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Thursday, February 21, 2013

106

Internet Homunculus

She regularly posted photographs of two girls side by side, with the caption “WHOS PRETTIERRR?!” Below the pictures, commenters would heckle and vote. One such contest drew 109 comments over three days. When it became clear which contestant was losing, that girl wrote that she didn’t care: “nt even tryinqq to b funny or smart.” The rival who beat her answered, “juss mad you losss ok ppl voted me ! If you really loooked better they wouldve said you but THEY DIDNT sooo sucks for you.”

Oh my god. Well, Emily Bazelon's article on bullying for The Atlantic is also part of her new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Amazon | Indiebound), which ... ah, never mind.



106 Comments / Post A Comment

yeah-elle

The real-life examples in this article made my blood run cold. High school boys tweeting, threatening to rape a 12-year-old girl? Pages created solely to pit kids against each other, that became so popular it spawned copycats? And all around, adults in positions of authority who find themselves unable to do anything?!

Cripes, I mean, bullying was already godawful enough in the age of Geocities websites and AIM chats, as I'm sure it was in the age when the most widely distributed public forum for kids was bathroom graffiti. But this is a whole new level of just...insurmountable cruelty, as far as I can tell.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle I was a 12-year-old long before the Internet age, and yes...it was pretty godawful back then, too. I was bullied thoughout most of my youth, and I thought I had it bad. I can't imagine going through this.

yeah-elle

@fondue with cheddar Right? At 13 years old, circa 2001, we had AIM chat and Geocities websites, but nothing on this scale. And when the group of girls I had considered friends decided to oust me, they chose to print up a fake newspaper with the headline, "yeah-elle leaves group, group celebrates!" and that was pretty fucking heart-rending. I cannot even imagine what it would have been like if they had the internet as a forum.

Bloodrocuted

@yeah-elle The excuse being he didn't think she was real? So, when faced with a fake representation of a 12 year old girl rejecting his tweets, his desire is to... rape the fake account. What.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle What? That's horrible. I'm sorry you had to go through that!

I'm quite a bit older than you so fortunately I had no experience with anything like that. (I was in college when AOL came out!)

yeah-elle

@fondue with cheddar If anything, these stories have shown me that I probably got one of the easier routes as far as bullying went. Sure, I was bullied, but no one ever threatened to gang-rape me. No one ever told me to kill myself.

It just makes my heart hurt. I've racked my brain and I'm guilty of having been unkind, and of standing by while others were being unkind. But I don't understand what can drive children and teenagers to be so flippantly and casually MONSTROUS. This goes beyond being unkind. To me, it goes beyond whatever definition of "bullying" I was using, really.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle Brain development. It takes a long time for kids to be able to feel empathy.

Liz81

@yeah-elle I suppose, yeah, but I remember seeing other kids get picked on in junior high and feeling terrible for them. Of course, as a scared 12-year-old who was made fun of herself, I didn't say anything. But I felt it.

It's just like this horrible group dynamic where being cruel is seen as normal, and anyone who thinks differently is so afraid of having that cruelty turned against them that they don't do anything...

And yeah, in agreement with everyone else, I can't even imagine junior high in the age of facebook.

Miss Maszkerádi

@fondue with cheddar Seriously? I remember being three and sobbing hysterically when something sad happened to a fictional character in a book. Kids are capable of empathy if they want to be, I think it takes a certain amount of effort, which they have clearly put in, to shut it off.

fondue with cheddar

@Liz81 Kids' brains are in a constant state of flux. Every kid has a different capacity (and it can change throughout childhood and adolescence). I certainly felt empathy as a kid, and like @Liz81, I felt really bad for other kids when I saw them get picked on, but deep down inside I think I was mostly just glad it was them instead of me for a change. Some kids pull the legs off spiders, other kids make them their pets. Some kids do horrible things to other kids, and a year or two later they are ashamed of themselves when they fully realize what they've done. Maybe it's not so much empathy as the ability to understand the consequences of their actions, which if I remember correctly isn't fully developed until a person reaches their early- to mid-twenties. I'm not a child development expert, but I do know that there are things that adult brains can understand that child brains just can't.

yeah-elle

@Countess Maritza Agreed. Sure, kids and teenagers might not have yet developed fuller senses of empathy, or understanding of the damage that harsh words can have. But there's a limit. Every 15 year old should understand why it's horrible to tell someone to kill themselves. How is that even a question? How does one even reach the point where they taunt someone by suggesting actual methods of suicide?

