So I apparently just became the victim of the “Internet version of a drive by” which is more pathetic and sad than genuinely tragic like a real drive by is. I have no idea what I did to piss them off but considering that I was showered in black people reaction memes instead of bullets I expected thugs, not nerds.
I fanned the flames, and soon enough they were getting high off me, to quote Community. I said things like “These people think they’re 50 Cent but they’re barely pennies” and “I’ve been to Venice Beach, I know a thug when I see one and you guys ain’t it”.
Even sadder a commentary on this 21st Century phenomenon is they think they won cause I was “mad”. The reality is there were no winners, because this was like robbing a bank to get all this money but then handing it over to the Joker who burns it, wasting everyone’s time because he had no investment in the debacle whatsoever.
That’s the analogy I’m going with.
Sometimes I worry I’m too annoying to random Internet celebrities on Twitter but then I remember I outright trolled Bret Easton Ellis there about how he wasn’t offending me fast enough with his book American Psycho since he was sure taking his time pacing out the outrage.
I guess I get worried I’m more annoying than I actually might be.
Don’t you just hate it when you get linked an article in the news about something you are outraged by, you immediately scramble to Twitter to inform all of the looming threat to your way of life and everything you hold dear, but lo, there is a twist, it is a news link from two years ago, and you follow up more recent developments only to discover that your outrage, and the outrage of others prevented the passing of some bullshit legislation because too many people, including you, got outraged?
I call this curious phenomenon retroutrage, or retroactive outrage, where one is stirred up into previously forgotten outrage by outdated news URLs from years past that don’t give you all the facts you need to remember that your outrage helped bury this problem in times past.
There are moments in simple conversations that change lives. There are also moments that come right after that change language. Because if there is an emotion or moment that has no name… the human animal is compelled to name it so it is no longer feared.
There are times when discussing ideas offline changed my perception of how ideas are spread online and off alike. I had this conversation with a fellow art student named Fiona (I name her because to not do that would dampen the credibility of my tale) in a week where much kerfuffle online about Tropes Vs. Video Games was first flaring up and I certainly didn’t feel qualified to discuss it at length because at times my online attempts at starting conversations on Twitter and Tumblr can end badly due to a lack of experience with the issue affecting a group that’s angry or concerned about it. So I did what I never thought I’d do willingly. I went off Twitter, and while waiting for my assessment review appointment with my art school professors, discussed with Fiona her recent work where she stitched and sewed decorated hoods which were placed on female models’ heads when they would otherwise be naked, and each hood had a message stitched onto it to reflect how ever present objectification of women was.
"It’s like our teacher doesn’t get why I did it," Fiona complained. "Why doesn’t he get that it’s about objectification instead of nudity for nudity’s sake?"
I turned to her with not ever looming dread as I often seem like I have online where I worry about being taken out of context due to Twitter’s 140 character limit making it hard to discuss real, complicated issues harder to solve than “What sandwich will I have for lunch?”.
My constant anxiety over using Tumblr or Twitter to talk about issues like this is that the internet is fast to react to posts about things in ways where people get angry at each other from misunderstandings, whether rage over it is justified against Internet trolls or harmless men who would have to leave their bedrooms to pose any threat to women, real or imagined as those threats may be.
A misunderstanding over Twitter can lose you a follower because of the toneless text discussion had. But a discussion over these weighty subjects between face to face, real people… am I the only one who finds it weird that I find it really intimidating to talk to people online who I don’t know well about controversies out of fear they’ll hate me five minutes in, while talking to strangers in real life is nowhere near as scary as it was for me as a teenager due to me being a battle hardened flame war veteran whose tendency to not use his anonymous usernames on forums for evil won him not only online respect but a gained wisdom in how to talk to real people offline with a confidence that I can possess strangely enough outside of Internet forums rather than posting on them?
