“I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity. ~ Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale”
.....just saying, dream crushing troll, just saying.
I have been using social media for a long time: MySpace, when it was a thing, Facebook, from as far back as when a .edu email address was required to create an account, and blog that goes back a decade.
Most of my experiences on social media have been positive—partially because I am extremely careful of who I friend, and also because I don’t put up controversial posts just for the experience of watching the ensuing carnage as my former students, various clergy members, and friends from all over the political spectrum chew the matter to complete pulp.
But statistically, I suppose, it was bound to happen. You can only comment on so many friends' posts before somehow, a troll sidles in with an acidic variant of opinion/advice/commentary designed to make himself appear pretty big and badass, and everyone else small and stupid.
A dear friend of mine, a brilliant aspiring writer, posted an breathtaking bit of stream-of-conscious prose. It was beautiful and made me proud to know her. I commented publically on the work, noting that something in her style was reminiscent of the great beat writers. Because I, myself, was writing stream-of-conscious praise and encouragement, I made the unfortunate mistake of describing the beats as exhibiting “raw, unedited emotion.”
Out of nowhere, a troll sprang from the deep underbelly of the internet, discrediting my friend's work along with my analysis of it. He made it clear that he saw no beat influence in her work, and basically stripped me naked in front of the whole internet by producing a photo of a book describing all of the laborious edits of particular beat writer. He pointed out that this beat—Ginsberg—was “educated like a boss... and made an incredible amount of edits to his work,” using this as a foundation to discredit my friend’s work and to embarrass me. By this time, he’d looked at my public profile (which I am still trying to figure out how to edit down to barer bones than it is already) and found out that I was an adjunct, made some disparaging comments about my rank, and then ended with : “How can you educate others? Learn about literature before you steer impressionable minds.”He went solo on this rant—no one engaged—he just kept going until he burned himself out.
Meanwhile, my husband did a full background check on this cat (wait? Am I slipping into beat-esque verbiage? I am evidently not qualified to know…) googling and the like, and discovered via Linked In that The Troll is seeking employ in the education field. I was tempted, for a moment, to sign up for an account just to see if they do commenting at that forum because if there’s anything I can say or do to keep this jerk out of a classroom, then sign me up. But the thing is? You can start a cyber war with these kind of people. Clearly adept at turning up information to use as weaponry, they wage the sort of war in which a professional should not engage.
So instead, we’ll turn our attention to this gem my husband unearthed from the guy’s college newsletter:
Advice to underclassmen:
“Do not let the people close to you define who you are. Separate yourself from your family and friends , you are your own person - spend college defining yourself as an individual, you have no other time in life to be so detached from your roots."
Basically, his words of wisdom are: You do you! Don’t let anyone stop you! Don’t let people crush your soul.
And that, my friends, is what we will take from this ugly episode.
May my talented writer friend ignore every other thing this troll said and hang on to the above.
Don’t let this loser define who you are. Separate yourself from his poison, and the venom of his kind. Insulate yourself from harsh comments; learn to let them roll off your back like the sweat from your passion. Bulbous-headed big-shots like this guy aren’t confined to cyberbullying—they lurk in high school classrooms, university seminars, and MFA Workshops. Heck, I had one for a professor just last year. He tried to make me feel like I was nothing, but you know what? My lacerated skin’s growing back tougher and stronger.
So beat, troll—or, if you prefer, keep at it. Keep feeding us material. We’ll swallow it whole, break it down, and spew it out in prose that will strip you of your smug one-lines and leave you, mouth agape and fingers frozen—with no words to cover your naked shame.