On Trolls and Banes

I

I got a trolling e-mail and was disconcerted. Initially, I was just hurt, because it was in fact a hurtful remark. I apologized, thinking, if you have hurt me, then I must deserve it. Then, I realized the remark had been rude. I e-mailed again, saying, look, that was rude. If you really wanted to raise the issue you raised, you could have done it far more productively. Then I remembered, this person actually does know how to be polite. He does not just need a little guidance, he needs to be called on his presumptuous, gratuitously abusive behavior.

As you can see, it takes me some time to process these things, which is why I do not “just ignore” them. Unless I allow myself to process these behaviors and their effects upon me, I find myself simply accepting them, internalizing them. That is not to truly “rise above” them, and what I do now is notice how they actually make me feel, and talk back.

Trolls are irritating, but in the end, I am grateful to have encountered some. Their words and rhetoric have taught me a great deal about rhetorics of privilege, entitlement, male privilege, and whiteness. These often draw upon the rhetoric of abuse, which, as I have been learning, does in fact have a rhetoric.

II

I grew up under two sentences. 1. You do not have the right to be a person, but if you recognize and submit to that, you will be provided for. 2. Forget that you are not a person for any length of time, and you will be left to starve.

These sentences are a major Bane. They create a series of double binds, since if one is not a person, one cannot provide for oneself. Reeducation retaught me the two sentences quoted above, sentences I had long since forgotten. I am to this day uneasy because I am providing for myself. In order to do that I must be, at least to some extent, a person. I must make my own decisions. I cannot leave everything to chance or to someone else. And yet, I always feel I am doing wrong by being a person, by having my own thoughts.

That is another, important Bane. It is one reason why I was so struck by the graffiti I saw on the walls when I was a child: “Freedom NOW!” “Free Huey Newton!” “I am a MAN!” Freedom was coming, and I was for it, and I looked forward to participating in it, as a PERSON.

III

In the new year, however, I am not going to let trolls, on the Internet or elsewhere, drain my energy. I will not do this even when they claim to be friendly, to be “only trying to help,” or to “mean no harm.” I am perfectly lucid, I am quite good at working with serious criticism, and I do not need to “learn lessons” from random snipers. Although I am not a celebrity, I will take a page from the celebrities’ book. Celebrities know that people just will find something to criticize. They have decided long since to simply go about their lives.

Also in the new year, I will live as I did before Reeducation. I will spend more time in town, on the trails, and in the studio. I will be more involved with my local communities. My academic writing will be less cautious than it is now. I will suffer fewer fools, and I will not bargain with anyone about my own integrity. I will live at the center of my own life, and take authority there, whether the trolls and Reeducators feel it is kind of me, good of me, sweet of me, moral of me, or ethical of me to do so or not.

Life, it always seemed to me, was so easy and simple for someone like me. If you have health, youth, and a living, none of which I ever lacked, it is easy to be in the world and to do a number of things. This, of course, was an unacceptably simple attitude to take in Reeducation, but I really do think I am right about it.

Axé.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “On Trolls and Banes

  1. Graz Nezua, and I’m glad these posts aren’t too BORING (at least not to everybody)! The blog was created to get that Reeducation monkey off my back, and it is working. It’s shocking. I’ve tried other techniques and they have not worked. But it’s almost gone. An amazing vista.

  2. I am right there, as well. And yes, it is an amazing vista. And I border on astounded that I have come to this place.

    Finally.

  3. “I will spend more time in town, on the trails…whether the trolls and Reeducators feel it is kind of me, good of me, sweet of me, moral of me, or ethical of me to do so or not.”

    And I’m not going to wait until I’m fifty as I’ve been promising myself. Let it begin today

    1 Love,
    Geoffrey

  4. I am to this day uneasy because I am providing for myself. In order to do that I must be, at least to some extent, a person.

    I must admit I have never lived in this society you speak of, where some are encouraged to be dependent nonpersons; thus I am like a tourist here, making culturally irrelevant comments and puking every time I drink the water.

    In the faraway land where I come from, whoever does not work, does not eat; the hardest lessons to learn are that work is not life and that persons who do not provide for themselves also have innate value, and even social value.

    For myself, I am to this day uneasy because I am not completely providing for myself. In order to do that I must be, at least to some extent, a nonperson, essentially a child, thus I am uncomfortable regarding myself as an adult person.

  5. Yes & thanks – all – and interesting, Dave, and yes.

    Idle question: is what I am describing really that mysterious? That’s interesting: it’s just basically about repression of smart girls. There are a few other ingredients, but that’s really all it is: the outright oppression it takes to get people to internalize things.

  6. The answer to “learned helplessness”= “shoot the sheriff”

  7. My Polish grandma and my Scotch-English grandma likely agreed on only one thing in this world: any woman who didn’t work was worse than useless, because she was probably a prostitute.

    Is this “learned helplessness” an upper-class New England thing? It reeks of nineteenth-century Boston.

    I am not sure – the ones trying to inculcate it in me – as the correct attitude, you understand – were Southerners. If I´d heard the phrase before, I might have recognized what the ´discourse´was. Anyway, this infamous, yet wily shrink + Al-Anon sponsor that I listened to, and both of whom I quit long ago but didn´t leach their poison out until later, were utterly convinced my family was nuts because all the women had professions. –Z

  8. “I will suffer fewer fools” Careful, a fool can be tricky. :) The great thing about a fool is that he/she will let you know soon enough that they are indeed a fool. Peace~

  9. charlie

    Bravo Z. Again.

  10. Professor Zero

    Gracias Charlie … and yes, fools can be wily, you´re right, Stephen. On ´learned helplessness´- this is a term I only learned fairly recently, while trying to unravel these mysteries of how one was supposed to be. And it is one of the elements. I got diagnosed as being “in denial” because I didn´t have enough helplessness. However, I think the more globally useful term would be ´ideologies of femininity.´ I could say more about that, but it would be a post more than a comment.

  11. Good series of posts recently, Prof Z. One advantage I have by being sort of naturally grouchy person is that I never generally worry over why people are mean; I probably should, but don’t. Stupid troll.

    Given that, I generally don’t around disagreeing with grandmas because they are often very wise, but I think prostitutes work really hard and shouldn’t be viewed so negatively.

  12. Given that, I generally don’t around disagreeing with grandmas because they are often very wise, but I think prostitutes work really hard and shouldn’t be viewed so negatively.

    I don’t think that their judgment had anything to do with “work” as such, in terms of effort, output, or earning power.

    I think it was a judgment about whether women without certain kinds of occupations were appropriately representing womanhood and contributing to the community in a socially acceptable and quantitatively useful manner.

    Go figure. That’s, like, the same thing that a professional woman nowadays would say about a stay-at-home mom…

    That’s, like, the same thing that a professional woman nowadays would say about a stay-at-home mom...

    I don’t know about that, Dave. Have you actually seen what the day of a stay at home mom is like? WORK! –Z

  13. Hi again, to, mostly, Dave: I’ve been thinking about this thread. My main point in the post isn’t about working or not, or supporting yourself or not, it’s about being who you are.

    On my own case: my conundrum for several years [due to what I now refer to as Reeducation] was: how to keep producing what I produce (desirable) while not being who I was (undesirable according to Reeducation, because I was too independent, basically; the Reeducators didn’t get it.). For a while I thought I was the only one caught in this contradiction…until I understood it well enough to explain it, at which point I discovered it was not an entirely unique experience.

  14. Great post…Love your format..Wishing you a happy new year.

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