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As a digital immigrant, I’m relatively new to the Internet. I remember in high school, my parents got a dial-up modem, opening up the confusing and somewhat titillating world of chat rooms.
I excitedly chatted with strangers from across the globe (most of them likely perverts in training) for about a week before I lost interest and went back to ignoring my homework by mixing myself a bowl of raw Jiffy blueberry muffin batter and plopping down in front of some Sally Jesse Raphael. (Was it just me, or did that woman’s face look weird? Like she was possibly an alien who had come down to Earth, killed an ambiguously aged woman, and decided to wear the decedent’s skin around like a suit.)
When MySpace and later Facebook came on the scene, I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until 2009 that I signed up for an account, only partially relieved of my fears that a rapist would jump out of my computer and make love to my nostrils whilst I slept.
In 2011, I started to blog without meaning to. Really, all I wanted to do was bitch and moan a little about some politics, so I got on one of those free weblog services all the kids were talking about and published some shit. It didn’t take me long to discover that sometimes other people enjoyed bitching and moaning right along with me (or laughing at my bitching and moaning) and that it made me feel good to get that crap out, damnit, and VOILA! A blog was born.
From there, I started whoring my writing all over the Net (Remember when everyone called it that and Sandra Bullock starred in a movie where she used her MS Dos to order a pizza online and we were all like, Oh Ehm Gee, this is so totally futuristic because CAN YOU IMAGINE ORDERING A PIZZA THROUGH YOUR COMPUTER?! Not. Even. Possible.), publishing pieces on Yahoo! and some other monopolizers of the Interwebs.
And that’s when complete strangers started telling me all about myself. For instance, I have learned from comments on my online articles, blog posts, and Facebook fan page that:
- I am retarded and should just kill myself now.
- I do not really love my son but rather see him as a burden because of his physical disabilities.
- I am a dumb bitch.
- I am un-American because I don’t think Obama is exactly like Hitler.
- I am useless because teachers are useless.
- My union is responsible for the crumbling economy (and possibly 9/11, though the jury’s still out on that one).
- I am underwhelming.
- I am uninteresting.
- I am a hypocrite because when people leave rude comments for me I sometimes reply back with rude comments (apparently I’m supposed to bend over and say thank you, sir, for shoving your mean opinions up my fucking ass all graciously thankful like).
- I am “fucking clueless about the real world.”
- I am “stoopid bcuz [i] don like the tee party.”
- I am ugly.
- I am a faggot because I have this crazy notion that legalizing gay marriage won’t result in gay people breaking down our doors and forcing us to gay marry them.
- I am a cunt.
There are so many other things I’ve learned about myself (some I don’t even know I’ve learned yet because I gave up on reading Yahoo! comments a LOOOOONG time ago) from the Internet, but I won’t bore you with the details.
I’ll just say this: I am SO FRIGGIN GLAD I’m an adult and realize we live among a crap ton of crazy ass people who make it their mission to hide behind their computers and insult people venomously. Some comments might anger me for a minute, but then I get over it by either visualizing myself cutting these commenters’ dicks off and feeding them to their mothers in a pot pie, or (and this one’s slightly less violent and also less fun) not taking it personally because I’m all grown up and my psychological damage has already fossilized, leaving very little room for more.
But what about kids today — the digital natives?
They’re vulnerable. For them, each new insult cuts deeply, scarring their fragile self-esteems. For them, each rude Facebook comment or text message is cloaked in truth. For them, each virtual bully further digs the hole they might one day bury themselves in.
For them, it totally sucks.
We’ve got a big job ahead of us, parents. We’ve got to constantly remind them how awesome they are. We’ve got to monitor their social media and texting. We’ve got to somehow give them the tools to see online meanies for the cowards they truly are.
We’ve got to love them, parents. We’ve got to love them hard. And we’ve got to teach them that not everything they read on the Internet is true.[/nextpage]