When ‘mean’ kids grow up?
A lot of people have been following the CS art drama, and if you don’t know about it, you are probably better off, and I don’t want to give it any more attention here, or draw her ire, but I do want to discuss situations in real life and in parasocial relationships that can range from light trolling to continued harassment, all the way to stalking.
When I was a kid, I was pretty fucken weird. There was a lot of very serious unresolved trauma, and strange habits that followed that. I sucked my thumb, sometimes in public. I had serious syncope issues and often fainted when I got worked up. I had sleep paralysis and you could find me telling stories about what I thought were real ghosts, hauntings and demonic attacks. My actual memory was garbage so people always thought I was lying. The list goes on, but you get the idea. I probably wasn’t the weirdest kid in every school, but I was open about it, and that was the difference.
I didn’t know I was weird though, because my self-awareness was basically non-existent. My maturity level was also much lower than my peers, meaning I believed in some pretty out there stuff as a high school student, even. I see some of the same things in my sister, so I have no doubt this comes from our shared traumas.
Something that I was though, was honest about my weird shit. If people asked me things or showed interest, I told them. I told them everything. Anything they asked. I got little to no attention at home from my mom OR my dad, so having people talk to me was a big deal. I even tried to fit in with youth groups and organizations I had no deep interest in because it was more people to talk to.
You can guess where this is going next. Several times in my life, I have opened up to people only to have them turn around and use my words against me, or even to get other people to bully and harass me*. This happened multiple times between grade/high school and I started to catch on, but let it happen any way. Even the girl I considered my ‘best’ friend did it to me and I knew she would, because she’d done it to our other friends. My own mother even does it, so it was not a foreign concept to me by the time I was an adult.
In my 20’s I dated a guy who did it, and I noticed quickly that everything about his ‘humor’ was noticing things about people they may be sensitive about and tearing them down to other people while pretending to be nice to them. Everyone thought he was so funny, all the time (they still do, but they never spent as much time with him as I did). His behavior in this regard is actually why I completely stopped commenting on people’s bodies, clothing, hair and mental health. I have left multiple meme groups where people just make memes about these things as well. He would even tear down other women in ways that he thought would make me feel better about myself and it took me a while to realize that was just serious manipulation.
Now that I’m older, I can see the trap a mile away, but that does not affect my behavior, because now that kind of attack doesn’t bother me. There’s always a chance that someone is being genuine if they talk to me about real things. I don’t want to hide myself if there’s a chance something I say about my past or my experiences might help even a lurker watching my streams. If I can’t be honest now, then I feel like everything I’ve gone through has won.
Here’s where it gets super shitty, though. Some of those mean kids grew up into mean adults, who didn’t gain any insight in what it really means to be a person with real friends and relationships.
We ALL have one of those friends that does this in some mild way. They come to you with secrets they heard about someone, or they talk shit behind your back. You know deep down you can’t trust them with information, but you stay nice out of politeness. They go out of their way to target specific people that they have decided they hate and they will look for ANY reason to attack that same person, word-vomiting at you about how much they hate them. They are miserable, and they want you to be miserable along with them.
What most don’t know is that some of these people are stuck in that middle school mentality, only they are not teenagers with a lack of empathy, but actual adults with jobs (and supposedly lives), who will still seek out people they feel are vulnerable and feign interest in order to get information flowing so that they have something to use as ammo later.
Some of them will even pretend to be multiple people to vomit back this information to try to ‘hurt’ the victim of this harassment. With the internet being what it is, you can totally pretend to be any random person, and this could lead some people to think they are being consistently harassed by a group, when it could just be one person who has a hard on for watching people cry. For creators, this level of harassment can drive them off their platform, or cause them to close off. I imagine that’s the goal of these trolls. Get them to freak out and quit, move on to another target.
I’ve had it happen to me around 10 times or so (not people I knew in real life) in the time I’ve been around the net, from the mild versions of people just pretending to be multiple people, to the really serious versions of being stalked and doxxed because someone decided they didn’t like me, despite me not doing a single fucking thing to them.
I am still honest about my weirdness, my mental illness, my health and my personal problems. I came to realize that it’s not me that is the problem, but the people who want to prey on my honesty. If you would use someone’s weakness to attack them when they did nothing wrong to you, that just makes you a shitty person. Period.
What I’ve learned is that these people can’t help themselves. It’s their entire social currency to be that person with the insight, the mean comments about bodies or mental health. It’s all they have. I don’t know what it takes to break people out of this cycle, but it does make me sad. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be one of these people. They know that they can’t be trusted. They know that no one is really their friend, and that they can’t rely on anyone.
They self-insert themselves into someone else’s lives to cause enough trauma to be relevant because they have no relevancy in their own.
Maybe something happened to them and they are lashing out, who knows? I’m not going to armchair diagnose people who go out of their way to harass others, I’ll just say this:
It’s tired. It’s not funny. In the end, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
-The reason that this has come up is that it’s happened to me again recently. I didn’t get my feelings hurt, and it was a very clumsy version of what I’ve experienced in the past. I find it odd that anyone would take the time to try to attack me over insignificant things (most of which I can’t control) while also pretending to be my friend. It’s a gross behavior, and I caught on immediately to the point that I played along for weeks and didn’t say anything. In fact, I still haven’t said anything, but I know it’s them and I let them pretend for a while until finally banning them from my chat when they started arguing in bad faith over things that would upset my other viewers.
It’s too bad, cause that person’s feigned interest could have made them a real, actual friend if they were honest. I don’t know that they’ll ever have that.
*I was weird enough that when I tried out for show choir, other people who were already members, threatened to leave if I made it in. Thankfully the director called their bluff. I’d never been given a chance like that before.