Tag Archive: blog comments


pearls 2

i like to call myself ‘The Eternal Optimist’

This is particularly true when it comes to sport, and especially cricket. If it is still mathematically possible, i hold on hope to the very end, even if it looks really likely that we are going to lose. And then get genuinely surprised when we do.

i like to think i am the same with people to a large extent. i want to believe the best of a person. Which is why when someone hurts me or i hurt them, i tend to do whatever i can to make peace, often pursuing long after people think i should move on. And always leaving the door open, on the off chance that person wants to restore relationship.

i also like to think i am someone who doesn’t care what people thinks about me.

Although, having been married for five years to tbV, i know that is not true. The person who means the most to you’s opinion does tend to hold much weight.

And after a few years of having a blog, i have found that hurtful comments can and on occasion do have a deeply hurtful effect. Even when you know they are not true.

THERE IS A TIME TO ANSWER, AND A TIME TO REMAIN SILENT [AND WALK AWAY]

The last two days in particular, for some reason, unknown to me, knocked me a little bit. Part of it is the eternal optimism and the hope that people can and will change if they are just presented with reason [Although i am grateful for other people who jumped into the comment sections like Garth, Nkosi, Michael and Nicole who provided a calmer and more balanced voice of reason than mine] and also caring so deeply about the topic at hand – race and reconciliation, particularly in South Africa.

But these two guys managed to get to me a little, more for their comments and the attitudes that seemed to be prevailing behind them. And these are just two of their many comments that flooded the blog [some that i posted, some that i chose not to]:

”If they breed like flies, they should live like flies.’ [Jim, aka James Marais, who i believe is racist]

‘It is time that black people decided whether to return to the iron age, or to embrace the modern times and give thanks to the Europeans for advancing them out of history. I am tired of always having to work so hard to feed freeloaders who only seem to want to make babies they cannot feed. What if we all just stopped working and expected a handout? Everyone would starve.’ [Chris, aka Chris Thompson, who i believe is a racist]

Both of them are white and privileged and seem to be strongly focused on not having to give up any of their hard-earned money to black people, who in their opinion mostly sit around lazily, begging for money grants or expecting others to look after them, and of course making lots of babies.

They say, ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine.’ But sometimes, especially when you are an eternal optimist, you only realise that your pearls have been cast before swine, when you see them crushed to fine powder beneath the feet of pigs.

i think one of the biggest reasons it has been a rough few days of ‘conversation’ is because it seems like these guys are talking about issues that they see or imagine. And i am talking about people. i keep thinking to myself, ‘If only these guys could come and have a meal with me and Nkosi and Fezile and a few other mates, then they’d realise what is really going on here.’ But i don’t know that they would. The words they use seem to indicate a deeply entrenched condition.

And so while i will always keep the door for conversation open, in the hope that those who would genuinely engage, despite how differently they may think from me, will take opportunities to share a meal and wrestle with important, significant and transformative things, i do believe there is also a healthy practice to be had in safeguarding the conversation a little bit more. And in not engaging beyond a certain point.

i think that feels like a wise place to head towards, in the same way that asking for this tattoo wasn’t.

stupid

I’ve heard about this a lot lately. Perhaps you have too?

If you are someone who posts blogs or maybe reads some regular ones – you know, the kind that attempt to speak life and truth and goodness into the world and are not too scared to challenge or speak up against the systems and the people who perpetrate those systems – and comments on them, you will likely know what I am talking about.

Mean people. Commonly referred to as trolls. You know those big mean lumbering beasts that used to hide under bridges and terrorise anyone who would walk across THEIR BRIDGE.

Because that is often what it looks like, right? Whether it be vegetarianism or the crisis in Gaza, race vibes or the LGBT conversation… for the most part trolls have THEIR PARTICULAR BRIDGE, or issue, that they camp out on [or under] and from just reading some comments, it is as if all some people do with their lives is follow threads pertaining to THEIR BRIDGE and jump on and attack and accuse and misdirect… [and are downright nasty!]

