photo by Joe Hastings / Flickr
by Js Kendrick
About 22 years ago I recieved my 15 minutes of fame. Ironically it lasted for about 10 or so years. I saw my fame unexpectanly as I drove to work. I had did a little Advertisement work for a local bar owner back then. She was remodeling her bar and I did all the advertisment signs for the remodel and reopening. I also did her business cards. The bar was called “The Well” so I drew a old fashion stone well with a wooden shingled roof and wooden bucket. Seriously folks, nothing fancy. I can draw, but art has always eluded me. Which is why I write.
Yet going to work I saw on the bar’s awning my logo, the same one I had done for her business cards. There it was, my drawing of an old fashion well, in plain sight, for the world to see. Well maybe not the world, but definately the small town of 3800 and the bars patrons. I was stunned. Here was my work out for everyone to see. I felt a good moment of pride, something I had done was out there for all to see, that was just flipping…amazing! I had to override my desire to stop my car, get out and point to the awning and yell “Hey! I did that!” Figured that might be a bad idea.
But it was 1995, long before the internet took off. Long before smartphones were physically attached to millennials who snapchat everything and post it to the web. If anyone want to opine about my crappy art work or rave about the stunning Primative Art they had to actually call some one from their landline phone. Going Viral was still a medical term. I had nothing to fear from worldwide condemnation for my work.
Now? Well thats changed. Every Facebook post is held up to scutiny by the masses. If you dare to comment on a local news’ page or even risker, a national one, you open yourself up to the attack of the Trolls. These are not the cute little ones from the Movies, nor the ancient toy dolls from my childhood. In truth these trolls aren’t even 30 year olds who live in the parents basement. Most of the trolls are just regular people who are quick to take offense at whatever they deem offensive or quick to make judgements on others just for their own self gratification. Face to Face these people would never make such comments. Yet the anonymity of the intenet has allowed this behaviour to flourish.
Ironically it’s a behaviour that has been around since humans have had language. We had a name for troll in the past, gossips. However most gossips hid in the shadows, well or at least they thought so, yet trolls do have shadows to hide in.
Going into blogging I knew what to expect. Eventually I would write a blog that someone would disagree with. I will be trolled, I fully expect it. I also try my hand at writing short stories and novels, you tend to get a little thick skinned after a while. So going into this, I was prepared…emotionally.
Others are not. My 15 minutes of fame wasn’t exactly thrusted upon me. I did a piece of artwork that was turned into a logo. No big deal.
I have a friend (no seriously, I have friends, really.) who recently had fame thrusted upon her. Locally of course. Fame, not infamy, which is always a good thing, by a local paper. She belongs to a church that has gathered a group of parishoners to run in the Chicago Marathon. They are doing this to raise money for a charity that supplies clean water to third world nations.
My friend has never ran a marathon in her life. She has done a few local runs but nothing like this. She has been working her butt off (literally) to get into shape for this event.
She is a mother of two daughters, a Kindergarten teacher, a wife and an all around good person. No, she won’t be made a Saint 20 years after her passing, but she is a likeable person nonetheless. A good soul.
She has been working her butt off for this marathon, running 10 miles the other day and surviving. I could run 10 miles, if it was a steep enough incline and the ground was soft enough to roll down, so I’m impressed. She has also lost two sizes doing this. And there is the Rub.
The local paper did an article on my friend, her picture in the paper. A picture that was from when her group first started out, in May, long before her intense training. They also put the article up on their Facebook page, and then they came…The Trolls.
In spite of the fact she is training for a marathon, my friend was ridiculed for her weight. Not by many, a few, and the paper quickly redid the article to wash away those comments.
I noticed the paper does that a lot, good for them.
Yet she saw the comments from the trolls. It doesn’t matter how many cheerful comments, encouraging comments, and those full of respect, it was the trolling comments that stuck. I truly can’t imagine her pain.
All of us have our imperfections, in reality that’s what makes us unique. Humans aren’t designed to be cookies made by cookie cutter, we’re individuals. Her 15 minutes of fame was tarnished by trolls. This is a reality of our times.
I was lucky my first time out.
As I said my friend is a mother, she has two daughter who can read, although I doubt they saw the article. Yet they probably saw their mothers reaction to the Facebook article comments from the trolls.
And that is the real point of this blog today. We sometimes get wrapped up in the social media world. We all (okay, many. All might be pushing it.) say a snarky comment once in a while. Usually in response to another snarky comment. It can get mean, even brutal. Definately hurtful. Yet for every adult we feel the need to ‘put in their place’ or ‘correct their point of view’ we neglect to realize they aren’t just some cute name on social media. That is a person behind that smartphone or computer. Many, like my friend, have children. Those children have to be told why mommy is quiet, or crying.