TW: transphobic language
Dear Assholes, Trolls, and Self-Styled Provocateurs,
Greetings and salutations! I hope this message meets you in good health and good spirits. If you have a moment, I’d like to ask you a few questions. After all, a little self-reflection is healthy now and again, right? That being said, I’d really rather not know the answer to these questions. This is more for you, after all, and for your own clarity. Who knows? Maybe this post will elucidate some of your interactions with the world at large. It’s worth a try, right? One last thing: if you don’t self-identify as a troll or asshole, this post isn’t for you. Feel free to read it, enjoy it, and share it with friends, but know that you’re not who I’m talking to.
The first question I’d like to ask you is: why do you do what you do? Personally, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it. It could be that I’m biased; in all of my years on this earth, most of the, “assholes,” I’ve met treated me poorly. That being said, almost all of the assholes I’ve met have ended up in one of two camps: either they are ostracized from a group of friends, or they end up shifting the group’s dialogue towards their own brand of, “asshole.” Of course, friends, your experience may be different. You might have people who love and care for you, despite your identity. Heck, you might even have people who regularly agree with you. None of that, unfortunately, means that you’re not hurting people, or that you don’t have the potential to cause pain.
I’m not going to lie to y’all - I have social anxiety. Some days it’s very manageable; other days I want nothing more than to curl up under every blanket I can find and cry. There are many reasons for this, including my various identities and the way the world often chooses to interact with me, but in many ways, y’all aren’t helping. To use one example among many, I only have so much energy in a given day; I want to spend as much of that energy as possible on positive things. When I encounter an asshole, however, I: have to spend energy figuring out how to get away. Failing that, I have to spend energy on diffusing the situation, if there is no clear way out. When everything is said and done, I have to spend even more energy decompressing from what you’ve said to me; this is only compounded if I’ve tried to respond in some way (meaning I’ve sunk in even more energy). What I’m really saying in all of this is: when you’re an asshole to someone, it hurts. Had you considered that?
I have one more question for y’all, but it’s a bit more esoteric. Do you realize the impact your attitudes and word choice can have? I’m not talking about interpersonal interactions, here; I’m talking about some of the harmful, hurtful, and oppressive views society puts forth. To clarify: usually, when I see someone self-identify as an asshole, it’s used as a cover for some really nasty things. I’ve had people tell me that their use and defense of the word, “tranny,” is okay because, “it’s just a joke,” and, “that’s just how they are.” I’ve heard and read far too many attempts to justify racist diatribes that boil down to little more than, “I’m just trolling!” I’ve heard some of the most blatantly sexist rants of my life that gleefully ended with, “but I’m just an asshole, so what do I know?” Here’s the scary part: even if you don’t mean it, just giving hateful and harmful speech a voice helps to justify it. What’s more, it’s really hard (if not impossible) for outside observers to tell what’s just a joke, and what your real opinions are (apologies in advance for the heavy sarcasm).
If nothing else, I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Maybe one day we’ll even come to an understanding of sorts. Until then, I hope you understand where I’m coming from a little better, and that we’ll all be able to move toward a future that’s a little less hostile, a little less abrasive, and a little safer for everyone. Cheers.