There are so many people in the world with amazing skills and gifts. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to showcase that gift on a national or international stage. There’s something in human nature that attracts us to excellence, which is why we shell out hundreds of dollars for concert tickets or waste valuable time in front the television watching a display of some feat that we ourselves are unable to perform. When a talent is truly rare, some spectators go the great and unusual lengths to show their adulation (sometimes in the form of stalking). But as anyone who is good at anything knows, once you’ve exposed that gift, there will be some people who will love you – and there will be some people who love to hate you.
Take me for example. No, no, fear not. I’m not about to crow on as though I am some international bestselling author with legions of fans around the globe. (Although if I’d gotten round to penning that book that would be an amusing tongue-in-cheek segue.) I write for this blog and two others, and I’m pretty good at what I do, so I’m told. My opinions are largely middle of the road, and I’m usually content to allow other people to form their own opinions about what I say. I have a steady readership of a few hundred people, and I’m okay with that. Oddly I don’t aspire to be read by the world. What only a few people know is that the only reason I even have this blog is so that my sister has something to read in the morning while she’d having breakfast at her desk at work. That’s why the content is so campy.
But as I said, I’m fairly decent at what I do, and even with such a miniscule level of notoriety, my presence on the web has drawn out a number of spectators with their commentary; some of them welcome, and some of them less so.
One two separate occasions I have been confronted by passers-by on my blog who took offence to either something I’ve said or in the way I’ve said it. Like many people who are emboldened by the anonymity that the internet provides, they proceeded to blow up my twitter feed and most recently, my comments sections.
“We wish YOU would just go away. Poof!”
This (failed) attempt at sorcery was from some individual who went by the pseudonym of @torqflyte on twitter. He/she/It was miffed with me because I’d tweeted that I wished we could get some other news besides the constant coverage on gay marriage. Torqflyte assumed two things about me:
1) That I am anti-gay anything
2) That I enjoy being bombarded with the same coverage of the same topic all day, every day.
I have a short attention span, and I don’t like repetitiveness. I was tired of hearing about Monica Lewinsky, and over all the coverage of Jonbenet (God rest her) when both were relentlessly thrust into our consciousness. In the same vein, I quickly grew weary of the repetitive images of the same two men kissing on New York’s Supreme Court’s steps week after week after week! Offended that I had voiced my displeasure on such a hot political topic, Torqflyte launched into a cyber attack that got more and more personal with every keystroke, saying that (s)he was disappointed in me because as a writer, (s)he would expect me to be more “open and accepting”. Who was this cat to say what a writer is or isn’t??
Never one to back down from a fight, I found myself embroiled in a ridiculous back and forth with this unknown anomaly until it was that point that finally struck me.
“WTH!!?” I tweeted. “You don’t even KNOW me. What do you care about my opinion anyway??”
Torqflyte didn’t have an immediate answer and I didn’t wait for one to come later. I blocked him/her/it and vowed never to tweet about Beyonce, or gays, or dogs whose owners dress them in thongs again. I’ll keep my views on those subjects to myself or share them only with people who have the capacity to understand my meaning.
Speaking of capacities to understand, that brings me to the second bizarre web encounter I had with a commenter. On February 7th I wrote a post entitled OMG! There’s Blood in my Chocolate which detailed my revulsion for chocolate sourced from farms the utilize child labor, and coincidentally elicited a series of visceral responses from some individual who went by the moniker of Raven. The whole affair would have been alarming if it were not so comical, for Raven truly believed she was an arbiter for fact and common sense, when in truth she came off as a blithering Bible thumping idiot who could barely string two sentences together. I encourage you to read the exchange if you have the time. But the best bit was when she declared the following:
Malaka, Long blank stare huh!…
When you post an article be ready for anything including criticism, not everyone is going to completely agree with your observation, not everyone will be seeking your approval,if it offends you then your not a true blogger & you aren’t ready to learn from others coz criticism isn’t meant to fault you it’s mean to enlightened you,so it’s an attitude issue how you take it (She goes on from there, still utilizing poor grammar and zero punctuation.)
Now here’s the rub: I wouldn’t know Raven from a soggy three-day old turd, and her opinion means about as much to me. Given her responses, I assume that her intent was to offend me…but her words were hardly work taking offense over. I mean, the silly cow had managed to say a whole lot without actually saying anything at all. How could I take offense to nothing? She literally created a vacuum of knowledge with every word she spoke. Astounding!
I discovered that this is the funny thing about offense: You have to make a conscious effort to take it on, even when it’s blatantly clear that the other party is seeking to cause an affront, hence the phrase “none taken” in response to “no offense meant.”
Have you ever been verbally attacked by a stranger (for any reason) and asked yourself why you care so much? I really don’t think you should care at all. I personally could only be offended if the person giving me a critique or rebuke is someone I admired or respected, and those qualities are not embodied in the likes of the fly-by-night trolls who happen upon my blog through a random/odd web query. It is only the opinion of my dedicated Readers that I care about, and I know that they would never seek to intentionally offend me, nor I them. We have a relationship.
As for the rest of you: Screw you and all you stand for. I hope you’re not offended.