As a kid, some say some pretty shitty stuff. Like, you get in a fight with your parents and you yell, "I hate you!" Or one kid will tell another, "You'll never have friends" (my mom recently witnessed this one with an 8-year-old she tutors, yikes) without understanding how deeply damaging that is. But by the time we are old enough to understand that bleach can be used to commit suicide, we surely also understand that it's simply unacceptable to encourage another person to end their lives.

fondue with cheddar

@yeah-elle We do understand that. But unfortunately there will always be kids who don't understand, or do understand but don't care. Hell, remember that case several years ago where a girl's MOM was Facebook-bullying one of her daughter's cheerleader classmates? Geez, humans can be pretty terrible.

KidPresentable

@Countess Maritza Every kid has moments like that, but it doesn't mean their capacity for empathy is at an adult level. What you don't remember are all the countless times you had no idea how other people felt and didn't care, because your head was preoccupied with kid stuff instead. It's normal, it's natural, and talking about how kids can exceed their developmental capacity "if they want to" is poisonous.

KidPresentable

@yeah-elle I know how appealing this idea of "should" is, but the fact is kids that age DON'T and CAN'T. Their minds are not capable of assigning humanity to an abstraction. Even adults have a terrible time with this! We can teach teenagers not to say certain arrangements of words, and we should, but that will not mean they will remember that each screen name on the internet has a vulnerable human being behind it.

stonefruit

I can't fully express how glad I am that I finished high school before The Internet was A Thing.

petejayhawk

@stonefruit Yes, so very much this. I caught the beginnings of it, and spent time in things like AOL chat rooms in high school, but it was all fun and games and nothing like this. I don't have kids (yet?) but the thought of raising a child (especially a teenager) in Internet Times scares the shit out of me.

Mira

@stonefruit Co-sign. It sounds horrible.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@stonefruit Christ, I thought things were difficult because people would pass notes about each other. I can't even imagine Facebook in high school.

MEGA VENUTIAN SPACE SCORPION

@stonefruit When I was in middle school/high school the internet was definitely a thing, but it was far more anonymous and actually kind of difficult to find people you knew. Having a forum full of amazing internet friends made that time of my life so much better.

Vera Knoop

@stonefruit I was in high school when being on the internet was one of the things that made me weird and therefore bully-able. I sent my bad emo poetry to a digest mailing list via Pegasus from my school's computer lab. I also remember ASCII porn spam.

every tomorrow@twitter

@stonefruit When I was in middle school and high school in the 90s there was no facebook (people were just starting to use ICQ when I was in 10th grade, I'm old?) and we had to content ourselves with a spiral notebook we passed around to answer important questions such as "WHO DO YOU LIKE????" and "WHO IS THE LEAST COOL?"

I was usually the least cool, but one of the pleasant side effects is I was so uncool people stopped giving me the notebook, so at least I didn't have to hear about it.

milenakent

This is brilliant!@n

Emby

I suddenly feel slightly less bad about the tanking economy; teenagers today don't deserve to inherit anything good.

Judith Slutler

@Emby They learned it from watching you

(well, us)

aphrabean

@Emby In my home region, white people in the 1800s used to hunt indigenous families for sport & profit. This is what I think of whenever I read an article that's like "People these days!" People are all horrible, forever! YAY. (I then remind myself of the Neanderthal children with flowers on their graves, as a counter point.) (I am a cheerful person whom people enjoy being around.)

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@aphrabean
I keep thinking about these stories in comparison with the TAL on Harper High School, though I am not sure what to make of the comparison.

aphrabean

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Oh, I haven't heard that one yet. I'll investigate immediately.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@aphrabean
Download it while you can! I think episodes are only available for download for a week.

