We’ve all seen the tragic stories of teenagers driven into depression, out of schools, or even to suicide by the online taunts of peers. The media have dubbed the phenomenon cyber-bullying and almost always describe it as harm committed by and against children.
But I’m starting to wonder whether horrible stories like this, this, and this are tragic extensions of the everyday nastiness to be found on the internet, among both children and adults who feel emboldened online to hurl criticism, taunts, and veiled threats they would never speak aloud to a person’s face.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going Unabomber or anything. I still the <3 the World Wide Webs. Although I understand why Tess is thinking about pulling the plug, I get energy from the supportive relationships I’ve formed with readers online. And yet there’s something about the Internet that encourages people to let their guard down and say impulsive things. Is it really surprising that some people’s inner thoughts are better left unsaid?
A couple of weeks ago on my Facebook page, I finally got around to posting some photos from book tour, including one from my joint event with Harlan Coben at Barbara Peters’ Poisoned Pen.
Within a few minutes, the reader comments numbered into the double digits. Love him! Two of my favorite writers! Waiting for you to come back to Scottsdale!
Pretty loving stuff, right? Well, almost all of it. Whoa. Who gained all that weight? Too much touring. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the love from that one. I tried to convince myself the woman was talking about Harlan (yeah right). My response: Harsh. Guess I won’t be wearing that outfit anymore.
I sort of expected the woman to delete her post, or perhaps back pedal, or at least say nothing. But a minute later: Alafair, maybe you should start riding your bicycle when you go to East Hampton. But you’re still my favorite chubb* writer. Love you. LOL.
Love you? LOL. No, I don’t think so. Block User.
But blocking her wasn’t enough. A few minutes later, I had this nagging loose thread tickling my brain. Something about the woman’s name had sounded familiar. She’d come to my attention before. I googled her name with mine. I got some hits on Facebook. She had posted other comments to my page, and they were also odd: One asked whether I employed some of the cyber-sleuthing technology referenced in one of my books; another made strange mention of the race of a character.
And here’s what’s even stranger: Googling her name with mine pulled up that old My Space profile I’d forgotten about, and hers as well, because she had friended me there. Her profile was very…public. And personal. And naked.
My inner mean-girl was seconds away from unblocking her on Facebook, slapping up a link to her naked pictures, and saying, “If I looked like this, I wouldn’t be calling anyone chubb.”
And, you see, that’s how it starts. With the press of a button, I could have sent thousands of people to gawk at the naked photographs this woman had posted, but only her handful of friends had actually seen. At least some of them would have taken a cue from me and piled on their own insults. They would have forwarded the link to their friends. And who knows how this obviously unhealthy woman might have responded.
Needless to say, I suppressed my inner mean-girl. At forty years of age, it’s no longer hard to do. At least, not for me.
But obviously some adults are still hitting that send key. Although a naked lady’s comments about my weight fall into a category of their own, I am amazed at the number of people who contact writers online to tell them how hard they suck. Granted, the positive, supportive comments outweigh the meanies by 999 to 1, but, man, that .1 percent can irritate. Just a few of my favorites:
Why did the book have to be so long?
Why do you set your books in New York and Oregon? I prefer reading about New Iberia.
The sun does not rise in Portland that time of year until seven a.m.
I’m enjoying your books but feel they are too similar to each other. Not sure I’ll stick with them.
This week I received a nasty-gram based on a blurb I had written. Apparently I wouldn’t know “credible writing if it hit me in the face.” I’m not sure I want writing to hit me in the face.
At least I know I’m not alone. One writer swears to me that someone used his book as toilet paper and mailed the soiled pages to his publisher. (Okay, that one’s got nothing to do with the Internet, but it’s frickin’ creepy.)
A certain two-time Edgar winner and Grandmaster I know receives emails all the time telling him his words are too big, his sentences too long, and his characters too old. A recent gem: “I just finished [name of novel]. It was a tedious reading, I do not know why it was written. I have read all your previous books with relish.”
What a fan! Give that man some relish.
And it’s not just in my writing life that I open myself up to online criticism. Thanks to RateMyProfessors.com, students can post anonymous, unmoderated comments online about their professors. Professor Burke generally fares well in the forum, and I even have a chili pepper (signifying my “hotness”) despite the obvious chubb factor, but it’s not fun when someone calls you “boring as hell.” (Is hell …boring?)
