When Online is out of line: Glitter up your ass

That thread with my name on it was emotionally a hard thing for me to read.  Those comments in which people expressed disbelief at my age, accused me of using my disability as an excuse and implied that I was pathetic for living with my parents and spending a lot of time on the internet had preyed on my deepest insecurities and hit me in my most vulnerable spots. Those comments in which I was called an annoying, creepy, danger to the community had made me feel dehumanized, worthless and alienated. People had commented before in real life on my exceptionally good memory but no one had ever said it made me creepy or dangerous. Whenever they mentioned it it was in a complimentary manner. They found it impressive, admirable and a useful skill to have. Now even my assets were being turned in to weapons to be used against me.

There were however people who were sympathetic towards me and defended me against my attackers.

LionHeart wrote:

“It raises my hackles when people who barely ever post here anymore only pop up to bitch about how much Kira or the board sucks and are then gone with the wind. That kind of thing has happened here before and it nearly destroyed the board. I think the board may be swirling slowly down the drain anyway but perhaps we could do it with a shred of dignity.

But now that Kira is on a 2-week break all those who say she is killing the board for them won’t have to look at her heinous threads and she won’t beat them to all the scintillating topics they are just dying to post. I’m sure we’ll have a virtual Renaissance.

I’m not the biggest fan of the format of Kira’s threads but they’re a direct result of people jumping her shit for just posing a topic and saying “What do you think about this?” If she were to start including her opinion she would absolutely get her shit jumped for something else. I have no doubt about that. I also find it laughable that people claim they are so traumatized by the questions she poses that they are unable to respond, even if the topic interests them.

Overall I’m most annoyed by the people who obviously still care enough about this board to try to run Kira off/change her entire personality but don’t care enough to post here much at all.”

Honeysuckle wrote: “I haven’t said anything about this issue so far but I’ll say something now.  I’m speaking out now because I feel this was the wrong way to handle the situation and I feel sorry for Kira reading this shit. In the other thread I thought it was agreed that a “Let’s talk about Kira” thread would be a bad idea but here we go.

I think what collectively went on certainly approached bullying. Moreover, what essentially is the difference between bullying someone and being cruel to them? I guess cruelty is more encompassing than bullying so in fact what’s been done to her was even worse than bullying.

I don’t believe for one second that Kira was deliberately being antagonistic. As far as I can tell she’s made plenty of effort to take others’ criticism in to account but she is who she is and she’s broken no rules. There’s no obligation to post according to the format she’s laid out and there’s no rule saying everyone can only post one thread a day. Getting defensive was not helpful to her but I don’t blame her one bit for feeling defensive and showing it.

I get why people are put off by some aspects of her posting but I can’t for the life of me figure out why if you really want to participate in this board, she’s what’s stopping you. If you don’t like the threads she starts find a thread you do like, if you have a topic you want to discuss, start a thread about it, if the only topics that interest you are the ones  Kira’s gotten to first and you can’t find a way of contributing that’s an actual contribution and not a criticism of how she posted it, somehow I doubt you wanted to discuss the topic all that much. It’s hardly fair or accurate to blame her for why the board is stagnating.

Something has gone very wrong here and it isn’t Kira.”

Angel wrote” So Kira posts too much on a public forum? Yet we are always hearing complaints about how slow and boring this place has become. Not stating her opinion is irritating?  There have been lots of times when I’ve asked friends for their input about an issue because I’m not sure what my own opinion is. Getting defensive when she’s called out on pretty much every word she types makes her a bad person? If I was getting jumped on all the time I’d have a bad attitude too.

If you don’t want to read what Kira posts don’t. Put her on ignore and go on with your blissful Kira-free lives. Jumping on her every time she posts is immature. You can’t force someone to be what you want them to be.

Imagine Kira as your daughter or your sister. Would you want them treated as you have treated Kira?  You bet your ass you wouldn’t. A little kindness goes a long way. Stop being assholes.”

Angel caught some flack for the things she said. Some said it was hypocritical to advocate kindness and then call people assholes. I guess I’m a hypocrite too then. Unkind people are assholes.

Smartypants said “Kira is a grown ass woman. I don’t think we have to treat her with kid gloves and I don’t think anyone subscribes to the notion that we’re nice and blow glitter up peoples’ asses. She’s annoying. People get annoyed and say things about it. Tough shit. Maybe that’s the consequence for her annoying behavior.  If this many people think you’re annoying maybe you are annoying. Maybe she should move on to another platform like Facebook and stop hijacking this board.”