SuperGogo

@aphrabean "People are all horrible, forever! YAY."
I was raised Calvinist. I've moved beyond it in most ways, but the doctrine of humankind's total depravity will always be a specter in my brain.

aphrabean

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Ohhhhhh, Harper High School here in Chicago. I'm going to listen to this at home tonight.

Bloodrocuted

"Instead of generic “tell an adult” advice, he’d like the victims of online pummeling to see alerts ... they would say things like “Wow! That sounds nasty! Click here for help.” Clicking would take the victims to a page that’s tailored to the problem they’re having—the more specific, the better. For example, a girl who is being taunted for posting a suggestive photo (or for refusing to) could read a synthesis of the research on sexual harassment..."

It is hard to understand bigotry when you are in it and it is directed to you, I think, and this would really help people understand the problem (society, not them). Especially young women. Sexism almost seems like a secret that is embarrassing to talk about, and it's validating to see in print.

Judith Slutler

@Bloodrocuted Sadly the first thing I thought was that people would be furious if that system were added to social media, and start claiming that it's "teaching girls to be victims" or some shit :(

KidPresentable

@Bloodrocuted I like the idea in theory, but I think in some cases it could do more harm than good. They cite an example of a kid being taunted with anti-GLBTQ slurs being provided resources for GLBTQ teens. Resources for GLBTQ teens are great! And GLBTQ teens who are being targeted would really benefit from them. But there seems to be a lack of awareness that bullies will just *make shit up*.

Plenty of kids who get harassed for being gay, even persistent, highly specific harassment, aren't gay at all. I remember how much bullying for being even slightly outside stereotypical gender norms upset and confused me as a kid. When a kid already feels like they're broadcasting some kind of uncontrollable queerness to the world and will never be seen as a "real" man/woman, having even google ads assume they're gay is maybe not going to help? As an adult I am comfortable with not being a perfectly stereotypical straight woman and am not offended if someone thinks I'm a lesbian if I go outside without makeup or whatever, but a young teen defines herself so much by what other people think. The ads could feel like they're reinforcing what the bullies are already saying.

Bloodrocuted

@Emmanuelle Cunt Burn the planet.

KidPresentable

@Bloodrocuted ...Hack the planet?

Bloodrocuted

@KidPresentable Who gives a piss :(
That is a good point. I think there is good information with why these minorities are used as insults, and how they are real okay people and not insults. However, you're right, the insult bestowed on you being randomly confirmed by the internet would be harsh.

par_parenthese

@KidPresentable I just had this very conversation today about a Young Person I know who I feel like might be wrestling through his sexual identity -- I'm grappling with whether I talk with him about it or not, and one of the big marks on the Con side of the Pros/Cons list is just that: what if he's straight, and my saying, "Hey, are you into dudes? That's ok, let's roll with it, do you have people to talk to about it?" might send him to a not nice place.

KidPresentable

@par_parenthese Yeah! Like, not to get too much into it here on the internet, but I was called a lesbian a lot during the Mean Girls years because I did sports and wore sneakers and other dumb shit like that, and it sank in so deep that for a long time I didn't even bother pursuing relationships with boys, because I assumed they all assumed I was a lesbian anyway so what was the point. A different personality than mine might have set out to prove her heterosexuality extra hard, I dunno. It's all just a mess. Being a teenager is terrible.

Judith Slutler

@par_parenthese Yeah, I wouldn't go precisely to there.

BUT you could start to mention a few anecdotes about your gay friends, point out how awesome it is that so many states now have marriage equality, small positive statements like that. Even if he is straight, it'll still be cool that someone in his life models positivity and acceptance for LGBT people, it might give him some inspiration to not participate in homophobic bullying or to stand up for his own gay friends. And if he really is gay, you'll be signaling that you would be a safe person to come out to when he is ready.

frigwiggin

Oh my goddddd. I was bullied a little bit in middle school (some girls were mean to me, one spread rumors accusing me of trying to kiss her, one guy kept harassing me and telling me he loved me in a super-mocking way) but it seems like I got off extremely easy. Some folks talk about their middle and high school experiences as being awful pits of misery, but I was mostly happy.

frigwiggin

@frigwiggin Also, and less relevantly, Justin Carbonella's name makes me want to make pasta for dinner tonight.

frigwiggin

@frigwiggin I am feeling more and more grateful that the internet was a good place for me in high school when I only had a handful of friends in real life. I still wonder about my friends on an old forum and wonder how they're doing. (I only know for sure about one--she moved to England and started a knitting blog. Good for her!)