Some of my colleagues have been less fortunate. Comments about weight, body odor, flatulence, attire, supposed senility, and their marriages and other personal details abound. And these are comments by adults, about adults.
To be clear, the jibes I’m complaining about aren’t nearly as bad as the psychological torment that has made headlines, or the growing phenomenon of nasty online comments about obituaries. Obviously most healthy adults (and I’ll include myself in that group) can handle this stuff. You ignore it. Or, if you’re me, you let it hurt your feelings for half a minute, then laugh about it, then ignore it. This stuff’s minor, and it’s rare.
But this morning I felt like exposing the bullies to sunlight. No retalitation. No mean-girl revenge. Just an acknowledgement that as much as I love comments from readers, I could do without the rare nasty aside.
So, are you willing to share your cyber-bully stories? What’s the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you online?
(*Chubb? I have no idea if this is slang for fat, because lord knows we don’t have enough words for obese, or if she just omitted the y, but for reasons I can’t explain, being someone’s favorite chubb writer seems much worse than being someone’s favorite chubby writer. Either way, I am not aware of an award in either category. If there is one, please do not send it to me.)
If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, but please don’t talk smack about me, all right?
Yep, we've all gotten them. I had one email from a guy who said I was obviously "sick in the head" and "needed help" because I could even think up the stuff I was writing about. (This was a book about teen age thrill killers which, well, I'd gotten the idea about after watching a documentary about real teen age thrill killers.) I had one reader who stopped reading me after six books because one of my characters, someone she really liked, was raped. I apologized that she was disturbed, and thanked her for her honestly. Brief. To the point. Bad me–she then let me have it–how could I, a mother, write about such a dark subject? How could I live with myself? How could I face my children?
I didn't respond, of course, but it was depressing to read.
And then there's all the one-star reviews and the snarky comments on blogs. Fortunately, I have a tough skin, lots of alcohol in my house, and good friends who let me whine and moan when I get hit.
I was bullied in junior high. I was slightly overweight, always buried in a book, and socially awkward, all of which made me the perfect target. Kids slammed my fingers in my locker on one occasion, and I wanted more than anything for my parents to take me out of that school. As bad as it was, I thank God there was no Internet.
Among adults, I think the Internet creates a shield for bullies that gives them the ability to say things they otherwise would not. When it comes to kids, however, I think the Internet is just an extension of the bullying that occurs on school grounds. Kids don't mind saying horrific things to their peers' faces, but the Internet is just another avenue for tormenting others.
I have found blocking a sender to be rather satisfying. Yes, you have that nagging itch to respond, but think about it. This person came to invade your life and get a reaction. By clicking a simple link or two, you not only give them that reaction but you deny them ever knowing about it.
Recently, a rather unpleasant person from my past discovered Facebook and looked me up. I got a message that implied nothing bad ever happened and, "Hey, let's get together like the good ol' days." Facebook has an amazing block sender function. And for once, I felt completely at peace about that person.
The worst e-mail I've ever gotten about the books was from a woman who told me that my horrible Spanish in GOOD DAY IN HELL had Cervantes "rolling over in his grave."
On the other hand, the weekly column I write for the local paper has gotten me some real doozies. I've been called a traitor and a terrorist sympathizer. I've been told that I need to put against a wall and shot. I've been reminded that "they hanged Benedict Arnold, you know" (which managed to be both vaguely threatening and historically inaccurate). It got worse when the paper initiated a comments section which allows people to post under aliases. In addition to the usual "traitor" and "Marxist", I've been called a fascist, a secret Muslim, an Obama-bot, childish, boring, and a waste of column space. I had one commenter tell me that I must be a pedophile because I made the mistake of asking after a particularly obnoxious comment 'What are you, eight years old or something?"
Oh, and I've been told I'm a terrible writer who can't make a point without name calling, which is pretty damn rich, considering.
Some people seem to have lost the ability to control their impulses. There's no sober second thought just instant gratification. We see it not only on the internet,but it crops up in things like road rage. When and how did we become a society that breeds this kind of activity?