I wouldn’t want anyone to blow glitter up my ass or treat me with kid gloves but I also didn’t want to be insulted by people who were acting like kids.  Being nice is usually considered a good thing but that board did seem to have this bizarre belief that nice is the opposite of smart and nice is the opposite of honest.

Quackers said “If a child of mine were getting upset about their online interactions I would be asking serious questions about the depth of those interactions and why they are being taken so seriously. Then I would take it as sign to wean them off of what was clearly causing a disproportionate emotional response.”

This exemplifies another misguided albeit common belief- that it’s unreasonable to be upset or angered by anything that is said on the internet or to take anything that’s said on the internet seriously because it’ ‘just the internet.’ This is nonsense. Words have power and words can hurt, whether they’re spoken, written or typed. The computer (or Iphone or tablet) screen between you and the people producing the words does not serve as a buffer against hurt feelings.

Moose Pimples said: “Actually if anyone in my family was behaving the way Kira was online I’d deliver the smackdown myself or watch the fallout with a great deal of schadenfreude and laugh my ass off as they got exactly what they deserved.”

If I told anyone in my family abut what was going on I was pretty sure they wouldn’t laugh or tell me I deserved to be treated that way but I had not told anyone about it because I found the whole situation embarrassing.

There were various other comments made in that thread:

“I have a great deal of sadness and compassion for Kira.  I suspect she’s had a lot of  setbacks in her offline life and has internalized the seemingly constant barrage of people telling her she’s a worthless failure. We don’t know about her life beyond what she chooses to share here but every time she posts I feel sad for her. She is a bright, articulate person and she seems to have utterly no one giving her the help she needs to improve her life.

I do think she uses this forum in unhealthy ways but I also think it does her good and provides some light in her life. I hope her break is a good one but I worry that it’s only going to isolate her further.”

“I appreciate that Kira has gotten many, many interesting discussions going here that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I don’t believe for one second that this board would be thriving more if she’d been more restrained in her posting. If she hadn’t been here the membership and participation rates would still have declined and it’s quite possible they would have declined much more dramatically than they did. Her enthusiasm for starting new topics is probably keeping as many people holding on as it’s driving others away.

That being said, I’m concerned about how invested she is in this place and I don’t feel good that her participation here, however much it might be keeping the forum going may be contributing to the decline of her mental health. Hasn’t she mentioned that she suffers from depression? I have no idea how I would react to a discussion like this if my mental health were less than optimal.”

“I think I know exactly what’s going to happen when Kira reads this thread and it’s not going to be pretty.”

” I would really like to stay away from the idea that Kira uses autism as an excuse. I find accusing someone of using their disability as an excuse to be rude and presumptuous. You are essentially telling someone that you know better than they do how their disability affects them. You are appointing yourself the supreme judge of how people are and are not allowed to be legitimately affected by autism without even being autistic yourself.”

“I used to use this board in a similar manner to the way people are suggesting that Kira uses it now. I posted just to post and it didn’t matter if the online interaction was meaningful. I just needed validation that I existed outside my bedroom.”

“The way Kira uses this board is problematic and unhealthy. It bothers me that there’s nothing we can do about that, not just for the board’s sake but for Kira’s as well.”

There were people who thought referring to me as “Miss I have autism” was unnecessarily  bitchy and then there were people who accused those people of being delicate snowflakes who would fall apart if someone looked at them the wrong way.

Q-Tip (sorry, now I’m just creating screen names based on random objects in my room) said “I think it’s wrong and pretty damn rude to ask Kira to take a break from the board. I see it as asking the weird kid who gets picked on at school to not come in while the mean kids are allowed to stay and play,”

Rabbit said she felt that it was kinder for the moderators to ask me to take a break than to have me stay and continue to experience what I perceived as being picked on and torn apart.

Oh, yes, it was so very kind of the moderators to ask me to take a break and then start a thread inviting everyone to pick on me and tear me apart when I wasn’t there to defend myself.  Some people on that board had compassion for me and some did not. Whoever the moderators were and however they felt about me, they showed an appalling lack of compassion by starting that thread.

Shortly before the forum administrator locked the thread HushPuppy said “Is anyone else uncomfortable that there are 10 pages about Kira? I’m surprised she’s still being discussed and dissected. Maybe we’re just as obsessed with her as she is with us.”

