When Online is Out of Line: You Should Get a Blog

While I didn’t end up creating a new account on the forum I was banned from when I went to Rhode Island, I did end up creating a different kind of new internet account while I was there. Multiple people on that forum had suggested I get a blog but I hadn’t paid much attention to their suggestions since they weren’t suggesting I get a blog because they thought I was a good writer with interesting things to say. They were suggesting it because they felt the stuff I was posting on the forum was annoying drivel and they wanted me to post it on a blog rather than bother them with it.

If what those people were saying was true they were only reading what I posted on the internet because they had to in order for the rest of the forum to make sense. No one would have to read my blog in order to follow along with the rest of an internet community and since I only produced shallow nonsense no one would be interested in reading what I wrote for its own sake.

And yet I knew that what those people on the forum were saying was not true. I knew that if I created a blog those people would track it down and read it. I also knew that I was a good writer.

While I knew that going back to the forum would be a bad idea, I still felt the need to make my thoughts about what had happened there known to both my cyber enemies  and cyber friends. Blogging seemed like the perfect way to accomplish that. I wouldn’t just be writing about it for their benefit though. I would be writing about it for my own benefit and the benefit of whoever else might read it. Maybe other people who had been cyberbullied would realize they were not alone.

I also had plenty of other things I could write about on a blog that were unrelated to the forum. While I did hope to eventually get readers who liked me and my blog, even if my only audience was hate watchers from the board, it would be good to give them an intimate glimpse of myself and my struggles. I did not expect any of my cyber enemies to ever feel bad about anything they’d said or done to me but perhaps they would be forced to acknowledge that with their words and with their actions they had not hurt a troll and they had not hurt a faker. They had hurt a real person with a real life and real feelings.

I Googled blog sites and came across WordPress. And thus Crazy-NOS was born.

My About section makes sense in its own right but it’s filled with references to things that were said to me on the forum. It was my way of starting to work through my hurt feelings and take back my power. My tagline “This is a Kiracracy” was in reference to the person who had told me “This is not a Kiracracy” in regards to the forum. I wasn’t in control of the forum but I would control my blog.

So I started writing on my blog. I wrote about various subjects and I made some references to what I had gone through with that forum without going in to great detail.

Sure enough it wasn’t long before my referral links showed that people from the forum were reading and discussing my blog.  “I’m glad they’re enjoying it” I thought to myself.

When Online is Out of Line: Second Thoughts

I did not end up re-registering for that forum when I went to Rhode Island or any time after that. In the end my heart just wasn’t in it and it just didn’t seem like a good thing to do.

I reasoned that if I satisfied my curiosity by reading what those people had said about me and then gave them a piece of my mind I would be banned again. After I was banned those people would inevitably say more stuff about me. Would I then have to register for the forum a third time to satisfy my curiosity about the additional things that were said about me? Would I have to respond to those things that were said about me and thus get banned a third time? Would I then have to register for the forum a fourth time to satisfy my curiosity about the things that were said in the aftermath of my third banning? Did I really want to get caught in an endless loop of insatiable curiosity and forum bannings?

Plus I knew that seeing me return to the forum, have an emotional outburst and then get banned again would be satisfying to some of my cyber enemies and I did not want to give them that satisfaction.

Of course I could just register for that forum, read what was said about me and not reply to it. I could continue to read that whole forum and remain undetected for years to come. But would being a passive observer in a community where I was once an active participant ultimately be a satisfying way to spend my time? What would spending all day observing from the sidelines a community that rejected me do to my already precarious mental health? It may have done me less harm than all the time I spent interacting with a community that constantly attacked me but was this really a path I wanted to continue on?

Furthermore, I knew that even if I read every word that was said about me on the forum I was banned from, people were also talking smack about me on the spinoff forum reserved only for the popular members of the original forum and I would never gain access to that. I was sure that people also talked smack about me elsewhere on the internet and in private conversations. I would never know the details of any of that. What I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me.

When Online is Out of Line: Pop Goes the Weasel

While the accusations that I was lying and faking were hurtful to me, they were also helpful. Some of the people on that forum were clearly ridiculous fools. Since they were clearly and unequivocally wrong in their claims that I was a man with multiple internet personalities who had faked my dog’s death, perhaps they were also wrong in their claims that I was a rude, annoying troll who was incapable of thinking for herself . Because as always while there was a part of me that felt those people were judging me unfairly and were wrong about me, there was also a part of me that felt they were right about me.