I know what you mean about the anonymous rating of professors online. We also have the *glorious* ratemyteacher.com, where any illiterate idiot who feels burdened because they are forced to attend public school (since it's paid for by taxpayers, instead of being a priviledge they have to pay for) can comment without putting their name to something. And yet, if a teacher calls out one of their students online, they get fired. I love the balanced and fair nature of something like that. Let me tell the whole world how lazy, rude, inconsiderate, or flat stupid some of my kids in the past have been, and I'll call it square. Otherwise, the maker of that site comes off as a bitter little kid who didn't work hard enough and now has to compensate with open, public, online sour grapes.
But hey, anyone can teach, so what the hell do I know?
I don't' understand the impulse to criticize someone else. Yes, I was bullied when I was younger so perhaps I'm sensitive to it. But still…. I just don't get it. It brings to mind what would you do if you knew you were invisible (and I guess in this case, anonymous)? Are people aching to be bad? Again, I don't understand it.
Terrific post, Alafair, all of it. I especially love the photo of the boy who hates sandcastles. 🙂
You look great, you write great, you're brilliant. Best to just block the idiots and move on, IMHO, although I know it's easier said than done sometimes.
Usually the worst I get are people who want to give me shit about the swearing in my books. One woman said she had to stop to pray every time I took the lord's name in vain. Amazing she kept at it, considering the workout her knees must have gotten two or three times a page. As for the profanity haters, I am SO tempted to just type "fuck you, sincerely, Cornelia" but have refrained so far.
I thought I had heard it all before, but the posting of rude remarks about obituaries — of all things — was a new low. I read my local newspaper on-line, and although I tell myself I won't read the comments, I usually do (which gets my blood pressure up). It becomes easy to predict which stories will set off the cyberbullies. The bullies always claim they are not the bullies, the other side is, and even if they were mean, the other side started it. Sounds like little kids fighting, doesn't it? Alafair, you are not chubb (whatever that is supposed to mean).
The naked lady was jealous because more people view photos of you
than of her.
And no one screams when they see your picture.
Having recently seen you I can attest that you're looking better than ever and that woman is an ass. Period. Don't give her a second thought. That kind of maliciousness is indicative of someone who is deeply unhappy with herself and only wants to make the people around her as miserable as she is. People think that sly little asides can be funny, and tack on the LOL to make it look that way, but we're all adults, and adult read the context.
I had a woman in Twitter once who kept calling me bitch. "I'm so jealous of you, bitch. Just kidding, Bitch. LOL."
I let her know in no uncertain terms that A- I had no idea who she was and B – nobody gets to call me names. Then I blocked her. Crazy people suck.
Because I've been using the Internet since 1989, especially posting frequently on various message boards, I've seen a clear trend of increasing snarkiness, made ever more possible by Internet anonymity.
During the 2004 elections a new phenomenon of paid posters sprang up, which dragged the level of discourse markedly lower. These people were actually paid a dime for each negative post they made on political bulletin boards, so they spent their days posting the same dreck–usually lies–over and over again. In fact, that's a big reason why AOL, Yahoo, and other sites closed their comment sections entirely. It's only recently that Yahoo opened them again.
So it doesn't surprise me that authors are also getting snotty–and worse–comments. But I don't get the prevalent "mean girl" attitude these days. As the saying went, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." What happened to that idea? I'm sorry for its clear demise.
In middle and high school, I never let anyone I knew in real life have access to me on-line. My IM name was different from the pseudonym I used everywhere, and both as unconnected from me as I could think to make them. So even people who did get to IM me had no idea how to find me elsewhere, and that's probably why I escaped cyber-bullying.
We get told it stops as adults, but it doesn't. It only gets sneakier, turns into gossip and such, or, at worst, it becomes on-line comments. Whatever happened to impulse control? I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself people who post that stuff regret it almost immediately, though sometimes it's hard.
Whew! I guess I've been lucky. I've only had a couple of those "how could you possibly write something positive about illegal aliens?" and "I know where you live" creepy emails or blog comments.
First of all, I think "chubb" must be a slang term for "cherub." Yup, that's gotta be it, because I don't think you look chubby in the picture. Compared to what? A breadknife?
Second, I have fortunately managed to avoid being cyberbullied, snarked at, or otherwise offended on the 'Net. Most of this is pure luck and probably has something to do with not being as well-known as the rest of you. I have gotten one hate letter in my 6 years of writing my humor column. Apparently, I raise this man's blood pressure because I'm so self-centered and he wants to know who I'm related to at the newspaper because it's the only way I could have been hired.