With this in mind, the struggle for women to be able to freely discuss their issues privately online and how men fail to bring any progress when reaching out to them, good intentions or bad… became crystal clear to me as not an issue of women or men being universally the good guys or bad guys in a debate… but the uncomfortable realisation that a lot of these men trying to defend their gender from the so called Feminazis as I sometimes see in comments or angry women from the well meaning, trying to be polite and failing at it ones, are failing at real two way cross-gender debate because a lot of us guys haven’t left our bedrooms and talked to real women who aren’t on Twitter or Tumblr in some time.
See, I was so used to seeing angry women being deservedly angry about sexist bullshit online that at times it seemed like feminists online had adopted this as a default mood. At the same time, women who were grumbling about privileged white males hijacking their conversation probably hadn’t had a face to face conversation about this stuff offline from the message boards in some months too, and both genders were left blaming each other for misunderstandings that if the conversation happened with men and women in the same physical room together, would not go nearly as badly with the diplomacy because the Internet has this odd way of rewarding anonymous rage about things without taking physical living people’s emotions about it on board.
The failures of men and women implementing feminism online and in RL wasn’t the fault of Mars declaring war on Venus (in most cases), it was as tragically simple as men and women not talking to each other about this stuff face to face with friends because as sad as I am to admit this, a lot of men and women both feel that they have few friends to confide in, so they post their frustrations online because they have nowhere else to go. So they think.
People online have been separated from the realities of actual people being behind those fun avatars of anime characters or fan art of celebrities or Hello Kitty thumbnails that we forgot that those sometimes adorable little images is the personally chosen Internet face of an actual person whose personal situation, home life and up bringing is expressed nowhere in that little jpg file or their username.
It’s saddening that I have to remind people that we need to remember to talk to actual people about these issues so that we get a more accurate perception of what people are saying and what worldview brought them to this ideological minefield.
It’s sad not because I’m mocking people on the Internet as losers for spending lots of time there, but because as an admitted shut in/hikikomori sympathiser, I would be the FIRST to admit that NOBODY is universally cool in ANYONE’S eyes anymore. The Internet utterly destroyed everybody’s unified idea of whose role in life was to be beaten up for the extraction of lunch money, and in the alarmed power grab to fill that trauma providing void, cyber bullying trolls stepped up to the challenge and while successful at making people miserable suddenly had their master plan for world domination backfire on them because forum admins and user blocking options had them on the run like a Wild West Outlaw, chased down till no shanty town would take these wanted men dead or alive.
Which leaves the law abiding people online in constant fear of both making satirical jokes on the Internet in an unironically mean way AND being labeled as a troll under false pretenses at the same time.
The flame wars in the past months at that time I spoke to Fiona left me so PTSD ridden that I now have flame war thread flashbacks like old men in retirement homes have repressed memories of much more horrifying conflicts like Vietnam. I was left not knowing whether it was safe to discuss feminism issues with women as a man at all anymore. I was the Internet age’s answer to the poor soul sent out to kill Colonel Kurtz, only in troll form so there were millions of ‘em.
So, I confided in Fiona my concerns, sincere, honest, and real, about discussing objectification of women while being a man at all. I braced myself for the real life slap in the face to come, but I was world weary from so many forum threads that burned down in flames, many good men and women blocked or banned in the line of duty, I couldn’t take it anymore, if death was to come at the hands of a woman after I survived being humiliated by Germaine Greer herself, I was prepared to die in battle, not as a coward, but a soldier praying for the flames to end…
"You know Fiona, your artwork isn’t feminist because of the nudity - it’s empowering to women because it subverts traditional… um… women’s arts and crafts like sewing to make hoods with embroidered messages hiding women’s faces over naked bodies to make a point about how women are objectified. Please don’t hurt me! I just want to help!".
