Red in Tooth and Claw

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Snow White-A Smile and a Song

It is really too bad that nature is not like this scene from Walt Disney’s Snow White. BTW Snow White remains my favorite Disney Princess because when I was a kid in the 1970s, she was the only brunette. I didn’t really care about her “happily ever after” with the prince who appeared at the end of the movie. I loved the thought of her living in the forest in harmony with all of the animals.

Then I grew up. Unfortunately, a lot of people did not.

I follow two related Twitter accounts: A woman farmer in Ireland, and an account for one of her cats. She posts pictures and short videos every day of her sheep, her farm, her cats, her spinning room. Usually they’re a diversion from the ugly reality in the U.S. Sometimes sad things happen, like a premature lamb dying. Sometimes upsetting things happen, like one of the farm cats getting into a tangle with a strange tom and having to have his ear glued back together (which I found fascinating as it healed up so much more quickly than stitches.)

A few days ago, she posted a picture of herself rescuing a wren nestling before one of the cats got ahold of it. All’s well that ends well, right?

Not on Twitter. She was verbally attacked by multiple anti-cat people who refused to understand that this is a farm cat, not a city cat, cats are needed on farms to control the rodent population, domestic cats aren’t evil. I blame the Audubon Society for spreading lies about outside cats and associating with people who advocate killing them for this sort of nonsense.

Life is not a Disney movie.

I’ve seen a blue jay kill a house sparrow. By the time I got outside with the broom to chase away the jay, the little bird was hopelessly injured. Another year, a bunch of grackles killed a family of house sparrows, parents and nestlings. Territoriality. Animal instinct. I didn’t kill the blue jay or the grackles. And anyone who thinks no cat should be allowed to roam or that cats are an “invasive species” (in Europe!) and spews that nonsense is going to get it thrown right back in their face by me.

The Audubon Society needs a good housecleaning, starting at the top. They are no longer pro-bird. They are anti-cat, and they are validating the absolutely false views of people who just hate cats. One person kept saying the cats “poison” wildlife.

I’ve never seen a cat putting out poisoned bird food, have you? This insane rhetoric has gone way too far. And not enough people are standing up to it, so if you love cats and understand that “nature is red in tooth and claw,” could you confront people spreading anti-cat lies? Could you confront online bullies in general when you see them? Those of us countering the lies and confronting the bullies could use some help. I don’t want to see good people who make the Internet better driven off social media because some blithering idiot can’t understand why domestic cats are so valuable.

If you are one of those blithering idiots: enjoy your bubonic plague.

Tragedy and trolling

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Normally, I am all for telling trolls exactly where to stick it. But at a time like this, when so many people are overwhelmed, in pain, and righteously angry, engaging the trolls only makes the emotional pain worse. I think that the best way to deal with trolls right now is to block and report them. I also think that when we see other people being harassed, attacked, or threatened, we should report the abusive accounts. The more reports, the greater the probability of the account being suspended.

If you have anxiety, depression, OCD, are bipolar, or are living with other mental health issues and you’ve been open about this online, the scumbags of the Internet are more likely to focus on you. Do not let them harm your mental health. Block them. You have a right to be online if you want to. They do not have a right to attack you. You are doing nothing wrong. You are also doing nothing wrong by walking away from the computer or putting down your phone. You are also doing nothing wrong by not tweeting or sharing what’s on the news. Everyone knows what’s on the news. If you want to talk about something else, you should do so, and no one should criticize you.

Temporarily locking your account may be a good solution if you want to keep talking to your friends while avoiding trolls and racists. Setting up a private account is another option.

Don’t let pathetic losers make you more upset than you already are.

Being Normal

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I love my hair. I wanted a pixie cut since junior high. I’m 43 years old. I’m more concerned with being happy with what I see in the mirror than with what a potential romantic partner sees in me. It’s wonderful, being able to look the way that I want, not feeling constrained by someone else’s opinion.

I spent the first half of my life skinny. Having cleavage and curves is a new experience. I’m not particularly interested in what anyone else thinks about my size. It’s my body. If you don’t like it, quit gaping at it.

I like my work. I get paid for writing, and then I write for pleasure. I don’t work Monday-Friday, 9-5. I’d like to make more money, like everyone else would, but I’m thankful that I have a job. Quite often, I’m working while the people who look down their noses at me are relaxing. Does that make me better than them?

I like my hobbies. I love my garden. I really enjoy my doll collection. I don’t give a tinker’s dam what anyone thinks because everyone has a hobby that someone else finds stupid, boring, etc.

I do not give a fuck what anyone thinks about me living with my mother. She’s 68, walks with a cane, and needs a hip replacement. I do the bending and the lifting and going up and down the stairs to the basement and changing of bulbs in overhead lights and all the other crap that the fallow little snots who think they know all about me by my Twitter selfie take for granted.