Yes, I was uncomfortable that there were ten pages devoted to discussing and dissecting me and yes, the obsession went both ways.

 

 

 

When Online is Out of Line: A Danger to the Community

That thread with my name on it was started by Ninjamod6. It read:

“We have asked Kira to take a break from the board for two weeks.  We realize not everyone will agree with this decision but it was the best we could come up with. It’s not meant as a punishment but it’s a technique we have used in the past when we’re getting numerous reports about the same person- the person takes a break and everyone calms down-although usually it happens behind the scenes rather than out in the open like this. When she comes back we request that you cut her some slack and we have requested that she do the same with members she seems to have an antagonistic relationship with.”

A member we’ll call Hello Kitty asked the moderators if they’d made a determination about whether or not I was being bullied. A moderator replied that they’d issued some warnings to other people but they saw it as rudeness and dislike more than bullying because they’d expect bullying to be more insidious and to go on over an extended time period.

Regardless of what the moderators wanted to call what was being done to me on that board, I certainly felt like I was being bullied. It had been going on for years and it had been getting progressively worse. I knew there was more to it than just what was directly said to me on the board itself.

I knew members were talking trash about me and spreading rumors about me behind my back . I knew that they did it over private messages on the board, over Facebook and on their spin off board that only a select group of members from the main board were invited to. I knew that behind the scenes I was being reported to moderators, that a bunch of members had reported me to Facebook for having a fake name so that I would get kicked out of the board Facebook group. I knew that a large group of people were doing their best to make me snap, to make me feel unwelcome and excluded from a social group that was important to me, to get me kicked out of it.

Once a moderator had said they didn’t think I was being bullied a member called Hedwig  said she found the whole situation weird because unlike most forums this forum hid the identity of the moderators and that meant the people who were picking on me could be moderators.

A member named Mackenzie took offense at Hedwig’s comment. She said it was seriously disturbing to suggest that the moderators were the bullies and that she thought the moderators had made a good decision.  It’s not surprising that she reacted that way since I’m pretty sure she’s a moderator.

Ninjamod 3 piped up to assure everyone that none of the moderators had been picking on me under their regular member identities. I’m sure everyone appreciated that very definitive proof.

A member called Cookie said “I assume you also got numerous reports about some of the other participants in that thread . I know I reported one person in two different threads on Kira-related matters. Have those people been asked to take a break?”

The moderators didn’t answer that question.

The thread went on for about 10 pages until the forum administrator locked it. For 10 pages people criticized me, insulted me, judged me, defended me and analyzed me.  For 10 pages people picked apart everything I had done in the past and predicted what I would do in the future. My motives were speculated about. My personal life, my mental health and my disability were all up for discussion.

Here are some of the things I got to read about myself:

“Kira is an unrepentant antagonist and while I’m sure the two week break will do nothing to curb her hyper posting and combative spirit, I am happy for the vacation from it.”

“Kira spends more time on this board than anyone else can possibly manage. Sometimes I wonder if she sleeps. What really creeps me out is her encyclopedic knowledge of old threads and of who posts what. I think there’s been some tiptoeing around her because of her autism and her life crap.”

“It gets annoying when half the board has to tiptoe around Miss “I have autism!”

“Kira appears to be high functioning enough to use autism as an excuse for her aggressive posting behavior.”

“I wonder what happened to Kira. She graduated from college, had a job at a daycare and mentioned having a boyfriend at some point. Now suddenly she is too disabled to do anything besides post on the internet and apparently even living on her own is impossible. I think she needs more help than we can offer here.”

“I am shocked to learn her age. I thought she was 24 or some such with issues that made her seem like a teenager.  30?????!!!!? She really does need more help than can be offered here.”

“I wasn’t aware of Kira’s background until a thread where I ended up picking on her inability to clean a toilet. I had no idea that she didn’t have those basic skills. I had it in my head that she had been to college, was working, etc,  Guess I was wrong. I apologized to her but after that I was more aware of her attack mode and of how much time and effort she spent here. Her encyclopedic knowledge spooked me out.”

“Two weeks is a long time for someone who seems to spend her every waking moment online. I wonder if in the meantime she’ll find another board and become obsessed with them instead. I cannot imagine she will survive cold turkey. When she was posting while she was on vacation in Romania “I thought ‘This is not healthy behavior’.