Weasel told me the names of the people who had accused me of faking. Some of them came as no surprise because they were the people who would constantly attack me on the forum but some of them did surprise me because they had never said anything cruel about me before.

“I was also surprised that some of those people accused you of lying but I’m sure they were just doing it because they wanted to feel like they were part of the crowd. It has nothing to do with you personally” Weasel said.

“They can search the internet for evidence that I’m a liar all they want. They’re never going to find any because I haven’t lied about anything.”

“Exactly. They’ve been digging and all they’ve come up with is ‘Oh yeah, that matches up with what she said.’ ”

I told her about the evidence Bernadette and I had found that Marcia was lying. Her mind was blown. Like me, she’d always disliked Marcia but had never suspected she was a faker.

“Maybe I should go back to the forum and post the evidence we found of Marcia’s lies” I said.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“You’re right. People will just believe what that they want to believe and Marcia is already a miserable person so there’s no point in trying to make her more miserable. It would end up hurting me more than it would hurt her.”

“Do you think Bernadette would do it?”

“I don’t know. She didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it the last time I mentioned it.”

Weasel also told me that a lot of people on the forum had said they hated that I was banned. When I later asked her who those people were she told me that she’d been cautioned by people on the forum not to share any more information about what was happening on the forum with me and she’d realized they had a point. She wasn’t helping me move on by doing that.

“Okay, I’m curious about what’s been said about me but I understand why you don’t want to tell me.”

“The thread really wasn’t even that bad, Kira. It was mostly concern for you with a smattering of ‘she’s annoying’ from assholes.”

Before I knew it a few weeks had passed since I’d been banned. I was surviving. I wasn’t doing all that well emotionally but I hadn’t been doing well before I was banned either. Those ‘old chestnuts’ of autism and mental illness that according to the forum I used as an excuse for my bad behavior were continuing to wreak havoc on my psyche.

As I thought about the accusations from the forum that I’d been lying about my life, I thought of some of my interesting life stories and was inspired to write some of them down. This wasn’t the first time the forum had gotten my creative writing juices flowing. For Bernadette’s amusement I would write hypothetical scenarios that could occur on that forum. They read like sketch comedies.

I was talking to Weasel every day,  sometimes for hours. We would talk about current events, our personal lives, our likes and dislikes. We shared our past and present experiences and our problems and struggles with each other.

One day when I logged on to messenger eager to talk to her, I was not able to send a message. Thinking there was something wrong with my computer, I clicked on her profile. I saw the yellow X of death. She had blocked me.

When Online is Out of Line: A Silver Lining

Although I was fond of many of the people on the forum and I had a certain attachment to them, I did not consider most of them to be my friends. Karen I did consider to be a friend so losing her her brought a fresh level of pain to my situation.

At the same time, the banning was resulting in me forming friendships with people from that forum. One of the people I became especially friendly with was a woman I’ll call Weasel. I call her that because at one time she had a wild weasel running loose in her house and it became a joke on the forum but as you’ll see later in this saga, the name is also appropriate for other reasons.

I told Weasel about what had happened with Karen.

“I’m sorry. Losing a friend is hard” she replied.

“I wonder if Karen was starting to believe I was a faker like people were saying”

“She doesn’t believe that, sweetie”

“Why do you think she blocked me?”

“It has nothing to do with you personally. She’s just stressed.”

“You aren’t going to block me too, are you?’

“No, Kira, I would never do that to you. I am your friend always and forever.”

I wrote a message to Karen and asked Weasel to relay it to her. It said that I was hurt by what she she did but I understood why she did it and I hoped she would be friends with me again someday.

Karen replied: “Thank you for the message. Honestly, I am very worried for Kira. I think I probably encouraged her in ways that I shouldn’t have and I feel quite guilty over that. It was nice to be able to vent all the things that would irritate me and that was not only a petty thing to do on my part but I kinda feel like I contributed to her demise. Selfishly I don’t want to be banned if I tell her things that are happening on the board, but even more than that I didn’t want to sabotage any good that might actually come from her getting away from the board.

I wish her all the best. She has an amazing mind and is funny and clever and I still like her, I’m just afraid that I’m not good for her right now.”

After that I started to feel a little bit better. I reasoned that Karen might be friends with me again some time in the future, that I was deepening my friendships with other people on the board and that I would no longer be interacting with my cyber enemies. Maybe some good actually would come from me getting away from the board.

