This is a question I’ve been asking for a long time. It’s not so much that I’ve been a victim, as that I think of other victims…the ones not totally insulated in the all-powerful armor of, “I don’t give a fuck.”
But, honestly, when I got chucked headlong into this phenomena, I really believed this was a passing fad, and would die out in time.
I also believed the statements made by everyone’s parents when I was little, and exposed to bullying: I quote, “If you ignore them, they’ll get bored and go away.”
Imagine my surprise, countless years later, to realize that this isn’t the case. I’ve been under fire for years, for everything about me. For the admittedly lousy fanfiction I wrote as a twelve-year-old kid, for my art, no matter how good, bad, or otherwise. For my appearance, and, for my religious beliefs and practices.
What fascinates me about my lovely little band of “trolls,” is that, in all these years, I have refused to engage with them. I bluntly refuse to enter a verbal sparring match with them, because I stand nothing to gain from lowering myself to that. I’ll only give them more ammunition.
So, in all these years, I have not spoken directly to them. I mind my own business online. If someone approaches me about my beliefs, I’m happy to speak about it. But engage in a verbal war with these trolls? Absolutely not.
At one point, a couple of years ago, I did openly invite the primary individual writing about me to contact me. I would like to speak with him, hear what he has to say. I would like to know what his issue with me is, and what motivates him to spend so much time making fun of me. What does he get out of it?
But, I’m emotionally untouchable, inclined either to laugh at my critics, pity them for the life they’re squandering, or ponder their motives.
But, what about other people who have been victims of this phenomena? What affect does such baseless, mindless cruelty, a deliberate attack to bring someone down, have on…the twelve year old kid posting their very first Twilight fanfic online?
Here’s a fact, children: the first story written, by ANYONE, is going to suck!! And, there is no one immune to that reality! I’m certain even the first drafts of Tolkien’s masterpieces were certifiably God awful.
The first draft of my first novel…was absolutely cringe-worthy. And, all these years later, I see that. I recall proof reading someone’s first fanfic…there was, in the first chapter, a three-page dialogue between two characters…it was literally three pages of:
“I love you!”
“I love you more!”
“No, I love you more!”
“Oh my God, I love you!”
I’m not going to tell you who this person was, but, we still laugh about it together today.
So, all of you, tell me: what makes more sense, when critiquing a story? Viciously ripping it to shreds, and telling the author to go jump off a bridge? Or being constructive, and helpful in your review?
My review for that dialogue mentioned above went something to the effect of, “Sweetie, I know this is your first fanfic, but this is getting vomitous. Your characters have said variations of the phrase, “I love you,” twenty million times in three pages. A more realistic dialogue between two people in love might be, [_______]. Keep writing, and you’ll get much better. You have a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to your next chapter.”
In exchange, a bunch of years later, this same author critiqued a recent story of mine, pointed out that I still suffer from God awful redundancy syndrome, and sent me a file called, “1001, synonyms for Said.”
My point is that authors and artists stand a lot to learn from each other, and can all grow and improve, as long as we stay positive, and upbeat, have a touch of humor, and find the positives in the work, no matter how queasy you might feel from reading, “I love you,” a million times over.
No one has ever benefited at all from someone vicious bully (who, btw, doesn’t even have published fanfiction, or art) telling a fledgling talent that they’re terrible, and should kill themselves.
In the age of social networking we’ve entered into, superstars are being discovered on Youtube. Success stories like Justin Bieber have sparked a wave of kids (and adults), with dreams of stardom are following that trail, hoping to be discovered.
Tell me, if you’ve never sung a note in your life, and can’t carry a tune in a bucket, as they say, do you have the right to tell that really shy girl with a tiny, meek voice, that she’s awful, talentless, and should never sing again?
No. No, you absolutely do not. As someone who did their rounds in the performing arts in school, and little paying gigs here and there, I know, people seriously pursuing fame are going to hear, “no,” a million times a million times over, in hope of hearing, “yes,” just one time.
A “troll,” being unqualified to detect talent, untrained in such areas as either auditioner or interviewer, should not have the audacity to dare try to crush the dream out of someone.
Perhaps it would be more prudent to find dreams of your own? Or did you aspire from childhood to be a faceless, nameless ass, getting some incomprehensible cheap thrill out of making someone else feel bad about themselves.
From the armchair perspective of a would-be victim, I don’t think this serious, and ever-escalating problem is getting enough attention in the public eye, and I think active steps need to be taken to secure legislation against this sort of unacceptable behavior.
Steps need to be taken, or we’re going to continue hearing stories on the news of victims of cyber-bullying committing suicide. Those tragedies will continue, and I would venture a guess homicides will happen too, as fragile victims get pushed over the edge.
When does it cross the line?
I understand, legislation against cyber-bullying is a logistical nightmare. We’re being tasked to create regulations that don’t trample one individual’s right to freedom of speech, while simultaneously protecting the victim’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That’s a problem to start with…added to this issue: bullying is very subjective. It’s impossible to regulate objective guidelines, because every victim has different perceptions of the severity of the bullying.
An attack that might make one person laugh, and dismiss the bully as a lifeless loser, and pay them no mind…might make a different victim kill themselves, or a third pull a gun and open fire.
And so, I understand this is not an easy thing to institute laws against, but at this point, steps have to be taken.
^ * * * ^
From my guides:
The motherly guide: “I’m uncertain what action would be legally appropriate in these situations, but this is a tragedy all around. To those of you fallen victim to this behavior, hold your head up, and ignore such cruelty. But, don’t give in to hatred. You don’t know what motivates the bully…rise above, and move forward.”
And, from the friend (mind you, this is a direct message…uncensored against my better judgement): “Ignore them. They’re insecure, lifeless losers, and not worth the anxiety or tears, or giving up on your dreams. Come on, everyone, let’s all join hands in the happy affirmation that karma will bitch slap them off a cliff in due time. Cheers!”
^ * * * ^
That’s going to do it for this entry. I would invite, and encourage all of you to get involved in this debate. I’m speaking extensively on this subject right now, and am collecting stories of cyber-bullying, and it’s effects. If you’ve been a victim and want to be involved, even just in sharing your story, please feel free to e-mail me at
Your identity will be kept private, your story used only as examples of why this is a problem that must be addressed. And, at least, know you have a fierce friend in this fight.
Love and Light on your Path,