I’ve noticed an increase in her defensiveness, her whining and her arrogance towards the board. She made a condescending comment to me but I didn’t want to give her the attention of responding to it and I know that if I did I would get the “I’m autistic!” line. I agree that she needs help we can’t give here but we can help the board by reigning her in when she can’t do that herself.”

“The things Kira posts are shallow and not thought provoking. She’s contributed to the board stagnation and is one of the reasons I don’t come here as much as I used to.”

“Nothing Kira posts comes from a place of wanting to create discussion-it’s just to boost her post count.”

“I’ve had Kira on ignore for a long time but she’s so difficult to ignore. I see her posts everywhere because people are constantly quoting her in reply and she posts so often in every thread that half the conversation is lost in the Kira vaccuum. I think she’ll be away for two weeks and then not change at all. The main reason I had her on ignore was her complete inability to see things objectively and deal effectively with human beings. Dealing with her is so tiresome. It’s decreased my interaction with this forum. I look forward to being more active while she’s away.”

“I’m just wondering if we can trust that Kira will stay away for these 2 weeks. With her being as obsessed with the board as she is it seems reasonable to assume she’d create another account to skulk about the board with. I really can’t see her staying away.”

“There’s a quote I think is relevant to this situation:  ‘The only common feature in all your dissatisfying relationships is you. That is extremely true with Kira.”

“Here’s how arguments about Kira always go:

One: I don’t like the way Kira posts.

Two: Don’t respond to her then.

One:  She’s  ruining the board for me.

Two: Then put her on ignore.

One: Then I miss things and things are weird.

Two: Post your own threads then.

One: She posts in my threads too, She posts everywhere all day long.

Two: Post in the pregnancy and parenting forum. She’s never there.

One: Okay but her reading and memorizing my information is creeping me out so I don’t want to put my stuff out there.”

Once again the nastiest comments of all came from Marcia:

“People have said clearly and unequivocally that they’ve left the board because of Kira. More, including me have said that they post less because of her. Now that she’s gone the board is already looking more active. Ignoring her is problematic. She’s made herself a part of this board. No matter how annoying and irritating she is, she is there. If you put her on ignore a bunch of threads become inaccessible to you and several more become incomprehensible due to her manic posting unless you unblock her posts to read them, which defeats the point.

This board is my main community outside my workplace and if I put Kira on ignore I have roadblocks limiting where I can go. “Can’t go down that road, she’s blocking it, I’ll go in to this shop , oh wait, no, she’s blocking the window. With the few other members I’ve put on ignore (and all have ended up banned), I’ve maybe locked myself out of one shop. Kira’s different. She’s everywhere and she knows everything every one of us has said and doesn’t hesitate to use that information when it benefits her. She’d be a danger in my community and she’s a danger in this community.

I am bitterly disappointed in the moderators telling us to cut her some slack. I really didn’t think that’s how we do things around here. Kira is going to come back here full of butt hurt about how she was bullied and got punished and it’s just not going to be pretty.”

I’m not sure why Marcia thinks I’d be a danger in her community but since her community is very far away from me, contains a lot of spiders and contains her, she can rest assured I will never set foot in it.

I was not full of butt hurt about how I was bullied and got punished. I was full of real, deep, genuine, justified hurt.

 

When Online is out of Line: No innocent victim

Although the moderators of that forum had never really come down on my side or spoken out against the people who attacked me, this time some of the people who attacked me were so far out of line, I held out hope that the mods would defend me and admonish my attackers.

Instead I got a message from them asking me to take a break from the board for two weeks and assuring me that it wasn’t meant as a punishment. It felt like a punishment to me and I didn’t appreciate that I was the one that was supposed to remove myself and not my attackers. Since I was so wrapped up in that forum and it was my main form of socialization, being away from it for two weeks was not appealing to me.

I replied by asking if I was really being given an option or if I was going to be forced to take a break. I said that it didn’t seem fair that I was being asked to leave when other people were bullying me, that they would just see that they could make me leave by antagonizing me.

This was the reply I got:

“Well, we’d prefer that you take a break on your own but since you don’t want to, we’re closing your account for two weeks starting tonight. We don’t like it but we’ve run out of other options. None of this is fair or unfair. It just is.

No one is making you go away. You are being sent away to get some perspective. Maybe you can think of ways to spend your time that don’t involve this board. Maybe you can follow the advice you’ve been given and post threads that are more personally meaningful to you.