When Online is out of Line: The Morning After

For years the first thing I had done when I got up in the morning was check that internet forum. When I got up the morning after I was banned I felt the reflexive urge to do just that. When I remembered that I couldn’t and thought about what had happened, a sinking, empty, dreadful feeling spread throughout my my body.

Although I could no longer log in to the board since I was banned word gets around the internet so I heard about some of things that were being said about me there.

Whitney said: “I won’t be weeping into my pillow over this decision, god knows, but I do think the way we got here was….not great. The woman had been a member here, for good or ill, for a very long time, and the tone of some of the posts directed at her today made me really uncomfortable. Yes, she was annoying. Yes, she insisted she wasn’t going to change. Yes. And yet, I would have thought we as a community were better than some of the insults flung at her. I don’t know. I understand that tempers were frayed and patience has just all run out for her. But I’m a little disappointed at some of the things that were said. Maybe it doesn’t matter now, the situation is over, but that’s what I think.”

Frenchie said “I’ll cop to being someone who had to take a commenting break from the board for about six months because I thought I was being a total butthead to Kira but I wasn’t reeling it in. I was always at a ten with her no matter what we were discussing. I couldn’t figure out how to deal with someone who took everything I said so literally, and then didn’t seem to internalize any of it at the same time. And I was way ruder than I should have been. On the other hand, she was driving me up a wall, so this will definitely prompt a lot of uncomfortable navel-gazing on my part. ”

I appreciated both of those posts very much because even though I was called annoying it was acknowledged that no matter how annoying I was it was not okay for people on that forum to have treated me as badly as they did.

Sushi said: “Wow, I missed the party… but then I have things to do, like prep a house for my in-laws, who are descending upon us next week.

I’m another one who has been here since 2004 (and before that, under a forgotten login) and look at my pathetic post count… But Kira? 28,000+ posts. Not. healthy.

I’d been seeing her posts ramp up again rather badly recently, and I sighed aloud to myself: she’s slipping again. This time, she was in threads she really had no reason to be in, like Pregnancy Updates… which I thought was weird. It’s one thing to peruse them and lurk, but to post when you aren’t part of the convo at all was just a bit bizarre. So I started avoiding her threads/posts other than the Minor Celebs thread. I just couldn’t take it.

I don’t like banning long time posters but this was absolutely justifiable. She’s divisive, provocative, rude, has these annoying blinders on, and acted like she ran the board. I started to find it insulting that every time she was called out on her excessive posting and rudeness, she’d drag the old autism/mental health chestnut out again. I think this latest go-round became really untenable, even more than the previous attempts to curb her impulses, and I saw that she continued to chase away other posters, this time including myself. It’s that relentless thing in her that just grates and drives everyone nuts.

Thank you, ninjys. I truly hope she finds counseling that will help her behaviors.

I hope this opens a new chapter where folks can be comfortable posting again.”

That post I did not appreciate so much. Since Sushi thought the number of posts I had in relation to the amount of time I had been on the board was so unhealthy I have to wonder how she felt about those people who had been members for a shorter time period and had more posts than me. I also have to wonder how she felt about those other people who posted in threads that they “had no reason to be in.”

She found it insulting that I would bring up the old autism/ mental health chestnut?  Well I found it insulting that she would refer to disorders I’ve struggled with all my life and have suffered a lot from as an old chestnut.

I have gotten counseling to help myself but my counseling has never focused on behaving in ways that will please the assholes of the internet because there is no pleasing the assholes of the internet. The assholes of the internet might benefit from counseling themselves.

The events leading up to my banning certainly hadn’t felt like a party to me and now that I had been banned my mood was rather funereal.  My grief was compounded by a couple of feelings I couldn’t shake: 1. It was my own fault I’d been banned and I’d gotten what I deserved  2. Being banned from an internet forum really was not a big deal and it was ridiculous for me to be this upset about it.

I reasoned that if I had posted less or argued less with the people who criticized me I wouldn’t have been banned so how could I complain or grieve over a situation I had brought upon myself?

I knew that people could grieve and feel a sense of loss over situations that did not involve death but extending that concept to being banned from an internet forum seemed a bit much. It was just an internet forum after all. It wasn’t like it was “real life” and it wasn’t like being banned from it was the end of the world.

Yet the truth was that that forum had been a very real part of my life and that when I was banned from it a part of my world did come to an end.

Grief is among the most painful emotions humans can experience. Another painful emotional experience is social rejection. I had just been kicked out of a social group that was very important to me and was really my only social group outside of my family.

