To all my American friends, I wish you a Happy and Peaceful Thanksgiving.
‘A few Zzzzzs’
What is wrong with people do you think? Why do so many ‘Trolls’ exist? If we met them in the street, would we know that they had some personality disorder? That they had failed to take their medication that day? That they were close to a full mental breakdown? Or do they in fact work in our offices, at the next desk to us? Fine by day, completely bonkers the moment they get in front of that keyboard at night? Is it stress, do you think? The sheer pressure of modern life? That really they’re apparently normal, coping with life, but inside they’re a seething mass of rage, a maelstrom of mad, disjointed thoughts? Ready to snap? Go ‘postal’ if just one more small obstacle gets in their way? What do you think?…because I’m genuinely intrigued.
I received a series of emails recently via another website that I run – and the person sending them (named ‘Christopher’) screamed and yelled at me in the !! LARGEST! POSSIBLE! TYPE! !! (Yes, it was the usual Troll format – embellished with plenty of emboldening and exclamation marks). They ‘informed’ me of various inaccuracies in the information on a single page of my site. Seriously, it was as though I was confronted with a screaming toddler in a terrible tantrum, writhing on my living room floor. I toyed with whether to respond at all because if this person is a genuine nutter I really don’t need to be dealing with that right now. Then I thought that I should afford him the benefit of the doubt and I responded as below (only, as it seemed appropriate, I also did so in the largest possible type):
I acknowledge receipt of your emails. Do you use some special kind of keyboard that only allows you to type a few words at a time? I only ask because I wondered why it was necessary to send me a whole series of short notes.
I shall assume that you have some kind of disability or physical impairment and that you are not, in fact, being so rude as to yell at me – hence the very large text of my response here.
If you look again at my site you will see that I clearly state on the ‘Home’ page that it is a hobby site of mine. It also clearly states that it was last updated in August of 2008. Maybe I should have put all that in larger type and in capital letters, so that people such as yourself would be able to see and therefore understand that, as a hobby site, I don’t always have the time to keep the information contained therein right up to date.
Yes I did get a response. Why d’you ask? I’ve cut and pasted it, ‘as is’ here:
Well, at least you replied, now spend time getting your HOBBY up to date.
Yes I do have a disability, thanks you for mocking it!
Angelcel to Christopher:
Christopher – me too. Which is why I find it difficult to keep up with my hobby and why I found your emails unnecessarily abrasive in tone.
He’s gone away, for the time being. Maybe he’s just taking time to re-group and then attack me again. What I’m hoping, however, is that our little exchange will make him think twice in future before blustering into someone’s home, spitting venom like some kind of Benzedrine puff adder.
The internet seems to have encouraged this kind of behaviour. Most of us still don’t resort to yelling and screaming at one another in the street at the drop of a hat (thank goodness), so the closest equivalent to this is probably nuisance phone calls, which are also, thankfully, a rarity. Yet the prevalence of Trolls on the internet seems to be on the increase. Why?
You’ll have gathered by now that, yes, he annoyed me, but that I’m also a very old-fashioned type of a girl, still fondly holding on to the idea that if we all treat each other as we would like to be treated then the world can and will be a better place. My husband, on the other hand, who deals with rude numbskulls way too often in everyday business, takes a slightly different approach. I have to tell you that when I showed him the series of original emails he was quite adamant that if I felt the need to respond at all then the best wording would be:
Fuck Off. Strong letter to follow.
His approach does have the merit of simplicity. Maybe he has a point.
So it’s Friday the 13th. Da da daaaaah! Are you watching your step today? Avoiding travel? Staying in bed? If so you may be suffering from triskaidekaphobia – literally a phobia of Friday the 13th. According to the mighty ‘Wikki-Wah’ 17 – 21 million people in the United States suffer from triska… triksy … trippy….oooh whatever, and there is an estimated loss of $800 to $900 million in business revenue as a result. You may also be interested to know that although there are various independent references to both Friday and the number 13 being unlucky, this superstition only really came to the fore in the late 19th century. Aren’t we humans weird? It’s a date. On a calendar. Just numbers in the ongoing recording of our history.
Yes, well I can tell myself this logic, and yet a little primeval voice in my head tells me to avoid making any significant decisions on this day and certainly never to get on a plane. It’s not an altogether silly voice either – the last time I mocked superstition (in this instance by walking under a ladder and laughing at friends as they skirted around) I went and shrunk the (pigging) curtains in my college digs by taking them to the launderette. My friends and I spent the rest of the term with suitcases lined up around the windows in order to stop peeping toms looking in. Strangely enough, there were always cigarette butts outside our window so I think our clever scheme failed. I eventually had to own up to the ‘Big Cheese’ and fork out for replacement window drapes.
No, if you’re a triksy-diddly-phobic you won’t find me laughing at you. Once today is over however you can breathe a big sigh of relief. The next instance of this conjuction of unlucky day plus date doesn’t occur until August next year. That’s a whole 9 months in which to relax…except avoid those ladders… and those black cats…and that magpie ….and mind that salt…and that mirror…
A drunk woman who might just think twice about getting so pie-eyed next time. She’s seriously lucky to be alive – in fact, isn’t there some expression about drunks having their own special guardian angel? She needs to be thanking hers.