No one is bullying you. They don’t like you and they’re no longer being polite about it. There’s a difference. We’ll deal with those people but you’re no innocent victim in all of this. We’d ask that you stop flying off the handle every time you think someone is being rude to you. It only escalates the situation and you’ve been wrong about the other person’s intention more often than not. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt and we’ll request that others do the same for you.”

I felt rather gaslit by that response and I found parts of it to be ridiculous. I don’t think I’d been wrong about the other person’s intention more often than not. The only instance I could recall in which I supposedly misread someone’s intention was when Marcia said something I perceived as a slight against me and she claimed she didn’t mean it like that. Considering Marcia’s history of attacking me, I think I can be forgiven for perceiving it that way.  Making passive aggressive statements to insult someone else and then claiming they’re misinterpreting you when they get upset about it is an emotional manipulation technique as is telling someone that their perceptions of reality are usually wrong.

Another way to gaslight someone is to tell them they’re always over reacting to things they have legitimate reasons to be upset about. Yes, I had certainly gotten defensive on that forum but I saw that as a natural reaction to being attacked, not as ‘flying off the handle’ in reaction to imagined slights. I didn’t just think people were being rude to me, I knew they were being rude to me. Sometimes it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt but sometimes there’s no benefit of the doubt to give. When Marcia called me a troll was I supposed to assume she was complimenting me on my brightly colored hair?

These people were ‘no longer being polite’ to me but they weren’t being rude to me?  Considering all the awful things that had been said to me on that forum, I was surprised at how hurt I was by the statement ‘They don’t like you.’ It’s human nature to want to be liked. Logically I know not everyone’s going to like me but I don’t like being disliked by a large group of people.

That subforum in which I was being reprimanded for posting threads that weren’t personally meaningful to me?  It was called Outside and Impersonal. The thread in which I was reprimanded? It was about something that was happening in the town right next to the town in which I lived.

The moderators, however, were absolutely right that I needed to get some perspective and find ways of spending time that didn’t involve the forum. Unfortunately perspective and better ways of spending my time were not things that would come to me easily.  Nor would they come to me quickly.

Reading and participating in that thread had been traumatic for me.  Every cruel insult, negative comment and nasty criticism was like a prick to my skin and left me with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  The notice that I had been suspended for two weeks left me feeling like I had been punched in the face. That night I went to a movie but I didn’t comprehend it much at all because I was so upset and my mind was so preoccupied.  Unfortunately my trauma was just beginning.

The next morning I contacted Bernadette.

“Hey, how are you?” I asked.

“I’m okay. I’m pissed that you were forced to take a break from the forum but no one who antagonized you was.”

“What’s going on on the board?”

“The mods started a thread with your name on it.”

 

 

 

 

When online is out of line: The Elephant in the Drawing Room

There’s been something I’ve been wanting to write about on this blog for a long time but I kept putting it off because at the same time I don’t want to write about it. I’m afraid to write about it.  I’m afraid that writing about it will cause me to lose friends and gain enemies. I’m afraid it will cause me to be judged, criticized and targeted in a cruel manner. I’m afraid it will hurt me and hurt others.

I’ve talked to friends about wanting to write about it on my blog. Some think it’s a good idea, some think it’s a bad idea, some aren’t so sure. I was unsure about it myself so I decided to focus on other topics, all the while having it in my mind that I would write about the topic I was afraid to write about ‘eventually’. The other day on Instagram I saw a post that said Writing Prompt of the Week: Write about the thing you’re most scared to write about. Underneath it said “Facing our fear brings out visceral energy. The work that scares us is often the most powerful, with important things to say. ” It was then that I decided that it was time to write about this topic I was afraid to write about, time to address the elephant in the room.

The situation is an elephant in the room because it has caused me a lot of distress and many people who read my blog are aware of it.  It was the catalyst for me starting this blog and I’ve made many vague references to it on here but I’ve never spoken about it directly or told the full story of what happened. People often tell me I’m brave for sharing my story on my blog. No story I’ve told on my blog has required more bravery on my part than the one I’m about to tell now.

A little over a year ago I was banned from an internet forum that I had been a member of for twelve years. The first thing people want to know is why I was banned. You’d think the answer to that question would be simple but I actually have a hard time explaining it. I have a hard time explaining everything that went on at that forum, especially to people who aren’t familiar with internet forums.