Of course alongside my feelings of grief and rejection were feelings of anger. I was angry that I had been banned, angry at what those people had said to me, angry about the hypocrisy, the unfairness and the cruelty. Sometimes the anger was so intense it felt like a boiling hot rage welling within me and the only thing that could fill the overall emptiness I was now feeling inside.

Bernadette tried to comfort me:

“I’m sorry people have been so rude to you, Kira. I know it always hurts a little when the dogpiling starts, even though we’ve all seen it before. Being banned will feel weird for a little while – for a few days it’ll keep popping into your head. You might even think of checking the board over the next few weeks, forgetting that you’re banned for a moment. Then when you remember, you’ll feel bad about how it all happened. Soon enough, though, you’ll stop thinking about the board except for occasionally, and you’ll feel more neutral than negative.

You’ll laugh when Karen posts something ridiculous from the board and be glad you don’t have to deal with it. You’ll be amazed when you think about how much idiocy and cruelty you’ve put up with for years. You will find other ways to occupy your time, online or off. For example, I chat with people on Facebook more now, and I’ve read a couple of books for pleasure, a habit I had unfortunately lost in college. I also found some really fun strategy and sim-type games that I play sometimes. If you want to read about names, go to sites like Baby Name Wizard or blogs like British Baby Names. If you want discussion of news and various topics, try Quora, or look for subject-specific boards.

Again, you will be totally fine. Soon, you’ll wonder why you ever stuck around that forum when people there treated you so horribly for such a long time. Yes, many people there are intelligent, some are funny, and a few are kind, but many are also arrogant intellectual snobs who enjoy bashing others for sport. Just look how much we complain about them!

You don’t need people like that in your life. They’re not even worth a “bye, shitters” post. When I was first suspended, I considered returning after the six months to share my true thoughts and get banned once and for all, but why bother? I don’t want to waste my time. It would be like complaining on Facebook about people who were mean in high school. It’s over now, and everyone should move on.”

Even as I recognized the wisdom in her words, I still felt awful and I was still reeling from being banned.

 

When Online is Out of Line: Your Time Here on This Board is Done

Under the line in the message informing me I had been banned was a line that said When ban will expire: Never. Under that line was a line that said reason for banning: E-mail sent to Kira*****@****.com.

A swift punch to the gut.

I opened my email. It read:

Hi Kira,

I think the posts in that George Bush thread were a long time coming. I think your time here on this board is done. At this point you have burned through all the good will people may have had. Once that happens the relationship just deteriorates completely.  I feel for you because I know you struggle but we don’t think this place is going to help you. We see the same patterns over and over again. It is destroying this community. It is time for you to move on. We will be closing your account. We wish you all the best in your life.

-NinjaMod6

At least that message from the moderator was more empathetic than the one I got when I was suspended.

“I’ve been banned” I said to Karen.

“Wow, really? The moderators haven’t said a thing on the board.”

A few minutes later the moderators announced my banning on the board. Their announcement read:

“The other moderators and I have agreed to ban Kira. Ultimately she didn’t have a healthy relationship with this board and that didn’t seem to be changing. We got more reported posts about her behavior than everyone else on this board combined. We think this is for the best for everyone involved.”

If it was true that they got more reports about my behavior than everyone else on the board combined and not just an exaggeration for effect it could have been because my behavior was exceptionally heinous but it also could have been because a bunch of petty and immature tattletales decided to complain to the mderators about my every move in an effort to get me banned.

“What are people saying now?” I asked Karen.

“They’re saying how surprised they are. Most people thought you would get a warning or a suspension.”

I wasn’t really surprised that I got banned but I was still devastated.  A place that had been an important part of my life for twelve years,a place that I had devoted so much of myself to, a place that was my main and often my only source of entertainment, socialization, conversation and friendship had just been taken away from me and I was never going to get it back.

Although I had been deeply hurt by all the ways in which people on that board had attacked,insulted and ostracized me over the years, I had never shed any actual tears over it. The night I was banned I cried myself to sleep.

When Online is out of Line: Bird Noises in the Bathroom

As I read the latest thread that had turned in to me being attacked en masse, there was that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart was racing. I felt like I was in the middle of a hungry wolf pack, being attacked on all sides.

The attacks and the insults just kept coming. People who had previously defended me attacked me. People who I had assumed liked me or were at least neutral towards me attacked me. People who had been away from the board for a long time came to the thread to tell me I was the reason they left and to attack me.