I braced for the yelling, the argument that sewing was not just “women’s craft”… but it never came. Because I was there face to face, Fiona clearly understood I wasn’t trolling her or sucking up. She knew I wanted to help, because earlier I’d told her about the forum battlefields raging over the Tropes Vs Video Games issue happening even as we spoke. She knew why I found it so hard to communicate clearly when I had high functioning autism since she knew me from two full years of Uni already, and had a good idea that my brain was dodging political minefields in conversations every day. She never knew about my secret life as a PTSD ridden internet soldier on a tour of duty that seemed endless though. She thought it was hilarious. And for the first time in my life I really thought about it, and considered that maybe it was.
"So you’re saying that all these… Internet flame war crimes…" she laughed, "…are over a simple discussion about how women are depicted in video games?".
"Yeah, I know, right?" I laughed. In retrospect when talking about this stuff in real life with real people all these Internet tales of valour and glory sounded bloody stupid but jolly exciting. "These feminists aren’t even dealing with all trolls, all the time. Sometimes they’re dealing with men who’d have to leave the house to be any threat to women’s rights at all. It’s like, I’m a guy, but I don’t wake up in the morning and think: "God it’s tough being a man, so many women to oppress, how will I find the time to subjugate them all? They’re half the population, woe is me!". I mean, these feminists online are dealing with people like me who can’t even put a cat in real danger."
She laughed and laughed. “Jake, you crack me up, how do these people find the time to post these comments at each other, you have lives, right?”
“Sometimes we do, but when we don’t - stuff like this happens.” I replied.
"I still dunno how to make this artwork mean something. I feel dumb sometimes, Jake."
“You’re not dumb, you haven’t dropped out yet. You got this far, and your idea is going places. I mean, yeah, you have photos of naked people, but surely the naked people have hobbies, and lives? Like if you took photos of naked people doing their taxes, washing the dishes, brushing their teeth… like you could say with that, “Being naked is not my only identity…”. It could work.”
We looked at each other, and suddenly our brains aligned. We have a platonic friendship, me and Fiona, but we help each other out. And by a twist of fate, both of us realised we just solved each other’s problems with our artistic, creative practice.
"Omigod, Jake." she said. "You’re a genius. You figured it out!"
“How did I do it, how could I have had a penis this whole time, and yet understand a core element of the objectification of women without even trying?” I gasped.
“It all makes sense… It shouldn’t, but it does!” she laughed.
Little moments like this, it had no name on that day. It was like gaining enlightenment by complete accident, without even trying like a bloody idiot. Like I finally understood not feminism itself, but a core element of why a lot of attempts at implementing it went horribly wrong. Feminism had come to me, like a glimpse of nirvana. It was like… FEMINIRVANA.
Speaking face to face helps us understand each other, even when it seems the people online are the only ones that care. But you make new friends even if they seem old, and new words even if they seem silly.
I didn’t have all the answers to an issue… for the first time I wasn’t afraid of admitting that and reaching out to somebody without being worried of offending them by accident. And it’s a relief to admit you don’t have all the answers. Because if you find one of them you can see it right there in front of you.
So I was checking my Tumblr, as you do when you’re a visual arts student who uses social media sites not only to waste time, but to also destroy the credibility of outdated ideologies from across the Pacific Ocean before the enemy knows their scene was dead the second I posted… and I came across this Men’s Health Style Rules guide.
Let me make myself clear, I might be a high functioning autistic white Aussie drongo, but that doesn’t mean I won’t let this sexist bullshit that’s far more retarded than I’ll ever be slide, even if it’s aimed at men by other, richer, presumably even whiter men who wouldn’t know the Australian climate if a dingo ate their baby and they had to teach a squat team about the territory they’re up against to get their douchey, highbrow storebought revenge dished out by Seal Team 6 that they rented for the day because they’re too rich to get their hands dirty and get their precious fashion labels all mudded up while they’re trying to dispense unwarranted “justice” on the dingo that ate their baby, but since they have no sense of responsibility, the baby turns out to be a Chinese made iPhone because so far they have no empathy or worth that grants them the ability to cope with raising a real human with real, not-designer label nappies that need changing.