For years I never felt the need to explain that forum to anyone because I kept it a secret from everyone in my real life. It was my own secret world, a world of drama that I was intensely wrapped up in. If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know that for years I was very socially isolated and depressed. That forum became my main social outlet and it was pretty much my only source of socialization with people who weren’t related to me or paid to talk to me.

People often come together and socialize as a result of shared interests.  Some people are interested in sports, some are interested in art and some are interested in stamp collecting. Then there are those who have more unusual interests, such as baby names. Yes, baby names are a great interest of mine and no, I don’t plan on ever having a baby.  One might think that being interested in baby names when you’re not having a baby is so bizarre that it would be impossible to find a group based on such an interest so imagine my delight when I found an internet forum devoted to just that. Furthermore that forum had a special focus on snarking on bad baby names such as Apple, Sir and Nevaeh, which is the special focus of my own interest in baby names. Many other topics besides baby names were discussed at this forum though. These topics included politics, news stories, entertainment, food, parenting and personal issues.

For the first few years that I was a member of that board I didn’t have much of a presence there. I didn’t have any friends there and I didn’t have any enemies either.  The last few years I was there I had a huge presence.  I made a few friends and many enemies.

I didn’t post much for the first few years I was there because I was engaged in real world activities such as school, volunteering and hanging out with friends. With the onset of mental breakdowns followed by intense depression, anxiety and shame, those real world activities decreased and my posting on the board increased. Then I was noticed and targeted.

The main complaints about me were that I posted too much and that I posted the wrong things in the wrong way. When, a few months after I was banned, I finally started talking to my therapist, Kate, about what I went through on that board she asked me why I didn’t just post less and avoid posting things I knew would be controversial.

The truth was I often wasn’t sure what was going to be controversial and things I never would have thought would be controversial ended up causing a shit storm of epic proportions. Despite what some members of the board suggested, I don’t think this was because I was socially inept, stupid or playing dumb. The truth is that while there are certain topics that will inevitably result in flame wars (abortion and circumcision for example) sometimes you will be blindsided by the seemingly innocuous topics or statements that rile people up on the internet. One of the most heated arguments I ever saw on that board occurred in a thread about napkins.

I wasn’t personally involved in that napkin feud but I unwittingly caused many other feuds. Once someone posted a fact that appeared to be incorrect and I said “What’s your source for that?” without thinking twice about it. I was told that my question was shockingly rude and snarky.  I replied that it wasn’t meant to be snarky, it was just meant to be a direct question. A woman named Marcia (pay attention to Marcia because she’ll play an important role in this story later) said that she didn’t believe it was an innocent question, she knew I was deliberately being rude. She wouldn’t tolerate such behavior from a 10-year-old child and there was no reason anyone should tolerate such behavior from me.

When people would complain about aspects of my posting style, I would do my best to alter my posting and fix the things that were bothering them but then they’d just find something new to complain about.  Often they’d complain about me doing the very thing I’d been told to do.

When I posted about news stories people would complain that I was just summarizing the news story and not opening a discussion about it. I was told to offer talking points for the issues I presented.  When I opened the topics with discussion questions people complained that the questions were too formulaic and made them feel like they were answering essay questions for English class. People would complain that I posted about things in threads that weren’t closely related enough to the original topic of the thread or that I posted after too long a time had passed since the last post in the thread. They told me to post separate threads instead. When I did that they complained that I was posting too many threads. When I would post about light, silly topics people would complain that the topics weren’t important enough to discuss. When I would post about serious topics people would complain that they were too upsetting, disturbing or controversial  to discuss.

When I posted about a certain issue regarding a former U.S. president without giving my opinion on the matter, I was accused of depending on the board to form my opinions for me. The disagreement that ensued resulted in me being suspended from the board. When I expressed an opinion regarding another former president that went against the majority opinion of the board I was accused of holding a contrary opinion just for the sake of arguing. The disagreement that ensued resulted in me being banned from the board.

As for why I didn’t just post less when people complained that I was posting too much, I told Kate that it was because I enjoyed posting and discussing the things I did on that board and other people enjoyed it too.

“Were there people who responded positively to your posting?” Kate asked.  Yes, a lot of people responded positively to it.  There were people who told me they really appreciated all the interesting conversations I started and the perspectives I gave. For years that forum had been experiencing  a decline in membership, activity and participation, as have internet forums in general ( I imagine that the popularity of social  media has something to do with it.)  People would say that I contributed greatly to the board, that I kept it going, that I brought life to it, that it would be dead without me. There were also people who complained that I was destroying the board, that I was responsible for the decline in activity and membership, that the board would be a better place without me.