Yo-ya said “I tried to come back to the board a while ago but it was the same old Kira show. Autism is no excuse for your behavior. My 9-year-old stepson is autistic and has some behaviors that are annoying as shit like making bird noises in the bathroom but unlike you he stops when we tell him to. People who just want to enjoy themselves shouldn’t have to deal with you. You’re just birds noises in the bathroom.”

Jill said she was all for people being honest and blunt but telling me I was just bird noises in the bathroom was extremely mean spirited. Yo-yo replied that she didn’t see how it was any meaner than what anyone else said.

I was especially hurt at being told I was just bird noises in the bathroom but there were plenty of other mean comments:

“You’re a troll. Go be annoying somewhere else on the internet.”

“You’re ruining this board. Get a blog or something.

“You are literally addicted to this board. Get out of here. You should probably get off the internet entirely but baby steps…”

“Your standard of behavior is really shitty and it has zip to do with autism. You expect people to pat you on the head and walk on eggshells around you and when they don’t you lash out.  There’s no hope of you controlling yourself at this point.”

“Kira doesn’t give a shit about anyone else.  She uses mental illness as an excuse.”

“I can’t stand Kira.”

“We’re not your puppets or your therapists.”

“You are using the board in what is universally agreed upon to be an unhealthy manner.”

“Everyone is bothered by you.”

“You’re either going to get banned or this board is going to become a sad, empty place.”

“I’m ready to pack up and leave this board right now.”

“This is not the place for you. You need to go.”

“We have never distinguished between deliberate and unintentional trolling here.  If you troll you get banned.”

“If you get banned it’s your own fault.”

Despite or perhaps because of the emotional distress that thread was causing me, I could not tear myself away from it. I felt compelled to keep reading it, keep responding to it, keep trying to defend myself. Fear and panic were descending on me. Being banned now seemed like a very real possibility.

“I think I’m going to get banned” I said to my forum friend Karen.

“The ninjas said they’re monitoring the situation”

“But popular members are saying they want me banned so that will probably convince the ninjas to ban me.”

“It hasn’t convinced them before.”

I was keenly aware of how vulnerable I was. I knew that I could be banned at any moment and that I was powerless to stop it. My feeble attempts to defend myself left me feeling small and pathetic. The way I was once again being ganged up on and insulted, the way my words, my behavior and my life were once again being picked apart left me feeling utterly humiliated.

In addition to the people insulting me, there were people expressing concern for me.

“Kira, I know how important this board is to you and if a group that was important to me wanted me kicked out I would be devastated but it’s what needs to happen. I was hoping you would get over your obsession with this board but you haven’t. I don’t want you to be unhappy. You’re a smart girl. You’ve been to college. You can go back to college.”

“You’re a young woman. Your life shouldn’t be so boring that all you do is sit on the internet all day. Go out and do something. Volunteer, join a group, find a hobby. Don’t die without anyone knowing or caring. There’s a serious danger of that happening.”

Kevin, one of the few men on the board, said:

“I’m not sure how true this ‘Kira is a recluse who has nothing in her life but this forum to occupy her’ narrative is.  Even if it is true I’m not entirely comfortable with what is undoubtedly an attempt to get Kira to leave the board being framed as an altruistic urge to help a troubled young person. It feels a little disingenuous.

That being said, it is undeniable that Kira has an extremely unhealthy relationship with this community and this community has an extremely unhealthy relationship with Kira. Kira, honestly at this point I don’t understand what you’re getting out of this relationship. I don’t know what the solution is though. I worry that if we run Kira off she will go somewhere where people will be far, far nastier than we could ever be.

I’m exhausted of these conversations and I cannot begin to imagine how they are making Kira feel. I’m tired of thinking and worrying about all of this. I’m upset that this is happening to a community I care about.”

I think that was the post that summed the whole situation up best of all.

The back and forth continued. Soon the thread was over ten pages long and for the second time the moderators created a thread devoted to bashing me, with my name as the title.

Dolly said I’d made no effort to change my behavior on the board and it was just the most annoying thing.

I pointed out that I had taken other people’s criticism of my posting in to account and adjusted accordingly. For instance, I now included my opinions about every news story I posted.

Sprinkles retorted that I had been asked to post less but I was still starting a lot of threads and asked if I honestly didn’t see the what the problem was.