I have two cats. My mother has a dog. WE have two cats and a dog. My ex had an iguana. My friend next door has two dogs. My new neighbor has a cat and a kitten. My neighbors across the street have a bird. I’d like to have a pair of ferrets, but I’m allergic to rodents 😦 Wait, what does any of this matter?

I like blue. And purple. And red. And pink. I love the fragrance of grape hyacinths and clean cotton sheets. I like nose piercings, the tiny little piercings, but I’m afraid to get one, but I have a tattoo that goes from my ankle almost to my knee.

Nothing anyone says to me online is going to make me change anything about my life. That’s Realityland. That’s adulting. I work and I care for my mother and our pets and I write and I garden and I take pictures.

Anyone who finds fault with that has problems that can only be solved by a psychiatrist.

Happy being normal to everyone who sees some aspect of their own lives in this post.

Would you talk to someone else

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The way you talk to yourself?

We all talk to ourselves: in our minds, out loud, both. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our inner back and forth that others hear us muttering. I think that everyone does it to some extent, but creatives and students–students of all ages–are more likely to have intense inner conversations and to slip up and verbalize them. Often when I’m rereading a scene, I catch myself mouthing the dialogue and even gesturing. This was first pointed out to me by my ex-husband, and then he told me what I was doing was abnormal. Well, it wasn’t. In fact, experienced writers and editors often suggest reading dialogue aloud to make sure that it sounds natural (depending on the time period you’re writing, of course.)

But I set out to write about talking down to yourself. Badmouthing yourself. Cursing yourself. Beating yourself up verbally. When you’re trying to solve a problem, do you find yourself calling yourself stupid in your mind? Or “yeah, dummy, that’s it.” That’s one I use all the time. I solve the problem, but I still call myself a dummy. I don’t call other people dummies. Someone obviously called me that a lot when I was quite young, and I suspect I know who that was.

So why don’t we use our inner voices in a self-congratulatory way? Because it sounds silly? Sillier than calling yourself dummy?

A few months ago, I joined a workshop designed to build up self-esteem. I dropped out because my self esteem is so low that I felt stupid standing in front of a mirror saying good things about myself. But I have no problem verbally beating myself up.

This is a problem. I spend a lot of time on the Internet and I see it as a societal problem. There’s a great deal of victim-blaming out there . . . and fat-shaming, and slut-shaming, and “walk it off”-shaming, and skinny-girl shaming, and many things I know apply specifically to men but I’ve only experienced the female-centric shaming. When someone tells you that it’s your fault for reacting to non-constructive criticism, sarcasm, insults, verbal abuse, physical abuse, harassment, bullying, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, workplace bullying by getting upset because your reaction is your fault . . . that is a load of manure.

But, because saying “this hurt me” inevitably subjects you to more ridicule, you internalize it.

And there you are calling yourself a stupid brain-dead idiot because it took you 20 minutes to figure out the new food processor.

It’s not about the food processor. It’s about the self-shame ingrained in our psyches. God forbid you’re a man and can’t figure out a mechanical thing because men are just born knowing all that stuff. Right? Right? Like I was born knowing how to use a sewing machine. I’M 43 AND I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RUN A SEWING MACHINE. I’m not stupid. No one taught me! Random man reading this, rebuild my carburetor. You don’t know? How can this be?

We’re people. We don’t have all the skills. Even if we do have all the skills, things happen that confound us.

We have to stop mentally berating ourselves. Plenty of people out there are waiting to pounce on us and berate us. We shouldn’t be halfway beaten down and ready for them. We need to talk ourselves up. Develop self-esteem. Be like ducks and let it all roll off our backs like water.

We (I) also need to stop gender-stereotyping. I apologize for that.

Please stop bullying yourself, and please find something that helps you build up your self-esteem. Because there are so, so many people out there waiting to tear you down, and they can’t do that if you build yourself up.

!*#&@!

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I got cussed out in pretty much the most vulgar way possible by a male (I can’t call him a man) for the grotesque sin of responding to President Obama’s tweet about the beginning of autumn with “Happy Fall, Mr. President!” Of course I reported the person and of course Twitter isn’t going to do anything about it, but . . . trolls. Why?

I’ve read about the studies that found that most trolls are mentally disturbed sadists (no !*#&@!, Sherlock), and intellectually I get that they’re just angry, powerless people who get a thrill out of trying to shock, scare, or anger others. Particularly women. But what did this loser think he was accomplishing by using such extreme vulgarity towards a total stranger who happens to like a president that he despises? Did he think I was going to cry, sign out of Twitter, exchange insults?

I think what was in his mind when he was typing that tweet to me was something along the lines of, “I’ll teach that bitch not to run her mouth about that blankety blank blank in the White House.”

I’m not going to hesitate to continue speaking positively about President Obama. So the entire little rage episode hurt no one but the troll. He made himself angry, worked himself up into a state, got his account reported. He wasted about five minutes of my time. He gave me a good idea for a blog post. He got nothing out of what he did but a momentary sick little thrill.