When debating whether or not to post certain things on this blog I tend to give higher priority to the people who will appreciate it vs. the people who will not appreciate it and greater consideration to the ways in which it will help me vs. the way in which it will harm me. After all, the people who don’t like what I write don’t have to read it.

I had a similar philosophy regarding that forum.  It had an ignore button that you could use to prevent yourself from seeing the posts of certain members. Unlike on Facebook, the block feature did not work both ways and you could unblock specific posts in order to read them at any time. The complainers claimed that they couldn’t put me on ignore because I posted so much that putting me on ignore would make the entire board disappear and the conversation wouldn’t flow properly.  Plus they’d still have to suffer the trauma of reading what I wrote in quotes from other people and unblocking my posts to read them would defeat the point of ignoring me. They also complained that I was “monopolizing”the board which didn’t make much sense to me since it wasn’t like there was a limit to the total number of posts that could be made on that board and the more posts I made, the less posts others were able to make.

As I said before, at the time I was leading a very lonely and isolated life. I was also leading a life that lacked purpose and direction. In real life I I was often shamed for doing nothing with my life, for accomplishing nothing, for contributing nothing to the world. When I would post on that board and people would respond positively to what I posted, when I’d get a long, interesting conversation going, not only was that my way of socializing but it felt like a way of accomplishing something and making a small contribution to the world.

When people responded negatively to what I posted and attacked me for it, that was always very hurtful to me but in a way it also helped me because whenever a bunch of people attacked me, a bunch of people also defended me and reached out to me privately. They would tell me they were sorry I was being treated so badly, they would type words of support and encouragement. Sometimes from there conversations and relationships would develop. It was through making enemies on that board that I made friends on that board.

One of the people who reached out to me was a young woman named Bernadette. She empathized with me because she was also a board target who was often attacked by other members. For a while I believed the nasty things other members said about her and sometimes I even participated in attacks on her. Yet once I started talking to her I realized that the other board members were wrong about her and that I had unfairly allowed their opinion of her to influence my own opinion of her. I realized that she’s actually a really nice, smart, honest, funny person. Although I’ve never met her in real life, today I consider her to be one of my best friends.

I probably would have been more open to changing the way I posted if people had addressed their issues with me privately and in a civil manner but they chose to publicly humiliate me in a cruel and nasty way. That did not make me want to change in order to please those people, especially once I got the impression that no matter what I did, there was no pleasing them. I wasn’t too inclined to be considerate of the feelings of people who had no respect for my feelings.  I just felt angry at those people. I suppose those people were angry at me too but I don’t feel all that bad about the distress I caused them by posting more than they wanted me to and in the incorrect format. Somehow I don’t think my posting frequency or style was anywhere near as emotionally distressing or hurtful to them as the things they said to and about me were to me.

Over the years I was told that I was annoying, irritating, rude, obnoxious, immature, childish, selfish, bitchy, creepy, inconsiderate, discourteous, arrogant, condescending, divisive, provocative, deliberately obtuse, off putting, hostile, weird, abnormal, unhealthy, obsessive, attention seeking, etc, etc, I was called a troll, an imbecile, a pedophile, an unrepentant antagonist, a sad sack and a spoiled, ungrateful brat. I was referred to as “Miss I have autism” “A danger to the community” and “Just bird noises in the bathroom.” I was told to get a life and a job and that I needed serious help at best. It was suggested that I had experienced a major decline in my mental abilities, that I had plagiarized the things I posted on the board and that I should blow my brains out. I was accused of using autism and depression as excuses for bad behavior. I was accused of lying about various things such as my identity, my sex, my life experiences, my family relationships and my dog’s death. All of that took a major toll on my self esteem and my self esteem was crap to begin with.

When I or anyone else complained about the way I was treated we were told I deserved to be treated that way because I was so annoying. I won’t claim that I was never annoying on that board because sometimes I was and I won’t claim that I never behaved badly on that board because sometimes I did. However, I will say that I did not deserve to be treated in the manner that I was. I also know that I was not targeted just because I was annoying. There are a lot of annoying people on that board who are not targeted. I became an easy target because I was so vulnerable.

Even though I don’t think I deserved to be treated in the manner that I was, I blame myself for it. I had the power to walk away from that board at any time and yet I chose to remain there for years until I was forced out.

To be continued….