I wrote some reply about how I didn’t see the problem with it because you didn’t have to read what I posted if you didn’t want to and you were free to start your own threads but no one ever saw that reply because when I went to post it a message popped up on my screen. It said ‘You have been banned.’

 

 

 

 

 

When Online is Out of Line: The Beginning of the End

You never know what straw is going to break the camel’s back. The incident that ultimately led to my downfall on the board started out innocently enough but at that point nothing I did was considered innocent.

Someone posted a video of George W. Bush dancing at a funeral and many members expressed the belief that he was drunk. I said I did not believe he was drunk. We debated back and forth whether or not he was drunk for a while until a member called Vegas (all names mentioned from here on out are pseudonyms for the names or screen names of board members. Some have been mentioned previously in this saga. Others are being introduced for the first time) said “Yet another thread derailed by Kira nonsense. If you want to believe it’s impossible for a former alcoholic to start drinking again, you are free to believe that and we are free to disagree. I don’t know why you have to insist that you are right and we are wrong. Just let it go. Jeez.”

Hedwig then piped up to agree with Vegas and say “I have a feeling that if the majority had said George Bush wasn’t drunk Kira would have said he was. Gotta have whatever contrary opinion allows you to have every other post in the thread!”

Apparently I was exceptionally unlucky on that board when it came to discussing former presidents and I just couldn’t win. As you may recall, the incident that resulted in me being suspended started when I posted about an issue involving Woodrow Wilson without giving my own opinion on the matter and was subsequently accused of being unable to think for myself and relying on the board to do my thinking for me. Now when I clearly was thinking for myself and expressing an opinion that the board hadn’t formed for me I was accused of doing so solely for the sake of being contrary.

I was frustrated so I said “Oh yeah, another thread derailed by me because I’m a horrible person who’s responsible for all the problems on this forum and no one shares any blame for the way they choose to interact with me.”

Hedwig retorted with “That sounds about right. I know you’re being sarcastic but it’s pretty much true.”

Trixie jumped to my defense with “Hedwig, those comments were unnecessarily cruel. It’s understandable that someone on the autism spectrum would see neurological differences as accounting for strange behavior before they would see drunkenness. If someone made a comment like that to my daughter I would be so heartbroken for her.”

Hedwig snapped back that the fact that she would be heartbroken for her daughter did not mean anyone on the board should have to walk on eggshells around me or take my autism in to account because autism was no excuse.

Suki said “Ouch. Some of the comments made to Kira just seem unnecessarily mean. If I was told that I was always responsible for things going wrong and always ruining everyone’s fun I would just be so hurt. There are people in my life that I find annoying but I don’t treat them like this. There must be better ways to deal with someone who wants to be a part of every conversation.”

Then CatWoman said “I agree with Hedwig and I don’t care if that’s cruel . Kira, you monopolize the board, you argue for the sake of arguing, you take offense at things that aren’t offensive and you post in every thread. Why can’t you stop this behavior? I don’t understand.”

At that point I let loose and wrote a long post detailing all my thoughts, feelings and frustrations. I pointed out that I was not breaking any board rules and that there were people who appreciated my contributions to the forum. I pointed out that me posting on the board was not preventing anyone else from posting whatever they wanted and that if anyone didn’t want to read what I posted they didn’t have to. I talked about my struggles with my disability.  I said I knew there were people who were hoping to drive me off the board by going out of their way to make me feel unwelcome, by constantly poking at me until I snapped and lost it completely but I wasn’t going to let that happen. I acknowledged that my participation in the forum was not entirely healthy but that it also helped me psychologically in some ways and without it my mental health might be worse.

I guess I was hoping that by laying it all out there like that I would get people to finally understand and acknowledge where I was coming from but that’s not what happened. I was made fun of for writing an ‘epic length post’.

Lola said that my long post proved that I enjoyed being dogpiled. She told me I was addicted to the board and showed all the symptoms of an addict. I couldn’t stop and I didn’t want to stop.

Firecracker told me that a hyperdefensive wall of text in response to complaints about monopolizing the board was shocking, that people kept trying to nudge me in the direction of appropriate social behavior but I wouldn’t listen and that every other forum she’d been a part would have tossed me out a long time ago.

Candy told me that I should observe the behavior of other people and conform to it-it was unusual for anyone to post as much as I did or to post when they were on vacation like I did.

Starbuck said that it wasn’t normal for a message board to be affecting one’s mental health and that I should see a psychologist (isn’t it just so helpful to tell someone who struggles with severe mental illness to see a therapist? As if that’s a brilliant suggestion they never would have thought of on their own and they haven’t already been in therapy for a long time.)