This is a really drawn out metaphor, yes indeed, but it sure as bloody hell makes more sense than the downright condescending and snobbish advice dished out by what I can only assume is a rich high roller who clearly has the time to spit on the fashion choices of people in the “Star Wars Cantina”, the “slackers”, who probably put more hard work into preserving the economy than the blokes who published this tripe probably did.
I’ve contemplated whether it’s right to say whether or not men are privileged due to race or gender, and at this point, even though I was personally yelled at by Germaine Greer at a book talk, she sure painted Aussie men in a far, far less degrading light than this article does without even trying. You see, if there truly is a Men’s Rights movement, and there are struggles Men need to fight back for, it was never about women trying to take alimony or child support money from you because “you’re a man”. No, the enemy is far more scheming and heinous, since feminists in retrospect let us blokes off pretty easy.
The true enemy, is the rich, corporate emasculator of what the corporate world imagines the man of today should be in order for him to turn a profit from the less powerful men who fill the pockets of the 1% by being convinced via articles such as this that a man only has worth and status if he plunders enough gold to buy overpriced menswear of ludicrous amounts, if only to satisfy his slavemaster who spits on him just as he spits on those Metallica t-shirt wearing “slackers” who could probably contribute more to any given company via their knowledge of Twitter and blogs alone.
The countryman in my nation’s workplaces wears many things to work, and out and about as well. This is not my core concern with this article here. My core concern is that this foolish men’s magazine editor was narcissistic enough to believe that the American Corporate Look works in every nation’s climate around the globe, that “you have to fake it until you make it” just so society that already spits on you before you even begin for wearing logo shirts, that you’re not allowed to wear unless you own the company it depicts because you’ll look like a tool apparently.
I dunno guys. I’ve seen MMA fighters on UFC wear a shit-ton of logo shirts and I’d never really consider calling beefy guys who could crush you with their bare hands tools if you enjoyed the experience of breathing enough that you’d like to continue breathing and walking without crutches for the rest of your life by avoiding this. They’re pretty manly dudes. And they wear logo shirts.
These MMA fighters would not allow these snarky menswear merchants in men’s mags to trash talk their choice of t-shirt for a situation. And… to be honest… neither should we, as men worldwide, continue to believe that corporate bullying of non-white, non-rich, non-“manly” men is an acceptable ethos for the Twenty First Century. Men’s magazines are designed to sell you an idea, perhaps a concept of which manliness is measured against. It is a cunning gambit, and because men believe their only true threat is women’s need for family support if they desire it, they fail to notice the Rich White Male agenda which is so easily ignored by men who every day fight against this tripe because they don’t even realise the prison of commercial, materialist lies of a man’s worth was there at all.
This is a system that tells a man who wears his favorite Metallica shirt in public that he is worthless because he cannot afford to dress like the richer, more powerful men who’d sooner shit in his beer than admit he shared any semblance of commonality or equality. This is a system that says to a man, “You have to act like this for society to even admit you’re human, by the way you have to buy these clothes and shoes and gadgets if the boss who pays you minimum wage will even gaze upon you”.
For you see, Men’s Rights shouldn’t have been wasted on locking horns with feminists over abortion and equal pay at all. We failed to harness something that could have been something great, a tool that cuts oppression like a knife through butter, and allowed the internet to make a joke of those two words because it was applied to an area it never belonged. Thanks to Reddit it has no respect, it has been neutered in its potency.
But the thing about language is, there is more than one language rather than just English. We will find a word which is powerful enough to discredit a financial system that hates us but expects us to put money into it so it continues to thrive. It doesn’t work in Australia, especially not with our climate, and we do just fine wearing our dorky t-shirts in the summer heat thank you, and our economy thanks us too by not wasting our money trying to please a capitalist system that even Americans are failed by, Americans who deny us the power of the clothes we wear because apparently as soon as people start wearing Crocs or sandals in public, the apocalypse is allegedly nigh.
