Assholes: Where to Find and How to Deal With

I think by now it’s a given that Twitter has a huge segment of people who fall into the “asshole” category. There are a lot of people who revel in being jerks; it brings them some measure of joy to tear people down to the point that they take their ball and go home. When you have people leaving the platform because they can’t deal with the bullshit, you’ve got a problem. And not just people like me – I could leave and no one would care – but names who make national news when they leave.

Whether or not Twitter will ever address this is up for debate, but my guess says they’ll continue to ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.

Don’t get wrong, not everyone on Twitter is a flaming sack of crap. There are plenty of talented, decent, entertaining folks out there just doing what they do. I’ve found most of the writer communities have been chock full of great people, so maybe it’s just who you follow and what you seek out that determines your joy-joy level.

So far, I’ve been lucky to avoid most of the nonsense. Save one person who tried to start a fight about whether or not a black dragon was Dungeons and Dragons copyright violation (the dragon was black, as in the color, not the Black Dragon from D&D), I’ve been free of bullshit. Even that chick was probably having issues that day and deleted her tweets within a couple of hours.

Then, earlier this week, I stumbled across an odd tweet to me: “Your tongue should be cut out”. Naturally, given the nature of the authors I tend to pal around with, I assumed it might have been someone goofing. The account in question, though, was just some random schmuck from Oklahoma. It turns out he was at least partially serious; some tweet I posted had horribly offended him and rather than doing the rational thing and just blocking me and moving on with his life, he thought offering up some mutilation was a better option.

The tweet in question was, I admit, pretty profanity-laden. But in a world where politicians can spin whatever lies they want without repercussions, I feel saying “fuck” a few times is pretty tame. It was a tweet for one of the writing games I regularly play, #SunWIP. The games give you a theme and let you to write something to that theme or use something from whatever writing project you happen to be working on. In this case, I made something up on the fly for a theme of “regret”.

Honest disclosure: I actually like saying, “Fuckin’ A, bro.”

Most people liked it or at least found it mildly amusing. Do a little deep thought and you’ll find it’s really nothing more than a reinterpretation of “actions speak louder than words”, just with more fucks in it. I have plenty of fucks to give and I’m not shy about sharing them.

So, aside from the cursing, it’s a pretty innocuous tweet. I didn’t call anyone out, I didn’t directly attack anyone or anything, and I didn’t try to spread a bunch of lies to distract from an ongoing investigation into foreign interference in a recent campaign and election. Which made it all the more surprising to have someone tell me my tongue should be cut out, especially since I typed this with my hands, not my tongue.

Now, let me back up a sec and explain something. Cutting out tongues is nothing new; it’s been used for centuries (or longer) as a punishment for everything from blasphemy to just talking about things you shouldn’t be talking about to flat-out punishment for back talk. It’s a brutal thing to do to someone, the kind of torture you really only expect from ISIS extremists who don’t have handy access to a cage and some gasoline. And, let’s be fair here, advocating it is some pretty sick shit.

Still, while my first instinct when I found out this dude was serious was to tell him if he came at me with a knife and a pair of tongs it would be the last thing he ever did, that would have escalated things. And, to be honest, some jackoff sitting in his trailer in Oklahoma isn’t much of a physical threat to me here in New Mexico. So, I tried something different.

Image and name blacked out because reasons.

Amazingly, he backed off. We’ll still never likely see eye-to-eye about language, but at least it didn’t devolve to childish name-calling or empty threats about fucking each other up.

The takeaway from this, at least for me, was that the old adage about it being easier to avoid a fight than to win one rang true. I doubt I changed his viewpoint about anything and he didn’t change mine, but at least the exchange didn’t come to blows over the Internet. Everyone walked away safe. No harm, no foul.

This kind of thing is bound to keep happening, it’s just something you should expect as more and more people learn your name and realize that something you did is the absolute worst thing that’s ever happened. Yes, that tweet is going to bring down Western Democracy and it’s way, way worse that 9/11. Expect that people have no sense of perspective and you’ll be ready for the worst of it.