My first response was, "Bite me," followed by "OMG, he's right, I'm so self-centered," followed by "Bite me." I did nothing, since even I'm smart enough not to engage these yahoos. Fortunately, two letters appeared the following week, saying, "It's a humor column, you idiot. Leave our Gayle alone."
I do think it's alarming that the Internet is removing people's filters, while seemingly inflating their self importance. Why should I stop and re-examine my life and work because one snark leaves me a nasty comment?
Alafair, you're gorgeous – that woman is so obviously just jealous.
I was never bullied as a kid (older sister, you know!) but I have been trashed on the very public blog of a screenwriter I opposed politically in the Writers Guild (nothing political, either – he said things like I am mentally unbalanced, and of course neglected to mention that I had challenged him politically.).
Because I was insecure I assumed nobody was interested in talking to me in highschool. Always looked behind me when someone said hi to see who they were talking to. Graduated and found out people thought that I was a snob. Hmm.
Heard a story of a grade three child who handed out invitations for a party and girls grouped together and told others to refuse to attend to ruin the party. Unfortunately it happens face to face. I wonder if anybody could shed light on why this is happening in our culture and is it prevalent in others.
I jokingly asked for help editing my first chapter in a blog's comments section and couldn't help laughing as my comment was corrected and a thread insued as people debated whether the corrections were correct! http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2562
As for not liking someones work. Fine, they can read something else, not get nasty. Just put down the book, Alex could you give a course on this? 😀
One thing about bullying–I think to be true bullying, there needs to be an implied or explicit threat. Sometimes, people are so sensitive that harsh criticism or over-the-top teasing are considered bullying. Kids have been doing that to their peers from the beginning of time. True bullying leaves kids (and sometimes adults) feeling threatened, helpless, and often suicidal. Bullying instills a deep fear and distrust in its victims that stays with them their entire lives. Teasing can become bullying if it's constant and insidious–girls are good at that. The quiet rumors about another girl that get out of control, done with the purpose of deeply hurting someone else, or when an overweight child is eating junk food, drawing attention to it.
I don't consider the hyper-critical or cutting emails I've gotten to be bullying.
I saw that comment on your page and I was incensed. I wrote out this scathing reply, and then waited. After an hour or so I decided not to post it. It is your page and I shouldn’t interfere.
I was bullied in Jr Hi mercilessly. New kid, going to a civilian school for the first time, I was a social disaster. What used to piss me off is if I defended myself I was called to the principal’s office and treated like I was the one who started it. The administration just ignored bullying back then.
I would think every author is going to receive some negative or even wacky comments ABOUT their books. As Terry Pratchett says, “"It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it." However, if you really hate a book you can always give it one star or write a well reasoned review without ad hominem attacks, in an appropriate forum, like Amazon, Goodreads or your own blog. I don’t see why someone would feel the need to post it on an author’s FB page.
That was not the case with the woman who posted on your FB. She wasn’t commenting on your book. It was a purely personal dig. I can’t comprehend why anyone do that except out of plain old meanness. Though I suppose some comments that read as digs or insulting may just be a poor attempt at a joke.
I do agree with Allison’s definition of bullying. I read an article just the other day that shows how destructive bullying can be.
Of course we don’t have the school administration’s side of the story, but it appears they just turned a blind eye to bullying.
There is also http://bullying.org/ which has resources to help deal with bullying.
"Chubb". Reminds me of when I was 5 years old. I was on the kindergarten playground and a kid came up to me and said, "You're a stoop!" I had never heard that word before. I thought it was "bad". So I went to the teacher and told her a kid has just called me a dirty word. She asked me what it was. Then she told me, "Oh, that isn't dirty, it's just short for "stupid"." Turned out the kid was right.
Talk about yer watershed moment!
Re the nasty comments on obituaries: I became aware of this phenomenon only because a couple of asses wrote nasty comments as a follow-up to a tribute published in a local paper after the recent death of a friend of mine (and friend to many here on this page). My jaw nearly hit the table, and then I cried I was so angry and hurt. If I had known who those people were, I don't think there's a limit to what I could have done to them at that moment. But of course that's why they wrote those things – because no one would know who they were.
Most confusing of all, for me at least, are the insults from people who say they are your biggest fans. I think a shrink could have a hey-day with those comments.
