It’s no secret anymore that the internet is riddled with nastiness. Trolls haunt comment boards and social media platforms are sinking under the weight of unpleasant people who hurl invective like a university student during frosh week after chugging a tray of tequila shots. It’s all such a disturbing mess. Yet, with no lost irony, becoming a target of these knuckle-draggers is also an indication that you’ve “hit it big” online. After all, these degenerates don’t typically waste their venom on nobodies. You can’t take pride in being an asshole if nobody sees your assholedness. So when something you post, be it a tweet or blog post, garners a rant or outright hostility from an utter stranger, contrary to common sense, it can be utterly elating.
You need to be more controversial
This summer I was home on an extended vacation visiting family and friends and showing off the homeland to my kids. One evening I visited a favourite old watering hole from my University of Waterloo years with some good friends from those shockingly long ago days. Somewhere after the first beers had been consumed but our meals had yet to arrive, the subject of my blog came up. As is common when this conversation occurs I was forced to reveal that my blog generally drives very little traffic. Normally this uninspired, but factual, answer bores the recipients, who were hoping for unfathomable tales of easy riches, and the subject changes. Not this time. This time one of my friends offered up some advice. I should be more controversial.
Not exactly ground shifting advice as this is something that I am all too aware of. Shock and awe sells on the internet. As I lamented in an earlier post, I’m just not cut out to be this type of online personality. Decide amongst yourselves whether I’m just a chicken shit or actually have self-respect, the fact remains that garnering attention by being an idiot, asshole, whore or any combination of the three is just not something I’m comfortable with. It just ain’t gonna to happen.
Incurring the wrath of complete strangers
Somehow, though, a few short days later a fairly benign though admittedly sarcastic comment I posted on Twitter and Facebook managed to incur the wrath of a complete stranger. I hadn’t even written it with the intention of being more controversial and yet there it was, my first ever rage retort from someone whom I not only didn’t know, but who’d delightfully assumed things about me that weren’t even close to the truth. I was thrilled!
Sure, this person was no troll. If my wrath-inciting post was weak by controversial standards then the angry response was equally weak. Nonetheless, there it was. The first notch on the headboard of my blogging career. A small taste of what it’s like for the big boys and girls of this mad internet age we are collectively enchanted and repulsed by.
And so I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank Andrew Turan, whomever you are, for taking the time to vent your disgust with my post and in doing so inadvertently make my day. You’ve encouraged me to continue on with this blogging and social media experiment which had until then was growing ever more pointless. You couldn’t be more wrong about me, at least when it comes to taxation and government services. I’ll concede you a point for the negativity rib, though cynical seems a more precise descriptor. I offer no apologies for being that way. Politics and people that don’t understand sarcasm drove me to it.