I have heard it being named as the ‘Uck’ of the Mean Peoples – I am not sure where this term originated, but I have seen it on posters and cover pictures and even one time on a t-shirt.

What does ‘Uck’ mean? I can only hazard a guess, although having been trolled [for refusing to promote a particular worthy cause out of a number of worthy causes I get asked to promote and for refusing to share an opinion on a topic I didn’t feel I knew enough to share on, are two examples that come to mind – oh, and if you are reading this, please do go and support your local World of Birds because they do an amazing job of, um, managing a world that is, um, full of, birds?] and having read way-too-many-for-one-person’s-lifetime comments on other peoples’ blogs and articles I think that it might be one I will get pretty right.

UCK – this term seems to be a derivative of negatory exclamation or descriptive words, so ‘Ugh’ and ‘Yuck’ come to mind and maybe it is the product of an Ugh and a Yuck coming together in holy matrimony and having a little troll baby. It seems to be a hateful essence built into a secret [or not so secret!] agenda that typically takes a specific topic [as mentioned before, that individual’s BRIDGE] and claims ownership of one particular way of looking at it. And good luck to anyone who thinks or writes differently, because the ‘Uck’ will cause that person to immediately respond in attack mode, often going straight for the jugular of personal identity as the means of ‘winning the argument’ [in their own mind at least]

“You’re stupid”

“How can anyone think that?”

“You are a reprobate” [Yup, I got this one. I actually secretly like it because the word does have a nice ring to it]

“You’re a #$%& piece of @&?$ and I hope you @%&$ die” [I just love guessing games. I’ll go with ‘P’?]

A person’s sexuality, their parenting skills, their intelligence and even their continuing existence on the planet are all brought into question as a troll digs their claws in and often the original comment or written piece is left behind as concise, creative critique gives way to slanderous accusation or vile hypothesis.

This ‘Uck’ that mean peoples bring to various forums has caused a lot of personal pain to a number of people I know or have ‘met’ online. They write a brilliant, often edgy and challenging [but sometimes completely innocent and innocuous] piece and really handle a sensitive topic well and then so much of the good that has been done is unravelled for them by a bunch of nasty, unloving, comments.

97 comments praising a written piece and speaking of how it has brought transformation or a different voice to a complicated issue and 3 mean-spirited, Uck-flavoured, troll speaks and guess which ones stick in the writer’s mind?

While I do get that it is out there and have witnessed enough of it to be able to take online commentary with a pinch of salt, I cannot for the life of me figure out where it originates. A lot of it is simply people being so passionate about a particular topic that their comments get a little bit out of hand as they try and express their feeling. But there is a level of Uck-ness that just feels like pure hate or evil. And as I sit and read the comments and try and imagine myself inside that person’s head, I just cannot do it. I can not understand where such a depth of hate is birthed in a person.

Clearly the growth of Facebook and The Twitterer have made it easier for people to gain access to other people’s thoughts and words and sitting behind a computer screen, hidden behind the moniker ‘Troof437’ makes it feel really safe and easy to simply let the fingers type whatever you would never be able to say out loud in real life to anyone. The anonymity of so many of our internet platforms seems to be the feeding ground from which ‘Uck’ emerges.

Or have I got it all wrong? Is it just possible that ‘Uck’ is actually a severe medical condition requiring urgent assistance and intervention? Might there be medication that can be administered? Perhaps the starting point of eradicating the ‘Uck’ of all the Mean Peoples on the internet is simply making people aware of it?

If this is true, then I will need your help. This is not a battle I can win by myself. If you are on a social network, then I will need you to start talking about this. Start making campaigns and posters, a pass-it-on-video you can challenge your friends with and maybe even a clever cover or profile pic…

What do you say? Is this something you would like to see an end to?

Then join me.You cannot stay silent any longer. Let us once and for all rid the internet bridges of all their trolls and help them find treatment and a way to return to normal society with their heads and typing fingers held up high.

We should definitely create a trending hashtag to help us bring this to the fore. Whatever you write, wherever you share this, however you plan to get your voice behind this campaign, hashtag it with me.

#MeanPeoplesUck

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