Nicole Cliffe

Things are so much worse now!! Like many of us, I have a list of things to get done should I be offered a few hours in a time machine, and the very first one is: "Go back to seventh grade with the knowledge and self-esteem of your 30 y/o self so you can flip off Deanna Mauricio and tell her she's a bitch who shouldn't make fun of girls just because they get their clothes out of a donations bin and never wore Umbros to practice."

I mean, she used to make me cry because she would get, like, five of her henchwomen to surround me and tell me I was bringing the team down because I didn't have black Umbros.

And now I am grown and I have a great life and she wound up getting a shitty perm in high school, but if she'd been able to continue bullying me online when I escaped home every day? Jesus Christ.

Bloodrocuted

@Nicole Cliffe Is this the thread that we shout out at our bullies and talk about how our lives are better/cry?

Nicole Cliffe

@Bloodrocuted Be my guest!

H.E. Ladypants

@Nicole Cliffe Omigosh, I feel you. I certainly got piled on at school but outside of school (even on the baby internet, it seemed!) was a world inhabited almost exclusively by myself and my weird friends. I can't imagine if that crap could escape the bottle of school and come after you.

graffin

@Nicole Cliffe First of all, you should be all about killing Hitler if you had a time machine.
Then you should assure yourself that Umbros are hideous looking.

Nicole Cliffe

If I killed Hitler, though, I would cease to exist, because Ashton Kutcher movie with the butterflies! I mean, probably still a good idea?

Nicole Cliffe

Also, yes, fug! Totally fug.

KidPresentable

@Nicole Cliffe Fun fact, that movie originally ended with Ashton zapping back to his fetus-self in-utero and strangling himself with his own umbilical cord.

Liz81

@KidPresentable That's the version I saw! I must've watched a director's cut and not realized it, and then when people would talk about the movie I'd reference that ending, and they'd think I was crazy/confused.

Danzig!

@Nicole Cliffe Somebody has not played the speculative documentary game Command and Conquer: Red Alert

teaandcakeordeath

@KidPresentable
@Nicole Cliffe Fun fact, that movie originally ended with Ashton zapping back to his fetus-self in-utero and strangling himself with his own umbilical cord.

Wait. Wut? That's the ending I saw! Is that not the ending? (I'm surprising myself by following up on this.)

Vera Knoop

@Bloodrocuted Ugh, I went to a magnet school, and my bullies are all lawyers now :(

Vera Knoop

@Nicole Cliffe UMBROS! Jesus. I never had 'em either, but years later, I bought an umbro-patterned laundry bag at the dollar store and laughed until I cried.

stonefruit

@graffin "Oi! Hitler! Why've you gotta be such a dick?"

mustelid

@Vera Knoop Ugh I feel you. I mean, I did my fair share of being not very nice, and I wasn't tortured as mercilessly as some folks but it definitely wasn't a time in my life that I look back on with any fondness.

Anyway, my life is pretty okay I guess... but most of the people who were really cruel to me are all actually successful and I'm just like ugh, fuck off.

WaityKatie

@Vera Knoop I finally got my mom to buy me a pair of Umbros after years of being the only kid in gym class who had none. Those things cost like 30 dollars! And in the early 90's! Then I wore those things well into adulthood, which is embarrassing for me.

Danzig!

@Nicole Cliffe my bullies were all dudes who, in retrospect, were already severe alcoholics by the time they hit 14.

frigwiggin

The creator of the page—no one knew her name, but everyone was sure she was a girl

because god knows only girls start drama, girls and their drama

yeah-elle

@frigwiggin

XOXO Bullying Boy

Lucienne

@yeah-elle Well played.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

The fact that she's coining the term "bullycide" makes my heart ache. It's a familiar ache, because it's not that kids haven't killed themselves as a result of repeatedly being told they are unworthy of this beautiful life, but that it has a term now sad. But I guess it's also a good thing? Because it means this is turning into A Thing That We Have to Pay Attention Too instead of just "kids will be kids and everyone gets bullied."

