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Blogging is Getting Pretty Weird, and Kind of Scary Too

Ottawa, October 2021
Ottawa, October 2021

I’ve been receiving hateful comments for a little while now. 

The latest one was fairly mild compared to a few previous ones, but I still cringed when I read it. I wasn’t ready for it. It’s weird to be sitting at the computer, a cup of coffee in hand, and run your eyes over a few hate-filled paragraphs. It’s like getting punched in the face as you walking down the street. You have no idea what’s happening, why it’s happening and how you’re supposed to react, but it hurts.

I took a sip of coffee and read the long “comment” again.

The person was reacting to my Ontario vaccine passport story. I think the opening sentence was “Canada is the greatest country on earth”—an arguable assumption and probably nothing more than provocation, but as the mom of an eight-year-old, I’m trained to not respond to provocation.  

It went downhill from there.

By the way, I’m quoting from memory—and I hate myself for remembering so much of it—because I deleted this comment. I didn’t know what to do with it. Publishing it without a reply felt like pure masochism. I would have been tempted to kill the troll with kindness if a name and real email address had been entered, but the email provided was “whydoyoucare” and the name was “ahahah”—no point in wasting time on cowards.

I toyed with the idea of taking a screenshot. But what was I going to do with it? Share it on Twitter to summon my own personal army? I did it once and it didn’t make me feel any better—emotional validation is overrated.

So I deleted it and now I don’t have any proof it happened. Does it matter? Do I need proof? Am I going to receive comments stating I made it up, I’m just an attention whore manufacturing drama?

See, that’s what I mean. Anything you write online is subject to scrutiny that can breed disaster.

Alright, let’s assume we’re all being reasonable, grownup people here. I pinky swear I’m not making it up.

This person was telling me that my French proof of vaccination *was* questionable since it didn’t have time of vaccination and that it was all my fault, I was a “dumb bitch” for not getting vaccinated in Canada, “not very clever” for leaving the country during a pandemic. And also, my posts are a waste of time, I’m ugly, stupid, not interesting, blah, blah blah.

Thanks, eh.

I looked up the IP out of pure curiosity. Not a Russian or Chinese bot, my new friend lives in Toronto apparently.

So someone was mean to me, big fucking deal.

The thing is, I’m getting tired of hate comments and I’ve been getting a lot of them, which is strange because I don’t think I’m particularly offensive or controversial. Seriously, if this blog’s posts are the most maddening thing you’ve read lately, go check out Twitter, YouTube or any comments section on news websites—you’re sure to find something to be angry about and like-minded antagonistic people.

I tend to be sarcastic but I’m not looking for an argument. Quite the opposite, actually—I like to think my experiences and life in my little corner of the world probably intersect with yours, whoever you are, whatever your background is. I enjoy these moments when we’re all caught up in our little bubble, safely tucked under layers of inherited and acquired beliefs and customs, and we suddenly all look up just to realize life’s mundane experiences bring all of us together. Oh, look, we’re not that different after all!

This is mostly why I enjoy writing. I share my experience because I’m wondering if you can relate. And I’m learning something in the process too.

I understand decisions I make or opinions I have may be questionable. Just as well, I’m not recruiting an army of mini-me followers—plus, between us, most of the time I just don’t know whether I’m right or wrong and I suspect there may be no right or wrong, just paths we take without knowing where we’re going to end up.

Okay, so hateful comments. I received daily death threats throughout our trip to Brazil and my unexpected stay in France. The “I hope you get sick and die stupid bitch” kind of messages—actually, most of the time, literally that plus some virtue signalling and inventive name calling. I can understand why my decision not to spend winter in Canada last year can be controversial but it’s not like I said “COVID is a hoax, fuck you guys, I’m out.” I could argue that I felt safer outside than indoors in Canada, that I took multiple PCR tests, that I respected all measures in place and more but I guess death-threat people don’t give a shit. I was wrong, period.

And apparently I’m wrong about many things.

Other seemingly innocuous posts triggered hate comments as well. Last year, Mark going back to school was “child abuse” considering “the situation.” Getting vaccinated? I’m “bragging but just a dumb sheep.”

I used to get a strangely mean comment once in a blue moon but it’s a regular thing now. I deleted my Flick account in 2019 because of creepy users. I don’t have a Facebook account and I don’t use Twitter. I tend to second-guess my English—do I have to second-guess what I’m writing about as well? Avoid mentioning this or that because it could be controversial? Assume that whatever I say will be taken literally? Expect to be judged and criticized just because?

Well, the best way to avoid hate comments would be to stop writing, but then I’m punishing myself.

Internet “mob justice” and virtue signalling scare me. It’s just too easy to judge perfect strangers without context.

Empathy, people.

It’s a thing, really.

Why is everyone so angry all the time?

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