(Just a quick edit to add that this is not, in any way, directed at nor inspired by the conflict that took place among the community within the past day or so. The “inspiration” actually came from an exchange between an irrational neurotypical person who attacked a few beloved members of the spectrum community, and I decided to also lump in a few supposedly-spectrum people from several months ago who also attacked several of us within the community. OK, moving on…)
Dear Twits (Twitter Trolls),
I’m feeling a wee bit feisty tonight. I can’t stay silent about this anymore. So tonight, I’m going to speak up and let it fly.
I have witnessed you exhibit deplorable behavior toward a select few members of the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community on social media (namely Twitter) over the past few days. Collectively, you spontaneously pop in and out of conversations, targeting us, goading us, trying to hit our weak or soft spots….and for what?
What is it, exactly, that you hope to accomplish? Exactly what problem are you hoping to solve? What sort of sick satisfaction do you derive from this behavior? And more importantly, what exactly will prompt you to think, “mission accomplished” and make you go away?
You claim to have a problem with us, of one type or another. But you hardly ever quite state the root of your issue, or if you do, it never makes sense, and it becomes rather difficult to discern just how your issue is our responsibility. You make outlandish claims, and fail to back it up by citing any sources. Your tantrums leave you looking rather impotent and ridiculous, actually.
Some of you Twitter Trolls are non-autistic parents of supposedly-autistic children. You may or may not be open about it, but it’s pretty obvious that you’re miserable. Maybe you feel baited-and-switched by God, or that you’re repaying some messy karma or something, for winding up with a “severely” autistic child. I’m sorry that you’re miserable; I truly am. I’m sorry that you feel stuck, hopeless, doomed, or whatever else you’re experiencing. But most of all, I feel sorry for your children, for they are more than likely being sent a constantly-pinging message that they’re broken and inferior. Don’t fool yourself; your children can sense everything. They know you resent your situation. They sense your disappointment.
And conversely, some of you are (or at least, claim to be) on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum. (I do question this claim, because if you’re truly on the spectrum, you would understand firsthand the various challenges we face and just how sensitive and deep we can be. I’ve examined and studied the official diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s/autism, and trolling behavior feels extremely out of place in the trait-pattern, so I do question your claim of being autistic. But I digress…) Like the trolls who are non-autistic parents of children on the spectrum, you, too, appear to be “hatin’ life”. You, too, come across as “having issues”, extremely resentful, as though you got dealt a rotten hand and you’re wallowing in misery as well. I feel sorry for you, too, but not for the reasons you would expect or want.
Regardless of whether you trolls are on the spectrum or not, your behavior is despicable. Chronologically, you’re adults; emotionally, you’re toddlers. You accuse us of being “all about ourselves” and yet, when I scroll through the conversations, we reply with logical, respectful, cerebral questions, which are met only with additional nonsensical personal attacks or other vague comments (“LOL” and “hahaha” come to mind; yeah…real mature). You don’t ever answer questions directly, cite any credible sources to solidify your position, or operate from any kind of quest for understanding. You simply attack, babble, and leave, only to pop back up again.
What I find particularly amusing (although simultaneously frustrating) is your tendency to engage in a psychological tactic known as projection. For the cheap seats, the Encyclopedia Britannica defines “projection, as a (psychological) defense mechanism” as:
“a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world. A common form of projection occurs when an individual, threatened by his own angry feelings, accuses another of harbouring hostile thoughts.“
When you launch your personal attacks and bullying, you pretty much without fail end up accusing us of having a certain characteristic or acting in a certain way in which we have not, but interestingly, you have. We, the recipients of your trolling, see right through these attacks, of course. The nanosecond that someone starts picking a fight with a sweet and intelligent member of the autism spectrum community, we know that something is up with you, and you’re simply ill-equipped or flat-out unwilling to face it and deal with it yourself. And thus, you get your kicks out of knocking us down.
And maybe that’s exactly what you’re trying to accomplish by engaging in cyber-schoolyard bullying.
And yes, you are indeed bullying, even though you usually try to deny it. What you are doing, in fact, fits the textbook definition of bullying. What proof? Here we go with Encyclopedia Britannica again (“bullying as a social behavior”):
“intentional harm-doing or harassment that is directed toward vulnerable targets and typically repeated. Bullying encompasses a wide range of malicious aggressive behaviours, including physical violence, verbal mockery, threats, ostracism, and rumours spread either orally or by other means of communication, such as the internet.”
It’s not “just” about roughing up a younger/smaller kid for their lunch money on the playground or beating them up en route to school; it’s also not just about threatening someone with bodily harm. Bullying does indeed include those elements, but it also encompasses much more….of which you are guilty.