I love Cyanide and Happiness.

But I did find it interesting that he was going on about the children and what it means to be a man. I really wish people would stop dragging that tired old “won’t someone please thing of the children” crap into every argument about stuff they don’t like. Just say you don’t like it. If something offends you, it’s you that’s offended, not the children. Children dig cursing. Trust me, I was one.

As for what it means to be a man? Well, maybe this is just me, but if your first response to something you don’t like is to advocate mutilating the perpetrator, you might want to take a good, hard look in a mirror and evaluate yourself before you go off on someone else. Maybe the person you’re wicked pissed at is an asshole, but that doesn’t mean you need to be one, too.

That said…

To be fair, I’ve curtailed most of my yelling at other cars.

13 thoughts on “Assholes: Where to Find and How to Deal With

  1. My biggest question is; “who are these children he’s speaking of?” Any parent that concerned with vulgarities of any sort would not allow their kids to have unsupervised access to the internet, that’s for DAMN sure … and to be following adults on Twitter to boot???
    I think he was the little bitch in this equation.

    • No kidding. I talk to my son all the time about how messed up the Internet can be. It’s basic security these days, like telling kids the van with “free candy” painted on the side is probably a bad idea. There’s plenty of time when they’re older to dip their toes in the Twitter maelstrom.

  2. Great post as always Eric. On calling poeople out – it works to address things head on… back in the eighties when there was still a war 100 miles up the road in Northern Ireland. It wasn’t uncommon for assholes to threaten a connection to the IRA and that they could have you shot. I was thus threatened over the phone because of a failed airfreight shipment to a business 5 miles away. I hung up got in my car and walked into his office a few minutes later. He nearly died and humbly apologised for being an asshole. Which was lucky because he was huge and had he been serious he could easily have kicked my skinny little ass πŸ€”πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚β˜˜οΈπŸŽˆ

  3. Oh my gosh, Eric, you are hilarious (and so is that mean with the grocery cart because, well, I have terrible road rage)! We live in such duplicitous times where up is down and yes is no and some jackoff in Oklahoma can threaten mutilation in the name of what? Decency? Religion? Teaching the children? There are not enough bars of soap in the world for all those mouths.

  4. I loved this post! I have a “friend” on Facebook who I met at an orchestra event, and he and I are very far apart politically, to say the least. In person he’s a funny and thoughtful older gentleman and good violinist, which is why I accepted his friend request, but on Facebook he’s kind of a lunatic. Anyway, for a while he would show up on my wall ranting about a political cause du jour but I think I wore him down by asking him questions like you did here. I also sometimes gave him footnotes and links to non-loony sources (I was especially proud of one from the scientific journal, Nature. It was relevant to the argument, made my scientific point, and he had no response). He’s mostly given up talking politics with me, but we still talk about music in a friendly way.

    • Politics is pretty much sure to cause a fight these days. I tried the links to non-loony sources a few times, but people just gloss over them or call them fake news. Nowadays, I usually just ignore the fray whenever I can. Although, I did get into it with a guy on FB not too long ago. Didn’t solve a thing, but nothing ever does with him. I need to find a “pat you on the head and send you on your way” gif rather than trying to explain things.

      • Yes, I talk about politics MUCH less these days than I used to. It feels futile a lot of the time, and best avoided. But the conversations that I was having with this guy seemed different primarily because of the lurkers. A couple of people complimented me after the fact on how well I was able to keep my cool and just answer his points without getting sucked in. Which is also what you did here in your example.

        I think that if you get into a conversation with a lunatic, if you remain calm and state your case well, of course you don’t convince the lunatic of anything, but you might make some headway with people watching the argument who were undecided.

        I know that sometimes I lurk in debates I don’t know anything about in hopes that I learn something. And I absorb a lot, not just content, but also demeanor and manner. That helps me decide what sources to trust.

        It’s Aristotle’s “ethos,” the personal character of the speaker, which is at least as important as “logos” in persuasion.

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