KidPresentable

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose It would be really cool if bullying stopped being seen as a rite of passage. Like, it used to be normal for kids to lose fingers in threshers and die of the measles too. All of this "it's good for you! makes you tougher!" shit is highly overrated.

MissMushkila

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
I am a high school teacher at an international school, and taught our bullying unit just the other week. It was sort of heartbreaking to hear how standard BIG SCALE bullying was in their home countries, and how normal they thought being beat up for gangs for your lunch money was at home (really, I thought that was a cartoon thing?)

At the same time, there were a handful who just couldn't conceive why bullying was a problem in any way. One of them said "but that is what builds character!"

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@KidPresentable Yes. Letting your kids fall and skin their knees is one thing, but assuming that everyone must be subjected to emotional/physical/mental terrorism in order to become an adult is an archaic way of thinking.

KidPresentable

I think it's easy for adults to overlook that schools aren't divided into bullies and victims - it's more like a rat's nest where they're all snarling and turning on each other in a big chaotic mess. Like we learn from that seminal sociological text, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, everybody is *somebody's* bully.

A bully forms whenever somebody with limited empathy and bad communication skills and impulse control is confronted with someone different from them. Kids developmentally have incomplete capacities for impulse control and empathy, and every difference is a shock because everything in the world is new to them. We have to try and teach communication skills as early as possible, because there's not much we can do but wait for them to grow out of the rest of the stuff.

Apocalypstick

@KidPresentable But there are some kids for whom being cruel to kids lower in the pecking order is a form of entertainment. Literally, "let's see how upset we can make X today" is a fun game they play. The only way I can rationalise it is to think they don't consider some people to be human, but these aren't sociopaths, they mostly went on to be apparently normal adults. So it's all very well to say there are shades of bully/victim grey, but that isn't the case all the time.

KidPresentable

@Apocalypstick Yeah I know I'm just saying that, for real, that is WAY more kids than people want to admit. It's not a "few bad apples" situation, it's a "one of the ugly parts of human nature" situation. There are some honest-to-god sociopaths in K-12, to be sure, but recognizing other people as human (empathy) is a learned skill, and one that an adolescent brain physiologically cannot attain to the level an adult can. And even as adults, we functionally don't think of most people as human, only the ones right in front of us. Most of the world is an abstraction. As we grow up our bubble of awareness grows from ourselves to our family and friends and eventually to neighbors and colleagues, but that's about it.

Seriously, ALL kids think it's funny if someone they don't care about gets upset. Most adults do too. We can't stamp somebody with a scarlet B for that, because it really is everyone and our schools would be empty if we kicked out everyone who did that. Our only hope is a slow, nudging process of fostering empathy and training behavior, with lots of supervised mistake-making and intervention and support when things start to get out of hand. Kids aren't complete people yet.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Apocalypstick "let's see how upset we can make X today"

Hell, I had a professor like that sophomore year. I'll never forget the shit-eating grin on his face as he deliberately said incredibly offensive things to me just to watch my reaction. Asshole. I nearly got him fired, too.

Danzig!

@KidPresentable Some people never develop those faculties, either! Those people enjoy Frank Miller comics and post on Reddit well into adulthood.

smack

@Danzig! What. Rude.

TIL reading Reddit and Sin City means I have no empathy. Oh well, off to tell people to kill themselves!

does it need saying

@KidPresentable I've noticed this recently in some of the posts I see on facebook. Adults posting pictures of Honey Boo Boo with "Just kill yourself now" or something equally horrid. That poor girl is what 5? 6? Do adults too just think, oh she's put herself out there so it's ok to be a douche to her?

WaityKatie

I really am going to read the article, but I need to first ask, when did this illiteracy trend start?? Because I find those comments QUITE alarming, and not even primarily for their bullying content!

Miss Maszkerádi

@WaityKatie Comment twins!