Clarissa felt that in saying I thought my mental health might worsen if I didn’t have the board in my life I was being deliberately emotionally manipulative.

Rudey Bozo said “Just because something is not against the rules doesn’t mean it’s okay to to do it. It’s called being courteous to other members. You don’t rule this board. This is not a Kiracracy. You’re just being selfish and immature.”

I have to admit that she did kind of have a point there and that the “this is not a Kiracracy”line was pretty clever but considering she was always hurling nasty insults including telling me to get a life and a job and calling another member an arrogant bitch, I don’t think she had much room to be lecturing me on courtesy to other members. Not to mention that the moderators often responded to complaints by pointing out that the offending behavior did not violate any rules.

Speaking of moderators, a moderator popped in to say that the moderators had been informed of the current situation and were monitoring it. She also told me she’d noticed the amount of posts I was making ramping up lately and was monitoring that as well.

Reagan said that no one was saying they wanted me banned but I was very annoying.

Lola replied “I want Kira banned. That way she can find whatever she’s looking for somewhere else and won’t come back and do the same thing in a few weeks or a few months. People were calling for her to be banned after the Woodrow Wilson thread and now she’s lost even more ground. The board will be fine without her. This is not the place for her.”

 

When Online is Out of Line : “Evidence”

The attempt to out Marcia for her lies went about as well as I expected it to go-meaning it went terribly. Although most of the board made it quite clear that they were curious about who the faker was and what the evidence that proved her lies was, they also took the opportunity to call Bernadette a troll, a shit stirrer and an attention whore for bringing it up.

Some said they didn’t care if anyone lied about their name or relatives, that people are entitled to privacy and that no one should be forced to reveal every single detail of their lives.

On that board there was no reason anyone would need to make up a fake name or a fake sibling for themselves in order to maintain privacy.  There were plenty of people who just never gave out their names and were referred to by their screen names.  There were plenty of people who never mentioned their siblings or who were only children.

If anyone wants to maintain that those kinds of lies don’t matter and that digging up information on someone like that is creepy or unethical that’s a perfectly valid viewpoint but practice what you preach and don’t throw stones from glass houses.

A moderator sent Bernadette a message chiding her for starting a shit stirring thread and asked to see the evidence she’d gathered. Bernadette forwarded the evidence and pointed out that the board rules said if you suspected someone of faking you could start a thread about it.

The mod replied that if you were going to start a thread accusing someone of faking you needed to name them directly, rather than drop hints and ask questions. Yeah, there’s no way calling Marcia out directly right off the bat would have gone over well either. She would have been criticized for making premature accusations and revealing personal details and would have been told that if she was going to start a thread she should have been more vague about it.

The next day a mod sent a follow up reply saying they’d decided the evidence was weak and did not prove any faking. They pointed out that if she’d just sent the evidence to them they could have told her that and that would have been the end of it but since instead she decided to start a shit stirring thread,  she would be suspended from the board for six months.

“I’m sorry I encouraged you to do this” I said to Bernadette after she showed me the message.

“It’s okay. We talked about the potential consequences. We knew this and worse could happen.”

“I feel like I should have known it would turn out like this.”

“This is disappointing but not surprising. I couldn’t have continued to post on the board and not said anything.”

“So, I guess you can come back in October.”

“I don’t think I will come back. This has left a bad taste in my mouth for the board.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“We can still talk off the board.”

In the thread a moderator posted a message similar to the one she had sent to Bernadette. She wrote that the mods had reviewed Bernadette’s “evidence” and hadn’t found any of it to be compelling. We had to laugh at their use of the term “evidence” because that was the term we used for the proof they supposedly had of Bernadette sending me screenshots. We knew the “evidence” of Marcia’s lies had to be more compelling than that “evidence.” Yet we also knew that whether or not moderators found evidence compelling depended at least partially on how they personally felt about the accuser vs. the accused and the popularity levels that the accusers vs. the accused enjoyed on the board.

The discussion in the thread soon moved on to jokes about faking, expressions of glee that Bernadette was gone and mocking her for things such as her love of The Backstreet Boys and Bernie Sanders.

At one point someone called Garamond said that they’d noticed that when I’d been suspended for two weeks Bernadette had stopped posting for two weeks and they wondered if that was meant as a gesture of solidarity. Garamond stated that if that was the case it showed a surprising level of emotional investment. In the past I’d been told I had an unhealthy level of emotional investment in the board for not wanting to take a break from it for a few weeks. Once certain people on that forum decided they didn’t like you, you were damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.