And if you don’t feel guilty about engaging in these types of behaviors…
- Butting into nice strangers’ innocent and harmless conversations, only to disagree rudely and generally act like an ass
- Making uncalled-for accusations or tossing out random, unfounded claims without any substantiation
- Projecting your own emotions and characteristics onto others (claiming that other people are how YOU are and then criticizing them for it)
- Engaging in bullying and personal attacks
- Getting all pissy, even without provocation
- Devolving into toddler-like behavior when called out on your inconsistencies and logical fallacies
….then that’s when I seriously begin to question your own emotional/mental maturity and stability (I might even begin to wonder if you’re a sociopath).
If these behaviors are acceptable to you, then that’s when I DO begin to judge and look down on you. And I’m not ashamed for doing so.
Because there’s absolutely no reason for you to be acting like this. I’m sorry, but we, the innocent people within the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community, did not provoke you. We did not seek you out, decide to target you, tag you without your consent in our conversations, or otherwise goad you into responding. We didn’t pick the fight. We didn’t harass you. We didn’t personally attack you. We didn’t intimidate you. We didn’t attempt to make any enemies.
Again, I’m sorry that you feel like your life sucks. Join the club; a lot of peoples’ lives suck. Yours may or may not suck more than most. Regardless, it’s not our fault, it’s not our problem, and it’s not our responsibility. The fact that you feel your life sucks does not give you license to shit all over innocent people from behind the cowardly cloak of the internet. It is not we who caused your life to suck. We might, however, have been willing to provide an excellent avenue of support, encouragement, insight, perspective, and positivity, or even a simple listening ear….if you hadn’t just shit all over us, that is. It’s kind of hard to band together behind or beside you and lift your spirits to the proverbial stars if we’re wiping your rotten gunk off of us and trying to dodge additional gunk as it launches at us from your keyboard.
You’re going to have to keep in mind: we didn’t do it.
You’re the one with the problem. If you don’t like your life, fix it. If you can’t, ask for help. If that doesn’t work, keep trying. But you don’t take out your rage and hostility on us.
What happens when you behave as a troll is that you begin to prompt genuine, intelligent people to consider censoring themselves. This runs contrary to the fabric of the spirit of the internet, which was constructed with the purpose of sharing information (selling products aside). We cannot live as free people and knowledge/perspectives cannot be shared or spread if intelligent and kindhearted people are de facto silenced.
If you see something you don’t agree with, and you can’t wrap your head around the idea of asking for explanation or insight, then simply move on. I mean, it’s not like we’re advocating bleach cures or spouting complete nonsense. It’s not like we’re harming anyone. We’re speaking for ourselves; some of us speak from a plural “we” position, which is usually derived from months or years of experience as a member of the autistic community and thus, plenty of exposure to a wide variety of people on the spectrum. You might not like what we have to say, but you have to understand that peoples’ opinions and experiences differ (and if you’ve read this blog at all, you’re probably sick of my tired old mantra “I can only speak for myself”). At least our opinions, from what I’ve witnessed, are consistently based on some kind of sound cognition, expressed logically, and harm no one.
For all of the dozens/hundreds/thousands of hours you sink into trolling other people on the internet (see how ridiculous that behavior sounds?), what would your life be like if you invested that time into reading helpful, constructive books/blogs/websites/etc instead? What if you spent that time working, volunteering, creating something, meditating, exercising, or learning something new? What if you used that time for (additional?) counseling, making new friends, meeting a friend for coffee, interacting with your child, petting your dog, or seeking support from a new avenue? What if you posted polls on Twitter instead of snarky replies, snippy comments, and bitter article commentary?
Because I’m tired of your nonsensical, over-emotional, illogical, unproductive, non-constructive crap.
I’m tired of putting up with your two-year-old behavior endowed with the privileges afforded to adult physical bodies.
I’m tired of you running off my dear friends.
I’m tired of you intimidating them into censoring themselves.
I’m tired of seeing them having to take time off of social media and having to miss each other.
I’m tired of hurting for/with them as they have to recover from dealing with you.
I’m tired of you harassing them such that they protect their tweets, which prevents the posts from being shared and prevents my friends from expanding their own friendship circle and forming new bonds.
I’m tired of you diminishing, robbing/stealing, and eating away at the quality of their lives.
You don’t have that goddamn right.
You have every right to express yourself (among many other fundamental rights), but there’s some fine print: everyone else has the same rights you do. And yours end where theirs begin.
~ The Not-So-Silent Wave
(Exception: when someone is causing any type of harm to someone else, that is.)