Dudley, that article was intense. Reading it makes me aware to not be lulled into a false sense of security regarding my daughters strength in dealing with bullying. She's brainy and prefers Bach to Hanna Montana…. Some days I'd like to see her in the VP's office for standing up for herself.
On a happier note and with no smooth segue, my wishes to Grace and Canadian's reading today's postfor a Happy Thanksgiving!
Alafair – In the story I posted a link to, the bullies did something so offensive I wonder if there isn’t some social pathology involved. During the viewing at the funeral for one of the girls who committed suicide some of her tormentors showed up and laughed when looking at her in her coffin.
@Dudley, That article is difficult to read. Anyone who thinks we can make sense of this kind of cruelty among children is fooling himself.
I've received emails from readers who are certain God hates me enough to torture me in hell for eternity because one of the characters in my first novel got an abortion. In general I dismiss it, but in this age you never know what kind of wacko is sitting on the other end of the computer.
When I took some management workshops at work, I learned many valuable lessons in responding to jerks I worked with. It has saved my butt numerous times when I've wanted to comment on someone's review or a jab at me.
1) Write a scathing letter saying everything you want (then shred it!)
2) Find ways to leave work at work–i.e. avoid news driving home and listen to calming music, or take a different (even if longer) route to avoid rush hour traffic.
3) Discuss with trusted non-work friend to help weed out the personal and professional responses to a criticism or complaint. Too often we react because of a personal slight, but when we step back and assess the situation we can identify the professional issues that need to be address and not color it with our personal hurt.
4) Never respond immediately to a complaint or an attack. Respond the next day if a response is needed, or at least after you cool off. Never respond in anger.
Of course, I haven't always done this. Sometimes, I respond in the heat of the moment and I always regret it.
As far as childhood bullies, while I think there are some kids who are just bad seeds, I think most bullies bully for a reason. They feel empowered, they like the response they get from their peers (sometimes even more than instilling fear in another child, they want the recognition that they have control on the playground or classroom.) Many bullies have bullies for a father, and thus is learned behavior. Some are going through crap at home and they are taking it out on people who can't defend themselves. Some are abused. There are causes to bullying, and I wish schools and parents would recognize it. Instead, we get up-in-arms over perceived verbal slights and the very real, dangerous, physical threats are too often ignored. I think it's similar to stalkers–while some states have made great inroads into passing laws to make stalking a crime, in others the stalker actually has to physically threaten or hurt the stalkee before the police can do anything. I think this is similar to bullies–how do you quantify something that hasn't happened, but you really feel like it WILL happen because of the clues?
I wish I had a solution. My kids haven't been bullied, but my second daughter was teased a lot in 5th and 6th grade and I pulled her out of the school for a year.
RJ, That is really scary.
I got some political hate mail with my first book because I tried to make clear Samantha Kincaid was cynical of politics in general by having her make fun of folks on both sides of the aisle. Apparently ribbing the ACLU and Bill Clinton was OK, but one comment ("I don't run as fast as our current president, but I work harder at my day job") was enough to make me un-American.
RJ, I have beliefs, values, morality of my own and sometimes different from my characters. It simply defines them and it makes me want to shout, 'it's fiction people!' Makes me think of the scene in Nottinghill where Hugh Grant asks an actor if she can relate to her part and she answers that she's playing a homicidal robot.
Alafair, you're brilliant and gorgeous and of course do not deserve being slammed.
Dudley, that link was so difficult to read… cannot imagine the cruelty.
I've been bullied and such all my life, first for seizure-related symptoms – that, ironically enough, cause me to say and do odd things, including post the occasional "wacky" comment – then for being a wheelie, gay, cerebral… anything it is, that I am, I've been bullied and teased over. I try not to let my seizure-related symptoms keep me from having a social life, but it can be humiliating now and then.
Allison, I think the word "bullying" fits if someone is slamming you in order to shut you up or cause you emotional pain– far more destructive than physical pain.
Right now a fellow wheelie is cyber-bully-stalking me on wheelchair boards, blogs, FB, and Twitter. I can block him from my own pages but not others. I'm trying not to let him keep me from communicating. He thinks I give quads a bad name. He even showed up at a service dog graduation where I was the guest speaker. Maybe I should refer him to my neuro!
Anyway Alafair, really good post with moving comments. Love Murderati!