KidPresentable

@WaityKatie Oh for god's sake. Amped-up children making typos on smartphones and using slang isn't "illiteracy."

rangiferina

@WaityKatie I don't know, kids have been careless about spelling/punctuation online since the dawn of time - or at least since the late '90s when I started using AOL as a preteen, ha. We were honors students and typin lyke dis lolllz. I wouldn't be too concerned. (of course there was also a definite distinction between what kind of language/orthography you use online vs. what you use offline and in school settings - I'm guessing/hoping this generation sees that too?)

Miss Maszkerádi

@rangiferina it jus makezzzz my brain hurrrrtttt t lol wen i read smth lyke dat

ETA: I know people over the legal drinking age who still write like this in texts and I kind of want to kick them sometimes.

MissMushkila

@KidPresentable You know what they are saying. They understand each other. In my experience teaching, almost all of them can switch between internet/text slang and academic language pretty adeptly. There are a handful of exceptions, but in my experience they are rare.

It's the same way that in many countries, people navigate diglossia by using one language for speaking and another for reading/writing. It's about appropriate register - I grew up in the aol instant message era, and I used to dispense with capitalization on purpose when IMing friends.

rangiferina

@WaityKatie yah i kno, i kno. it can melt ur brainz sumtyme. but itz not 4eva (sorry, I'll stop now)

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

@Countess Maritza
Well, if they're working for Reed Smith, I'm sure they're fine.

@MissMushkila
What grade? I have heard some college professors complain about texting-type spelling slipping into students' papers.

WaityKatie

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll That reminds me of the time I got chastised by a 9th grade teacher for dotting my I's with gigantic circles. That was perfectly acceptable in my previous (terrible) school!

WaityKatie

@KidPresentable Wow, thanks for setting me straight.

KidPresentable

@WaityKatie Well snap sneer and sulk to you too. My most bottomless apologies for not stilling the reflexive eye-roll. By all means, continue shitting on children on the internet underneath this article about shitting on children on the internet.

WaityKatie

@KidPresentable You seem pleasant.

KidPresentable

@WaityKatie You seem unpleasant! :) Do you have any moves in your playbook besides sarcasm? Oh wait right, criticizing children for not using your approved wordlist when talking to their peers.

Miss Maszkerádi

@KidPresentable I highly doubt Katie had any intention of "shitting on children," she was pointing out a thing that many of them do that drives her nuts. Sheesh.

Better to Eat You With

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll Yeah, I'm one of those professors. And it's not an occasional slip, either. It's standard fare, more or less dependent on the relative wealth of the district where they attended high school for frequency.

WaityKatie

@KidPresentable This is lame. I'm done engaging with you now. Have a nice night.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Better to Eat You With I'm in graduate school and I nearly tossed an emoticon into a paper I wrote last semester. I caught myself before the last keystroke, but the impulse was there and I was horrified.

(I also buried some snarky remarks about rival academics' work deep in the endnotes, but I'd had a long week.)

Miss Maszkerádi

There is something severely wrong with me (Academy Headache!) when my immediate, visceral reaction is not to the cruelty, the mockery, the unfeeling heartlessness with which these children treat each other, but their SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION god help us all

Amphora

@Countess Maritza Having read this after the article on elongation, I pictured the girl in the quote going "Whoooo's prettierrrrr" in a creepy Dark Knight Joker voice.

MaxBraverman

This is kind of OT, but not. What are your thoughts on sites like Get Off My Internets, ShamePuff, etc... where they mock bloggers? Some of the stuff I think can be mean, but a lot of the criticism is spot on. I hate myself for liking these sites as much as I do, especially the forums, because it is a form of internet bullying or is it? I don't know!

redheaded&crazy

@MaxBraverman wow I didn't know that those sites existed ... that makes me sad. I guess fashion bloggers are like mini mini mini celebrities and by posting their pics they open themselves up to criticism?

Hm. Personally if I were going to spend my day commenting on other people's fashion, I would make it about celebrating awesome fashion! tearing other people down just sounds exhausting.

Danzig!

@MaxBraverman I do admit to getting a little kick out of, say, the @Tumblr_txt twitter account, but I justify it to myself via the appropriation of social justice rhetoric widely appropriated by that community (I find it just a bit ridiculous that someone would feel as oppressed as a gay person because they don't feel comfortable being open about their spectral fox tails in public). Even so, I knew a guy in high school who believed he was a werewolf and he had the saddest life of anyone I've ever known.

