Jan 12, 2016

Welcome to the Internet, leave your Total Dick hat at the door.

I am an online Methuselah. I've been here since there really was an online to be logged into. I've seen the rise and fall of the Prodigy empire, was a citizen of the city-state of Earthlink, explored the mysteries of the universe with Alta Vista. Yet for all of that, I begin to realize I've somehow managed to lead a blissfully sheltered online existence.

Recently, a few author friends of mine of the female persuasion have been sharing some of the extreme, but apparently all too common, posts they've received via social media. Sure, I've gotten the occasional dodgy message too - something that might cause me to roll my eyes. However, despite the fact that I've been on the net as long or longer than many of them, I've never ever received shit even remotely like what they've gotten. For example, unlike them, I can honestly say I have yet to get any introductory messages from casual followers describing in detail the many ways they'd like to fuck me.

That they've been able to talk about this crap with a sense of humor speaks volumes about them because, seriously, some of what they've gotten is stuff I'd only write if it were maybe being said by the villains (or their scumbag minions) in my novels ... the type that you know are going to get blown to shit at the end and deserve every second of it.

Hey baby, I want to Shockwave your Dinobot
In at least one case, the author in question is an erotica writer. Your first reaction to this might be to excuse the occasional message along the lines of "If I ever meet you, I'm going to tie you up and lick your pussy for hours," as just one of the hazards of the job. Bullshit, I say. What someone writes isn't necessarily an extension of who they are or what they want to do to every stranger they meet. Its like assuming every horror writer is a closet serial killer.

It's not just writers of risqué fare, though. Yet another who comes to mind is a fantasy writer geared more toward a YA audience. She's gotten the same or worse. That's not even counting the scores of female celebrities who deal with this, the unlucky persons who happened to get in the way of the crazed Gamergate juggernaut, or many a random woman who's made an account on Twitter just to share innocuous tidbits from her day.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not standing on some moral high horse here. As I said, I've been online for a long time and it's kind of hard to do that without succumbing to being an asshat at times. My friends and I used to take great amusement at trolling MUD admins until we got banned. I've played in some deathmatches where I've used language better suited to a half-witted 12 year old (meaning I probably sounded a full year older than I normally do). Even so, I've always drawn lines in the sand. I've never threatened to hunt someone down in real life, and I can't even conceive of what might drive me to send a virtual stranger a message letting them know "I want to bend you over and cum in your ass."

Freedom of speech is an awesome thing and one of the aspects I love best about being online. But there's definitely a fine line between exercising your rights and being a fucking creep. Does someone dissing your favorite sports team really warrant a rape threat? Do you think a random woman posting pictures of her and her cats on Facebook really needs to know how much you'd like to fuck her? Are you that pathetic that you think every minor disagreement to your narrow way of thinking should be met with digging up someone's actual home address and threatening to show up?

Sorry, but this isn't a Roman orgy and you're not Caligula.

Now, I would never push for a "clean" web or advise people with idiotic claptrap like "You shouldn't post anything online you'd be ashamed to say in front of your mother," Heck, if that were the case, I might as well cut my internet connection and burn my PC on a righteous bonfire of holy indignity.

A very special message to you if you are
I have no issue with people debating, arguing, or even ranting online. At the same time, though, there's a vast difference between a zinger - telling someone how you wished their mama had chosen that day to swallow - versus posting about how you have their mom's real world address and are debating actually going over there and killing her. Personally, if I ever feel the need to reach out to a random someone just to say something that would be potentially terrifying were I to get it myself, well, I'd like to hope I would step back and rethink things. Just something to consider.

I'm sure a few folks out there will read this and label me a Social Justice Warrior (whatever the hell that is) or some other such stupidity. But the truth is, it's not about being a SJW, a feminist, or any other label. It's about not being a complete and total dick. Believe me, there's a difference and if you don't understand that, well, then you might just be one.