Jim, I can completely relate. I had a couple of people from my past friend me and send me emails about absolutely loving my books. I sat there scratching my head because the villain in book 2 was a combination of those two people. Disguised, of course, but still, they were the inspiration. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to them. "Um, thank you, I had fun killing you off at the end," didn't seem quite appropriate.
(It was really fun, though.)
I had enough of bullies growing up to learn to ignore them or, when done in person, cut them off at the knees. I have zero tolerance for bullies now.
Toni, I love that you based an unlikable character on these people and they didn't even notice. I've also been amazed at the reappearance of people who made my youth miserable. According to them, they always knew I'd have an amazing career. Sigh.
it's amazing what people will say to us online when they'd never dare say those things to our faces. It's incidents like this that keep me wondering if accessibility to the public doesn't hurt us more than help us as writers.
Didn't you know? You can say anything you want on the Internet and if you put LOL after it, it's all good. Kind of like crossing your fingers when you lie.
By the way, it's a bitch typing with my fingers crossed.
I used to have a blog. I don't anymore. I lost all interest in attracting new readers the day I posted photos of my newborn granddaughter, and some anonymous troll left a snarky comment saying (among other things I won't repeat) that this beautiful little girl was "ugly."
As far as I'm concerned, someone who would do something so low and mean-spirited is either sadistic or power-assertive — like a rapist. They either get off on someone else's pain, or someone smacked them around and they didn't have a child to slap or a dog to kick, and anonymous trolling is the only way they can feel any power.
Alafair, you are smart, talented, and gorgeous. Don't ever forget it.
Great post, Alafair. Sorry I'm so late in checking it out. Pretty intense stuff.
I've only had a couple angry crazies so far, but my circulation is still young.
ps – you're quite the looker! Pay no attention to the comments of naked chubs.
My nemesis from middle school is now a lawyer, like his father. I think his father's status is why, when his behavior (sexual harassment and vaguely threatening language) was brought to the principal's attention there was a meeting, but nothing happened. I shudder to think what kind of entitled adult he grew up to be. I don't think much of the incidents now, but my mother still feels horribly guilty for not protecting me more, or making sure the guy got punished somehow.
Anyone who insults books or obituaries or makes random, lying comments on articles or blogs is simply an idiot. They are people who destroy, and never create, they are people happy to be miserable and make others so, rather than even contemplate trying to make the world a better place.
We should ignore and block all such idiots. They don't deserve to be part of the healthy human conversation that the internet can foster.
Just wanted to say that your writing is great and I'm thankful you are available to your fans. There are so many people who are greatful for what you do.
Sorry to be a day late, Alafair. Yes, I've gotten the bullying. DELETE. BLOCK SENDER. I hate to admit it always hurts a little, but just a little. And deleting those people from my life makes me feel pretty darn good.
I'm just catching up on 'rati postings, and i am appalled. I am a shrink in my non reading life, and can tell off hand that these people who post about you think that they "own" you, that because you are public, you have become part of their universe, and they can treat you any way they want. Very disturbed, and very disturbing. I think a lot of the nastiness around is that people are not held accountable for their actions, and enjoy being able to hurt people with seeming to be responsible. This means developing a thicker skin, and also choosing your cohorts carefully. Unfortunately, your public presence appears to makes you fair game apparently. I'm sorry for that. I have so enjoyed all of you on Murderati, and your books, and your video casts, Alafair. I feel badly for the ugliness you also get.
My spouse and I were cyber-stalked by a group of people who found a blog that my spouse runs and didn't like the things they read there. We got threats and ranting e-mails, but this group of people also went so far as to create real trouble with the authorities off-line. (Yes, I'm being vague on purpose.) They eventually gave up and moved on, but it was a decidedly terrifying experience for a while. We spoke to law enforcement when the threats moved into our off-line lives, but neither our local police nor the FBI were much interested in the case until after someone got hurt. Aside from being appalled, I was mystified that we'd managed to provoke such unmitigated fury in a group of 100 or so people that we've never met.
And, I had similar experiences in school to those Laura Jane talked about at the top of the thread. I, too, am glad that there was no Internet then. I can't imagine how horrible it must be for today's bullying victims, to have the taunts and threats and emotional abuse coming in an unending barrage – phone, online, cell phones, etc. Actually, I can, and that imagining makes me understand why both teen suicides and school violence is on the rise.