Wear your Crocs in public. Wear every fucking logo shirt you own, the more obnoxious the better, hundreds of MMA fighters can’t be wrong. When half the world’s population is paid less than a man for being a woman, why should a man accept that he HAS to preserve a system that pays him more for being a man but treats him far less than one not by his wallet but by his dignity? This is no workplace for poor men, and there will not exist such a hell if it is torn down by the people Dio called “hungry for heaven”. Cause you’ll need a little hell.
There’s this movie you’ve probably heard of, even if you never saw it, called Ichi The Killer. It’s directed by Takashi Miike, but if you haven’t seen it, essentially Ichi cries mythic tears before he slaughters his enemies in battle.
For this reason I have wanted to suggest that sadness and sorrow should not be measured in tears but in depth of feeling. Tears are not a decent measure of grief felt over a dead celebrity if our good friend Ichi mentioned above uses tears as a precursor to hateful vengeance.
But more practically, an autistic like me cannot be expected to produce the amount of tears society requires as a signal of mourning, as we autistics feel within ourselves the mourning of a loss compared to neurotypicals more able to express their tears on the outside.
The celebrity death has turned into a public crying contest versus the personal, spiritual event it once was. Moebius died today, and while this is sad I feel that though I loved the one comic book of his I read, The Incal, I feel unqualified to weep over his demise rather than Dio’s death from stomach cancer or Osamu Tezuka’s death from the same disease.
I think it is perfectly okay for a man or woman to be sad somebody died even if they were an artist they only knew from on great work or great song they loved very much. I never listened to Whitney Houston my whole life but because I heard I Will Always Love You lots while growing up and liked it, my empathy for her regardless of her death’s scandal is human enough to count.
It is just like how teens get ragged on for wearing T-Shirts of old rock bands they like because the original fan base think they are insincere and bought their lifestyle at Hot Topic. I rather think that if society expects me to weep insincere bawlings over a celebrity I literally knew nothing about, hell hasn’t earned my tears.
Those kids wearing Sex Pistols shirts they bought at Hot Topic because Hot Topic are the only place they can buy Sex Pistols shirts may be young and naive about punk’s DIY ethos, but the sincerity of teenagers about stuff cannot be denied if it is truly there.
I once bought a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt at a Jay Jays mall shop because nowhere else sold a TMNT shirt with the original comics creators designs on it, Eastman and Laird’s names proudly emblazoned there. I don’t feel like a sham who buys his lifestyle over the counter when I wear it.
I feel instead very aware of who Eastman and Laird are despite me not being part of their original target audience when I wear this shirt, and when asked who they are when seen wearing it I happily explain without pretension. I doubt the kids who buy retro things over the counter just do it to look cool, a lot of the time I’m convinced they’re just as into old school Star Wars art as George Lucas was and don’t feel they’re buying a lifestyle so much as supporting pop cultural art they enjoy and want to see continue into the future.
And my love of Ronnie James Dio came from a legitimate place, even if it was only from a well used The Very Beast Of Dio CD the emotional connection I had to the songs on there made me more devvo that he died than my classmates could understand - or would ever know.
That’s why I think young people who legitimately feel bummed an artist they love dies have every right to Tweet their loss, and that people who didn’t know who the deceased person was and feels weird that all these people know more grief over this than they brought to the table are allowed to share genuine empathy for their fanboy/girl bereaved friends instead of feeling they have to fake it to fit in.
People like Dio and Moebius and Whitney don’t need the wrong people crying over ‘em out of perceived obligation - and I have no doubt Dio’s never hurting for millions of fans still alive who miss him, Moebius and Whitney and Michael Jackson will never want for the love of the living who hope they’re okay out there.
Even the Stones had Sympathy For The Devil, no matter who ends up dead, never worry that not enough people cry when even one lost soul missing you is enough.
Join the #burntheoflc hashtag feed on Twitter. It now has a logo to spread amongst yourselves. The time to fight against censorship with a FATALITY is now, if my nation chooses to remove my freedoms such as playing Mortal Kombat I will remove them from office with my VOTE combo.