I love it when TV and radio presenters lose their veneer of composure and it’s so much more fun when it comes from someone who is trying to be ultra serious. This radio clip is a little gem, particularly because it comes from a slightly ‘plummy’ and otherwise very sensible sounding BBC radio newsreader. Laughter is indeed infectious.
Jane at ‘They call me Jane’ today wrote about a wonderful site that I want to share with you here. It’s called Operation Beautiful and it’s a project that I think every woman should be part of, in fact everyone, and certainly all parents. The premise is simple: To leave anonymous post-it notes in public places that simply say ‘you are beautiful’ (or very similar) – a personal boost for anyone seeing them, an assurance that they are in fact beautiful despite what they may currently be feeling. In an extremely brief course of therapy I was told to do something very similar, so according to current thinking this is not a load of hoo-ha, and could actually start to make a difference …and Lord knows, we need to bolster our self -esteem when the messages that constantly surround us in the media seem to do nothing but undermine us.
I have two daughters and maybe because of my own childhood experiences I did everything I could when they were growing up to bolster their feelings of self-worth, to praise them and to tell them how much I love them. Even so, none of us can help but be influenced by the images of ultra skinny, air brushed models that surround us.
Maybe more insidious are the stories of the perfect women with their perfect lives. We’ve all come across them (and much though I love Nigella, in many ways, she’s a major culprit in this) – the women who live in some kind of 1950s Utopia where their children are scrubbed clean, well-behaved, fed perfectly nutritious home-prepared dinners, read a story and put to bed (where they stay and not winge at the top of the stairs) at seven o’clock in the evening, before Mummy cooks up something else – something totally spectacular for her and hubby. Never mind that perfect Mummy has made it her job to make life look perfectly easy and so is paid a perfectly lovely salary. And never mind that perfect Mummy may live in a perfectly lovely house, with a husband with perfectly lovely income that can pay for perfectly lovely home help to clear it all up.
No. Images, TV programmes and magazine articles albound about how easy it all is to look better, do better, be better. The fact of the matter is that life is not perfect, we are not perfect and unlike, say 100 years ago, many of us do not have the support of family close by who can take the pressure off us. We struggle on, doing the best we can, but no doubt constantly feeling that somehow we ‘could do better’.
I also have to say that my experience of other mothers is that we are often our own worst enemies, excellent at psyching each other out. I once visited a friend’s house and she made it a point to show me her airing cupboard. (??!) I soon saw why. It was filled with perfectly laundered and folded laundry, in perfect little stacks. I seem to remember that I maybe inappropriately snorted and said that if you were to take a punt on opening my airing cupboard door you’d most certainly be swamped under a stack of tumbling towels and pants. I subsequently learned that the laundry she was so proud of was farmed out to a professional firm. Well there you go – It’s easy to be perfect, with help.
Go visit Operation Beautiful ladies. In fact, I think everyone should visit, because the message is coming through that boys are increasingly starting to worry about their own body image and I know that despite the good front they put up, grown men also worry that they could do better in our screwed up and over-pressured western society. I’m sure you guys can come up with your own affirming and appropriate post-it note phrase.
Let’s all fight back against the media.
I feel as though I’ve entered Bizarro World since last Friday. I ‘retreated to the drawing room’ yesterday (Voix Douce) to post for SIMC because it felt as if the bulk of ‘the house’ had been overrun with rampant beardiness (or at least discussion thereof). I’m delighted with the attention that my simple question garnered but in truth, the suddenness of it all has also slightly freaked me out. Our blogs are very much our little space in the ethers and if you’re like me you love welcoming in new visitors, hope that they’ll stay, look forward to getting to know each other, and hopefully become friends and frequent visitors at each other’s ‘houses’. What happened on Friday was quite overwhelming. I am, however, reclaiming my space today and if you came here for the party over the weekend and have decided to stay, then welcome, I’m delighted you decided to stick around. I hope that you’ll introduce yourselves by leaving comments.
So, what else? Well Friday’s flurry of internet activity also coincided with the dreaded (~duh, duh duuuuhhh~) Medical Matters – which are done and dusted for the time being but this is something that I get myself into a terrible stew about and worry over relentlessly.
Then of course there is the competition thing I’ve been wibbling on about. Don’t worry, I’m sick of it too. And therein lies the first of a few lessons. Firstly, I’m dreadful at self-promotion. I’m not a natural saleswoman and I don’t feel comfortable at pushing myself into the limelight. Rather stupidly I suppose, I’d far rather that you magically found me and whatever my product is totally by chance and became instantly enchanted. I hate that feeling that I’m trying to entice people in, like a peddler in snake-oil. The whole process has however been a valuable experience. On the plus side, it’s been interesting for me to see which images have proved popular, and why, but much more than that, I’ve confirmed something about people in my own mind The vast majority have been kind, helpful and encouraging, and that warms my heart. A tiny minority however have been slightly odd with me and there is no point in my elucidating any further on that because it focuses too much on what is their problem. Suffice it to say, I take the attitude that if you don’t much like someone then walk away. Don’t, for goodness sake, waste valuable energy on false friendship.
(By the way, the results of the comp will be collated today – a fancy way of saying that I’ll write out pieces of paper with all the email and web entries and then pick out the winner)!
Anyway, that’s me. Elated but also a little tired and punch drunk. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.