A board member called Sparky replied to Garamond by saying that she also had noticed that Bernadette had done that and that it would be interesting to see if I also disappeared for six months. Clearly these people felt entitled to talk about me as if I wasn’t there when I was there and clearly that was part of their (perhaps subconscious) plan to continue to make me feel alienated.

Perhaps I should have taken the opportunity then and there to disappear for 6 months (and then another 6 months after that, and another 6 months after that).  It may have spared me some of the humiliation and heartache I endured about 3 months later.

 

When Online is out of Line: Worth the Risk

Even though the rules of the board clearly stated that if you suspected someone of lying on the board you were free to call them out on it, we knew that it would be risky for Bernadette to do so regarding Marcia. Even though those who did online detective work to expose the lies of other members were usually hailed as clever heroes and those who were exposed were usually condemned as lying fools, we knew that in this case there was a good chance Bernadette would be condemned as a creepy stalker and Marcia would be seen as a victim.

Like me, Bernadette was a board target/outcast. Like me she was kind of weird and socially awkward. Like me she had a tendency to say and do things that were perceived by others as annoying, rude or offensive. Like me, she was often accused of  lying, trolling and shit stirring. I’d actually chided her for comments that I found rude or offensive myself and at one point I did believe she was a liar and a troll but once I started talking to her one on one I’d realized that wasn’t the case.

Then of course Marcia enjoyed a position of power, privilege and immunity on that board so any transgressions of hers were likely to be dismissed.

Bernadette decided to contact the site administrator Lorna about the evidence of Marcia’s lying rather than the Ninjas because her interactions with the Ninjas had been less than positive and they seemed rather biased.

Despite the fact that Lorna was the site administrator she actually wasn’t very involved with the forum. She didn’t post there very often, she often failed to address issues with the forum and she’d talked about selling the board to someone else. As frustrating as her lack of involvement with the forum she ran could be, it also meant she was less likely to be biased.

When Bernadette sent the evidence of Marcia’s lies to Lorna, Lorna replied that the evidence was impressive. She said she would talk to Marcia about her lies and get back to Bernadette with what she decided to do about it. Months passed and Lorna never got back to her. Marcia continued to lie and evidence of additional lies was discovered.

Was it creepy of us to dig up that evidence on Marcia like that and attempt to expose her lies like that? Perhaps. Do I feel particularly bad about it? No. Not after the way she treated me and the way she accused me of lying. Not when people on that board dug up information on Bernadette from the internet and presented it to the board, trying to catch her in a lie. Not when people from the board were Googling me, trying to catch me in a lie (more about that in later blogs)

It was ultimately a waste of our time and energy to get so wrapped up in exposing Marcia’s lies but being so wrapped up in the board in general was a waste of our time and energy. In all honesty I Google information about people I know or want to know more about all the time but I prefer to think of myself  as an unpaid private detective rather than a creep. I tend to assume most of the people who are horrified by that kind of thing are hypocrites because they do it too.

Anyway, we grew impatient and frustrated. Bernadette considered “outing” Marcia on the board but we couldn’t think of a good way to do it and we weren’t sure if it should be done.

“You keep going back and forth about this, Kira”  Bernadette said.

“Well, I’m conflicted. I want Marcia to get in trouble but I don’t want you to get in trouble”

“I feel the same way.”

Eventually Bernadette decided she was going to go ahead and do it. She didn’t want to contact the ninjas about it so she decided she would start a thread about it. Naming Marcia as the faker and revealing the evidence right off the bat didn’t seem like a great idea so she decided she would say there was evidence that a member was lying about things such as her name and the existence of certain family members and ask if people were interested in learning more. That didn’t seem like a great idea either but it was the best we could come up with.

“Is potentially getting in trouble over someone you hate really worth it?” I asked Bernadette

“Actually, Kira, I hate her considerably less than you do. I’m doing it in the interest of fairness”

“You know you’re going to get accused of trolling”

“I’ll say “Yep, I’m trolling for a good cause.”

“You might get banned.”

“That’s okay. It’s just a silly website I spend too much time on. I survived for years before I joined it and I’ll survive afterwards”.

“Just make sure you’ve thought through all the consequences.”

“I have. It’s definitely worth the risk.”

“Good luck.”