10 Hurts: Trolls and triggers

All trolls are not bad, even if they try to be so. Nor is all of social media bad, except to those who do not know how to handle it. Having said that, there have been numerous occasions when it has hurt hard and felt personal. I remember two – one because it was recent, and one because it hurt and had long term consequences. I shall tell both stories in these ten, just to let them go. This one is the more recent one, and was started by an anonymous troll, or some handle already forgotten. See, years online make one a bit careless of persons, especially those who try to hurt you, they obviously do not deserve entry into one’s time, or attention.

I am going to contradict myself right away, right now and here. I happen to be an egalitarian. (An elitist egalitarian, but we shall save that for another day). I have tried to respond to everyone on twitter, and it is only now that the algorithms do not show me all the replies, so I have been unable to offer them this courtesy. All created equal, and deserve equal courtesy. Except when the intent is clearly malafide. I try not to block, for everyone can have a bad, needy, snarky, lashing out kinda day, but I do ignore.

Some trolls of course compose their attacks with great artistry, and it penetrates. This one did, if slightly. So, here comes this attack, totally unnecessary, out of the blue, and clearly lacking in evidence or information, and totally personal. I had tweeted something about saving the climate, possibly about not bursting crackers (always emotive with those who associate fireworks with clean air) – in any case it was about good stuff that should guide our behaviours. And winging its way down the internet tubes comes an accusation of layers of make up, and chopping trees for new furniture every year and running down the ozone layer by driving SUVs. I think it stung because I am growing old, and have discovered, only recently that make up can make one glow. So yes, true, about once a month, I do put on make up. One cannot step up on stage looking drab, nor run webinars looking like a couch potato – it insults the effort of the organisers and the investment of the participants. So yes, sure. In a good cause.

But having paid attention to it, I decided to use this as an opportunity to reflect. Why ever not? It was presented to me on a platter, and while that person or their nastiness did not matter, my values mattered to me.

I looked at cars first. For the past ten years, my office has been in my own building, and I have insisted on scheduling outside meetings only once a week. I do not step out more than twice a week because I do not want to add to the traffic jams and pollution. True story. And as I grow older, my work is becoming more reflective than active. This is how I structure my life, around my age, needs and understanding of the world around me. See, I am getting defensive now. This is what trolls do, and this is a path that refuse to take. Walk back. Oh, and I use an electric car, and have done so for 7 years. I am sure one can debate the location of pollution, but certainly, it is an investment (it does not really pay for itself) into the technology, and one numbers tick chalked up next to demand for a better way of life. Pliss, industry to align to what consumers are calling for by buying and using this technology – we so do not want to pollute, provide us a better way. So far, a win, I would say.

Then, chopping trees. I do not print anything, have not for twenty or more years. At most ten pages a year. I always write my notes on the back of single sided documents that are sent my way, or indeed on the inside of large shopping envelopes. Yes, weird flex, but I actually brought back the brown paper packaging material sent by walmart with groceries full of notes. The rest were made into A4ish sized sheets. I am a bit funny about saving paper. (I feared it might be turning into a fetish, so I bought a dozen notebooks for the lockdown. Too much of anything is bad).

What else – ah furniture. I looked around – the sofas came from my parents, the comfy chair belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The work table was an antique (kempton park fair, for the win!) but battered (so not expensive) games table to which I added the base of an old ironing board so that the various levels make it multi purpose. My main work table was from a second hand store, and so on. Only a few beds (I am ready for family as guests, so yes, a few) were made by local carpenters, and that too over a decade ago. Anything I have purchased since then has been second hand, and recyclable, preferably metal. No trees were chopped on my account.

It hurt, for a day, I remember. We all pretend to be strong, but trolls can get to us. But this one, I thank. Because it gave me a chance to reflect on my behaviours, audit myself, and find myself happy with the report card. I could have made different choices, but a reflection on the whole, I am trying to be the person I want to be. Not perfect, no way, but on the way to some enabling choices.

(Hmm: now to find more hurts for the series. Ah, there is the other SM one, that shall keep for say, number 5. The third I think should be about the ‘intervention’)