I do sort of get my hackles raised when people pile on juggalos, mostly because I think it's thinly veiled classist invective but also because I was in special ed in high school and the shared community the other kids had through ICP was seemingly the only good thing they had in their lives. Everybody else felt safe denigrating them as druggie delinquents, but they didn't really know anything about those kids.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Danzig! I often wonder if the whole tumblr subculture of spirit animals and transspecies aliens from another dimension is actually taken seriously by its participants. Like, to those of us not in the know it looks like the human race has finally officially jumped the shark, but perhaps to those involved, it's a big game?

Or maybe I'd just rather believe that we're all getting elaborately trolled by a bunch of weird but creative kids and their fictional alter egos, than believe that it's actually a thing.

Danzig!

@Countess Maritza There are definitely people out there who earnestly believe they can perform practical magic(k), I'm sure there are people who really feel they are Japanese fox spirits.

The really egregious ones (trans-disabled, trans-racial, JRPGcharacterkin) are almost assuredly rare and only visible to the extent they are because of their peculiarity. As that (pretty good!) Adrien Chen piece on Gawker a year or two ago pointed out, the more baffling otherkin identities tend to proliferate in single individuals. Not to play armchair psychologist, but it seems rather evident that those people have some pretty deep-seated mental health issues. Of course it's quite possible that THOSE are the people who are clowning the internet.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Danzig! I always snicker at the trans-ethnic and trans-national ones. "Ooooh, I'm so UNIQUE, I was born in one country but I feel like I belong in ANOTHER one!"

Me too, honey. It's this thing called an expat. *devilish grin*

Oh, squiggles

“I’m gonna take today’s anger and channel it into talking shit to this 12 year old girl,” one wrote.

........

...

What the fucking fuck are you so angry about? Why hasn't anyone taught you that channeling anger into cruelty is the WORST THING EVER?!

Some days I look at the problems of the world and I just wrack my brain trying to think of what I can do to make things better. Other days, days like today, I think, nah, fuck it. Maybe we don't deserve a better world.

My whole damn life I have been trying to understand why people have so much cruelty inside them. When I was younger, I learned to hate myself, because I saw the hate directed at me, and I thought it proved that I deserved to be hated. And now? I'm just so lost. Set a drift in a sea of never being able to understand why the fuck people are like this.

WaityKatie

@Vera Knoop I finally got my mom to buy me a pair of Umbros after years of being the only kid in gym class who had none. Those things cost like 30 dollars! And in the early 90's! Then I wore those things well into adulthood, which is embarrassing for me.

WaityKatie

@WaityKatie Double post, ack.

aphrabean

@WaityKatie My mom bought me some clearance LA Gears long, long after they were cool. She was so proud and excited to be able to buy something fashionable for me for once, in a house where new clothes were a rarity. I wore those crazy-garish discount shoes every day to my school full of rich kids (and was definitely mocked for it), but I never told her. This stuff stays with you, huh?

lucy snowe

Did any of you see the author on Colbert the other night?

She talked about some of her own experiences that led to writing the book-- how at one point in junior high, all her friends broke up with her at once, and wouldn't tell her why. She ended up becoming friends with another girl, who'd had a similar thing happen to her.

This other girl's friends had a lot of social power, and I guess there was one moment in the school cafeteria where they were humiliating her, and the author didn't do anything. She was too scared.

At that point, Colbert, in character, cracked, "Well, that must be why your friends left you. Because you weren't a very good friend."

You could see that hit. She said that she wrote the book because she wanted to help other kids in that situation, so they would know what they could do to help.

But you could see she was blinking back tears as she said it.

S.C. did a quick re-direct, asking her if she thought he was a bully. "Sometimes."

He started to cry.

In the shift to commercial, you could see him lean over to her, and it was pretty clear he was apologizing for his joke.

i'm not sure where I'm going with this comment. Except I think they both seem like kind people who occasionally make social mistakes.

It was interesting to watch.

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