Ultimately, it’s not about President Obama. It’s about people trying to intimidate others-especially women, especially women of color-into not talking online. A lot of people get attacked so often and so viciously that they do decide it’s best for them not to be on social media. Like one of my favorite actresses, Ginny Goodwin. She deleted her entire Twitter account. I strongly suspect it was due to harassment by people who don’t like her character on a TV show.

Don’t like a TV show character-attack the actress

Don’t like the president-attack anyone who says anything positive about him or her.

Don’t like same-sex marriage, abortion, women who play video games, women who want a woman on the $20, Black Lives Matter, people of other religions, people who aren’t part of any religion, people who don’t like Common Core, feminism, fat people, people who don’t eat meat, cats, people who are against trophy hunting, people who think Sea World should be shut down, people who actually follow Jesus’s teachings and think we should feed the poor? Attack, attack, attack. Shut them up. Make them afraid to talk about anything. Is the person pissing you off a woman? Make sure you at least imply some sort of sexual violence. That will shut the bitch up.

Not this bitch.

I like being online. I like talking to people who like the same things I do. Some days I do a lot of retweeting. When I’m in a good mood, like yesterday, I’m quite chatty. I’m not going anywhere because some sick sad person hates the president. I will report them all even if the person who gets the report decides to ignore it. I’ve gotten such violent threats after writing about protecting feral cats that I reported the person to the F.B.I. But here I am, still writing about feral cats and saying “hi” to the president and saying any other damn thing I feel like saying.

I’ve been bullied my entire life, and I’ve lived in situations where I couldn’t say what I thought because someone in my home might physically hurt me if I did. I’ll never live that way again.

I’m certainly not going to shut up because of some foul-mouthed irrelevant cyberbully. It saddens me that people I’ve known for years now only post from locked-down private or anonymous accounts, or have gone entirely offline.

Maybe I stick it out and keep speaking my mind for them.

Stealing your happiness

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Why do people try to do it? Why, when you are feeling positive, happy, enthused about something, does some professional wet blanket come along and try to smother your little spark?

I’m speculating here but I think that there are different types of cynical downers who are out to make everyone as miserable as they are. The first is the person who is miserable and can’t stand anyone else being happy. They’ll always make a negative out of your positive. It apparently makes their perpetual state of gloom and doom bearable.

Then there are people who think they’re experts about a particular subject, hobby, TV series, book, whatever, and get a thrill out of trying to make the newbie look stupid so that they can maintain their illusion of superiority. You cannot make this thing your thing. It is their thing. It is the only thing they have that makes them feel special.

And finally, there is the person nursing a personal prejudice. They will actively seek out mentions of the thing that they dislike for whatever reason, and they will try to swat you with their verbal flyswatter because you unknowingly offended them.

All these people are crazy. Number One is a person we all encounter in real life at some point. That person is angry and depressed and needs professional help. Two and Three are trolls you’ll encounter online. They are problematic because they can discourage you from becoming involved in online communities devoted to your interest, but they are also people you can ignore. Easily. Mute, block, unfollow, unfriend, even report if necessary. Excise them from your online life and continue to talk about what makes you happy. Keep asking questions. Everyone’s not a jaded professional Internet killjoy. It doesn’t even matter if that person considers themselves to be the authority on whatever. It doesn’t matter if they’ve convinced other people that they run whatever site they lurk on, spreading their condescension. Because likely, a whole lot of other people dislike them, but are afraid to challenge them.

It’s silly that your fun hobby attracts people to you who want to put you down and even discourage you. Always remember that Two and Three DO. NOT. MATTER. They’re just strangers who want to feel important. Screw ’em. Read your book and post your opinions. Watch your TV show and write your reactions to this week’s episode. Enjoy collecting whatever it is you’re collecting. Nothing matters except the fact that you are having a good time. It’s a pretty damned depressing world we live in and if you can find a little bright spot, claim it and defend it.

Number One is not so easy. Number One is looming over your shoulder at school or at work or maybe even in your own home. You may have to seek out the support of others to put Number One in his or her place. You have rights. You have the right to be free of harassment at school, work, and home. If you can’t get Number One off your back, you’ll have to develop the ignore/deflect strategy. Ignore all possible negativity and deflect what can’t be ignored with casual politeness.

No matter which grouch you’re dealing with, don’t let them win. Don’t abandon what you love because they have a personal problem. Feel sorry for them if you have it in you. If you don’t, remind yourself that their problem is not your problem and they are sad pathetic little people who can only get attention by making you unhappy. Make it a point to be happy IN THEIR FACES.

Let me know

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Facebook obstinately refuses to follow their own rules regarding trolling, abuse, and banned content. I think that some Facebook employees are indulging in their own biases and ignoring reports selectively. Last night I reported blatant gore and this morning I got a response from Facebook that the content that I reported as “graphic violence” didn’t violate their “community standards.” As far as I can tell, no one at Facebook has any standards.

However, I do. If you see abuse or inappropriate content on any of my pages, let me know, and I will remove it and ban the poster ASAP.